Obama: Putting Israel in Mortal Danger

Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat  published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and he will be a visiting professor at University of California, Irvine.


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In major recent policy statements, at the AIPAC Conference, the White House and the State Department, President Barack Obama declared:

[*] “Precisely because of our friendship [with Israel], it’s important that we tell the truth;”

[*] “And it is precisely because of our commitment to Israel’s long-term security that we have worked to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

President Obama, however, has not told the whole truth in his review of the record of previous U.S. presidents. He has also been less than precise concerning his own efforts for peace and downright sloppy in his review of Israel security needs and demographic considerations.

Actually, if Israel were to return to the old frontier lines (which date from 1949, not 1967) as President Barack Obama urges, Israel’s strategic situation would be dramatically worsened in many ways.

Mortal Danger: Arab armies or terrorists would be able to cut Israel in half along its narrow waist, because there would be only eight or nine miles (15 km.) from the Arab state Obama envisions and the Mediterranean Sea. This is about the same distance as from Wall Street to Columbia University in New York City. An Arab armored column could knife across Israel’s heartland through the narrow and heavily populated coastal plain at Netanyah. Within minutes, certainly no more than hours, a surprise Arab attack could mortally wound Israel. Even a small and well-executed terror incursion could sever Israel in two very rapidly.

Air Space and Air Alert: Israel’s mountain bases in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which Obama wants Israel to relinquish, allow Israel early warning time from threats (such as missile launches and air attack) from even as far away as Iran and Iraq. In addition, the heavily industrialized coastal plain gets a few extra minutes warning time from closer threats. Today, a jet fighter can cross from the Jordan River to Tel Aviv, Haifa or Netanya in under three minutes. That is not a lot of time, but it is better than having less than a minute.

Palestinian leaders refuse even to discuss Israel maintaining sovereign air rights over any Palestinian territory or Israel holding bases inside such territory. Indeed, the history of  Israeli bases in the Gaza Strip, which were constantly attacked, is proof of how difficult it would be to maintain bases without significant Israeli territory linking them to Israel. This, too, is ruled out by PLO leaders, and no amount of “land swaps” can possibly correct the problem.

Indefensible Borders: The West Bank is essentially the world’s biggest anti-tank trap. Five mountain passes rise steeply  from the low ground of  the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea (the lowest point on the planet) up to mountains of Judea and Samaria. Israel can easily hold off superior forces from the high ground. That is why Gen. Earle Wheeler and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff told President Lyndon Johnson in July 1967 that, for its defense, Israel needed to hold this high ground. (For a copy of JCSM-373-67, June 29, 1967, see Michael Widlanski (ed.), Can Israel Survive A Palestinian State, Jerusalem, IASPS, 1990, pp. 148-149.)

President Lyndon Johnson’s advisers Eugene Rostow and Arthur Goldberg drew up UN Security Council Resolution 242.  They specifically wrote “defensible borders.” This was a reference to the research opinion solicited by President Johnson from his Joint Chiefs of Staff. Johnson’s aides  also refused the concept of total withdrawal.

Israeli military men and policy makers as diverse as Labor’s Yigal Allon and Likud’s Ariel Sharon also built their own strategic visions on Israel retaining at least 30-50% of the West Bank for Israeli security needs. Such significant Israeli control is completely rejected by Arab policy makers. It cannot be fixed by “land swaps” because Israel simply does not have enough land to swap.

Obama Rules Out Major Border Changes: Since making his State Department policy speech on the “67 borders,” Obama has tried to explain that he was not demanding a return to previous frontier lines, but several elements show that he is again not telling anything close to the truth. First, Obama himself stipulates that Israel’s total land area should not be increased, but that “Palestine” and Israel should execute mutually equal land swaps. Secondly, Obama insists that “Palestine” should be “contiguous”—i.e. that Gaza and the West Bank must be connected by a land corridor that effectively cuts Israel in half. Thirdly, Obama insists that “Palestine” have borders with Jordan and Egypt, making it likely that terror and arms smuggling will be relatively easy—as is the situation in Gaza today. Most important, Mr. Obama insists on “the full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces” from the West Bank. In simple language, this rules out Israeli forward bases on the Jordan River or the Jordan Valley. That is basically a return to the pre-1967 or 1949 situation, whether Obama admits it or not.

When Obama says he is “leaving it up to both sides,” this is also not true, because when Obama makes the stipulations about full Israeli withdrawal and the limits on Israel’s total size, he is making it nearly impossible for any future Palestinian leader to take a Palestinian negotiating stance that is  less Palestinian than Barack Obama’s.

Obama did this before with his position on Jewish “settlements,” and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas admits that Obama essentially ran him “up the tree.”

Defending Jerusalem: Between 1949 and 1967, Jerusalem was a shriveled town, whose re-supply and communications lines were vulnerable to attack. That is one of the reasons that Israel’s Defense Ministry was set up in Tel Aviv. Jerusalem was Israel’s capital in name, but isolated and vulnerable in practice. Jerusalem is located along the continental divide between the Israeli coastal plain and the Judean Desert. Geographically, it is an enclave surrounded by the West Bank, and maintaining Israel control of Jerusalem would be difficult without controlling significant portions of the higher ground of the Judean mountains around Jerusalem. Israeli control of Jerusalem would also be made a nightmare by ceding Arab control to significant neighborhoods or regions around Jerusalem, as Obama envisions.

Other Implications of Cutting Israel Down to Size: This has been a dream of Arab regimes and pro-Arab policy-makers even before the 1967 War. In the 1940′s and early 1950′s, Britain’s Ernest Bevin, UN mediator Folke Bernadotte and many in the US State Department wanted to take Jerusalem and parts of the Negev out of Israeli control for a variety of reasons. Today, “cutting Israel down to size” is the express dream of Amr Moussa, the staunchly anti-Israel secretary-general of the Arab League and the leading candidate to succeed Egyptian leader Husni Mubarak  His goal of  cutting Israel down to size would also likely encourage irredentist tendencies among Israeli Arabs and demands for autonomy of predominately Arab sections of Israel in the Galilee and Negev. In other words, Obama’s ideas would not lead to peace and stability but to more instability and foment.

Overall Effect on Israel’s Defense Doctrine: Because of the loss of strategic depth and early warning, Israel would need to move to a trip-wire defense posture that would encourage massive pre-emptive and probably unconventional attack on any perceived threats. This, too, is not a formula for stability or tranquility.

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  • Robert Laity

    He does it purposely. Obama is a Radical Anti-Semitic,Anti-Christian Islamic Supremacist.

  • Don

    His middle name tells the story

  • winoceros

    He sums it up nicely: He is more Palestinian than the Palestinians.

    His actions and attitudes are the full and complete culmination of the sum of propaganda put out by the Muslim Jordanian Arabs over the years. It's breathtaking even to the Palestinians to see a world leader having swallowed their fiction wholesale, and schooling their theological enemy to boot.

    Muslims who lived in Israel before the war had their lands purchased by Arabs and Israelis alike. The Arabs, to entice them to leave, the Israelis, because they were selling. Then, when their children realized their land had been sold and they had no home and the Arab lands didn't want them, in true Muslim fashion, they had to invent a victim narrative…it's the Jews' fault and the land was stolen.

    Their parents and grandparents left because they believed the Arabs were going to sweep Israel into dust. When they lost their attack so humiliatingly, (humiliation being the thing a Muslim can least stand), it was only natural that the Jews should now be "occupiers" and "oppressors" and never mind the facts.

    • winoceros

      (cont'd)
      Obama has probably had a few more-than-private moments with his warm and soft friend, Khalid Rashidi, enough to allow to implant more than a few things in him, among them, the Palestinian fairy tale.

      You can bet a fat gold coin that he never listened nor cared about any security analysis. It doesn't interest him, and he is probably the most incurious person in public service today.

      I'll bet there isn't a single book on his nightstand with the possible exception of the Qur'an or The Protocols.

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Mr Barack Hussein Obama,just like Bibi Netanyahu,I would ask you the following
    question. If you are so keen on forcing the State of Israel to return to the indefencless
    borders of 67.Why is it than that you and your gang wil not return the land you took
    from the Mexican people in 1845 ?? which includes the greater part of Texas??
    So if you talk about annexations this would be one of them.And about the original
    residents you called red skins injuns who owned big parts of what is now the U.S.A.
    Well I wont go into that there is to much sore there to.History can be cruel.But
    those who missuse history as a one sided problem,because it concerns only Jews.!!
    are not fit to be the president of America.He should shame himself.

  • Dispozovdaburka

    Dear President Obama,
    I am requesting that you return America to it's August 20, 1959 borders
    so that Hawaii is no longer a state
    and you are no longer a citizen.
    Your Pal,
    Bibi

  • http://wwwtwosetsofbooks.blogspot.com/ patti

    If only it was as simple as one man:. http://wwwtwosetsofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/05/ara

  • LindaRivera

    Obama's venomous hate for Jews and Israel is frightening. The Israelis are our brothers and sisters and Israel is our best ally, yet Obama treats ally Israel as an enemy to be destroyed. Obama is passionate in reducing Israel to a miniature country so small, that Israel will be utterly unable to defend herself. Hussein Obama seeks a Second Holocaust of Jews.

  • Asher

    A Peace Treaty with 1967 borders would be a Certificate of Death for the State of Israel. Imagine terrorists being close enough to use surface to air missiles on aircraft leaving Israel. Don't listen to the rhetoric and words of Obama, look at the actions and intentions which are totally sinister in motive.

  • Dispozovdaburka

    I've had this dvd for awhile and actually didn't understand it at first,
    in quite the same way as I do today.
    The name of the dvd is "Farewell Israel" and it acually explains quite eloquently,
    what has transpired.
    And what continues to transpire on a global level.
    It's a political document directed by Joel Gilbert.
    Worth watching, You decide.