National Commentary

Obama’s Statehood Decision

The chips will be down for President Barack Obama this September when the United Nations General Assembly will be asked to vote for statehood for the Palestinians.

Obama has taken a weak stand against the so-called Israeli settlements (which are in reality colonies). The late Israeli prime minister and one of the original founders of Israel, Golda Meir, falsely described Palestine as “a land without people – a people for a land.”

Palestinians were 85 percent in the majority when Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian activist, started the Zionist movement in the late 1800s. Zionists took over Palestine after gangs – Irgun, Stern and Haganah – began to plunder Palestinian villages and commit genocide against the native population. Olive groves were burned, and Palestinians were forced to flee.

The reoccurrence of the takeover of Palestinian homes and driving hundreds of Palestinians out of the country and into refugee camps in nearby countries gave Benjamin Netanyahu reason to claim that it was no longer possible to return to the 1967 borders. Not only that, the Israelis now plan to build 1,500 more homes in the West Bank, which dashes any hope of Palestinians returning to their homeland.

A few days before the Six-Day War broke out, Israeli statesman Abba Eban came to Washington, D.C. and went to the Pentagon, where he received U.S. maps of airports in the Middle East, which were bombed on June 5 by the Israelis, leaving 25 airports burning and helpless to aid the Palestinians.

Most offensive, during the 1967 attack on Palestine, was the bombing of the USS Liberty, killing many American sailors and wounding many more.

The angry survivors of the Liberty are still demanding justice for that crime. The bombing occurred in bright sunlight off the Israeli coast. American flags were unmistakably flying at its masthead. A sailor managed to crawl to a phone to SOS nearby American ships in the Mediterranean. But as American ships raced to the rescue, according to the survivors, President Lyndon B. Johnson called off the rescue attempt.

Israel widened its conquests of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The problem is that Israel had been in violation of international law (you cannot annex occupied territory). Another problem was that LBJ was running for reelection that year and needed the support of the Zionist in this country. Johnson ultimately stepped down before the formal start of his reelection campaign because of the nationwide protest of the Vietnam War.

On May 15, 1948, when Israel fought Arab armies to take over Palestine, President Harry S. Truman was awakened in the middle of the night by Jewish friends who demanded that he recognize the Israeli military victory as a fait accompli. It was at that time that Truman formally recognized Israel as a state.

Truman later complained in his memoirs about being stampeded to do the Israeli bidding. General George Marshall broke with Truman over the haste in which the U.S. was forced to diplomatically recognize the state of Israel. But it was an election year for Truman, and he needed the political support in his race against Republican New York governor Thomas Dewey. Truman won in an upset victory.

It will be par for the course if the U.S. blocks the resolution for statehood for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lived in the area for centuries, dating back to the ancient Canaanites. The other great powers and members of the U.N., who are more sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight and more aware of their tragic history, will probably support statehood for the Palestinians.

A few months ago, the U.S. stood alone in a 14-0 vote against a resolution condemning Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine. The question is whether Obama will do it again. After all, the President is running for reelection and cannot run afoul of the American-Israeli Lobby (AIPEC), which has the power and can rally the voters.

It will take a lot of political courage on the part of Obama to stick to his declaration that Israel should return to its 1967 borders as a starting point to negotiate further land swaps but he surely should do that.