Stand with Israel for peace
This past Tuesday, Israel celebrated its 62nd birthday. President Barack Obama's administration continued its vilification of the lone democracy in the Middle East. Israel fended off more than half a dozen Arab nations 62 years ago that swore with ruthless aggression that they would drive the Jewish people into the Mediterranean Sea. The nation of Israel thrives 62 years later as an economic strong house, comparatively unscathed by the global economic meltdown, and as a beacon for democracy in the Middle East.
Since the Nixon administration and the American aid offered to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, when Israel again was attacked from all sides by Arab nations, America has remained Israel's closest ally. However, since the election of Obama and the swift change that has come to Washington, D.C., that strong and important relationship hangs in the balance.
The United States and Israel are currently at crossroads, whether the president acknowledges this change in attitude is irrelevant. His actions speak louder than his words, and his abrasive rhetoric toward the world's sole Jewish state is cause for concern. While the president and his administration continue to claim the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable, they treat the Netanyahu administration as a rogue government. Threatening to pull U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell from the region if demands are not met and mandating Israeli land concessions without any sign of goodwill from the Palestinians.
The Obama administration's desire to see Israel halt apartment construction in Jerusalem is unacceptable. Jerusalem in its entirety is the capital of the Jewish people. Washington's attempt to cease Israeli development in both Arab and Jewish communities cannot and should not be welcomed by the Israeli government. Israel not only has a right to build up its capital but also should continue to build until the demand for new homes is met. Besides, didn't Obama claim in his campaign that his administration would not meddle in the domestic policies of foreign nations? The failure of the Obama administration to stand strong with Israel, when the rest of the region threatens war and annihilation, is not a government with an unshakeable relationship.
Perhaps the president did not get the memo from every Israeli prime minister since Levi shkol that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of the Jewish people forever. It is not a bargaining tool, it is the capital — end of discussion. This construction is not taking place on random hilltops throughout the West Bank, but for the most part throughout established Jewish communities that have since 1948 been under Israeli control. Asking Israel to dismantle Jewish communities in the West Bank and Jerusalem would be like Israel asking the United States to hand back Texas and Arizona to Mexico. When Israel evicted more than 10,000 of its own citizens in 2005 from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians were given their first chance at self-governance. Instead of building schools, they built terrorist camps, instead of preaching peace, clerics preached death to the Jews. While the people in Gaza suffer, Hamas spends their money purchasing weapons from Syria and Iran while building tunnels to smuggle weapons with the hope of kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
While Israel celebrates its 62nd birthday, the threat to her very existence lingers over the people of the country like a dark cloud. The Syrian president has stated that the period of neither war nor peace is temporary and has threatened Israel with a summer war and Hamas shoots Qassam rockets day and night from the Gaza Strip at Israeli neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Iran is in the middle of acquiring a nuclear weapon that could either be used by the illegitimate government in Tehran, or sold to a terrorist group like Hamas or Hezbollah. If America were a true friend of Israel, the administration would do everything in its power to stop Iran from attaining this weapon.
Earlier this week, a secret memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates exposed that the United States has no long-term plan for dealing with Iran, further proving the United States is futile in thwarting Iranians from attaining and possibly using weapons of mass destruction. The Obama administration persistently claims that America's bond with Israel will only get stronger, so why doesn't the administration put its money where its mouth is and act like an ally? The president can start with taking pressure off the Israeli government to make foolish land concessions that will bolster terrorist activity and jeopardize Israeli security. He can start by demanding the Palestinian Authority stop praising terrorist activity by naming streets after suicide bombers and teaching eliminating hate speech in schools at least throughout the West Bank.
It is unfathomable that the president of the United States does not understand the current situation in the Middle East. Perhaps he is naïve, but more likely he has been fed false information over the course of his life from pro-Palestinian friends and colleagues. Either way, the situation is dire. If the president pretended to know anything about the conflict, he would know that Israel has always made the most concessions, stuck to international agreements and pursued peace when Palestinians were busy igniting intifadas, shooting rockets at schools and synagogues and praising the use of terror against Israeli civilians.
For the sake of Israel, I hope the Obama administration changes course on how they have treated the Israeli people and government over the past 15 months. For the sake of Israel, I hope the Obama administration opens up its eyes to the potentially catastrophic threat Iran poses to both Israel and the United States. For the sake of Israel, I hope peace can eventually endure with Arab partners willing to lay down their arms and accept that a Jewish nation will remain in the region forever.
Aaron Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and history. His column "Marcus my words" runs alternate Thursdays.