Innocent people wanting change are being shot on the streets of Tehran as they protest a rigged election and a repressive regime; a precarious leader in North Korea tests ballistic missiles over Japan, economies around the world are in shambles; unemployment is at a 10-year high in Europe and a 26-year high in the United States; yet it seems the most pressing issue for the Obama administration is Jewish settlements.
Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria (a.k.a., the West Bank or Occupied Territories.) Anyone acquainted with the Bible or familiar with history knows that. Nevertheless, it is pointless to ignore the fact that over a million Palestinians currently live in these same territories and for decades have viewed the area as their home. It would also be senseless to disregard more than a quarter of a million Jews that live there and feel just as strongly.
As a peace facilitator, there is logic behind the American demand to refrain from building new settlements that may jeopardize the final border to be drawn between Israel and its neighbors. But an honest broker would make that demand from both sides. If Jews are asked to stop building, Arabs should be asked to do the same.
Palestinians have done nothing
The truth of the matter is that the real issue is not the settlements but rather the Palestinians’ unwillingness to accept Israel's basic right to exist as the Jewish homeland. Over the years Israel has made substantial concessions - many feel too many concessions - including unilateral withdrawals and displacement of Israeli citizens. The Palestinians have done nothing. The least that is to be demanded of the Palestinians before discussing the settlements and other final-status issues is that they recognize Israel's basic right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people.
Israel cannot decide for the United States who its friends or foes are, but the basic truth of the matter still stands: Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that holds free elections, enables freedom of speech and cherishes similar values to those of the American people.
A few years ago the people of Israel voted for a government that dismantled 10,000 Jewish homes in the hope for peace. The dismantlement led to disaster and instead of peace Israeli civilians were targeted by Palestinian missiles. Three months ago the people of Israel voted for a government that wants to build homes rather than destroy them. The Obama administration should respect that.
We should all be more concerned about militant Muslims building a nuclear bomb in Iran than about Jews building homes in Judea and Samaria.