5/24/2011—I have resolved never to criticize Israel when I think greater efforts toward peace should be made. After all, my life is not on the line if my judgment is incorrect.
So, if Benjamin Netanyahu wants to put forward an intransigent position as if democratic change were not sweeping the Middle East—if he wants to hold on to the past instead of embracing a potentially vibrant and peaceful future, well, that’s between him and the voters in Israel.
But what about the disgusting lap-dog display by American representatives in Congress, especially among Democrats, allowing a foreign leader to undercut our own President in a speech on domestic soil? Even if they disagree with the position of our President, they could at least have maintained a polite reserve.
President Obama did not do much more than state the American position since 1967—the starting point for negotiation is the 1967 ceasefire lines. And the American government has never recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Why should my tax dollars be spent and the friendship of Arab countries be put at risk because Netanyahu says Jerusalem should not be divided? Not even if democracy and human rights are established in a Palestinian State? Granted, that is not true now, but Netanyahu does not want it to be true, because an authentically democratic Palestinian State that recognized religious freedom would have an undeniable claim to a capital in East Jerusalem.
Right now, Israel is about the only legitimate government in the area. But if democracy comes to the Middle East, why should America back Israeli land grabs? At that point, Israel’s security is no longer the issue. The issue is illegal settlements that Netanyahu has no intention of dismantling.
President Obama has begun the process of embracing a more hopeful future. The best way to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East is to show that the United States is not wedded to Israeli policy no matter what. Congress did not help the cause of peace today.