Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama Middle East Speech: A Big and Revealing Mistake That Nobody Has Noticed

By Barry Rubin

There is a small detail at the end of Obama’s big Middle East speech that everyone has overlooked up until now but which shows how inept this administration is at understanding the Israel-Palestinian issue and why it continually makes Israel mistrustful.

In doing his balancing act on Israeli and Palestinian fears and hostility, he says this:

“I'm convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past….We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. `I have the right to feel angry,’ he said. `So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,’ he said, `for tomorrow.’"

That’s genuinely touching. But in the specific case Obama cites—that of Izzedin Abuelaish on January 16, 2009-- there is strong reason to believe that the three girls were killed because of Hamas, that is Palestinian, actions.

According to an official Israeli inquiry, Hamas snipers on the roof of their five-story building were shooting at Israeli soldiers. The tank returned fire. In addition, though, the investigation could not rule out the possibility that the girls were killed by an explosion of explosives and ammunition being stored in the building by Hamas or even by fire from Hamas forces.

In other words, the president took an incident where the cause was unclear and blamed Israel for it. And of course the tragic deaths of these girls took place because the United States did nothing to help prevent Hamas from taking over the Gaza Strip and then Hamas broke a ceasefire and attacked Israel.

Since then, the Obama Administration has pressured Israel to reduce sanctions on Hamas to an absolute minimum and provided $400 million to pay salaries in the Gaza Strip, which benefits Hamas's rule.

In addition, since the Palestinian Authority has just announced it will pay money to those who are prisoners of Israel, U.S. taxpayer money will now go to reward those who have committed terrorist attacks.

And that tells us what we need to know: President Obama and his colleagues don’t get the facts straight and tend to blame Israel. In other words, Obama counterposed the reaction of an Israeli father whose son was murdered by Palestinian terrorists to that of a Palestinian father whose daughters were murdered by or because of the actions of...Palestinian terrorists.

And that's the trouble with an "even-handed" approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

But, as with the Abu al-Aish case, it is the radicals who lead the Palestinian movement, several states, and the revolutionary Islamist oppositions--not Israel--are killing the peace process.

Terrorists attack Israel; Israel defends itself.

The revolutionary Islamists--not Israel or Husni Mubarak or the Saudi regime, or past U.S. policy—are destroying the Middle East. And since Obama Administration policy fails to realize these things then it, too, is destroying the Middle East.

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