Obama Explains – And Makes It Worse


alan-dershowitzBy Alan M. Dershowitz

In his press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Wednesday, President Obama explained his thinking as to why he insisted that the first step in seeking a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians must be an agreement by Israel to accept the 1967 borders with mutually agreed-upon land swaps. Here is what he said:

“It is going to require wrenching compromise from both sides. In the last decade, when negotiators have talked about how to achieve that outcome, there have been typically four issues that have been raised. One is the issue of what would the territorial boundaries of a new Palestinian state look like. Number two: how could Israel feel confident that its security needs would be met? Number three: how would the issue of Palestinian refugees be resolved; and number four, the issue of Jerusalem. The last two questions are extraordinarily emotional. They go deep into how the Palestinians and the Jewish people think about their own identities. Ultimately they are going to be resolved by the two parties. I believe that those two issues can be resolved if there is the prospect and the promise that we can actually get to a Palestinian state and a secure Jewish state of Israel.”

This recent statement clearly reveals the underlying flaw in Obama’s thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no way that Israel can agree to borders without the Palestinians also agreeing to give up any claim to a “right of return.” As Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyed once told me: each side has a major card to play and a major compromise to make; for Israel, that card is the West Bank, and the compromise is returning to the 1967 lines with agreed-upon adjustments and land swaps; for the Palestinians, that card is “the right of return,” and the compromise is an agreement that the Palestinian refugees will be settled in Palestine and not in Israel; in other words, that there will be no right to “return” to Israel.

President Obama’s formulation requires Israel to give up its card and to make a “wrenching compromise” by dismantling most of the West Bank settlements and ending its occupation of the West Bank. But it does not require the Palestinians to give up their card and to compromise on the right of return. That “extraordinarily emotional” issue is to be left to further negotiations only after the borders have been agreed to.

This temporal ordering – requiring Israel to give up the “territorial” card before the Palestinians even have to negotiate about the “return” card – is a non-starter for Israel and it is more than the Palestinians have privately asked for. Once again, President Obama, by giving the Palestinians more than they asked for, has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinians to compromise. Earlier in his administration, Obama insisted that Israel freeze all settlement building, despite the fact that the Palestinians had not demanded such action as a precondition to negotiating. He forced the Palestinians to impose that as a precondition, because no Palestinian leader could be seen as less pro-Palestinian than the American President. Now he’s done it again, by not demanding that the Palestinians give up their right of return as a quid for Israel’s quo of returning to the 1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps.

So it’s not so much what President Obama said; it’s what he didn’t say. It would have been so easy for the President to have made the following statement:

“I am asking each side to make a wrenching compromise that will be extraordinarily emotional and difficult. For Israel, this compromise must take the form of abandonment of its historic and Biblical claims to what it calls Judea and Samaria. This territorial compromise will require secure boundaries somewhat different than the 1967 lines that led to war. Resolution 242 of the Security Council recognized the need for changes in the 1967 lines that will assure Israel’s security. Since 1967, demographic changes have occurred that will also require agreed-upon land swaps between Israel and the new Palestinian state. This territorial compromise will be difficult for Israel, but in the end it will be worthwhile, because it will assure that Israel will remain both a Jewish and a fully democratic state in which every resident is equal under the law.

“For the Palestinians, this compromise must take the form of a recognition that for Israel to continue to be the democratic state of the Jewish people, the Palestinian refugees and their descendants will have to be settled in Palestine. In other words, they will have a right to return, but to Palestine and not to Israel. This will be good both for Palestine and for Israel. For Palestine, it will assure that the new state will have the benefit of a large and productive influx of Palestinians from around the world. This Palestinian diaspora should want to help build an economically and politically viable Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership must recognize, as I believe they do, that there will be no “right of return” of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel. Compensation can be negotiated both for those Palestinians who left Israel as a result of the 1948 wars and for those Jews who left Arab countries during and after that same period.”

It’s not too late for President Obama to “explain” that that is what he really meant when he declared that Israel must remain a Jewish state and that any Palestinian government that expects compromises from Israel must recognize that reality. Central to Israel’s continued existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the Palestinian recognition that there can be no so-called “right of return” to Israel, and that the Palestinian leadership and people must acknowledge that Israel will continue to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people within secure and recognized boundaries. Unless President Obama sends that clear message, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians as well, he will not move the peace process forward. He will move it backward.

{Hudson-NY.org/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Orwell, Zodok and all you other ideological Obama lovers, please read this article carefully. Then maybe you’ll understand why Obama’s speech is very different than the complete package deal offered by Olmert and endorsed by Bush. Or maybe you won’t because you’re blinded by your undying love for the Democratic President.

  2. Alan Dershowitz has lied so many times in this article.

    It is a very simple principle: when you claim a statement of fact that is not true, then it is a lie. So if you state something is a sure thing, and it isn’t, then it is a lie.

    So Dershowitz is just making up all sorts of guesses and plying them off to us as REAL LIFE STATEMENTS OF FACT.

    AD said “[Obama]He forced the Palestinians to impose that as a precondition, because no Palestinian leader could be seen as less pro-Palestinian than the American President.”

    AD is simply telling a statement of fact that isn ot true, and that is lying.

    It is simply untrue when Dershowitz says “This temporal ordering – requiring Israel to give up the “territorial” card before the Palestinians even have to negotiate about the “return” card – is a non-starter for Israel and it is more than the Palestinians have privately asked for.”

    It is untrue. It is his illusion which he is stating as true. So it is a lie.
    The card was already given up in the negotiations under Bush and the only issue which land.

    It is simply Dershowitz’s fantasy that deciding the land automatically means, as Dershowitz says: “by giving the Palestinians more than they asked for, has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinians to compromise.”

    This is a lie: Obama didn’t give them more than they asked for because nothing is being given to them. An order is not a give unless Dershowitzes other fantasies noted above were true, which they are not.

    The negotiations will not result in a state if Israel excepts borders and then refuses the right of return- that is obvious. Thereofre the whole gist of AD’s article is false.

  3. Obama is a looser. Why Whould he say such a stupid thing, just before Netanuahu’s visit to the USA. When he has an invitation to speek to condress. He’s a fool

  4. as an adjunct to my previous comment, Dershoitz presents arguments as though his job in an article is to argue like a lawyer in a court case. The problem is that a lawyer is not supposed to present an intellectual analysis on a complicated issue- rather, a lawyer is supposed to present a position only intended for the client – to get the client off, or to show the court that his client has just claims against the defendent.
    However Dershowitz in this article is simply giving talking points against the Obama planned ” steps” to the negotiations.

    The most obvious points in favor of it are ignored and instead AD only discusses what he perceives to be the flaws. Well that is about as useful as a merchant showing only the flaws without the rest of the diamond.
    Obama’s plan of ordering of the negotiations is obviously full of possibility in jump starting negotiations with no DANGER in it.

    The obvious point in favor of it is that which Obama already discussed in the mideast speech, in the AIPAC speech, and in the entire England Speech.

    Most positions have pros and cons; the question is which are overwhelming enough to cause one to make a decision one way as opposed to another- this is obvious. In this case there is the overwhelming reason to try it- there is no downside to Israel- just an upside- Here’s why: Israel can say “no” to the Palestinians red lines, and everything for the Israelis stays the same. Obama knows this, Israel knows this, and the Palestinians know this. However this is NOT so for the Palestinians. The dangling carrot of a final border agreement after a negotiation is reached may be too much for the Palestinians to bare leaving on the table, forcing the Palestinians to step past their red lines, because they lose a state dangling before their eyes.

    This new Obama plan of ” STEPS” creates a much larger more prominent carrot for the Palestinians, even though nothing MORE is offered to them. This benefits Israel, because Israel’s carrot looks light years more appealing to the Palestinians.
    But again it has no drawbacks for Israel since Israel can nix the Palestinian red lines.

    Of course the dutiful press will not report Dershowitz’s article of the flaws in the plan- purely Dershoitzs imagination- a fantasy put together in the fashion of a lawyer advocating bias against the Obama position and not cherrypicking talking points as an advocate for eliminating the obama “Steps” Plan and not presenting a comprehensive analysis of the whole plan.

    Dershowitz, as any good lawyer does, twisted the benefit into the opposite direction, by trying to scare the proIsraeli populace with smoke and mirrors by misleading the reader into thinking Israel can’t say no to the Palestinians red lines.

    Bush at Annapolis “Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity on the West Bank” Bush said at the time. “This is the position of the United States today; it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.”

    This what Bush said at Annapolis [ even] after he demanded that prior to negotiations Israel must stop all settlement growth.

  5. Don’t worry about any of Obama’s wording.
    With the Pali’s the way they are, nothing of all that will ever happen.

  6. I wonder whether Professor Dershowitz can study Torah well. His reasoning is always so clear and sensible and he has such heart for Klal Yisroel. Well done sir!

  7. Dershowitz is wrong when it comes to land-swaps. This implies that Judea and Samaria are Arab land and any Jewish settlements that remain in Israeli hands have to be offset by giving the equivalent amount of territory from pre-’67 Israel. We are NOT occupiers of the land, as Bibi so eloquently declared. Dershowitz should go back and read his Tanach.

  8. George Orwell: Its your [and Obama’s] fantasy that the Palestinians will accept this more appealing dangling carrot w/o them getting in reality much ‘more’than what has been offered to them in the past. All this will accomplish is to corner Israel into making much greater far reaching concessions regarding refugees; since in the event that the Palestinians suggest a counter offer with much greater concessions regarding the refugee issue,Israel will not be able to refuse it, since Israel cannot afford being labeled as the spoiler by walking out of negotiations after they have already mutually agreed on paper to territorial borders.

  9. regarding #9 comment from The Truth

    re-write your comment in coherent English and I’d be happy to respond

    lines 6, 7, 8 are incoherent

  10. Zadok, I’m a Palestinian and I don’t speak coherent english. If, as you claim, you’re able to understand the Palestinians psyche so well even though they don’t speak coherent english, then you should be able to understand my above comment as well. Btw, the Palestinians lack in their psyche the ability to compromise, period.

  11. The irony of all this is, that the pathologcal hatred that so many frum yidden have of Obama (R’ avi shafran wrote about the real reason behind it a year or so ago…) has driven so many to take liberal stances on Israel!
    People agree with Dershowitz, who while a strong defendor of Israel, has long called for a “2 state solution” People views Bush as having Israel’s best interests in mind and having been Israel’s “best friend”. Everybody seems to have forgotten about annapolis when Bush pushed for the division of Yerushalyim! Yidden, it wasnt that long ago, please wake up. Disagree with Obama gezunterheit, as ive written here over and over I certainly do, but please dont support Dershowitz or Bush’s exact same ideas!
    You are being tricked!!
    In order to disagree with Obama so many here are suddenly agreeing with Bussh. Bush has the EXACT SAME PLAN (perhaps it was worded slightly differently, but the substance was exactly the same).
    Of course everybody is free to support Bush’s and Dershowitz’s mideast ideas (ie roadmaps dividing yerushalyim) But please please realise what you are doing, look into it so you can make an informed decision. Dont let your disdain of Obama drive you

  12. Nice guess at what Obama meant to say. But Obama still has a very big problem of being ambiguous. I think he purposely does this so that who ever he talks to he can just turn what he said into what they wanted to hear. He has no backbone.

  13. TRUTH is still incoherent- the ssentences arent sensiical- there is no forcing of israel to go past where they would be as a spoiler.

    i agree with yankel up to the last paragraph. We shouldnt have disdain for Obama we should be calling our kids Barak in a few years like we call our kids Alexander.
    Because Obama has done better for us than Bush ( aside from bush and olmert giving away 100% of the land mass of the West Bank in 2008 to Abbas) which would require a discussion in another forum ( though obama doesnt insert such flowery rhetoric about klal yisroel as bush did …which i could care less about but which frum yidden evidently care alot about which is why the likud and the republicans are masterful at whipping many of us into manic hysteria with ANTI-SHEMI claims against O )

    Why does Yankel think we agree with Obama? I for one think the Pals should be sent to Jordan and the Israeli Arab women under 33 be paid to leave to another country in a prorated scale based on their age.

    my goal is simply to defend Obama from false charges of the Likud Coaltion and from the Republican party. I remember the headlines that Clinton was trying to destroy the state of israel and then we read the books that came out of the secret meetings of arab and israeli and american negotiators after clinton was out of office and we found out how benign he was throughout the process and how he didnt force anything except to keep the parties in the room.

    We can be against the plan without demonizing Obama as being different in substance vis a vis FORCING israel to do things – all things considered.

  14. Zadok: Nobody is literaly forcing any party do do anything. however once Israel is pushed to sign an agreement with borders, they will then be dependent of Arab mercy, and hope the Arabs don’t make huge demands regarding refugees. It is much haeder for Israel to walk away from negotiations after both parties have already agreed and signed on territorial borders. Bush had never pushed Israel to sign border agreements w/o both parties signing on a resolution to the refugee issue. Please admit the truth.

  15. 16. Comment from Truth
    you don’t stop repeating yourself. You are imagining this. Get it?
    Stop imagining .
    I already answered you above. The Israelis have the ability to do whatever they want whether they want to do obamas STEPS plan or not.

    Stop imagining in your minds eyes that they cant do so. They have said no for decades and there is no stopping them now

  16. Orwell, I’m shocked that you once again have resorted to your favorite debate technique: calling an opinion that you disagree with a lie. Opinions and speculations can’t be lies by definition, they aren’t being passed off as facts in the first place. Obama making a statement publicly, for the entire international community to hear, before any negotiations have started, is very different than Bush pushing certain concessions as part of ongoing negotiations or as part of a package peace deal. Why can’t you get that through your head?

    Honestly, Orwell, to moderates such as myself, you are just as bad as the side you oppose- completely ideological, completely biased and completely unable to give a balanced analysis. Please realize that all of your comments come off as BIASED and do nothing to advance your cause. On the contrary, they only work to further entrench your opponents in their opinions.

  17. It seems that the apparent truth lies mostly with what Allan is saying (considering a Torahdigi svuru called migui, Allan Dershowitz is pretty Liberal with his views, and he really does believe in a peace deal being viable and so if he says this approach is biased I think Obama’s pretty far in the wrong) ! Allan is saying that before borders were even discussed, before issues were even negotiated under the Obama Administration a freeze on settlements was demanded! Well to the best of my knowledge President Bush never did this! How could you demand such a thing? and after the other side knivingly waited untill the 9 months were almost up. Then he agrees to enter the negotiations, all the time boasting all kinds of lies! Now the Liberals wont admit it, but this peace is simply not obtainable, considering the Palestinian demand of having 11 million of their brethen return to Israel proper, Palestinians have impossible demands, and have recieved way more then they ever gave, over the years! It is so sad how Liberals color their stories with so much lies and fanfare, in order to uphold their opinions! I just wonder why die hearted liberals, are for ever visiting this great Charedi site? Most people dont agree with you, so why are you coming here? Is it maybe because you have a point to prove? And your denying simple facts?

  18. Cheerful, you say “Well to the best of my knowledge President Bush never did this! ”
    Well your knowledge isnt that good, here is a quote from Bush in 07′ aying precisely that!
    “The Israelis must do their part. They must show the world that they are ready to begin — to bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement. This settlement will establish Palestine as a Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion, and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel’s security.””
    I come here to be one of the few voices promoting emes, You werent aware of this quote which goes against the entire gist of your comment. It is a fact, it is verbatim what Bush said. Lets see if youre honest enough to rethink your position

  19. Zadok #17: The Palestinians have said NO for decades, so there is absolutely no reason to believe they will say yes to anything the Israelis offer them, unless they get almost everthing they demand. Like I stated in my above post; the Palestinians lack pyscological ability to compromise, period. How naive can you be? You must just be blinded with an eagerness to blame the Israelis for everything.

  20. Could there be a secure America living next to Al Qaida- neither can there be a secure Israel living next to Palestine. Also, why are they making such a big issue of Arab refugees without addressing the equal issue of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

  21. Yankel at post #20, I stil stand by my point, that Bush never made Israel freeze the building in the settlements, even when he called for serious concessions on Israels part! Bush was the middle man here, and so he needed to sound as evenhanded as possible! But he never imposed one side to give something, all the while ignoring the opponent just spewing rhetoric, while they do nothing! How could you compare Bush to Obama? Bush worked as a negotiator while Obama works as a implementer! He forced one side to give in, while the other side just took it all for granted, and all this time no consideration was ever given to this! He gave Abas the right to constantly call the shots, without ever blaming him for this! And besides, what peace is ever possible when the opposing side demands the return of 11 million refugees? This is simply not obtainable! America must appear to be pushing a peace deal in order to keep on good terms with their Arab neighbors! Their Arab neighbors who dont ever want a peace deal (just consider how much they cared for their brethen living in run down refugees slums, when they have more money then they know what to do with it), because it would then take away alot of their leverage powers! And so Yankel at post 20, I dont take back the contrast I made between Obama and Bush, but dont get me wrong I believe Obama on the whole is not such a bad President, but when it comes to Israel he’s just not a even handed negotiator, he favors the Palestinians way more. Lets try not to rewrite history here, Bush was way more even handed on Israel then Obama, that doesn’t mean that he didnt push for painfull concessions on Israel part, o yes he did! But he did not hesitate to do the same to the opponent involved!

  22. Cheerful so to some up you said “Well to the best of my knowledge President Bush never did this” this being “before borders were even discussed, before issues were even negotiated under the Obama Administration a freeze on settlements was demanded”
    I then provide you a quote from Bush saying PRECISELY THAT “Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion” (unless you live on a planet where negotiations already were settled).
    and I am the one trying to rewrite history?
    Got it

  23. Yankel,

    My statement is completely accurate and I quote Obama from 5/19/11: “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

    No other U.S. President has ever explicitly called for a Palestinian state sharing a border with Jordan until Obama did last Thursday. This would force Israel to surrender 600 square miles that it has always deemed necessary for its security!

    Democrats have been lining up to criticize Obama’s speech and all you can say is that they’re also dishonest and uninformed?

    Stop stalling – you owe $150 to the tzedaka of my choice!

  24. Lets sum up just so that we are on the same page. The “drastic difference” in Obama’s and Bush’s plan is that Obama implied that Israel would not be able to keep the Jordan river valley, while Bush never made such an implication. Ok i can accept that. Do you agree that is what the difference boils down too?
    Though again, he also called for Israeli security to be assured, and if Israel needs that for security which Bibi maintains they do then he contradictied himself in his speach. So im not sure why this line is davka and not the other
    All those (including yourself, and the Democrats you mention) who went on and on about how the 67′ borders was unprecedented, where either misinformed or dishonest (proably a combination of both). Their is no denying that.

  25. My friend yanki, i have an even better quote for you to mull over
    “While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous.”
    — George W. Bush, Jan. 2008

    To the best of my knowldege the 49′ armistace lines didnt include Israeli sovernity over the Jordan river valley.

  26. To my friend Yankel, I’ll start off by agreeing with you, that from the point of view of what was expressed by Obama and Bush, well there’s probably not much difference, although I still believe Obamas rhetoric was that bit stronger then Bush’s! But despite this I’ll agree that the rhetoric, and the pressure on Israel to retreat to the 1948 lines, basically have the same connotation! But rhetoric aside, lets focus on action. President Obama for the first time ever ( by an America President), forced Israel to commit themselves to a settlement freeze, including in Yerushalyim, if as a frum Jew that has any meaning to you! All this while the Palestinians and Obama never said thank you! And never commended Israel for it, and just called Bibi a non trusting partner, how ironic, the only partner that actually did something gets called the liar, well Obama supports this rhetoric, whilst never acknowledging the massive sacrifice Israel made with this freeze! Do you have any idea how painfull this freeze was? Do you know what Jews went through? How dare you ignore the plight of the Jews involved? As I’ve stated earlier regarding the contrast between Obama and Bush, Obama was the dictator, with all this, and Bush was the negotiator! Maybe not such a perfect negotiator but he never forced one side to do something, without doing as much as acknowledging it!

  27. You made my point: Obama said specifically that a Palestinian state would have to share a border with Jordan and Bush said that it would have to reflect current realities. Bush’s statement does not preclude Israel retaining the Jordan Valley; Obama’s does; that’s a big difference right there.

    And Dershowitz, who told us in 2008 that he, “felt in his kishkas that Obama would be a good friend to Israel” is now also on the growing list of the misinformed and dishonest?

    Stop bending yourself into a pretzel to defend Obama and please send $150 to:

    Zichron Menachem
    1333 Broadway, Suite #306
    New York, NY 10018

    This worthy tzedaka shouldn’t lose out because you’re to stubborn to admit you’re wrong!

  28. Yanki youre confused. Defend Obama? I cant satnd Obama, Im defending emes, and the emes is that Obama and Bush hardly differ on thier mideast approaches. Your freind Cheerful, finnaly gets it, aside form the made up facts (arent those the best kind?) Obama forced Israel to commit to a stelment freeze? How did he threaten to invade?