While in Dresden on Friday, Barack Obama sat down for yet another fawning interview, this time with NBC’s Tom Brokaw on the “Today Show.”
Brokaw asked Obama what Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could learn from his visit to Buchenwald. Obama made short work of this softball, answering: “Well I was very explicit yesterday. He should make his own visit. I have no patience for people who would deny history. The history of the Holocaust is not something speculative.”
Well said, Mr. President!
Brokaw’s next question was something else entirely: “What can the Israelis learn from your visit to Buchenwald? And what should they be thinking about their treatment of Palestinians?”
To this the president responded: “Well, look, there’s no equivalency here.”
Of course, Obama had implied that there was such an “equivalency” in his speech in Cairo the day before by directly contrasting the Holocaust with the plight of the Palestinians in his patented “on the one and then on the other hand” style. But when Brokaw connected the dots that Obama had drawn, the president stepped back and repudiated the analogy. So far, so good. Had Obama stopped there, we might well think that the president understands the situation better than he let on in his Cairo speech. But he didn’t stop. Here’s the rest of his answer to the question:
But I do think that given the extraordinary moral traditions of Judaism, the potential power of empathy that arouses out of going through such historic hardships that – that will ultimately give the people of Israel the strength and purpose to seek a just and lasting peace. And I believe that will involve creating two states side by side with peace and security.
Though moments earlier he had said he had no patience for those who deny history, that’s exactly what he did when he spoke as if the people of Israel had yet to try to seek peace. He was, in effect denying the fact that it was the Jews who accepted the principle of partition of the land into two states for two peoples in 1937 and 1947 before the State of Israel was even born. He was denying that it was the people of Israel who reached out to the Palestinians and attempted to make peace with them in 1993 with the Oslo Accords and various follow-up agreements later that decade (including two signed by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu). And that it was the Israelis who offered the Palestinians a state in virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza and part of Jerusalem at Camp David in July 2000 and a few months later in Taba. And that Ehud Olmert offered them even more last year after the Annapolis summit.
Obama was so quick to speak in a patronizing tone about what Israelis should learn from their own religion (which apparently Obama thinks he knows better than they do), he forgot to mention that it was the Palestinians who rejected peace each and every time and responded consistently to Israeli peace offers with war and terrorism (a word that never passes the president’s lips any more).
The people of Israel have already found the strength and purpose to try and make a lasting peace. They found it long before Obama arrived on the scene and need no instruction from him on the subject. What they need is a Palestinian negotiating partner that has found such strength and purpose, something completely lacking from both the feckless Palestinian Authority and the Hamas Islamist terrorist movement that he spoke of in Cairo, neither of who have any real interest in a two state solution. What they are both still striving for is a one state solution in which Israel is extinguished.
What they also need is for their sole ally to stop acting and speaking as if history began the day he entered office and that all that has gone before is of no significance. While his arrogance and condescension may play well on the international stage, it is no match for the realities of this complex situation. But if you’re Barack Obama, I guess you don’t have to worry too much about history or facts so long as the applause and fawning interviews keep coming.
A hat tip to Alan Luxenberg of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia for alerting me to the content of this interview.