A Darfurian friend of mine, a genocide refugee, pointed me to this news story:
U.S. President Barack Obama has invited 18 African leaders to Washington to commemorate their countries' 50th anniversary of independence.
Senior administration officials say the celebration will take place in early August.
They say the president will also invite young leaders from each of the countries to encourage a new generation of leadership in Africa.
(Hat tip to Mohamed Yahya.)
This appears to be a marked change of Obama's apparent policy of ignoring Africa and basically undoing all the work George W. Bush has done in Africa.
And this news came just after I read about the interview President Obama gave to Israeli television in which the President, much appreciated at this current time, made it clear that he supports Israel and went as far as publicly agreeing that Israelis have been betrayed by their "peace partners". Maybe it was a mistake he will correct soon, but I don't think even George W. Bush went as far as blaming those who broke the existing peace treaty for the breach of the peace treaty.
(Hat tip to Israellycool Dave and Little Green Footballs.)
The President's words:
And Israelis, rightly, look at the past and have skepticism about what’s possible. They see the enmity of neighbors that surround them in a very tough neighborhood. They see a track record of attempts at peace where, even when concessions were made, a deal could not be consummated. They see rockets fired from Gaza or from areas in Lebanon, and say to themselves that the hatreds or history are so deep-seated that changed is not possible.
And yet, if you think back to the founding of Israel, there were a lot of people who thought that that wasn’t possible either. And if Herzl or Ben-Gurion were looking at Israel today, they would be astonished at what they saw — a country that’s vibrant, that is growing economically at a extraordinary pace, that has overcome not just security challenges but also has been able to overcome challenges related to geography. And so that should be a great source of hope.
I think that not only is Prime Minister Netanyahu a smart and savvy politician, but the fact that he is not perceived as a dove in some ways can be helpful in the sense that any successful peace will have to include the hawks and the doves, on both sides, and in the same way that Richard Nixon here in the United States was able to go to China because he had very strong anti-communist credentials, I think Prime MinisterNetanyahu may be very well positioned to bring this about.
About how he treated Bibi the last time (for which Obama was widely criticised by Republicans and Democrats including Nancy Pelosi):
Well, some of this has been greatly overstated. I mean, the last time that the Prime Minister came here, we had a terrific meeting. It was so good that it spilled over. And the reports then came out that somehow I had snubbed the Prime Minister, when in fact what had happened was the Prime Minister was interested and eager enough in working out some issues that he wanted to convene with his team, and then I came back and we had this meeting.
Next President Obama sidelines a question about the "settlement freeze". Just a few months ago the settlement freeze was the most important American demand. Now it is, according to the President, less important than actual negotiations which Bibi is willing to pursue but the Arabs are not. Perhaps Obama has realised that you cannot get the Arabs to talk by pressuring Israel.
So we just pursued the toughest sanctions that have ever been applied against the Iranian government. We followed those up with U.S. sanctions that are going to be tough. Allies and partners are following up with those sanctions. We want to continually ratchet up the costs of them pursuing this nuclear program.
Now, will that work? We don’t know. And we are going to continue to keep the door open for a diplomatic resolution of this challenge. But I assure you that I have not taken options off the table.
Then the President tells of his connection with Israel and American Jews:
My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate.
There is a value to anonymity in terms of just being able to wander around, sit on a park bench, take your kids to get ice cream without having Secret Service and helicopters over you. That part of this life I’ll never get used to. In fact, I remember when I first visited Jerusalem, I could wander through the Old City and haggle for some gifts to bring back to Michelle, or stand at the Wailing Wall, and people didn’t know who I was. And that is a profound pleasure that is very hard to experience now.
The last time — the second time I went to the Wailing Wall, I put my prayer — and somebody pulled it out, and the next thing I know it was printed in the newspaper.
Now, that was quite a bit. And you can argue that he was not sincere and/or that he will change his opinion again or explain that he didn't mean what he said (like when he said that Jerusalem should remain undivided). But none of that is important.
He might change his opinion again or he might not. The important thing is that we have, now at this difficult time, a powerful politician with impeccable left-wing credentials speaking up for and defending Israel.
Perhaps he does it because he fears the next elections (which he has no part in), perhaps he does it because he was mugged by reality. The point is that Obama, the great hope of the international left, is, at least currently, on OUR side. Left-wingers now have to dismiss Israel AND Obama and moderates, including those who voted for Obama will increasingly recognise those left-wingers who dismiss Obama now as radicals who are simply wrong about everything.
And that's a success for Israel.
George W. Bush could have said the same thing but it wouldn't have had the same effect. Indeed, it would have steered irrational hatred for George W. Bush towards Israel.
So, thanks Obama for this. Well done.
But do remember that the reason Abbas and the PLO are moderates is because their main supporter, Saddam Hussein, was removed from power by George W. Bush, not by hope and diplomacy.
The great chance now is that Israel can sign a peace treaty with Abbas of the PLO while he is still considered the legitimate representative of the "Palestinian people" by the insane "international community". Once the peace treaty is signed, the "Palestinians" can do whatever they want in their country. It will be increasingly difficult to sell breaking a peace treaty brokered by President Obama as "legitimate resistance".
The only problem now is Jerusalem. If Israel is forced to give up Judaism's most holy site, we have once and for all time established that the Jewish people have fewer rights than other peoples. That must not happen if we want peace. And if Jerusalem's Arabs are forced to live under a PLO regime or worse, Israel will be at fault for abandoning people who accepted Israeli protection.
So any peace treaty will have to include that Israel will keep the holy sites in Jerusalem and souvereignty in Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem must be subject to local votes, i.e. each Arab neighbourhood will have to decide itself whether it wants to remain part of Israel or become part of an Arab state.
(Jewish "settlements" can become part of Israel or the Jews living there must be accepted as citizens of the Arab state. Similar arrangements can be made for Arab villages and cities within final Israeli borders.)