- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

President Obama claims and the mainstream media dutifully report that his stance on Israel is just like that of previous presidents and he cannot understand all the fuss following his remarks at the annual assembly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Over the weekend, he tried to repair the damage and “set the record straight” by explaining “what I actually said” instead of what he was “reported to have said.”

The problem is that he actually said exactly what he was reported to have said, and he said it in a rather defensive and angry tone of voice. Apparently, the president finds it very frustrating when people see through his attempts to obfuscate, and he comes back with further obfuscation in continuing attempts to appear to be saying something different from what he actually said. But his message was clear: (1) He wants Israel to negotiate with Hamas, which has openly stated its goal of destroying Israel; (2) he wants a “contiguous” Palestinian state, which is a geographical impossibility for Israel; and (3) he supports a peace treaty “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” - a position that Israel has long stated is “indefensible.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the pre-1967 borders were “not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars.”

Even those of us who are not experts on foreign policy see the implausibility of those demands. The president talked about “new demographic realities on the ground,” but Mr. Netanyahu stated that the president’s stance was “based on illusions.” Mr. Netanyahu stated bluntly that Israel will never go back to the old borders - such a move would be, as previously stated, “indefensible.” Those 1967 lines are the ones that were in place before the Six Day War - clearly a defensive effort to protect Israel against aggressors. How can the president not understand that he has thrown Israel under the bus? How does he not see that his Middle East statements are alienating Jewish and pro-Israel Americans? Even as he tried to smooth over the firestorm of opposition, he continued to stoke Israel’s fury by repeating his recommendation that any peace talks begin by accepting the 1967 borders - an assertion that shows his “illusions” and naivete.

The incompetence in the White House is getting more and more serious, not just endangering our relationships with our staunchest allies but threatening the stability of our own nation as well.

The president tried to paper over the problem by talking about friends sometimes disagreeing but that “the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad.” Again, however, his rhetoric doesn’t square with reality, nor do his words correspond to his actual policies. After the president’s remarks, which some described as “flirting with disaster,” prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are even less likely. The gravity of the situation is summed up in Mr. Netanyahu’s comment that history will not give the Jewish people another chance; Israel’s enemies are ready to pounce - a “reality” that the president ignores in his grandiose pronouncements.

Some commentators called Mr. Obama’s remarks “dangerous” and his foreign policy “clouded” and “confused.” One called it a “blame Israel first” speech. Others thought the president would have been wiser to focus on the necessity for Hamas to “abandon its determination to destroy Israel.”

Mr. Netanyahu asked for “clarifications” of what the president meant by several key passages in his remarks. He said, “A peace based on illusions will crash against the rocks of Middle Eastern reality; the only peace that will endure is one based on unshakeable facts.” One of those realities is that Israel is surrounded by enemies - some with missiles aimed its way. Another reality is that Mr. Obama is recommending that Israel negotiate from a position of weakness. He barged into a “sensitive and delicate” foreign policy situation to arrogantly dictate the terms of the negotiations in what many are calling the “most significant” shift in U.S. foreign policy in recent memory. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, summarized the president’s remarks as “a shocking display of betrayal” of Israel. The bottom line regarding the Middle East situation was explained succinctly by Alan M. Dershowitz: If the Palestinians would lay down their arms, there would be peace, but if the Israelis laid down theirs, there would be genocide.

Janice Shaw Crouse is director of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.