Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ira Chernus: Ass-Backwards in the Middle East

Ira Chernus, TomDispatch.com, May 26, 2011

It’s been like dueling banjos in Washington this week.  President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu each got to say the same thing at length and at least twice.  Last Thursday, the president gave his “Arab Spring” speech in which — after a reportedly “furious phone call” between Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — he included the following line: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

And a storm of commentary burst forth.  Though this, it was said, had long been a privately agreed upon American presidential position, it had never before been stated publicly by a president (or perhaps any other top U.S. official).  Netanyahu was reportedly incensed and on Friday could be found “hectoring” a polite but uncomfortable-looking Obama before the cameras in the Oval Office on the “indefensibility” of those 1967 borders.  On Sunday, Obama nonetheless went before the wildly pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC and gave a speech restating his position on the 1967 borders, but qualifying it as well.

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