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Demographic Threats to Israel: Obama claimed that , “the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories.” This is, at best, only partly true, because PLO leaders and their supporters have been “cooking” demographic data, such as UN refugee rolls and phony Palestinian Authority statistics, for a long time. Palestinian Arab birth rates have been falling for at least a decade, while Israeli birth rates, especially in the West Bank, have been rising. Research by experts at the American Enterprise Institute shows that the “demographic threat” to Israel is largely a bugaboo.
This is not the first time that Obama has been imprecise in Islamic demographic statistics. Obama largely misstated the Islamic demographic picture in the United States. He claimed there were seven million Muslims in America—in his Cairo speech in June 2009. This is probably more than three times the actual figure. Islamist extremists in Europe and the United States have often deliberately cited such bogus statistics, and it is unfortunate that the president of the US follows this trend.
Obama’s Efforts for Peace in the Middle East: Despite taking credit for any positive developments in the Middle East, the Obama record has been weak and generally counterproductive:
[*] Obama’s first foreign speech took place in Turkey, which has since become a major Islamist actor, encouraging the flotilla attack on Israel earlier this year. Turkey has also become more hostile to its own NATO partners and increased cooperation with Syria and Iran, both terror states. In addition, Turkey’s leaders have encouraged its expatriates abroad, especially in Germany, not to become part of the Western lifestyle in their host countries, but to export a militant brand of Islam.
[*] Against the advice of several of America’s allies (in Israel and Europe), Obama took an unnecessarily hostile stance against the authoritarian (but not totalitarian) regime of Husni Mubarak, who had been one of America’s most reliable allies in the region. This action undermined stability in the heart of the Mediteranean basin, which Obama belatedly and tacitly admitted when he said: “there will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region.”
[*] Against the express wishes of Congress, Obama sent an ambassador to Syria, whose regime tried to establish a nuclear weapons reactor in 2008 (until it was destroyed by Israel) and whose regime has killed hundreds of peaceful protestors.
[*] Obama’s huge overture to the Islamic world in his dramatic 2009 Cairo speech was not greeted by moderation by most of the audiences he addressed, including the Muslim Brotherhood, whose members he specifically invited to hear the speech. Leaders of the Brotherhood have spearheaded the worst elements of the foment in Egypt, calling for breaking trade and diplomatic links with Israel, and even resuming full-scale war and support for anti-Western terror.
[*] Obama’s repeated overtures and offers of “engaging Iran” have produced diametrically opposite results from what was desired: Iran’s ayatollahs stole the 2009 Iranian election for the sake of the messianic-minded Mahmoud Ahmadinajad; bloodily repressed all peaceful protests; and allowed Iran to advance its nuclear weapons options, while blocking Israel’s calls for joint military action.
[*] Contrary to Obama’s protestations that his policy is merely an extension of previous US administrations, the Obama Administration has been the most hostile to Israel retaining any territory captured from attacking Arab armies in 1967.
[*] President Lyndon Johnson and his top advisers favored Israel retaining significant territory for defensive needs. That was the basis for the Johnson-Rostow-Goldberg interpretation of UN Resolution 242, which, contrary to statements by Obama officials, did not foresee anything approaching the 1949 frontier lines.
[*] President Gerald Ford signed several secret and public memoranda of understandings (1974 and 1975) with Israel which set very tough terms for any dealings with the PLO—which the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat have essentially violated by their efforts to attack and de-legitimize Israel. Ford also sent a letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promising to “give great weight” to Israel’s demand to have continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights, the high ground protecting northern Israel.
[*] President Ronald Reagan saw a Palestinian Arab state as a danger, and so, originally, did President George W. Bush, who originally opposed Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, until he was convinced otherwise, on both points, by advisers of Ariel Sharon. [Today, most Israelis believe Sharon's ideas were a huge mistake.] Both Regan and Bush II made it clear that they viewed Israel as an important strategic ally of the US and an important moral ally of the US. Bush cut off ties with Arafat when it was shown that he had continued directing terror against Israel. Bush II’s “Roadmap for Peace” demanded that any Israeli territorial concessions had to be preceded by hard evidence of Palestinian cessation of terror, violence and incitement to hatred. Obama has demanded Israeli concessions from the outset, and his position forced a hardening of the Palestinian position, leading to a freezing of all direct Israeli-Palestinian talks for two year.
[*] No previous US president saw Israeli settlements as illegal, except for Jimmy Carter. But Obama and his vice president (Joe Biden) and secretary of state have even suggested that Israeli neighborhoods in Jerusalem are an obstacle to peace.
[*] From President Harry Truman to President George W. Bush, US leaders have believed that there is a moral and historical bond between the US and the Jewish people as a whole, and the people of Israel in particular. For Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, the horrors of the Holocaust were a unique stain on humanity and an indelible memory. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has placed the Holocaust in the same category as the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs who attacked Israel in 1948 and who have not stopped since. He regularly places “Palestine”—a state which does not exist—on the same moral and strategic plain with Israel, America’s only firm ally in the Middle East. President Obama makes little or no reference to the continued hate education and incitement in the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, and he repeatedly acts as if PA forces are as reliable as Israeli soldiers.
This is part of a pattern with Mr. Obama, who is willing to sacrifice the truth to fit a political scenario, and then to act offended when he’s caught bending the facts. He must be forced to confront to confront the truth.
Dr. Michael Widlanski edited Can Israel Survive a Palestinian State? and teaches Arab politics and communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His new book on Arab-Islamic terror will be published by Threshold Editions in 2012. Dr. Widlanski is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post, serving as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
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