Monday, May 23, 2011

Team Israel!

President Obama's latest move has me somewhat puzzled.  Last week, he announced his thoughts pertaining to the centuries long Arab-Israeli conflict.  Obama supports the notion of a "two-state solution," where both Israel and Palestine can co-exist.
The president's position seems contradictory considering America's long-standing partnership with Israel.  I believe President Obama has erred in shifting foreign policy to supporting a two-state solution.  The following are reasons why I believe the United States should allow Israel to govern themselves and not face pressure from the United States (or other outside influence).

History is on the side of Israel.  An examination of modern history indicates the Jews have rightfully attained the land.  Until 1918 and the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire ruled the area known as Israel / Palestine and had ruled it for the previous 500 years.  However, the Ottomans were on the wrong side of World War I, and thus the empire broke apart into multiple nations, among them: Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.

After World War I, the newly formed League of Nations provided Great Britain a mandate to control the area known as Palestine.  Britain had also supported the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine through the Balfour Declaration, which also stipulated such a homeland could not come at the expense of the rights of Arabs living in the area.  This mandate allowed the British to administrate the region until they chose to terminate the order in 1948.

Critics of Israel would note that such a move by the British was 'unfair' or 'wrong' because Arabs had been living there for centuries.  Unfortunately, the Arab world had been on the losing side of a war and must submit to the terms of the conquering nations.  Additionally, the argument of 'we were there first' doesn't work for Palestinians because the Jews had been there even before the Arabs.  Also, by that logic, the United States should give back large tracts of land to Indians for stealing it (reservations are only small areas in comparison to what was taken from them).

After the British mandate expired in 1948, Israel declared herself to be an independent nation and was quickly recognized by the United States, Soviet Union and most other major nations of the world.  The Arab Nations surrounding Israel did not recognize the new nation and immediately attacked.  Those and subsequent attacks have been consistently repelled.

The United Nations tried to offer a two-state solution in 1947, which was promptly rejected by Palestinians.  In an attempt to create both Israel and Palestine as nations, the United Nations created a partition plan that would have divided up the territory (see figure below left).

1947 U.N. Partition Plan
When the United Nations voted to accept Israel as an independent state, members of Arab nations walked out of the General Assembly.  Apparently, half of this territory and the recognition of Israel was too much for the Arab world to handle.

Over 60 years later, Israel is supposed to offer Arabs another chance to share in a land that Israel has been cultivating?

Palestinians and other Arabs still refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist as a nation.  Three times, other nations have banded together to fight Israel -- and they lost each time.  After Israel successfully defended herself in 1948, 1967, and 1973, one would presume Arab nations have learned their lesson. 

Israel has actually given land back to those who are avowed enemies of the state.  Twice, Israel has returned the strategically important Sinai Peninsula to Egypt after they took it during armed conflict.

Israel has also ceded authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestinian authorities amidst international pressure.  Palestinian authorities in both territories are governed predominantly by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.  Incidentally, one of the stated goals of Hamas is to destroy Israel and the Jews. 

With regard to other conflicts, Israel even showed restraint in the 1st Persian Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi 'SCUD' missiles launched into Israel.  At the behest of the United States, Israel did not return fire, and allowed United Nations coalition to retaliate.

Borders before and after the Six Day War

Why would President Obama demand more from Israel?  The Israelis are the strongest ally the United States has in the Middle East.  To openly assert the two-state solution is foolish and insulting.  The president believes the past attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict hasn't changed, thus a new approach is needed.  Perhaps Obama is attempting to throw an olive branch to the Arab world, particularly after the turmoil with Pakistan.  What better way to soothe those hard feelings than taking a more moderate position on Israel?

Also, why would the United States presume to endorse a two-state solution when a Palestinian nation would create another hostile entity that would likely refuse to recognize Israel?  Israel not only has a right to exist, but the right to more land than they currently occupy.  President Obama has called for returning to the pre-1967 borders, which would deprive Israel any authority over the Gaza Strip or an enlarged West Bank.  Such a plan would also split up the key city of Jerusalem. 

Israel also represents a friend of this country for more than a half-century.  Does this nation no longer give value to loyalty and friendship? 

I am certain other Americans see the situation differently, but I can't understand forgetting our history with a trusted ally when the alternative means essentially created a terrorist state.  Count me in withTeam Israel on this one.

1 comment:

  1. Great to finally understand this issue in layman's terms. Didn't know too much about it before this point.