I have frequently posted about current events that go on here in Israel that fail to make headlines around the world. However, a few weeks ago, there was one item that did indeed make headlines back home and around the globe. For the past few weeks, I have been asked about my perspective (and the Israeli perspective) regarding Obama's (now infamous...) commentary that Israel should go back to the borders established before the 1967 war.
To give you some background on this highly discussed topic, the context dates back to May 20 of this year when Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington DC in order to engage in talks regarding the ongoing political situation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Keep in mind that the US has been the longest standing ally and friend of Israel, supporting the state throughout its tumultuous history.
With that said, amidst the peace talks, Obama made the following controversial statement: "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" of land. Essentially, Obama is suggesting that Israel return all the territory that was rightfully acquired by the state in the 1967 war with the Arab world. Please see the video below to educate yourself as to why the world stood shocked and speechless at Obama's uneducated suggestion:
Essentially, Israel has a need to establish and keep defensible borders, as any other country in the world. Returning the borders to the pre-1967 lines would be setting up the state of Palestine in a way that would give the Arab nations the ability to dominate and attack Israeli land. Israel, in its entirety, would have no ability to defend itself. Its entire existence would be at risk. That is why the suggestion to return to the pre-1967 lines was so abominably preposterous. The very reason those lines were established was so Israel, a country surrounded on all sides by enemies, would have the ability to defend itself.
|Pre-1967 Map of Israel's Borders|
|Present Day Israeli Borders|
|Palestinian Land Occupation between 1946-2000|
So, to answer the question as to what do Israeli think about Obama's commentary? They are shocked and offended at the preposterous suggestion. They are hurt and wounded by the seeming neglect and lack of concern from a long time ally and friend. They are frustrated and baffled at the need to continually educate and awaken the world to the political reality in this region. And, on top of it all, they remind the world that they do indeed wish to achieve peace with the Palestinians....who have rejected every single peace offer suggested to them throughout Israel's history. So, when you look at the last map above, don't just look at the Palestinian loss of land without remembering that they have failed to accept any substantial peace offer. Israelis want to achieve peace and are ready for a Palestinian state (despite what you may have heard); but they want to establish it through a formalized peace process that would allow Israel to keep its defensible borders and that would assure them that the Palestinian state would be a demilitarized one. These requests are both fair and understandable.
As we approach September 15, when the Palestinians plan to head over to the UN to request formal statehood, I am sure you will be hearing and seeing more and more about all of this on your TV screen and in your local newspapers. Furthermore, as Obama heads into the 2012 election year, it will be interesting to see how his stance on Israel affects his candidacy and approval rating. As Netanyahu said (and as Israelis agree), "There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, doesn't understand what we face." And I think that just about sums it up pretty well.