Noelani Kindergarten Class, Hawaii 1966-67 – Photo by Wini Otaguro
…. a few years later:
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand together in the Blue Room of the White House, before a brunch celebrating the Inauguration, Jan. 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Huh. Netanyahu is now reportedly open to using the 1967 lines with swaps as the basis for negotiations, which is exactly what he pilloried Obama for (with the nodding approval of many craven Dems in Congress):
AP: In a dramatic policy shift, Israel’s prime minister has agreed to negotiate the borders of a Palestinian state based on the cease-fire line that marks off the West Bank, a TV station reported Monday.
Up to now, Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to spell out his plan for negotiating the border. A senior Israeli official would not confirm outright that the prime minister was now willing to adopt the cease-fire line as a starting point, but said Israel was willing to try new formulas to restart peace talks based on a proposal made by President Barack Obama.
In a speech about the Middle East in May, Obama proposed negotiations based on the pre-1967 line with agreed swaps of territory between Israel and a Palestinian state. Netanyahu reacted angrily, insisting that Israel would not withdraw from all of the West Bank, though that was not what Obama proposed.
Now Netanyahu is basically accepting that framework, according to Channel 2 TV, offering to trade Israeli territory on its side of the line for West Bank land where its main settlements are located…..
Adam Serwer (Washington Post): Republicans are touting yet another poll that purports to predict the end of the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party. Citing a new poll by John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell they have convinced themselves that this time, Obama really is in trouble among Jewish voters.
…. the poll is laughably bogus. Not only does their sample skew conservative, (only 64 percent of respondents voted for Obama, as opposed to the 77 percent of Jewish votes he actually got) but many questions are phrased in as leading a manner as possible. Indeed, given the wording of the questions, it’s actually surprising that 63 percent of respondents overall approved of Obama.
Here’s their phrasing for a question on Obama’s policy on Israel:
Considering what President Obama has proposed for Israel just over a year before his 2012 re-election campaign – a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem, and allowing the right of return for Palestinian Arabs to Israel – how concerned would you be about President Obama’s policies towards Israel if he were re-elected and did not have to worry about another election?
….. Again: Obama hasn’t proposed “a return to the 1967 borders”…
What’s surprising is that only 67 percent of Jewish voters in the poll said they were concerned about Obama’s policy towards Israel should he be reelected – this, even though M&C invented out of thin air the idea that Obama supports a “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs … this question seems to have been designed to elicit panic about Obama among the poll’s staunchly pro-Israel respondents, but even that wasn’t enough to do it.
The phrasing in this poll is comically skewed …. As always, the game is to perpetuate the sad conservative meme that this time, really this time, American Jews are going to abandon their liberalism and vote Republican because Obama is a huge anti-Semite. The only thing this poll reveals is how badly some want to keep this storyline going.
Think Progress: Reports that an Obama adviser told top Jewish leaders that the administration is applying pressure to Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians is coming under new scrutiny after the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent talked to two individuals who were on the conference call.
….Both tell me that there was no discussion whatsoever of pressuring Israel to come to the table absent a recognition by Hamas of the Quartet Principles – which demand recognition of Israel, renouncing terrorism, and abiding by past agreements. They both asserted that on the call, [Steven Simon,White House National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa] merely restated Obama’s public position on these issues.
Sargent questioned Eizenstat about if the White House had made any shift in policy and found a very clear answer. He writes:
“I don’t know how anyone in their wildest imagination got the idea that there was any implication of any additional pressure on Israel,” Eizenstat told me. “Quite the contrary – the call was meant as reassurance of the President’s position on not negotiating with Hamas” if they don’t accept the Quartet principles.
While this seems like an easy enough story to have fact checked – as Sargent’s good journalism shows – right wing critics of the White House have gotten plenty of traction out of misreporting the White House’s message to Jewish leaders.
…the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin …. bizarrely lashed out at Sargent for having the nerve to fact check her … Rubin’s role in hyping the nonexistent controversy about the White House call should drive home the point that she is deeply invested in creating a rift between Jewish Democrats and the White House, even when the facts don’t bear her out.
ThinkProgress: The Washington Post’s blogger Jennifer Rubin reports that the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel has a new ad accusing President Obama of “siding with the Palestinians” in his May 19 speech….
….Yet here’s what ECI’s own executive director Noah Pollak tweeted about the speech as it was happening:
So, first Pollak thought the line about the ’67 borders was no big deal ….. but then, when there was an opportunity to attack President Obama, the line about the ’67 borders magically became a dangerous betrayal of Israel. You really couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of bad faith.
One shouldn’t, of course, expect Jennifer Rubin herself to report any of this. In addition to being Pollak’s former colleague at Commentary, back in February Rubin took a trip to Israel, courtesy of the Emergency Committee for Israel.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Ever since Obama delivered his Arab Spring speech, conservatives have been engaged in a full-throttle campaign to distort and outright falsify his stance on Israel – a comically transparent effort to drive Jewish support away from the President.
Conservatives predicted that Obama’s position – which they widely distorted as a call for a return to pre-1967 borders – would cost him the support of top Jewish donors. But The New York Observer talked to the donors themselves, and found that the whole thing is totally bogus…
…It was painfully obvious that this whole meme was highly questionable from the start … has a single actual major Jewish donor broken publicly with the President? If The Observer – which reports extensively on the world of big Jewish power Dems – is to be believed, the answer is No…
What’s more, it’s important to recall that the claim that Jews are on the verge of breaking with Obama has been a frequent refrain for literally years now. Back in 2008 there were reams of stories about how McCain would be able to make successful inroads with this core Democratic constituency. In the end, according to exit polls, Obama won around 78 percent of the Jewish vote.
The Jewish Daily Forward: … President Obama’s May 19 speech outlining his administration’s response to the so-called Arab Spring contained a ringing defense of Israel’s continued security and a stinging rebuke to Hamas. Obama plainly defended Israel’s right to exist and its place in the community of nations…
But the president also stated out loud what every president over the last two decades and many Israeli officials have acknowledged: The borders of Israel before the 1967 war, before the 43-year occupation, are the starting point for negotiations with Palestinians. The starting point, not the conclusion, as Obama also called for “land swaps” that, again, have long been an accepted mechanism for dividing the contested land….
….. the stern conditions for peace talks that Netanyahu enunciated before Congress were framed in such a way to leave little diplomatic space for the Palestinians. His narrative placed all the blame on them for the current impasse … while he promised he’d make “far reaching compromises” in the interests of peace, it’s unclear what that could mean when so much is off the table.
…. Netanyahu’s defiant stance puts American Jews in a heart-wrenching conundrum. We can choose to support his view of the world, in which an aggrieved Israel bears no responsibility for the occupation and for the impasse in negotiations – and many American Jews will… Most American Jews don’t want further procrastination, but an end to the conflict, which has stained Israel’s moral standing in the way that occupation and continued violence inevitably do…
…here’s what Obama does embody in his insistence on a peace process: The quintessential idealism and optimism that undergirds the American personality, the “yes we can” feeling that is right now at odds with Israeli fatalism, along with a pragmatic approach to foreign policy that sees a much larger picture than Netanyahu does….
We want the Palestinian leadership to take bold steps to recognize a new reality and the need for compromise. Why shouldn’t we expect the same of Israeli leadership?
Most of us hoped that Netanyahu would have given a courageous, creative speech to move the process forward, safeguarding Israel’s security as he must, but also recognizing the cogent, entirely reasonable requests from the President of the United States.
You are making us choose, Mr. Prime Minister. Please don’t.
Ynetnews: US President Barack Obama continues to be popular among American Jews – in fact 15% more popular than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll conducted by Israeli lobby J-Street….
According to the poll, Obama managed to maintain his popularity among 59% of American Jews …. In contrast, only 44% of American Jews continued to pledge their support to Netanyahu….
Pollster Jim Gerstein told Ynet the survey results prove that whoever thinks Jewish support of the American president has been declining is “detached from reality.”
….Obama’s approval among his Jewish constituencies continues to be higher by 15% than that of the general public. The pollster added that Israel’s declaration of construction in Jerusalem annoyed not only Obama but also American Jews, who thought Israel’s behavior was inadequate based on its close relations with the US…..
AFP: The majority of Israelis believe their prime minister should have supported US President Barack Obama’s outline for new peace talks with the Palestinians, according to a poll published Wednesday.
The survey, published in the Maariv newspaper, found 10 percent of Israelis thought Benjamin Netanyahu should have “declared his support for the president’s remarks with no reservations.”
Another 46.8 percent said the Israeli leader should have expressed support “but with reservations,” while 36.7 percent said Netanyahu should have declared his opposition to Obama’s principles for the peace process…..
Jerusalem Post: Opposition leader Tzipi Livni slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday for “harming the relationship” between Israel and the US.
“Netanyahu spoke about consensus,” Livni said, “and if there is a consensus in Israel, it’s that the relationship with the US is essential to Israel, and a prime minister that harms the relationship with the US over something unsubstantial is harming Israel’s security and deterrence.” Livni added that such a prime minister should resign. “I am saying this loud and clear.”
“Israel’s deterrence and legitimacy in the world is directly connected to our relationship with the greatest power in the world, the US,” Livni said.
She explained that Obama’s speech on Thursday “is not reason enough” to challenge the US, and said that Netanyahu’s statements were political and meant to maintain the coalition.
“An American president that supports the two-state vision is representing Israeli interests and is not anti-Israel,” Livni said. The only way to stop the Palestinians from unilaterally declaring statehood, Livni explained, is to have the US “convince states that plan to support the decision not to do so, but to support negotiations.”
President Obama will deliver his AIPAC address at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Sunday, at 10:35 a.m
AFP: Key global players Friday backed US President Barack Obama’s call for a Palestinian state including land lost in the 1967 war as Israel insisted there could be no return to “indefensible” borders.
…The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, which includes the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Russia, expressed “strong support” for Obama’s statement that a Palestinian state should include land that Israel has occupied since the 1967 war.
“The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues,” it said.
…EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton “warmly welcomes President Obama’s confirmation that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” a spokeswoman said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Obama’s speech was “a very important message for the Middle East peace process” and the proposal “a good path that both sides should consider”.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he supported Obama’s “clear message that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
…In the Arab world, Jordan hailed the American president who it said “for the first time clearly spoke of his vision for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and which must enjoy autonomy.”
…Syria’s official SANA news agency said Obama’s speech offered nothing new but “reaffirmed the deep-rooted and unwavering support for Israel’s security.”
Alone in outright condemnation, Iran slammed Obama’s statement as a sign of “despair” …. Iran does not recognise Israel’s right to exist.
President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office at the White House, May 20
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as they walk from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, following their meetings, May 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, May 18, 2009
Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic): …I was taken aback when I read a statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.”
So Netanyahu “expects” to hear this from the President of the United States? And if President Obama doesn’t walk back the speech, what will Netanyahu do? Will he cut off Israeli military aid to the U.S.? Will he cease to fight for the U.S. in the United Nations, and in the many international forums that treat Israel as a pariah?
I don’t like this word, “expect”. Even if there weren’t an imbalance between these two countries – Israel depends on the U.S. for its survival, while America, I imagine, would continue to exist even if Israel ceased to exist – I would find myself feeling resentful about the way Netanyahu speaks about our President.
….he threw something of a hissy fit. It was not appropriate, and more to the point, it was not tactically wise … Prime Minister Netanyahu needs the support of President Obama in order to confront the greatest danger Israel has ever faced: the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. And yet he seems to go out of his way to alienate the President. Why does he do this? It’s a mystery to me.
Also from Jeffrey Goldberg:….Republicans are misreading Obama’s speech for short-term political gain. But they’re doing the cause they ostensibly support – Israel – a disservice in the process. Because President Obama’s speech was enthusiastically pro-Israel …
Here’s Tim Pawlenty on the speech, misreading a crucial passage: “President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand….”
President Obama didn’t “insist” that Israel return to its 1967 borders. He said the 1967 borders should form the basis of negotiations, and that Israel and Palestine should swap land, land swaps that would bring settlement blocs and East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods into Israel proper.
But Pawlenty is a master of subtlety when compared to Mitt Romney, who said: “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus……”
Obama has thrown Israel under a bus? Top officials of the Israeli defense ministry have been telling me, and other reporters, for a couple of years now that military cooperation between their country and America has never been better. Some bus. There are a lot of countries out there that would like to be thrown under similar buses.
Steve Benen: ……Apparently, the most contentious point yesterday – or, at least, the point Republicans want to pretend was contentious – was one 30-word sentence: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the same thing two years ago, and Jeffrey Goldberg noted that George W. Bush adopted the same line in 2005 (see below).
…as near as I can tell, the president yesterday articulated the same position American administrations have taken for decades. Ah, Charles Krauthammer says, that may be, but no president has “ever before publicly and explicitly endorsed the 1967 lines.” In other words, Obama said something scandalous by taking a U.S. policy that’s existed for a generation and saying that it’s U.S. policy….
Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic): In 2005, George W. Bush stated that it is “unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949” (the 1967 boundaries of Israel, in other words).
Yesterday, Barack Obama said that he believes “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
I take this to mean that Israel would retain its major settlement blocs; that it would retain the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and that it would take West Bank land needed to thicken it at its most narrow point, in exchange for land adjacent to the Gaza Strip and the southern West Bank. I also interpret the saying “mutually agreed upon” to mean, well, “mutually agreed upon.” In other words, these boundaries would not be set without Israel’s approval.
I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is interpreting this as a major policy shift, and I understand that much of the media is going along with this interpretation. For what it’s worth, I don’t see a huge gap in the way these two Presidents framed the core issue.
BBC: US President Barack Obama has insisted that the “1967 border” must be the “basis for negotiations” to set up a future Palestinian state. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Obama said the position was “obvious” to those who had followed the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
…”The basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognising that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides,” Mr Obama said in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.
The US president said Israel would not “move forward” in negotiations unless the country felt secure against attacks from Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. And he acknowledged that the future status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees would remain to be discussed.
“Our argument is let’s get started on a conversation about territory and about security,” he said. “If we make progress on what two states would look like and a reality sets in among the parties, that this is how it is going to end up, then it becomes easier for both sides to make difficult concessions to resolve those two other issues.”
Israel immediately rejected Mr Obama’s vision of a Palestinian state based on the borders before the 1967 Six Day war between Israel and a bloc of neighbouring Arab states. In a statement, Mr Netanyahu, who is due to hold talks with Mr Obama in Washington on Friday, said the 1967 lines would leave Jewish settlements outside Israel.
I see the President is being attacked by both extremes after his speech today (which is a good sign)…. reminds me of these two photos:
Washington Post: President Obama used an address Thursday on the tumult in the Middle East and North Africa to increase pressure on American allies in the region, including Israel, to carry out lasting political reform and make peace with old enemies.
…Obama used one of the longest sections of his speech to urge Israel, in unusually frank terms, to negotiate a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.
For the first time, Obama cited Israel’s boundaries on the eve of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war as the basis for negotiation over final borders, saying that a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces” from the West Bank should be carried out in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
The formulation goes beyond principles outlined by President George W. Bush, who stated during his term that “it is unrealistic to expect” Israel to pull back to the 1967 lines. Obama said the negotiations over final borders, which he indicated may include land swaps to accommodate Israel’s large settlement blocs, should result in “a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.”
Obama acknowledged that the conflict’s most emotional questions — the division of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, and the right of Palestinian refugees or their descendants to return to homes inside Israel — would still need to be resolved. But he said moving forward now on the border and security aspects would provide a foundation for resolving the two “wrenching and emotional issues” in a “just and fair” manner.
By doing so, Obama essentially embraced the middle ground between two camps within his national security team, which for months have debated how far he should go in spelling out his plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace…..
Charles Johnson: In three short paragraphs about President Obama’s speech this morning, the Associated Press warps the story beyond recognition: ‘Obama says Palestine must be based in 1967 borders….’ …Wow. Rarely have I seen such blatant distortion in a mainstream news release….
Note: he didn’t say “1967 borders,” he didn’t “side with the Palestinians,” and he absolutely did still insist on mutually agreed swaps and secure borders for both countries. It’s nothing but a re-wording of the same position the US has taken for many years.
And the AP’s first sentence is completely false: “…based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.”
When people refer to the “1967 lines” they’re always talking about the post-war armistice lines. Whoever wrote this sentence needs to have their journalism examined.
Based on this distorted and very misleading AP article, Fox News instantly put together a screaming fake outrage headline, currently leading on their front page: “Obama Shocker – Backs Palestinians, Tells Israel To PULL BACK TO ’67 BORDERS.”
…And of course, it’s already all over the right wing blogosphere that President Obama “told Israel to move back to the pre-1967 borders.”
No. He didn’t.
All this fake outrage spread throughout the Internet within minutes after the President’s speech, like a virtual wingnut flash mob. I guess it’s too much to ask these people to report what the President actually said.
Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic): Nuttiest Coverage of Obama’s Speech So Far – The winner, by a mile: The Associated Press. Charles Johnson (see above) explains why this report was filed from an alternate universe…..
The Anti-Defamation League, one of Israel’s most stalwart supporters on the planet, just issued this statement praising President Obama (see here).
This Administration has come a long way in two years in terms of understanding of the nuances involved in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace and a better understanding of the realities and challenges confronting Israel.