Don’t divide Israel

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
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Americans know the Bible story of King Solomon. Two women came to him with a baby. They were disputing whose child it was. “Cut the child in half,” the wise king ordered. The mother of the child cried out: Give the baby to her. She would give up her child rather than let it be killed.

President Obama is playing Solomon now. He has decided to cut the baby in half. In this case, the child is Israel. Although he has not said so directly, that is the burden of his argument, that’s what just one word in his speech means. That word is “contiguous.”

Mr. Obama delivered a major address last month calling for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. That would mean the West Bank and East Jerusalem are to be evacuated and handed over to Israel’s mortal enemies. They would become, under Arab pressure, Jew-free zones. The German word for that is Judenrein.

But I want to focus on that one word, “contiguous,” that Mr. Obama said should define the new Palestinian state he wants to create. That means that Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank of the Jordan River should have direct access to their brethren in the Gaza Strip, an area ruled with bloody force by the terrorist group Hamas.

It’s not that terrorists have any trouble accessing West Bank towns like Jericho and Nablus now. But a Hamas corridor would bisect Israel, cutting the Jewish state in two. Cutting Israel in half will be fatal.

When the town of Vicksburg fell in 1863, President Lincoln knew it was the death knell of the Confederacy. “The father of waters flows unvexed to the sea,” Lincoln said, poetically describing the Union’s new control over the length of the Mississippi River.

“Contiguous,” or “contiguity,” the noun — that’s what the Confederates lost at Vicksburg. Their new nation was cut in two. It withered and died.

Dictators, it seems, understand these principles better than our latter-day presidents do. Hitler understood it when he ordered his Wehrmacht to wipe out the Polish Corridor in 1939. That strip of land had been given to the infant Polish state in order to give it access to the sea. From Germany, and from his territory in East Prussia, Hitler caught the unhappy Poles in a pincer movement and wiped out their armed forces. Soon, Poland fell under his boot.

Soviet Communist dictator Josef Stalin understood contiguity, too. That’s why he tried to seal off West Berlin. He blockaded the access routes in 1948 that led from West Germany to West Berlin. He was hoping not only to swallow up the free city of West Berlin; he wanted the rump state of West Germany to die, as well.

By promising contiguity to the Palestinians, Obama is rewarding a group of people whose only political expression has been terrorism. Just weeks after the supposedly “moderate” Fatah faction concluded an agreement and formed an axis with the openly terrorist Hamas, President Obama decided not to cut off U.S. aid to the so-called Palestinian Authority formed by Fatah. Instead, he is rewarding them with, what? Contiguity.

What to call the new access route that will be paved with American dollars and Israeli blood? The Hamas Corridor? Or should it be called the Obama Freeway? Whatever we call it, it will not be found anywhere on the Mideast’s Roadmap to Peace.

Ken Blackwell is a co-author of the newly released book Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America, published by Simon and Schuster (Threshold Editions).