By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
Why is the Obama Administration reportedly threatening to support a United Nations resolution calling on Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 armistice lines?
This would be President Obama’s way of punishing Israel’s voters for choosing a government that is not to Obama’s liking – and would be intended to intimidate Israel and its supporters to give in to Arab territorial demands.
The White House must think we have very short memories. Recall this headline from the New York Times from 2011: “Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal.”
Obama already used the “I’ll-support-the-1967-lines” threat four years ago. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.
On May 18, 2011, with Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to arrive in Washington the next day, Obama and his advisers decided launched a calculated effort to pressure and intimidate Israel’s leader. Obama delivered an address at the State Department, declaring that the 1967 lines should be the “basis” for any future Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Israel strongly protested, and Prime Minister Netanyahu characterized the 1967 lines as “indefensible.”
Which, of course, they are. Among other things, the 1967 lines would mean that Israel would be reduced to just nine miles wide at its vulnerable mid-section, a distance that an Arab tank column could quickly and easily cover. The 1967 lines would mean handing the Golan Heights to Syria – that is, a Syria ruled by its current genocidal dictator or by the ISIS savages who are trying to take it over. The 1967 lines would mean putting Ben Gurion Airport within easy range of Palestinian rockets.
The 1967 lines would also mean surrendering the Old City section of Jerusalem, where Judaism’s holiest sites – the Temple Mount and the Western Wall – are situated. Other sections of Jerusalem that would be given to the Palestinian Authority would include the neighborhoods of Ramot, French Hilll, and Gilo, all of which are physically inseparable parts of the city.
So Obama blustered. But Israel resisted. And that was the end of it.
There’s an important lesson to be learned.
The Obama Administration is skilled at trying to scare Israel and its American Jewish supporters. But there are important, concrete political reasons why it will not be able to implement its threats.
The White House and State Department spent weeks issuing all kinds of warnings and threats, and pressure to convince members of Congress to boycott Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress. Yet in the end, nearly 90% of Congressional members attended the speech. The Obama boycott movement was a complete flop.
Because members of Congress have to run for re-election. And the vast majority of them know that their constituents overwhelmingly support Israel. Not just Jewish voters – but tens of millions of Christians as well.
Last year’s Gallup annual World Affairs survey found fully 72 percent of Americans have a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel. Compare that to the number who have a favorable view of the other countries in Israel’s neighborhood: Egypt – 45%; Saudi Arabia – 35%; Libya – 19%; Palestinian Authority – 19%; Iraq – 16%; Syria – 13%; Iran – 12%.
And this is despite decades of unfriendly news media coverage of Israel, and despite the Obama Administration’s frequent statements of sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs.
It’s not just members of Congress who have take these public opinion trends into consideration. It’s the Democratic Party as a whole. If the Democrats are perceived as a party that is turning against Israel, it could have serious consequences for the next Democratic presidential nominee. And the presidential campaign will be underway very soon.
So friends of Israel should not lose heart. Threats from a lame duck president should not intimidate us or diminish our active support for the Jewish State in this hour of need.
Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and both are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.