President Obama is not Israel’s friend

Rep. Joe Walsh Contributor
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It pains me to say this, but President Obama is not pro-Israel. After last Thursday’s speech, that should be clear. His call for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the 1967 borders should leave no doubt where he stands. The 1967 borders are entirely indefensible. He is not pro-Israel.

Political realities being what they are, the president does his level best to say the right things politically and to give the appearance that he is an honest broker in the conflict. But much too often he slips and reveals whose side he’s really on. During the 2008 campaign, he said that “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinians,” and he reportedly told a Muslim friend during his 2004 Senate campaign, “I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” Last year, Obama purposely caused a public feud with Israel by attacking it over the building of settlements, and this past February, the Obama administration made public its intention to support, for the first time in American history, a U.N. statement condemning Israel.

This leads us to the president throwing Israel under the bus last week in his address at the State Department.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama a much-needed history lesson. He pointed out that the 1967 borders are “indefensible,” that they can never be the starting point for any negotiation, and that demanding such is a clear break from nearly 50 years of U.S. policy. As Caroline Glick, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Center for Security Policy, pointed out, the 1967 border insult overshadowed everything else in the president’s speech, which “abandoned even a semblance of friendliness for Israel.” It demanded that Israel give up any right to defensible borders as a precondition for negotiations. The president did not state his opposition to a U.N. resolution for Palestinian statehood, he did not mention that U.S. law forbids the federal government from funding any entity that includes Hamas, and he glanced over the partnership between Hamas and Fatah.

President Obama has effectively abandoned the 50-year-old U.S. alliance with Israel.

So, where is the outrage from the American Jewish community? Don’t they understand that the president is not pro-Israel? Aren’t they troubled by his history of pro-Palestinian writings, speeches, and actions? The short answer is that most American Jews are liberal, and most American liberals side with the Palestinians and vague notions of “peace” instead of with Israel’s wellbeing and security. Like the president, the U.N., and most of Europe, too many American Jews aren’t as pro-Israel as they should be and too many share his belief that the Palestinians are victims of Israeli occupation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If we want peace in the Middle East, we need a paradigm shift. The U.S. can no longer be an honest broker, a “referee” between two opposing sides. That mindset has gotten us nowhere.

If we want peace in the Middle East, we have to publicly choose a side and defend that side. We have to stand with Israel. We must be their advisor and protector. We must make clear that there will be no talks and no negotiations until the other side acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, stops spewing anti-Israel hatred among its youth, and stops any and all terrorist activity. If the Palestinians take these steps, we can begin negotiations. If they don’t, the Palestinians will face the combined wrath of Israel and the United States. That can be the only basis for lasting peace. The other side will only give up its vow to destroy Israel and commit to lasting peace if they understand and fear our strength.

As a freshman Congressman, I am pro-Israel first and pro-peace second. True peace in the Middle East will only come when that is our nation’s stated policy and not the other way around. Most U.S. presidents have followed the old paradigm and tried to be an honest broker between the two sides. President Obama seems only to pay lip service to even that role, and clearly his sympathies lie with the Palestinians. He is not capable of achieving peace in the Middle East because he is not pro-Israel.

Lasting peace will only come about when America publicly stands with a strong and secure Israel.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is the Chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax & Capital Access.