Krauthammer: Obama’s Settlements Canard

Charles Krauthammer’s column today is about Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world, and his call for Israel to cease settlement growth: Barack Obama’s Israeli Settlements Canard.

This first paragraph is the truly important point, and it’s the reality that most diplomats and politicians are constitutionally unable to acknowledge:

In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people’s suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over “natural growth” may curry favor with the Muslim “street.” But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.

My only difference with Krauthammer is that these myths are not unique to Barack Obama; the Bush administration said the same things about settlements, and so has every US president for the past 20 years.

It’s a phenomenon that psychologists call “displacement” — the real problem (Arab rejection of Israel’s right to exist) is so difficult and unworkable that blame is displaced to an easier target (the settlements).

But the fact is that even if the settlements were to vanish completely, the underlying problem of rejectionism would remain. There can never be any real progress toward peace until the US and the world overcomes this obsessive denial of reality.

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