Israel & Obama: What’s Up With That?
Tibor R. Machan
Once again I hasten to point out that this isn’t something I know very much about, especially if to understand it one has to be informed about the entire history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Still, as my mother used to say in the last years of her life, it is difficult to fathom why Israel is being picked on so much? Is it religion? Is it its closeness to the United States of America?
Some will say Israel is an artificial entity but that cannot be it--nearly every country is an artificial entity. All borders are made up. The only difference is how recently! And, as the work of Professor Barry Smith of SUNY Buffalo has shown, some of them are more sensible, as when they follow some coast line or river, than others, when they attempt to carve out some kind of geometrical area for themselves.
But here the issue of borders is moot. Let’s just realize that when a country has deadly enemies around it, the size of the area which separates it from those enemies makes a lot of difference. President Obama has proposed that Israel go back to the pre-1967 borders where it would be surrounded by such groups as Hamas and separated from them by only six miles. A great many influential people living in these regions are on record wanting Israel to disappear, to be abolished as a country.
Even if one has little sympathy for Israel’s official viewpoint, no one in his right mind can expect the leaders of that country to comply with President Obama’s suggestion. It is a recommendation for suicide.
But why? Mr. Obama himself appears to be committing something near political suicide since a great many Americans of a wide variety of persuasions about Israel would not favor his recommendation. Responses to his proposal confirm this. It just makes no sense given how the main purpose of government is to protect the citizens’ rights and for the Israeli government this must mean keeping the likes of Hamas at a distance that is safe. And no one can argue that by going back to the 1967 borders this task can be achieved, not especially with the great technical advances in the range of offensive weapons since 1967!
So I just do not get it. What is Mr. Obama after? Does he want to endear himself to all those countries that are anti-Israeli? Is he trying to befriend anti-Semites around the world? It isn’t even fathomable that he has thought this through carefully, at least not with the information available to those who have been following his public utterances about the matter. Does he perhaps simply want to foster a total stalemate, given how it makes no sense to think that Israel will follow this suggestion or even that Mr. Obama could believe that Israel would do so.
Whatever one’s view is of Israel it cannot be sensible to demand that the country voluntarily abolish itself. So then what is this all about? Is it just some kind of geopolitical gambit to the effect that Israel can be given up, even after decades of “investment” in the country made at the expense of the American taxpayer? (Not that this could be justified morally but perhaps given the statist nature of most diplomacy it could make some sense.)
Or is it really simply plain, unabashed anti-Semitism? I was once witness to this, when I lived briefly with my father in Munich and in America where he never let up on his virulent hatred of Jews. I remember that it was completely irrational--for instance, at one time he concocted the notion that Jews in Hollywood conspired to cast actors who “looked Jewish” into heroic movie roles so as to gain the Jews favor with the movie going public. His example if I recall right was when MacDonald Carey, who was supposedly Jewish looking by my father’s warped assessment, starred as a hero, opposite Rhonda Fleming, in the movie Odongo (the plot of which I have completely forgotten).
Now I recount this only because it illustrates for me, at least, to what lengths anti-Semites will go to promote their bizarre conspiracy theories about Jews. And my father held a responsible job at Radio Free Europe back then, although he wasn’t very public about his anti-Semitic views by the mid-50s, unlike he was back in the 40s when Hungary was filled with rabid anti-Semites--I believe they were of the Iron Cross persuasion.
So it is not at all unpalatable to me to consider that some highly placed American politicians could well harbor blatant anti-Semitic sentiments. Mind you, none of this comes from any inside information about Mr. Obama and his administration. What it comes from is my desperate effort to make sense of something so senseless as Mr. Obama’s recommendation to Israel that the country commit suicide by going back to the 1967 borders which would certainly leave them utterly vulnerable to destruction by its avowed nearby enemies! Some people do feel about Jews and about Israel in ways that could conceivably lead them to make such proposals.