Israel in Peril

by Rick Santorum

Several years ago, Charles Krauthammer pointed out that small nations can disappear, and they know it. Like Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s, Israel is a small nation and it has never been in more danger of disappearing. Today, Israel is surrounded by an armed alliance of Jihadist fundamentalists and nationalists, from North to South to East. Its West is the Mediterranean ocean, where Israel’s enemies would like to push her Jewish population. And Pres. Barack Obama has just put Israel’s very existence in more peril.

For years, many here, and in Israel, have been laboring to figure out a way in which to grant Palestinians their own homeland. But the necessary first condition was that the Palestinian leadership had to foreswear terrorism and agree to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Only then, with Israel’s security at least promised on paper, would negotiations over land be able to take place. Of course, we know from recent history that Israel has acted even ahead of its own self-interest. When it unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza strip in 2005, a peaceful Palestinian leadership was not elected in Gaza, Hamas was. What is Hamas? Hamas is a terrorist organization whose charter speaks of killing Jews, of “liberating Palestine” by “Jihad,” and whose official slogan is “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Still, many believed the West Bank Palestinian leadership was more peaceful—the place from which true peace with Israel could take place. Despite ongoing terrorism against Israelis from the West Bank, and despite honorifics, parks, and memorials the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank gave to terrorists, that diplomatic hope (false as it may have been) continued. Last month, however, it was dashed when the “moderate” Palestinian leadership in the West Bank announced it had forged a formal alignment with Hamas and the two would form a unity government. By the way, it was the new government of Egypt that hosted and coordinated that new alliance.

What did President Obama do? In his recent speech on the Middle East, he called anew for the creation of a Palestinian state. The timeline was this: i) The “moderates” merged with the extremists, ii) then the United States president thought it a good idea to renew the push for Palestinian statehood. To all but the blind, such a call at this time is nothing less than the rewarding of terrorism.

Even some on the liberal side of the aisle are beginning to see what the president has done. Josh Block of the Progressive Policy Institute put it this way: “He has rewarded the party who is the least cooperative and undermined trust with Israel, and hurt the prospects for peace.”

But President Obama went further, still. By stating that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” President Obama prejudged the minimum negotiation starting point for the Palestinians and gave the Palestinian leadership a tremendous diplomatic boost, putting Israel further on the defensive. Don’t take my word for it, read what the Palestinians say. As one major Palestinian political scientist put it: “This is much tougher for Israel to swallow.”

Does President Obama even realize what he said? The 1967 lines include East Jerusalem — the site of the Western Wall — and they would make Israel nine miles wide at its most vulnerable point. Making matters still worse, President Obama said, “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Take a look at a map of Israel and see what this “contiguous state” means. It means transecting Israel in two, further weakening Israel’s possible defenses from terrorism, missile launches, or invasion. As Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu put it Friday, “Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality.” Who do we think will be the worse-off victim in such a crash?

This is why Pres. Ronald Reagan once said, about the 1967 borders: “In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”

President Obama’s immoral Middle East policy goes beyond directly pressuring Israel; see how he has treated other allies and enemies in the region. President Obama told Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak he had to leave office but he has coddled Syria, rewarding that rogue state with a U.S. ambassadorship George W. Bush pulled years ago. Going further, despite Syria’s much more brutal crackdown on its own people, President Obama has yet to call for Syria’s leader, Bashar Assad, to leave power. The confusion to most of us — but not to our or Israel’s enemies — is precisely this: Mubarak was an ally, and the key leader in Egypt responsible for maintaining peace with Israel. Assad is an enemy, heading up one of the chief state sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East. President Obama opposed the ally and sided with the enemy.

Israel has long enjoyed the support of the United States. Our mutual ties have been historical, cultural, religious, and strategic. Today those ties have been put in more doubt than at any other time in the history of our relationship. Israel hasn’t changed, the United States has. But the United States, a large and powerful country, is not in danger of disappearing. The same cannot be said of Israel and it is to our shame that we have increased that risk for the Jewish state. One can only hope this dangerous turn in our foreign policy will change. In the meantime, it is the duty of each and every American citizen who abhors terrorism and supports freedom to stand up and say, “I support Israel.”

— Rick Santorum was a United States Senator from 1995 to 2007. He authored the Iran Freedom Support Act and the Syrian Accountability Act.

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