By Ted Belman
When I first posted Obama’s speech to AIPAC, I said he reversed everything and stunned AIPAC and me. Within 24 hours, his campaign corrected him.
Some say he lied, others that he caved under pressure. I reject both of these.
The way I see it is that this was a very important speech as it was to his campaign as the Democratic nominee. I am sure that the speech was written by a knowledgeable Jew in collaboration with others and finally vetted by Obama himself. All his positions and previous statements were recalibrated for the national campaign. In it he was at pains to stress he was not soft on defense and was a friend of Israel.
Heretofore he had not been committal on the peace process but here he was clear he backed the peace process, with one difference, namely that he favoured an undivided Jerusalem. Within 24 hours this one difference was corrected.
“I will take an active role, and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.” he said. For me, this is more frightening than comforting. This was short hand for forcing Israel to capitulate.
With all the care and attention that probably went into that speech, how could he possibly have not appreciated what his Jerusalem statement meant. It meant the end of the peace process and maybe even his assassination. It also meant he was totally at odds with his foreign policy team. I even wrote that he and his team had no choice but to part company.
It was so much in error that it was corrected within hours. We must now take a look at what wasn’t corrected because the correction implies that everything else was agreed upon.
“but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided”
Favouring Israel’s identity as a Jewish state doesn’t not mean no right of return, only no unbridled right of return. At least that’s something, but not much.
The Roadmap sought “secure and recognized” borders pursuant to Res 242. In previous governments both in the US and Israel “secure” meant defensible. Livni at one time argued against the word defensible because the Roadmap only required secure borders. When Bush was last in Israel he argued for secure and defensible borders and Obama in his speech did likewise.
Both words are open to interpretation. In the final analysis, who is to decide what they mean. To my mind, it is impossible to reconcile the greenline with mutual exchanges favoured by the Roadmap with secure and defensible borders. Something has got to give.
But back to the error. What must he have been thinking.