Commentary Magazine


An Open Letter to President Obama

In the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books, Harry V. Jaffa has “An Open Letter” addressed to President Obama:

In your Cairo speech [June 4, 2009] you referred to the West Bank as “occupied” by Israel. You implied that the Palestinian Arabs were being denied the sovereign rights to their homeland. But the West Bank was never a sovereign state to Palestinian Arabs. In the ancient world, Judea and Samaria belonged to what was then a sovereign Jewish state, a state from which the Jews were repeatedly driven by foreign conquerors: among them Babylonians, Romans, and Christian crusaders. However often they were driven from their ancient homeland, Jews always returned.

The millennial claims of the Jews contrast with the fact that the Palestinian people of today have no such historic claims. In fact, the Palestinians whose national identity you recognize did not exist before 1967. The West Bank was conquered in 1948 by Jordan, which subsequently annexed it and then later de-annexed it. It was de-annexed when the King of Jordan discovered he had added to his kingdom Palestinians who wanted to overthrow his monarchy. For the same reason, Israel does not want to add enemies to its body politic. . . .

Because even Palestinian “peace partners” refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and because that refusal is at the heart of the repeated failures of prior “peace processes,” some basic historical facts need to be reiterated. The Jaffa letter does a good job and is worth reading in its entirety.

The Review has just made the issue’s Correspondence section available to nonsubscribers, so the remainder of the Jaffa letter can be read here.

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