We have traded declining support for Israel to assist in making President Obama appear to have been a great guy to Arab terrorists, which has weakened our defenses against Arab assaults. Israel is a key ally as we seek to defend ourselves from death at the hands of Islamic terrorists. What an ironic trade-off!
To understand how the U.S. became involved in these relationships, we need a little background. During prehistory, it is believed, the plains of Africa and the Arabic Middle East were occupied by numerous tribes of a more or less nomadic nature. Among others, were Jewish and Palestinian tribes. In time, settlements occurred, and the ethnic group called Palestinians eventually settled the area they currently occupy. Ethnic groups labeled Jews settled among the Palestinians, too.
This is where the rub sets in. These groups were not generally recognized as sovereign nations.
After World War I, and after 400 years of Turkish rule, elements of Palestinian descent began to put pressure on the League of Nations, the international agency organized to dispense territories, postwar, for a sovereign state for Palestinians, akin to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Likewise, a group of Jews argued for a similar state for their ethnic group, to be called Israel. Advocates of this group were called Zionists. These clusters had designs for the same land, hence the conflict. Instead of resolving this issue, the League just dithered. After World War II, it was succeeded by the Security Council of the United Nations as the international instrument for resolving these claims.
After the war of 1948 between the Palestinians and Israel, as an important step in U.S. policy, President Truman formally recognized Israel as a sovereign state. While Truman’s action supported Israel’s claim for existence, it did not provide for land to live on. Meanwhile, however, Israel occupied what has become known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, even though vestigial Israeli groups had long lived on the lands.
Palestinians objected. President Carter, however, added a further monkey wrench to the process. Ignoring Israel’s longstanding claims to land called Palestine, he pronounced any Israeli occupation of these lands “illegal,” and virtually implied the U.S. no longer recognizes Israel as a sovereign state. A few years later, President Reagan renounced the Carter interpretation, and subsequent administrations have acted consistent with that repudiation.
On Dec. 23, President Obama reinstated the Carter position: Israeli occupation is illegal and that Israel, for all practical purposes, is not a sovereign state. To Israel, Obama in effect said: Go find another state that is hospitable to your presence.
The recent U.N. resolution denouncing Israel contains strange language. It suggests that the disputing parties negotiate a settlement, but simultaneously refers to the disputed land as “Palestinian territory.” Since the Security Council already has referred to the disputed land as Palestinian territory, what is the purpose of negotiating?
Here is the tragic upshot of these actions. While a weak voice initially, a Palestinian Liberation Organization faction has grown to a position of powerful influence among Palestinians. It denies Israel’s right to exist. This is consistent with the aims of Arab terrorists, U.S. enemies who vow to destroy it.
The U.N. decision is consistent with the recent dramatic rise in anti-Semitism throughout the world, including the U.S. Indeed, Jewish people have an unfortunate history of being one of the most discriminated-against groups in the Western world. This provides a healthy tailwind for the continued spread of this disease into the U.N.’s recent decision.
Also, the past decade has witnessed a marked decline among U.S. progressives in support of Israel. The mutually infecting increase, both worldwide and in the U.S., of anti-Semitism could not help but contribute significantly to this decline.
Arab terrorism has grown into a powerful ally of the “destroy Israel” faction and together they exert a dangerous influence on PLO policy. But the U.S., by cowardly backing away from any support of Israel’s plea for access to its historic homelands, removes the very foundation of Israel’s physical ability to defend itself, and ironically, impairs America’s ability to defend itself from Islamic terrorism.
If Obama had entered office with the intent to hamper a protective U.S. foreign policy development and mangle Israel’s most ardent hopes, he could not have performed much better. For this he warrants a monument in the arid Nevada desert, on top of Yucca Mountain.
(The writer is a professor emeritus of financial economics at the University of Georgia. He lives in Aiken, S.C.)