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'Obama refrains from raising similar demands from Arabs' Photo: AFP
'Obama refrains from raising similar demands from Arabs' Photo: AFP
 
 

Obama and the racism card

US president Barack Obama has decided to discriminate against Jews

Ophir Falk
Published: 09.18.09, 14:18 / Israel Opinion

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama avoided wisely raising the racism issue. Playing that card was tempting, but Obama wanted to be judged on his character and the content of his ideas, rather than on the color of his skin. By doing so, he fulfilled one of Martin Luther King’s dreams. He adopted Abraham Lincoln as a role model, rather than Jesse Jackson’s style of rhetoric. In the 2012 campaign, however, the racism card may very well be played against him.

 

President Obama has decided to discriminate against Jews. There is no other way of interpreting his demand to freeze building of homes for Jews in the disputed territories between Israel and Jordan, while refraining from raising similar demands from Arabs.

 

Israel sees the area between it and Jordan as Judea and Samaria and duly regards it as part of the historic Jewish homeland. The Palestinians, on the other hand, refer to the same area as the West Bank and vehemently view it as an integral part of a future Palestinian state. That is a core component of the conflict that needs to be negotiated and resolved.

 

The issue is less complex than commonly perceived.

 

Within the disputed territories there are vast areas of high Palestinian population density, such as in Jenin and Nabulas. Subsequent to successful negotiations, those areas and the vicinity immediately adjacent to them will most probably be part of a future demilitarized Palestinian state. Therefore, there is no sense for Jews to currently build their homes there.

 

Concurrently, there are areas within the disputed territories of highly concentrated Jewish residence, such as in Ariel and Modiin Illit. Those areas and the vicinity immediately adjacent to them will inevitably be part of Israel. Therefore, there is no logic for Arabs to build their homes there. Any honest broker would start from there and leave the final demarcation of borders to direct and candid negotiations. Eventually, true peace and the ultimate dream will be fulfilled, when on the green hills of a once disputed land, Arabs and Jews will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. To date, Obama has decided to discriminate.

 

Reviving reciprocity

Realism would have it that Obama wants Jews to refrain from building in areas that may jeopardize the final border to be drawn between Israel and its neighbors. Yet he has not made such demands from the other side. No American administration has ever suggested Israel return to the 1967 borders, which the Pentagon defined long ago as indefensible. Therefore, a demand for a full freeze on Jewish home building is unfounded.

 

It is peculiar that during his demanding presidential campaign, Obama found time to visit Israel and spoke strongly before Jewish American voters – vowing his allegiance. As a presidential candidate, he also declared his dedication to an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. Subsequently, since his emotional inauguration, over six months ago, he has found time to talk with Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, Western and Eastern Europeans, Russians and Africans – but couldn’t be bothered with Israeli interests as he denounced its development of Jerusalem.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that he is willing to compromise and was able to reach a consensus concerning a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, in return, is still unwilling to recognize the Jewish state or to even meet with the Israeli PM in New York without preconditions.

 

Netanyahu can compromise but he will not be a “sucker”, as he takes pride in being the one to “institutionalize the concept of reciprocity” into the Middle East peace process. Indeed, one of his fundamental first term achievements as prime minister was stopping the process of giving something for nothing at best, and “land for terror” at worst. He was able to educate Israelis and Palestinians alike on the concept of reciprocity and to clarify to a disinclined Clinton administration that the term should also apply to the relationship between Israel and its neighbors.

 

One of Netanyahu’s key challenges in the New Jewish Year will be to revive reciprocity.

 

The writer is the co-author of the recently published book Suicide Terror: Understanding and Confronting the Threat

 

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