Friday, September 23, 2016

Obama’s Parting Shot at Israel - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

An outrageous attack on the Jewish state before the world’s greatest purveyors of anti-Semitism.

Obama’s last address before the UN General Assembly was typically and predictably condescending, hypocritical, disingenuous and vainglorious. He used the opportunity to perform some electioneering and take a swipe at Donald Trump. “Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself,” he said in a not too subtle reference to Trump’s promised plans to secure the southern border with the construction of a wall and restrict immigration from high-risk countries.

France, a NATO ally that has partnered with the U.S. to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamic extremism in Mali, was also derided. Though he did not mention France by name, he criticized “liberal societies” for their “opposition to women who choose to cover themselves.” This of course was a veiled reference French laws banning Burkas and Burkinis, items of Islamic clothing that are oppressive to and denigrate women.

Of course, Obama made no mention of the Paris and Nice massacres. Nor did he note that as a result of Muslim violence, 70 percent of Europe’s Jews won’t be attending synagogue during the Jewish High-Holy Days. Obama did of course heap praise on Indonesia, a Muslim nation that discriminates against minorities and the LGBT community, still maintains so-called “blasphemy” laws, and imposes draconian Sharia law in some districts. This year, a 60-year old Christian-Indonesian woman was given 28 lashes for selling alcohol. This is the model nation that the president touts before the world community.

The vainglorious president also took the opportunity to tout his disastrous Iran deal, noting that the United States “resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.” Obama, however, failed to note that he inked the worst deal in U.S. diplomatic history and likely the worst deal since the 1938 Munich Accord. He also omitted the fact that the infusion of $150 billion into Iran’s anemic economy will enable the mullahs to continue to sow misery throughout the region.

Of course, no Obama speech would be complete without the perfunctory assault on Israel. What better place to attack the Jewish state than before a body that is today’s greatest purveyor of anti-Semitism, where anti-Israel invective flows like water and where the Jewish state is incessantly vilified?

Recognizing of course that referring to Jews as “apes and pigs” is a national Palestinian pastime, Obama reminded the Palestinians to play nicely before directing his invective against Israel.

“Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” he said.

There are two egregious problems with Obama’s statement. First, it is insufficient for the Palestinian Authority to merely “recognize the legitimacy of Israel.” 

Israel has made clear that the PA must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The PA has rejected this demand outright because they envision a future Palestinian state, exclusively for Palestinians, in Judea/Samaria and an entity that calls itself “Israel” composed of Jews as well as Palestinian Muslims, thereby negating the Jewish character of the state. 

That represents the crux of the problem. Palestinian Muslims will never recognize the indigenousness of Jews in their ancestral land [sic]. Any peace agreement without such recognition is inherently flawed and sets the stage for more bloody conflict. In terms of strategy, there is absolutely no difference between the PA and Hamas. Both aspire to the ultimate goal of establishing a Muslim Arab state from the River to the Sea. The only difference is tactics. The PA has adopted a more practical and deceitful approach toward achieving their ultimate objective (though every once in a while they slip and reveal their true colors) while Hamas is frighteningly and brutishly honest.

The second problem is that Judea and Samaria is neither “occupied” nor is it “Palestinian land.” It is a territory that is the subject of a bonafide dispute between two parties with competing claims.

From a legal perspective, Israel’s claim has more merit. In 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Israel/Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. General Assembly resolutions have no binding legal authority. The Jews accepted partition, but the Arabs rejected it. Had they accepted it, the matter would have been settled and an agreement would have validated the GA resolution and made it legally binding under international law.

During the War of 1948 that followed, Jordan seized Judea and Samaria as well as the eastern portion of Jerusalem and annexed these territories. Only Pakistan fully recognized Jordan’s illegal annexation, while England’s recognition was limited to Judea and Samaria. The territory was occupied by Jordan for 19 years and during those 19 years, Jewish institutions were reduced to rubble while Jewish headstones in the Mount of Olives cemetery were used to build latrines for the Jordanian army.

In June 1967, Jordan’s monarch, fed on a steady diet of fantasy-like falsehoods of Israel’s impending demise, attacked Israel with Hawker Hunter jets and artillery. Israel responded to the provocation and liberated Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria in a matter of days.

The UN considers war and conquests therefrom to be illegal, but Article 52 of the UN Charter provides an exception to the illegality of war in cases involving self-defense. The Six-Day War was as clear as they come in terms of self-defense. Israel acquired these lands through defensive conquest. Never in the history of mankind has a nation been compelled to return territories -- acquired in the course of a defensive war -- to an aggressor entity.

Following the war and after many month of haggling, the UN Security Council, which has the power to establish international law, passed Resolution 242. The resolution called upon Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Notably, the word “all” was deliberately omitted thus giving implicit recognition to Israeli territorial conquests. One can reasonably argue that Israel has fully complied with Resolution 242 by virtue of its withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, some 40 percent of Judea and Samaria and Quneitra on the Golan Heights, and that no further territorial withdrawals are required.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that two Jewish commonwealths existed on territories now claimed as “occupied” hundreds of years before Mohammedan colonizers set foot on the land. It would be more precise to refer to the territories as “re-occupied,” in deference to the indigenous inhabitants of the land.

Obama likely knows all this but couldn’t resist taking a parting shot at Israel. That he would choose to do it in a forum that is infamous for its anti-Semitic vitriol speaks volumes of the man.  

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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