It's discouraging when the major party presidential candidate who has demonstrated on the campaign trail the greater knowledge of foreign policy issues makes an ill-considered comment.
And so it was that Barack Obama took a moment during his statement in Amman, Jordan on Tuesday, 7/22/08 to make a misleading or naive comment(s) about the Middle East in response to a question. He said (pp. 5-6 of transcript)
And I do believe.... that the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to both have to make compromises in order to arrive at that two-state solution.... Now, one of the difficulties that we have right now is that in order to make those compromises you have to have strong support from your people, and the Israeli government right now is unsettled. You know, the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas.
And so it's difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace.
Sure, both sides have to compromise, and American and world public opinion was more favorable to Israel back when it was the one doing the compromising and was the cute and cuddly victim. Now, it is no longer perceived primarily as victim- but apparently is still the one doing the compromising.
On Wednesday, July 16, 2008 Lebanese terrorist Samir Kantar, four other militants captured in the 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel, and the bodies of 199 Arab fighters were traded for two dead Israeli soldiers in a U.N.-mediated deal.
Kantar, who with the released Hezbollah fighters was greeted by top officials after being flown to Beirut, told cheering crowds at the celebration there that he had returned "to Lebanon only because I want to go back to Palestine with my brothers in the resistance." His humanitarian act? killing an Israeli man in front of his 4-year-old daughter, then killing the little girl by smashing her skull with his rifle butt.
There you have it- bodies of 199 Arab fighters, victims of a war partly spurred by the practice of kidnapping prisoners to bargain for Kantar's freedom; four (live) Lebanese extremists; and one vicious murderer in return for.... remains of two Israelis, whom the Israelis had presumed dead. (That would be 204 to 2.) The prisoner swap, though controversial, largely was supported by citizens of the Jewish state, who long have had a policy of never leaving soldiers on a battlefield.
Over at the Gaza strip, Hamas was so encouraged that it vowed to "capture Zionist soldiers, in order to swap with our sons in prison." (That would be "sons," as in "terrorists.")
So the next time you hear an American politician talking about the need for both sides to "compromise," remember that he really means one party, the side that "has been carrying out unequal prisoner swaps for decades, including handing over 4,600 Palestinian and Lebanese captives in 1983 in exchange for six captured Israeli soldiers." The same side that apparently places a higher value on life.
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