American Elephants

Some Nice Words: Some Bad Judgment. by The Elephant's Child


Barack Obama’s first trip to Israel as President of the United States started off with the presidential limousine breaking down because his people put the wrong fuel in it. A metaphor? Probably.

Mr. Obama has long-expected one of his signature achievements as president would be producing peace in the Middle East by bringing the “peace process” to a satisfactory conclusion. He has believed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be the cause of all Middle East problems, and he would just demand they sit down and talk.

Obama had some nice words in a speech to the Israeli people, then talked down to them. Then he had the extraordinarily bad judgment to give a speech in Ramallah on the West Bank, in front of a gigantic banner of Yassir Arafat, He actually said this:

I think it’s important for us to work through this [peace] process, even if there are irritants on both sides. The Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities last night. And it would be easy for them to say, you see, this is why we can’t have peace because we can’t afford to have our kids in beds sleeping and suddenly a rocket comes through the roof. But my argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement [sic], may be engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith [sic], we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement — because if we get an agreement then it will be very clear what the nature of that agreement is: There will be a sovereign Palestinian state, a sovereign Jewish State of Israel.

And those two states I think will be able to deal with each other the same way all states do. I mean, the United States and Canada has [sic] arguments once in a while, but they’re not the nature of arguments that can’t be solved diplomatically. And I think we can keep pushing through some of these problems and make sure that we don’t use them as an excuse not to do anything.

Can he possibly believe that the problems between Israel and the Palestinians is in any way similar to our arguments with Canada? His arguments with Stephen Harper over the Keystone XL must have been far more acrimonious than we knew. Talk about trivializing murder! The Palestinians bring up their children to be terrorists, extolling being a suicide bomber.

Israel’s demands have always been simple. Stop shooting rockets at us, and recognize the Israeli’s right to their own state.  Obama added:

[T]he United States remains committed to realizing the vision of two states, which is in the interests of the Palestinian people, and also in the national security interest of Israel, the United States, and the world.  We seek an independent, a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel — two nations enjoying self-determination, security and peace.

A viable and contiguous Palestinian state? There is no peace process. And the troubles between Israel and the Palestinians is not the reason for conflict in the Middle East. I heard on the radio that some 30 percent of Palestinians would prefer to live in Israel.

The State Department announced that they will unblock $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. Congress froze funding for the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the PA’s attempt to unilaterally declare statehood via the United Nations. Despite President Obama’s request to PA President Mahmoud Abbas  not to go to the International Criminal Court to seek sanctions against Israel, Abbas, now in the ninth year of his four-year term, had vowed to do so.

The State of Israel and Mitt Romney’s “Gaffes” by The Elephant's Child

The marvelous Michael Ramirez tells the story better in one perfect cartoon than I do in a whole column.  See all his work at   (Click to enlarge)

Mitt Romney, according to the liberal media, committed a horrible gaffe last week in Jerusalem by commenting on the relation of culture to Israeli economic growth. Saeb Erekat, correctly understanding an implied criticism of Palestinian culture, called Mr. Romney a “racist” and complained that Palestinian economic problems were due to the Israeli occupation. Liberal analysts were quick to jump in to explain that Mr. Erekat’s words meant that Mr. Romney.  has disqualified himself as a broker for peace.

There’s perennial argument buried in there, economists argue about whether development is caused by cultural advantages or by natural advantages like access to primary resources and resistance to disease. If economists has a sure recipe for economic advancement, we’d all be more advanced than we are, and economists wouldn’t have as much to argue about.

Israel is an interesting case. A tiny country with no natural resources was an economic backwater even in the says of the Ottoman Empire. It became a highly developed nation on culture alone.  As Todd G. Bucholtz wrote once in the Wall Street Journal:

And then there is Israel today. It may be settled by God’s chosen people, but He chose not to give them a drop of oil while gushers sprout across Arabia. And its terrain doesn’t naturally grow enough green for a sprig of parsley on your dinner plate.  Yet the land blooms. In the race for development would you rather bet on a country with tons of zinc or one with a couple of extra IQ points and a free flow of ideas?

The influence of plentiful oil did not change the nature of Arab economies. It did not fuel economic development that benefited all, but led to crowded cities. The oil rich economies of Libya and Iraq have social structures much like oil-lacking Egypt and Syria. Change is feared, and the culture is authoritative. But Arab populations have grown and prospered where Jews settled — in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hebron, and remained stagnant  where they didn’t. The Palestinian population is among the best-educated and most competent in the Arab world, and under Israeli rule (the hated occupation) the West Bank was one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world in the 1980s.

Many Palestinians regard Jewish economic leadership as an attack on their pride. Their situation might be far different if they quit firing missiles into Israel, and concentrated on their own development. When liberal reporters and analysts denounce Mr. Romney for his “gaffe, they should recognize there are Palestinian entrepreneurs who wept when Yasser Arafat rejected Israel’s peace offer at Camp David in 2000, and who know the costs to their peoples of politicians intransigence.

They would do far better to recognize the dishonest response of Mr. Erekat, and stand up for their own country instead of trying to create controversy.

The culture in Israel, that free flow of ideas and entrepreneurial spirit, has discovered vast new deposits of natural gas off their coast, developed a thriving high-tech industry, and has much to offer their neighbors.

Please! Stop Embarrassing Us! by The Elephant's Child

Mitt Romney was just in Israel, and in a speech said he was happy to be in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem. This is notable because Jay Carney, hapless press secretary, twisted himself into knots recently to avoid admitting that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. A witless representative of the State Department actually said that it was to be determined by negotiation. Just stop it. You are embarrassing us.

Israel is a sovereign state. Jerusalem is not only its historic capital, Israel says that Jerusalem is its capital.  They are the only ones who get to decide. It’s their country.

The United States does not get to decide what is the capital of Israel. Jay Carney does not get to decide. President Barack Obama does not get to decide. Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton does not get to decide, and the witless State Department woman does not get to decide. And stateless Palestinians don’t get to decide. If they can stop shooting rockets and trying to kill people, they might someday get their own state.

Washington DC is the capital of the United States. If the Congress of the United States should decide, with the approval of the people, that we should move the capital to Plato, Missouri (which is the population center of the country) — then that would be the capital — but for the present, it remains in Washington DC, where Congress decided to put it, back in July, 1790.

It’s all really very simple.  Can we stop being stupid.

Debunking the Palestine Lie! by The Elephant's Child

Michelle Bachmann on Israel by The Elephant's Child

Michelle Bachmann  has been a long-time and consistent supporter of the State of Israel.  It is refreshing to see an American politician, and presidential candidate, take a firm stand in supporting our allies.  These Republican women are a force to be reckoned with.  Brains, beauty, loyalty,  common sense and clarity.

(h/t: Powerline)

Prime Minister Netanyahu Goes to Congress. by The Elephant's Child

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a magnificent speech before a truly supportive joint session of Congress this afternoon.  It is an excellent speech, the text is here. One very memorable passage:

Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.  Now, I want you to stop for a second and think about that.  Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one percent are truly free and they’re all citizens of Israel.  This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong with about the Middle East, Israel is what is right about the Middle East.

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