On this, Trump may be right and Obama may be wrong

Image from NBC file footage of Netanyahu speaking at the U.N.

Image from NBC file footage of Netanyahu speaking at the U.N.

Like a stopped clock, Donald Trump will sometimes be right — and this might be one of those times.

Today, the outgoing Obama administration got this shot across its bow:

An Israeli official on Friday accused President Barack Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a “shameful move against Israel at the U.N.” after learning the White House did not intend to veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem the day before.

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.,” the official said. “The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” he said calling it “an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN.”

Earlier he said Israel’s prime minister turned to President-elect Donald Trump to help head off the critical U.N. resolution….

And Trump obliged:

JERUSALEM — President­-elect Donald J. Trump thrust himself into one of the world’s most polarizing debates on Thursday by pressuring President Obama to veto a United Nations resolution critical of Israel, the newly elected leader’s most direct intervention in foreign policy during his transition to power. Mr. Trump spoke out after Israeli officials contacted his team for help in blocking the draft resolution condemning settlement construction even as they lobbied its sponsor, Egypt. Within a couple of hours, Egypt withdrew the resolution, at least temporarily, and its president, Abdel Fattah el­Sisi, called Mr. Trump to discuss how “to establish true peace in the Middle East,” according to an aide to the president-­elect….

Of course, if you don’t like Trump’s current position, wait five minutes. But for now, I think he’s calling for the right response.

Look, folks: I think to a great extent those settlements are problematic, a provocation. But this is no way for Israel’s adversaries to try to cram through a resolution on the subject — two days before Christmas and in the midst of a uniquely unsettling presidential transition in this country. Note that I’m talking here about the United States. Why? Because I think a move like this is meant to take advantage of this country as much as it is meant to strike out at Israel.

First the Russians try, and one might even say succeed (if one isn’t too discriminating in discerning causes and effects), in throwing this country into disarray. Now this.

Oh, and while I’m talking foreign interference, let me say that I don’t particularly appreciate our friend Israel reaching out to Trump this way. But President Obama could certainly have avoided that desperation move by assuring Israel that he had its back.

I hope he did, in fact. I certainly hope the Israeli allegation is wrong, and that President Obama intended to veto this resolution at this time.

You know what would be nice? A clear statement from the administration to that effect. That would do much to pour oil on the waters. If anyone’s seen anything like that, let me know. I’ve been hunting for something, ANYTHING from the White House on this, and failing to find it. I’ll keep looking. (I’ve found speculation that maybe Samantha Power is quietly working to solve the problem, and perhaps that’s right. If so, ignore everything I’ve said.)

By the way, before I sign off, here’s what Lindsey Graham has to say about the situation. His release, in fact, is what alerted me to the fact that this matter, which I thought was averted yesterday, may not be over:

Statement by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on Resolution Involving Israeli Settlements:

“This provocative action by the United Nations is an outrage and must be dealt with sternly and forcefully.

“As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I oversee the United States assistance to the United Nations.  The United States is currently responsible for approximately 22 percent of the United Nations total budget.

“If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations.

“In addition, any nation which backs this resolution and receives assistance from the United States will put that assistance in jeopardy.

“There is a reason the United States has long opposed these type efforts directed at Israel — the only way to achieve a lasting peace by the parties negotiating directly and not using the United Nations as a blunt instrument against Israel.  This was President Obama’s position in 2011 and it should be his position today.”


60 thoughts on “On this, Trump may be right and Obama may be wrong

  1. Phillip

    I wouldn’t worry about it, from yours or Trump’s or Lindsey’s viewpoint. Once Jan. 20 rolls around, Israel will be free (and in fact encouraged) to build as many settlements as possible on the disputed territory. There is no support for a Palestinian state in the Trump administration, and our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem. The UN can try to pass all the resolutions it wants but they will have no effect on either Israeli or US policy. Let’s see how that all works out.

    I’m not clear on what the current status of the resolution is, sounds like Egypt agreed to delay the vote, but in any case, if we’re talking about who else would not veto it, that includes Great Britain, does it not?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it does, and while I’m not an expert on this (which puts me on a par with our future U.N. ambassador), I don’t think Britain is quite as fast a friend of Israel as the U.S. has been. I’ve had the impression that the whole “Make Israel a Pariah Like Apartheid South Africa” movement is more popular there than here.

      If we don’t stand up for Israel, no one will.

      Although I’d like to be surprised on that…

  2. bud

    The settlements aren’t “problematic”; they are profoundly contemptible and violate international norms. Good for POTUS.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      So basically, what you’re saying is because we disapprove of this, screw Israel — one of our two closest allies on the planet. Just let the nations that are no friends of ours or theirs pummel them over this, as though we can’t sit down with Israel and have a rational conversation, and therefore a reduced to acquiesce in letting the Israelis be bullied by hostile third parties. Let’s side with the authoritarians and anti-Semites who want to tear down and weaken the one liberal democracy in the region.

      Anyway, that’s how I read what you’re saying…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Mind you, one of the most dangerous things about Donald Trump is that he has zero respect for existing international relationships. He doesn’t care at all about American consistency, about sticking to our understandings with friends OR adversaries.

        And if the Obama administration is abruptly (and passively, without announcement or discussion) abandoning our longheld position toward Israel on this, then POTUS is acting like Trump…

      2. bud

        I don’t want to tear down Israel, just the settlements. They are a serious problem. Besides Israel is not the 51st state. The right gives them more legitimacy than California.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, points out that the only reason the right loves Israel is because they need to be around to be defeated, per Revelations.

          1. Lynn Teague

            Most actual liberal democracies don’t let people steal other people’s land in order to placate right wing fanatics who claim that it is theirs because God said so. I was in Israel for 10 weeks, I appreciate how small and vulnerable it is, but this can’t be the answer. It certainly isn’t the liberal democratic answer.

            1. Karen Pearson

              I’ve got to agree with you, Lynn. At least in Jerusalem, the Palestinians are treated like red headed step-children. I understand well that many Palestinian organizations would like to destroy Israel, but Israel’s behavior simply validates the Palestinians’ reasoning. If Israel is looking for peace, rather than a major war, then they must not continually take others’ land. They also need to treat the Palestinians living within their borders with respect.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      Tell that to the Israeli people who were shelled by the Syrians from the Golan Heights.

      You may want to check your “not living adjacent to thousands of people who want to kill you and wipe your country off the map” privilege.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    “I certainly hope the Israeli allegation is wrong, and that President Obama intended to veto this resolution at this time.”

    According to Reuters:

    “The United States intended to allow the U.N. Security Council to approve a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, two Western officials said on Thursday, a major reversal of U.S. practice….The two Western officials said President Barack Obama had intended to abstain from the vote, a relatively rare step by the United States to register criticism of the building on occupied land that Palestinians want for a state.”

    So there you go.

  4. Harry Harris

    I guess allowing this UN resolution to be added to the 20 or so before it condemning Israel for actions subsequent to the ’67 acquisition of territory is intended to say “screw you” I’m pretty sure that stopping settlement expansion has been the US position since the ’79 peace agreement, with a two-state solution accompanying it. UN resolutions are mostly without real teeth unless they are equipped with sanctions or have military actions attached. The $3 billion per year in direct military aid doesn’t show enough love while Israel continues expansion of settlements (which also includes demolition of some Palestinian property) over US objections. Who’s zooming whom?

  5. Bill

    No, Trump’s not right. He’s no more right to interpose himself in this way than Netanyahu was to inject himself in the 2012 election. These two likely will get along just fine — much to the misfortune of everybody else.

    1. Phillip

      Passed resolutions to little effect, Bryan, same as this.

      The fact that the UN often fails (thanks usually to vetoes by Russia and/or China) to condemn violations of international law in some places in the world doesn’t mean that all violations of international law must be ignored. (Unless, of course, one believes that “exceptionalism”–whether the America or Israeli version—exempts a country from international law). As Ambassador Power said, US position on the settlements has been pretty consistent for half a century. But moreover, she acknowledged the different treatment Israel generally receives from the UN compared to other countries. And, the US abstained, which is subtly different from voting for the resolution.

      Obama figures this is the last chance perhaps in a very long while to send the message to Israel that even though they may feel emboldened to greatly accelerate the growth of the settlements while Trump is President, there is still a significant portion of the US political world that doesn’t think that is going to lead to the path of peace, neither for the Palestinians nor the Israelis themselves, in the long term. It’s a last little zinger to Netanyahu, a minor annoyance before he can move full-speed ahead with guarantee post-January-20 of 100% unquestioning, uncritical support from US no matter what policies he chooses to pursue.

  6. bud

    I feel for the poor Palistenian people. All most of them want is to grow olives or sheep. But the Israeli bullies will have none of it. And people wonder why Americans are hated so in the Arab world. At least Obama is showing that not all Americans are on board with the illegal settlement scandal.

  7. Lynn Teague

    I don’t share your confidence that Obama could have avoided Netanyahu reaching out to Trump by assuring him that the US has Israel’s back. This is far from the first time that Netanyahu has inappropriately reached out to those outside, and in fact opposed to, the administration. He has repeatedly made calculated displays of disrespect for the president and ultimately our nation. Announcing new settlements as Biden is flying in for a visit, arranging a a Congressional speech through the Republican leadership that was clearly calculated to undermine Obama, and on and on. Netanyahu, and the people who vote for him, get no sympathy from me. They are building illegal settlements; they deserve the UN resolution.

    1. bud

      Also add: No major 9/11 style terrorist attack. Far fewer troops in the Middle East which means fewer Americans killed and woundrd and less money wasted. Restored diplomatic relations with Cuba. Tamped down Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Created an international environment that has resulted in sustainable low gasoline prices. Took out Osama Bin Laden and dozens of other high ranking terrorist leaders. Rather than “kick Israel in the teeth” I would suggest, sent message to Israel that inappropriate behavior cannot be tolerated. In general restored respect to the American presidency.

      In a month all this comes to an end. Americans will be in danger abroad and the Russians will be even more brazen about foreign incursions. We will likely dive back into deep debt as our military is expanded. Terrorists will have even more reason to hate Americans thus driving new attacks which new POTUS will be clueless as to how to stop. (Perhaps reading My Pet Goat 2 while it all goes down). Obama’s legacy will be sandwiched between the 2 most incompetent commanders in chief in American history. Let the “fun” begin.

  8. Phillip

    And, just to keep things in perspective, it’s worth pointing out that what Bryan means by “kick Israel in the teeth” is: providing them with the largest military aid package ever, $38 billion,negotiated just last September.

    Boy, that’s a betrayal of Israel if ever I saw one.

  9. Phillip

    Yeah, I’m sure giving Israel the green light (and, via our new Ambassador to Israel, the encouragement) to build more settlements in the occupied territories, abandoning any pretense that the US has any interest in supporting a two-state solution, and basically writing off the Palestinian people, are going to REDUCE terrorism in the region.

    Now that’s genius.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I don’t think that Israel going back to the pre-1967 borders would solve anything. However, I understand that continually settling the land will make it impossible for there to be a two-state solution.

  10. Phillip

    And by the way, we’re selling them the weapons, but with money we (American taxpayers) give them, requiring them in turn to buy American-made arms.

    Look, the larger point is that we are completely strategically and militarily and politically committed to Israel in all the important ways, and that is as it should be. To go beyond that and to say no dissent is possible towards any Israeli policy, even those broadly condemned by the international community, is a needlessly extreme position that is counter to American interests and to the cause of peace in the region, and ultimately does Israel no favors either.

  11. Mark Stewart

    No one who has ever been to the West Bank settlements would ever think that an abstention after all of our quiet behind the scenes diplomacy was unwarranted.

    Sen Graham got it wrong; and so do you, Brad. Trump will always get it wrong. Regardless of topic.

    We can be supportive of Israel and be critical of it when they go too far. The settlements are a blight on Israel’s place in the world. They need to see that and abandon the course the hardliners push. It is telling that Netanyahu squaks loudest about the Western Wall, which has nothing to do with the issue at hand – new settlements.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “The settlements are a blight on Israel’s place in the world.”

      This may be a dumb question, but…why?

      Israel gained this territory after the Six-Day War, right? Isn’t it fairly standard that when a country (or group of countries in this case) start a war and lose, then they forfeit the land they lose?

      1. bud

        The UN Security Council voted 14-0 that the settlements are illegal. Frankly I don’t really care who lives on the land. We just shouldn’t be subsidizing the Israelis. After they attacked our ship 50 years ago we should have cut them off cold.

          1. bud

            Might does make right in a sort of Any Randian way I suppose. The 1967 war was complicated. Israel did strike first but Egypt was mobilizing. War was imminent. The west bank was a part of Jordan who came in on the side of Egypt. Thanks to Jimmy Carter Egypt and Israel are largely at peace. Why shouldn’t Israel and the Palestinians do the same? As with the electoral college I come down on the side of people instead of land. The Palestinian people have a right to the land they live on not people who happen to be Jewish. In any event we should stop sending weapons and aid to Israel. It’s just not in our national interest to do so. I can’t think of one thing they’ve actually done to benefit the USA. It’s time to see this whole arraignment in a new light. (Of course it won’t happen with Trump but should and will don’t always match up)

      2. Harry Harris

        Not according to the 4th Geneva convention and most everybody else but Israel which claims that the convention doesn’t apply to that land. As to who started the war, the border buildup was by Egypt and some neighbors; the first attack was by Israel, fearing an impending attack by neighboring forces.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          It seems like you have to keep going back in time to get the context.

          The British had the land after WWI, who then basically abdicated it to the UN. The UN came up with a partition plan (which sounds like the two-state solution), but the Arabs didn’t like it, so they invaded Israel. That war resulted in some some lines, which was then modified through additional wars where Israel wins back some territory, then gives some back to Egypt.

          But you could go back even earlier than WWI to give even more context. It’s just a rabbit-hole of never-ending conflict.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      “It is telling that Netanyahu squaks loudest about the Western Wall, which has nothing to do with the issue at hand – new settlements.”

      Isn’t that because the UN resolution specifically includes “East Jerusalem”, and that’s where the Western Wall is? So that land would have to go back to (Jordan I guess) to be back in 1967 status to comply with this UN resolution. But didn’t Jordan capture that same land in the war of ’48?

      I have too many books in my reading list right now, but I need to read up on Israel and the Arab-Israeli wars.

  12. bud

    I always thought a 1 state solution would be better than the 2 state solution everyone talks about. Just have one big state to include Israel, the west bank and Gaza. There would be no state religion. Religious freedom would be sacrosanct. Everyone could worship who they want and land would be apportioned on the basis of free market mechanisms. EVERYONE would have a right to vote. The common good would be valued above all else. It mostly works here. We have Jews, Christians, Muslims and Atheists living beside each other usually without incident. I don’t know why we actively support a country that treats people of a different religion as inferior? That’s not the American way.

  13. Harry Harris

    If the divisions were simply religious and not political, economic, and cultural, most all could play Kumbaya. In areas where religious affiliation or heritage heavily controls public policy, allocation of resources, and segregation of association, religious freedom means little. Which parts of one’s religion may one practice? Jihad that includes violence? Personal retribution? Polygamy? Honor killing? Claims of territory promised by God?

  14. Bart

    I sincerely hope no one is offended by what follows because I hope you will at the very least give it some thought without holding a previous prejudice while reading it.

    If anyone really believes this conflict will be resolved peacefully you need to step back and even if one is not a believer, read and study the Bible and Quran to understand that the conflict has been ongoing since Abraham fathered two sons, a son, Ishmael by his slave Hagar at the encouragement of his wife Sarai or Sarah because she didn’t believe she would ever have a son for Abraham because she was too old.

    Soon after Ishmael was born to Hagar, Sarah had a son, Isaac, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. As the boys grew and as Abraham paid attention to Ishmael, Sarah became jealous and Ishmael and his mother Hagar were exiled into the desert from Abraham’s tent and land. But God made a promise to Hagar in the desert that her son would become the seed of a great nation. The promise was fulfilled and today, the descendants of Ishmael who later became known as Muslims now number approximately 1.7 billion and there are approximately 13.3 million Jews in the world. Again, if one is a believer or not, consider the words written a few thousand years ago prophesizing the growth of Ishmael’s nation of Ishmaelite’s and his 12 sons or princes from where the Muslims of today originated.

    Think for a moment about the overwhelming number of Muslims vs. the number of Jews and consider for one moment that if the Muslim population would gather in sufficient numbers, they could overrun Israel with little resistance. And with Obama’s latest chess move, the day is coming closer and closer to a dangerous confrontation and most of the world will side with Muslims.

    Some of you will scoff and laugh at my words and may consider me a sort of a religious nutcase but that is fine, go ahead and do so to your heart’s content. But, many of the ancient prophesies of the Old Testament and New Testament have come true and we are witnessing one already by the spread of the Muslim religion across the world and it is growing each year by larger and larger numbers. In due time, Islam will be the major religion in the world and will dictate more and more how future generations will live. I am a believer and do not discount biblical prophecy.

    The conflict has been going on for centuries well before we happened onto the scene and until one or the other is destroyed, it won’t end in our lifetime or the lifetime of our children or our children’s children. All we can do is try to achieve a peace of some kind but when we are dealing with divisions so ancient and inbred into each generation based on their religious heritage, finding neutral ground on which to base a brokered peace agreement will be next to impossible. It is not my intent to send a message that we shouldn’t try but we should accept the fact that we cannot change thousands of years of animosity, hatred, and wars just because some intellectuals think they have the answers and seek a totally secular peace, it won’t happen. When the word crusade is mentioned to a great number of Muslims, they are still fighting the Crusades in their hearts and minds. How do you stop something so deeply ingrained into the minds of children who are not allowed to be taught a different way of thinking or believing?

    And no, this is not an anti-Muslim screed, it is facing the truth of time beginning with Abraham thousands of years ago and it is what I believe to be the truth, you must make up your own mind.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      There is no doubt the religious dimension makes the problem exponentially more difficult.

      It’s not like France and Germany going back and forth over Alsace-Lorraine.

    2. Harry Harris

      Islam is a religion, not a race or tribal group. There are Muslims from many ethnic groups, with the largest single Islamic nation being miles from the Middle East in the South Pacific. A large portion of the followers of Islam are black Africans. Among middle easterners there are Arabs (to which you may refer), Persians, Turks, and a number of other ethnic groups. Eastern Europe has many Muslims of different ethnicities.
      Blaming today’s strife on some familial rift portrayed in legend, epic stories, and religious tradition passed down orally and written, compiled, codified, and canonized much later really forces much history into a pre-disposed mindset – and greatly oversimplifies.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “Blaming today’s strife on some familial rift portrayed in legend, epic stories, and religious tradition passed down orally and written, compiled, codified, and canonized much later really forces much history into a pre-disposed mindset – and greatly oversimplifies.”

        To brush aside thousands of years of history would also be a mistake.

        1. bud

          Actually not. I’m inclined to view the history of the region more of an impediment than a source of inspiration. However we got here we are here so let’s deal with that and not get caught up in historic minutia. The current situation is complex enough. It would be a step in the right direction to simply ignore religion entirely. That leaves us with human beings that deserve respect and dignity. That has been lacking from the Israeli government.

        2. Harry Harris

          It depends on what you are calling “history.” My reactions to the post by Bart were twofold. He seems to lump adherents to Islam into one group, descendants of Ishmael, and claim some 1.7 billion numbered in that group.
          The second claim that this is all a result of a millenniums-long history of conflict between two groups of descendants ignores most of the history of the region. Even more telling, it places historical validity onto the Abraham narrative from Genesis.
          If the history of the region, verified from numerous sources, is examined, one will find that the Israelites/Hebrews fought against and allied with numerous empires, migrating groups, and settled “peoples” in the region. After multiple conflicts with the Romans, many dispersed and became good and influential citizens of many areas of the world.
          The present issues, which became better known in the late 1800’s but was intensified with the partitioning of Palestine in 1948, cannot be simply projected back to the legendary origin of two families (nations). That, in my view, ignores Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Turkish, Ottoman, European, British, and other conquests, dominions, and conflicts. Forcing this current conflict into a religious historical framework, just ignores too much fact.

          1. Bart

            “That, in my view, ignores Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Turkish, Ottoman, European, British, and other conquests, dominions, and conflicts. Forcing this current conflict into a religious historical framework, just ignores too much fact.”

            Agree to disagree. On the contrary, your list of influences only confirms that the origins cannot be ignored otherwise, if all of what you listed had a profound impact on the religious significance of Isaac and Ishmael and their descendants, then by now, with the passing of each generation living in and under the rule of the ones you listed that influenced both Israelites and Ishmaelite’s, eventually their differences would have been abandoned or reduced to insignificance to the point of having no relevance for Jews and Muslims of today. It is a reasonable conclusion they would have abandoned or modified their religious beliefs and prejudices through the osmosis of living and being under the influence of other civilizations and would have accepted their beliefs in lieu of their own. Yet, they held to their traditions and beliefs during their exile. We see this every day when refugees or immigrants move to other countries including the US. Instead of assimilating into the prevailing culture of their new home, they generally hold onto their traditions, beliefs, and other reminders of their native land and ancestry. It doesn’t matter if it is a small town or a large city; there are neighborhoods that reflect the ancestry of the residents including religious practices.

            Otherwise, how can you reasonably explain the simple undeniable fact that hostility still exists and is getting worse? The nation of Israel in the time of Christ ceased to exist in 63 B.C.E. The Israelites were scattered across the region into other nations. But, during the entire time of exile, there was always the promise of Israel becoming a nation again. It did so in 1948. The Ottoman Empire, arguably the largest and most powerful in the ME until it was broken up was Muslim. After the UN redefined boundaries so Israel could have a homeland once again, if one believes in the prophecies in the Old and New Testament, the establishment of the Nation of Israel was a fulfillment. And, Jews from around the world gathered from around the world into a homeland once again.

            “Even more telling, it places historical validity onto the Abraham narrative from Genesis.” While you may not believe in the Biblical account, I do. I don’t discount or disrespect where you are coming from and hopefully, you will return in kind where I am coming from.

            Thank you for the discussion; it is always a learning experience.

  15. Bart

    Therein lies the problem based on the responses from Harry and bud. It is not I who was oversimplifying, it is the brushing off of the roots of the conflict that precedes current events by thousands of years. It matters not that Indonesia is almost exclusively of the Islamic religion, the problem still lies in the ME and it is a fact that the Muslim/Islamic religion has its roots in the ME, not Indonesia, Africa, or Eastern Europe. It is the fact that ancient prophecy has proven true in that the Muslim/Islamic religion has spread far beyond its original roots in the ME and adherents to the Islamic/Muslim faith have grown to gigantic proportions compared to the Jewish faith. My point was proven by the mere mention of the diversity of locales and nations where the religion is practiced and is spreading. And for what it is worth, I did not mention race or tribal identity in my comments. How you were able take my comments and connect them to a racial aspect is beyond me.

    As for bud’s comments, if one is looking at oversimplification, it is the perfect response.
    “I’m inclined to view the history of the region more of an impediment than a source of inspiration. However we got here we are here so let’s deal with that and not get caught up in historic minutia.”

    Really? An historic “minutia”? The religious aspect is the source and is at the center as it always has been and it still is. This is not something that can simply be dismissed as trivial or a small matter, it is the crux of the matter and not recognizing this simple but obvious fact is not addressing the problem with any sense of reality or understanding of the past, present, or future. To you it may be an impediment but to the opposing sides, their religion is an inspiration and is the driving force behind their problems and then creates problems for the rest of the world.

    Ignoring the major historical religious aspect of the conflicts and problems is doing so at our own peril. Eventually the pot will boil over and the powers involved will take sides against each other and this time, it may not be a war of words but actual exchanges of weapons of destruction.

    1. bud

      Bart I respect history and how it can shed light on issues. Perhaps I was a bit too dismissive of that aspect of the situation. So let me walk that back slightly. To me the MOST important aspect of the situation in the middle east are the humans who live there now and who simply want a bit of dignity and respect. If finding lessons from history will help clarify the current situation then by all means lets do so. I’m really trying to figure out why one group of people, the Palestinians, should be treated with less than full rights afforded to others in the region. Many on the right seem to view them as sub human on some level. To me the first step to finding peace is to find the compassion and the will to treat all people with a measure of humanity.

      1. Bart

        bud, I don’t disagree with the need to treat others as humans and with dignity either. We all need to treat others as we would like to be treated. But new and ancient prejudices are still with us and they will cloud judgment and sensibility when trying to work together. Racism and bigotry are not dead and like it or not, the human condition will always be infected with both to one degree or another and it doesn’t necessarily mean that ALL racism and bigotry are the sole purview of white skinned people either. It is the same with greed and other less than desirable human conditions.

        FWIW, I did work in the ME for a while and during my time there, I discovered one little tidbit that most of us in the West are not aware of. The Palestinians are viewed by the other ME countries and residents as second class citizens and they are used as foils, propaganda tools, and for aggressive actions toward Israel. They are used as surrogates for fighting and lobbing mortar shells into civilian populations in Israel knowing Israel will retaliate. The Palestinians are financially supported by every ME country whether they will admit it or not. While working in Dubai, every gallon of gas sold at any station across the Emirates had a Palestinian tax attached to it. When I travelled to other Emirate states, it was always the same, each gallon of gas had the tax attached to it and was noted on the gas pumps. Whether it is still in practice today, I cannot say, I can only relate what I saw at the time.

        The other ME countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, the Emirates, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, and others do not want the Palestinians to come to their country and settle. When I had the opportunity to talk to Arabs in private conversations, they would readily admit to this but not so in public or at least, this is what I discovered. So, unless attitudes have changed, this is still the situation and it is not hearsay, I have heard first person how people in other ME countries feel about Palestinians. It is similar to the way this country treated African Americans for so long and in many places, still considers them second class citizens and that is wrong.

        The main reason other ME countries want a 2 state solution is so they don’t and won’t have to continue supporting them nor take them in to their countries as refugees.

        After reading about Kerry’s speech today in the NYT, one commenter made sense. Leave them alone until they decide they are ready to sit down and be serious about negotiating.

        Thanks for the reply and I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas and the New Year brings peace and joy to you and your family.

  16. Bill

    Israel under Netanyahu is not the Israel of the heroic past. The current Israeli government is composed in part of ultra-orthodox extremists, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism, and right-wing nationalists like Yisrael Beiteinu. Just anecdotally, a couple of years ago I spoke with a young man who was returning from assisting at an archeological site in Israel. He said that the site had uncovered some first century Jewish artwork that ultra-orthodox groups found so inimical to their religious views that they had repeatedly tried to break into the site to destroy them. The excavation crew eventually came up with a solution: place feminine hygiene products in a circle around the threatened works. The ultra-orthodox could not come into contact with such “unclean” items and kept their distance. It’s fanatics like this who are part of the current ruling coalition.

    1. Bart

      Bill, thank you for your added comments and the anecdote about the archeological site problems. Others may see it as a fanatical wing of Judaism but to me it goes to prove my point that the ancient practices of the Mosaic Law is still kept alive by the ultra-orthodox element of the Jewish religion. They are still clinging to the Law and are willing to destroy anything they deem “unclean” if possible. This is the same radical behavior as the ISIS element of Islam destroying historical sites because they deem them to be an insult to the prophet Mohammed and the Islamic faith.

      It is not the majority who create problems, it is the fanatical minority who cling to what they consider the truth and to them, noting else matters. This has been true for centuries and unfortunately, will continue to remain with us.

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