Seeing President Barrack Obama in person and hearing him speak about the United States and Israel alliance was an unforgettable experience. This week, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its annual Policy Conference in Washington D.C. on the heels of President Obama’s announcement that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would require a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. President Obama spoke to a crowd of over 10,000 AIPAC delegates, including student leaders from across the country, reiterating his demands for more land concessions from Israel as a precondition to negotiations.
The President’s policy change could rightfully be called historic: Every president since Lyndon Johnson has rejected a return to the pre-1967 borders on the basis that they are strategically indefensible. This unilateral disarming of Israel’s negotiating leverage, without even making a counter-demand of the Palestinians — such as refusing the right of return to Israel proper, or clarifying the essential truth that Jerusalem must be the unified capital of Israel for there to be a peace agreement — was described to me by one couple at the conference as no longer a “give and take,” but a “we give, you take” approach to the peace process.
Israel received no tangible assurances from the President in return, only ephemeral promises that Israel’s security would remain a priority. The United States is the trusted mediator of the conflict between Israel and Palestine — the higher standard we hold of Israel, the more the Palestinians will demand of them. We abandon Israel when we try to impose on their country a national security policy that is effectively unworkable to the security of the Jewish state.
“Israel is not what is wrong with the Middle East,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in his remarks at AIPAC. “Israel is what is right with the Middle East.” Israel is the only free nation in that region of the world, the only one that protects the rights of women, economic freedom, freedom of speech and conscience and the right of Christians and Jews to worship in total freedom. They are pioneering medical and green technology that is saving lives and changing the world, and their extremely sophisticated military, defending their garrison democracy from a host of genocidal dictators, has been described by the British admiralty as the most humane on the planet.
Support for the alliance between the U.S. and Israel is one of the few unifying issues in American politics, yet the President undercuts Israel, our greatest ally, at every turn. I was only half surprised then when the student delegates quietly endured the President as he delivered his controversial remarks, only to give the Israeli prime minister — with chants of “Bibi! Bibi!” — a thunderous applause the following night. Due to his stance toward Israel, President Obama, the darling of the left and idol of young democrats, is becoming less popular than Netanyahu, a foreign head of state.
There is no doubt that a deeply troubling disconnect exists between President Obama, radicals in our University and the general American population. Students on campus attack Israel as an “apartheid state” — a blatant lie, concealing thinly-veiled anti-Semitism — but give the Islamo-fascist “government” of Hamas a pass. The “pro-Palestinian” movement on campuses across the country has too often identified with a hatred of Israel, whereas the pro-Israel community is defined by its concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, opposing Hamas in part on the grounds that it mistreats its own citizens and uses them as human shields during state acts of terror.
That is one reason the College Republicans are bringing David Horowitz to speak at I.V. Theater, tonight, May 26 at 7 p.m. Horowitz exposes Hamas, Hizbollah and other groups committed to Israel’s destruction for what they really are: Fascist, terrorist organizations. He will challenge students to reconsider their opinion of oppressive regimes that some radical student groups try to portray as innocent victims.
After witnessing the two most powerful Western leaders in the world clash over territorial negotiations, I am convinced that Israel’s borders have nothing to do with the stalling peace process — the only real obstacle to peace is the terroristic Palestinian and Arab governments’ refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. My hope is that my President and fellow peers will join the majority of Americans in recognizing that the only free Middle Eastern state — the state of Israel — has a right to defend itself and provide the Jewish people the chance to live peacefully within their ancestral homeland.
Steven Begakis is a third-year political science major.