Two Boiling Points of View: Over the Line

Ashley Mashian, BP Staff

Rose Bern, Staff Writer

In a speech President Obama gave at the State Department on May 19, he restated America’s longtime stance towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

It’s incredible how a simple statement can spark so much outrage.

But this outrage is justified. While President Obama may have had good intentions and sincerely want to guide the United States’ efforts to promote a lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace, our Commander-in-Chief has misunderstood a few key issues.

Firstly, if Israel were to readopt the 1967 borders, it would lose East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, leaving itself completely indefensible, with just a nine-mile-wide strip of land near Jerusalem connecting the north of the country to the south.

Surrounded by enemies, it could easily be divided in two by any one of its many enemies, who would only have to conquer 10 miles to divide the country into two. Jerusalem itself would be surrounded by Palestine on three different sides.

President Obama said there would be land swaps, so perhaps Israel could keep more land in the Jerusalem area by giving up, say, some of the Negev or the Galilee — or did he mean Arab villages that have been located in Israel since the founding of the state, and whose residents are full citizens of the state of Israel?Would they have a say in the negotiations?

The problem with “land swaps” is that it means that to keep some land acquired in ‘67, Israel must lose some land that it had beforethen.

In other words, to be defensible, it has to – shrink. Is this what President Obama’s supporters are so proud to say he supports?

In a speech a few days later that he gave to pacify AIPAC, the president once again stated what he said before. He claimed that people had manipulated his words and misinterpreted him. He said that Israelis and Palestinians should use the 1967 borders as a starting point, so that secure borders could be established.

After reading this, red flags began going up in my mind. How can he make his way to AIPAC, reiterate his words, and then claim that we’re misrepresenting them?

“The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome,” the president said. This may be true. But our Commander-in-Chief’s biggest flaw is that he does not understand that the 1967 borders and “mutually agreed-upon swaps” will not bring this.

Our President tried to reassure AIPAC with vague remarks and continuously stressed words like “security” and “safety,” but he didn’t even touch upon the real roadblocks to those results. What will happen to the city of Jerusalem? What about the Palestinian refugees now living in Gaza and the rest of the Arab world?

And what about the fact that the leaders — in Gaza at least, the elected leaders, and now united to the West Bank through the new agreement between Hamas and Fatah — see Israel’s destruction, not peace, as their ultimate goal?

“These principles provide a foundation for negotiations,” President Obama said to AIPAC. “Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met.”

But a foundation of sand cannot support anything. If one suggests that a state adopt impossible borders in a shrunken, vulnerable land, one should at least address all aspects of the proposed “solution.”

President Obama did not.Instead he advocated a peace that’s just a mirage – and the speeches he gave last month made it retreat, like a mirage, even farther into the distance.