Do you remember Jeremiah Wright, the long-time pastor, mentor and spiritual guide to Barack Obama? Obama sat in Wright’s pews for more than a decade and was baptized into his church, as were both of his daughters. All the while Wright preached a hateful mixture of black liberation theology and America-bashing, periodically spiced up with Louis Farrakhan-style anti-Semitism.
Once Wright’s rants became public and threatened to derail Obama’s presidential campaign, the candidate distanced himself from his pastor. This is “not the man I knew for 20 years,” candidate Obama explained to America during a high-profile press conference.
Well, the good reverend is back in the news. Asked by a reporter if he had recently spoken to the president, Wright said, “Them Jews aren’t going to let me talk to him.” “Them Jews” was an apparent reference to several top Obama aides, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Wright clearly feels spurned because “them Jews” aren’t allowing him access to the president. But Wright can also feel a certain satisfaction as his former protégé implements a policy toward Israel’s Jews that would make him proud. In fact, while Candidate Obama eventually distanced himself from Jeremiah Wright, President Obama seems to have embraced some of Wright’s more unsavory sentiments about Israel.
For the past few weeks, the focus of President Obama’s Middle East policy has been to browbeat Israel into discontinuing the establishment of “settlements” in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.
When President Obama met with Benjamin Netanyahu last month, he told the Israeli prime minister that the U.S. wanted no more housing built in Judea and Samaria. And in his Cairo speech, Obama said, “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been even more direct, stating that the United States wants “a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”
But nearly 300,000 Israelis live in communities in Judea and Samaria. These are not “outposts” or “settlements” but “hometowns,” with schools and hospitals. In these communities, young Israelis marry, start households and have babies. Nine thousand six hundred babies were born in Judea and Samaria last year, and these growing families need housing.
The view among many on the Left is that building “settlements” violates international law. But settlement activity was not defined as a violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the governing document for legal rights in the West Bank. Plus, the area of territory taken up by “settlements” is estimated to be less than two percent of the total area of the West Bank.
The Obama administration seems to want Judea and Samaria to be “Jew free.” But banishing Jews from the West Bank would not bring peace any more than forcibly evicting nearly 10,000 Israeli Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005 brought peace.
When former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave in to international pressure and removed Jews from Gaza, Benyamin Netanyahu predicted that it would be transformed into “a huge base for terror.” And that’s exactly what happened after Hamas took over in Gaza and began launching attacks on Israel, attacks that continue today. Withdrawing from Gaza made the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace less likely, while making Israel less secure, which perhaps is why the anti-Israel crowd is pushing the same idea in Judea and Samaria.
It is absurd to think that the Palestinians would suddenly become peaceful if Israel abandoned the West Bank. Ehud Barak offered to deconstruct 80 percent of West Bank settlements, in addition to other generous concessions, at Camp David in 2000. Yasser Arafat, then leader of the Palestinian Authority, flatly refused and instead launched the second intifada, a campaign of terror that led to the killing of more than 1,000 of “them Jews.”
The Obama administration is pushing a two-state solution. But who would rule the Palestinians? Fatah is so weak that Hamas could very well win an election in a Palestinian state or simply force Fatah out as they did in 2007. Does Obama believe he can negotiate a meaningful peace with a terrorist organization whose governing charter states as one of its top goals the annihilation of Israel?
President Obama has told audiences across the globe that during the Bush years, “all too often the United States start[ed] by dictating.” But that’s precisely what Obama has done by demanding that Israel abandon Judea and Samaria.
In his initial efforts to find “peace” in the Middle East, President Obama has repeatedly pointed to those whom Reverend Wright calls “them Jews” living in Judea and Samaria as the main impediments to peace. The president seems rather less troubled by “them Islamo-fascists,” who won’t be satisfied until Israel is no more and the United States is driven out of the Middle East.