In three short paragraphs about President Obama’s speech this morning, the Associated Press warps the story beyond recognition: Obama says Palestine must be based in 1967 borders.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is endorsing the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel. Israel says the borders of a Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.
In a speech outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama on Thursday sided with the Palestinians’ opening position a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to referring to the 1967 borders.
Until Thursday, the U.S. position had been that the Palestinian goal of a state based on the 1967 borders, with agreed land swaps, should be reconciled with Israel’s desire for a secure Jewish state through negotiations.
Wow. Rarely have I seen such blatant distortion in a mainstream news release. Here’s the exact quote from Obama’s speech:
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.
Note: he didn’t say “1967 borders,” he didn’t “side with the Palestinians,” and he absolutely did still insist on mutually agreed swaps and secure borders for both countries. It’s nothing but a re-wording of the same position the US has taken for many years.
Based on this distorted and very misleading AP article, Fox News instantly put together a screaming fake outrage headline, currently leading on their front page:
Drudge Report also jumped on it, running a huge headline: “OBAMA SIDES WITH PALESTINIANS!”
And of course, it’s already all over the right wing blogosphere that President Obama “told Israel to move back to the pre-1967 borders.”
No. He didn’t.
All this fake outrage spread throughout the Internet within minutes after the President’s speech, like a virtual wingnut flash mob.
I guess it’s too much to ask these people to report what the President actually said.
UPDATE at 5/19/11 4:50:18 pm
Ben Smith comments:
Count me among those who have covered spats between the U.S. and Israel in some detail, and are a bit perplexed why sources from the New York Times to Benjamin Netanyahu are acting as though a Rubicon has been crossed by Obama’s restating universal assumptions and U.S. policy, and meanwhile slapping down the key Palestinian diplomatic drive.
Jeffrey Goldberg comments:
I’m amazed at the amount of insta-commentary out there suggesting that the President has proposed something radical and new by declaring that Israel’s 1967 borders should define — with land-swaps — the borders of a Palestinian state. I’m feeling a certain Groundhog Day effect here. This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what’s the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn’t think that the 1967 border won’t serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?
UPDATE at 5/19/11 5:00:44 pm
This section of Obama’s speech is certainly not “siding with the Palestinians” — in fact, he’s clearly saying that Palestinians will never have a state while they reject Israel’s right to exist:
For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.