Following Barack Obama's visit to the infamous Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw asked the president, “What can the Israelis learn from your visit to Buchenwald? And what should they be thinking about their treatment of Palestinians?” President Obama’s response – “Well, look, there's no equivalency here” – was correct but also an obvious attempt to dispel the moral equivalency he displayed in his Cairo speech just a day earlier, when he spoke of the Holocaust and immediately referred to Palestinian suffering.
Obama’s relativist outlook was further expressed to the audience of 3,000 guests at Cairo University when he stated that he will put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop terror, and on Israel to cease its Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. Obama made it abundantly clear that he will personally pressure Israel for an end to the "occupation” that he said has caused a 60 years displacement of the Arab population in Israel.
Apparently the president did not discern the moral difference between Jewish settlements built on either government land or privately purchased land, in what is legally considered “disputed land” (not, pointedly, on Palestinian land), and the deliberate campaign of terror and murder against Israeli Jews engaged in by the Palestinians. Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria do not harm Palestinians – physically or otherwise – and more often than not they have provided an economic stimulus to the Palestinian villages that surround them. President Obama’s insistence upon the removal of the Jewish presence from these Biblical regions, which formed the cradle of Jewish civilization, shows deep insensitivity towards history and the lives of 250,000 Jews. Moreover, demanding that Judea and Samaria become “Judenrein” just as Gaza. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are, while 1.2 million Arabs can live as free citizens of Israel, betrays a clear bias on Obama’s part.
Israel has shown its willingness to dismantle settlements in exchange for a genuine and lasting peace accord. The Obama administration’s approach, as stated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, smacks of a public dictate to an underling: “The president was very clear,” she stated, “when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point.”
Israel destroyed the town of Yamit when it gave back the Sinai to Egypt. It relinquished Taba across from Eilat when the last international juridical appeal accepted a disputed Turkish cartographic reference that ruled out Israeli control. The Jewish State painfully pulled its own citizens – kicking and screaming – out of Gaza in August 2005, and evacuated the territory completely only to see it become not a greenhouse of development but a hothouse of terror.
In President Obama’s speech he told the audience – and the world - that just as the Holocaust cannot be denied, Israel must recognize the right of Arabs to a Palestinian state, which he called Palestine. To equate the plight of the Palestinians, one caused by the cruel decisions made by their leaders – with the deliberate murder of Six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators is simply obscene.
Had Obama and his coaches pored over historical records, they would have discovered that no other people have had as many opportunities for self determination as the Palestinians. The Peel Commission in 1937 suggested the partitioning of Mandatory Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs rejected the plan because it provided for the creation of a Jewish state (a mere 1,900 square miles for Jews, and 8,410 square miles for the Arabs). In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish States and, once again, the Arabs (then called merely Arabs, while the Jews were called Palestinians) rejected the creation of a Jewish state, and chose to go to war (aided by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon) in the hopes of destroying the newly created Jewish state.
Following Israel’s victory in the second attempt to annihilate the Jewish State in 1967, the Israeli government called upon the Arab states to negotiate peace. The response from the Arab Summit in Khartoum was: No to peace, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel. The Oslo Accords of 1993 created a clear path for a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza, but Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, sensing Israeli weakness in October 2000, decided to launch a war which came to be known as the Second Intifada. Ironically, in July of that same year at a Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Barak expressed his willingness to concede to most of the Palestinian territorial demands – including the division of Jerusalem – in exchange for an “End of Conflict” declaration. We would later learn that while offers that would hopefully lead to peace were being prepared by Israel, Arafat was preparing for war.
While checkpoints and the barrier fence cause the Palestinian hardships, these can never be compared to the Holocaust. When the inculcation of hatred that leads to murderous suicide bombings, rocket attacks against innocent civilians, drive-by shootings and the like cease, so will the need for checkpoints and fences. These measures are in place to save Israeli lives – and have proven to reduce 95 percent of terrorist attacks. Any reference to the hardships of the Palestinians and the Holocaust, which was a deliberate effort to exterminate the Jewish people, is immoral and contentious.
So, the answer to Brokaw’s question about what Israelis could learn from the Buchenwald visit by the president is that the Netanyahu government must insure the safety of the Israeli people by being steadfast in opposition to a terrorist state in the West Bank and Gaza. Israelis know that the Palestinians seek to replace them rather than live side-by-side with them. And if the Holocaust taught Israelis anything, it is that they cannot mortgage their defense to someone else, albeit an ally such as the U.S.