The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement directly after President Obama’s Middle East speech yesterday. Like a friendly cocker spaniel, it bounced and cheered and slobbered over the remarks:
We further commend his strong affirmation of the importance of the deep and unshakable U.S.-Israel relationship, and his clear articulation of the moral and strategic connections between America and Israel. We support the President’s vision of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement with strong security provisions for Israel, and a non-militarized Palestinian state. We appreciate his direct rejection of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and his understanding that the Hamas-Fatah agreement poses major problems for Israel.
The Palestinians must heed the President’s warnings about imprudent and self-defeating actions, including through campaigns to delegitimize Israel, plans to unilaterally declare statehood, and a unity agreement with a Hamas which remains committed to violence, rejection and anti-Semitism.
This Administration has come a long way in two years in terms of understanding of the nuances involved in bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace and a better understanding of the realities and challenges confronting Israel.
Did the White House write this? No mention of the 1967 borders. No mention of cutting off aid to the Hamas-Fatah government. I couldn’t imagine this was the ADL’s position. Maybe it only had gotten excerpts of the speech. I e-mailed to ask if the group planned to clarify or retract the statement considering the storm the speech has caused. The answer: ”No, we stand by our statement.”
That was a little after noon today, when a slew of lawmakers, including Democrats, had begun to come out with critical statements. In addition to the ones I mentioned earlier today, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) had this to say:
“I am extremely troubled by President Obama’s call for Israel to ‘act boldly’ for peace. It is not Israel who has welcomed a terrorist organization into its government. It is not Israel that has steadfastly refused to negotiate over the last several years. Sadly, it is the Palestinians who have done that, to the detriment of their own people and to world peace.
“And while I appreciate the President’s recognition of how difficult it will be for Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority now that Hamas is part of that government, we must go a step further and demonstrate our clear opposition to any negotiations with Hamas: the U.S. must immediately cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority until that government recognizes Israel’s right to exist, agrees to abide by past agreements, renounces terrorism and releases Gilad Shalit.
“I am also deeply concerned by any calls for Israel to return to the armistice line that existed before 1967. That line left Israel far too vulnerable to outside attack, and without access to many of the Jewish holy sites on the other side of the line. Past experience demonstrates that when the Arabs have controlled the Jewish holy sites they have not permitted access to Jews. It is therefore essential that any ‘mutually agreed swaps,’ as the President described them, must leave Israel more secure than it already is.
“At the same time, I noted that the President re-affirmed the United States’ unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and the US’s strong opposition to any Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare a state. He also made it clear that efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure and opposed any action at the United Nations to predetermine the outcome of the negotiations.”
In more mild terms, Rep. Steve Rothman (D- N.J.) said this:
I commend President Obama for reiterating to the entire world — including the 22 Arab countries that surround Israel — that the United States has an unshakable commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. I agree with the President that the United Nations is not the place to negotiate the final parameters of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and that Israel should not be forced to talk with parties, such as Hamas, that don’t recognize its right to exist and seek to drive it into the sea. A two-state solution agreed upon by the Israelis and Palestinians should be negotiated through direct talks, but it is important to remember that a full return to the 1967 borders will be indefensible for Israel and that talking with terrorists who want to destroy Israel is a non-starter. [Emphasis added]
Did the ADL not care about this part of the speech or did it like what it heard? Democrats and Republicans alike have recognized the damage to the U.S.-Israeli relationship and to the prospects for peace in the region, but the ADL is oblivious, or can’t bring itself to criticize a liberal, Democratic president. It couldn’t even remain silent to see whether Obama could clean up the mess. Is the ADL a leading Jewish organization or a branch of the DNC?
If the ADL can’t lead the American Jewish community in tough times, it should get off the stage. There are many Jewish organizations with conflicting missions. They fragment donor money, and many are well past their prime. It seems the ADL is in the later category.