- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Thank you for Barbara Slavin’s analysis (“President’s words worry supporters of Israel,” Page 1, Friday). President Obama deserves credit for standing in the heart of the Islamic world, affirming that America’s bond with Israel “is unbreakable” and condemning Holocaust denial.

However, Mr. Obama failed to remind Arabs that Jews, too, are indigenous to the Middle East and that Israel’s right to exist is based on a history that goes back not just to the aftermath of the Holocaust but thousands of years. He criticized murderous Palestinian bombing and rocket attacks on Israelis, but he called it “resistance” rather than “terrorism.” Also, he didn’t seek Arab peace gestures toward Israel.

Above all, he failed to confront the Arabs with the truth: They repeatedly have rejected peace. In March 1919, Feisal ibn al-Hussein al-Hashemi, the emir of Hedjaz and acknowledged leader of Arab nationalism, wrote: “We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins …. The Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement … we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home …. I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us.” Imagine the world today if that attitude had prevailed among the Arabs.

Instead, Arab extremists, led by Haj Amin al-Husseini (Yasser Arafat’s mentor), massacred Jews in pre-state Israel throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1947, the United Nations voted to establish both Jewish and Arab states. The Jews accepted it, but the Arabs rejected the “two-state solution,” tried to destroy Israel at its birth, and then forcibly expelled nearly 900,000 Jews from Arab lands. In 1967, Egypt besieged and blockaded Israel, with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser declaring: “Our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.” The Six-Day War - a war Israel never wanted - was the result. In 1973, the Arabs tried again to destroy Israel.

In 2000, Israel offered the Palestinians a state born in peace, but the Palestinians responded with a war of terror targeting Israeli civilians. In 2008, “moderate” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - whose Ph.D dissertation mocked the Holocaust as “the fantastic lie” - rejected an even more generous offer for peace.

Mr. Obama should have reminded his audience that when the Palestinians cite their “dislocation” in 1948 or lack of a state today as justification for blowing up Israeli children in schools, buses, discos, malls and pizzerias, these pretexts are consequences of their own intransigence.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco

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