By David Dolan
History is, sadly, repeating itself. Eleven years ago, Bill Clinton twisted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's arm in a successful attempt to get him to withdraw Israeli soldiers from most sections of the ancient Jewish holy city of Hebron. The pullback was supposedly designed to strengthen the crumbling Oslo peace accord signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.
Instead, the unpopular evacuation caused Islamic terror attacks to mushroom and Netanyahu's coalition government to collapse, forcing early elections won by Ehud Barak. The new leader's subsequent offer at Camp David to hand over even more territory to the PLO chief was answered a few months later with the violent Palestinian Al Aksa uprising.
Another Democratic Party president is now wrestling with Netanyahu while pushing down hard on the explosive "peace" button. Barack Obama's action is likely, once again, to ignite violent confrontations in the Promised Land.
Adding to the historic repetition chill, it was Bill Clinton's violated wife who delivered the State Department announcement that direct peace talks will begin again next week in Washington after a 20-month hiatus.
While opinion polls showed that a majority of Israelis viewed Bill Clinton as a true friend, the same cannot be said for President Obama. In fact many see him as – ta da – a closet Muslim. Living around millions of Arab Muslims all of their lives, Israelis recognize the chief characteristics of many of Muhammad's followers. Told by their parents and imams from birth that they are the unique Chosen People of Allah – not the rejected Jews or idolatrous Christians – pride is one of those recurring traits among Muslims. Many would cite its cousin, arrogance, as another.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean sees these same traits oozing out of the White House, even if he pinned them on Obama's advisers instead of the president himself. After all, what does his recent statement on CNN that "the people around him … really misjudged what goes on elsewhere in the country other than Washington, D.C." mean if not that they are insolent in handling presidential power? They couldn't care less what the peons out there think They alone know the correct way forward.
This is exactly how Iranian President AhMADinejad speaks all the time. He does not care what anyone thinks. He will enrich uranium, he will destroy Israel, he will conquer the world.
It is absurd to maintain that the current intelligent and eloquent American leader does not set the arrogant tone that "the people around him" display to U.S. citizens and folks all over the globe. And that is why most Israelis I talk to feel that, at least in his attitudes if not most of his actions, Obama seems more like a proud Muslim than the meek Christian he purports to be. Terrorist victims and their families and friends be damned! Muslims have a right to build a grand mosque and pray at the hallowed site where a band of their brothers slaughtered area innocents en masse.
And yes, Israelis have noted that the president's middle name is Hussein – quite popular in the Islamic world since it was the moniker of Muhammad's grandson.
Another point made by some Israelis is that if the man's father (who apparently named him) and all of his paternal relatives were Muslims, as nobody disputes even if they do wonder exactly where he was born, then the commander in chief is considered a Muslim by his co-religionists, albeit a backslidden one.
No doubt Obama's mother came from a European Christian heritage. But her son chose to marry an African-American woman and have children of color. In other words, he ultimately identified more with his father, from African Muslim stock, than he did with his white Christian mother from Kansas. Psychologists point out this is a natural process for most male and female children. The main role model as they mature into adulthood is the parent of their own sex.
But back to the reignited peace process. Bill Clinton knew full well that Bibi Netanyahu could not remain long in power without the support of his right-wing coalition partners, not to mention the more hawkish members of his own Likud Party. The very same thing applies today. So forcing the "peace" door back open at this time is likely to cause the current government coalition to at least wobble, if not collapse.
Obama and company understand that the Israeli cabinet only froze home building in Judea and Samaria until this coming Sept. 26. Netanyahu's partners, and many in his party, insist he keep his promise to resume construction after that date. PA leaders have already announced they will quit the new U.S.-mediated negotiations if the freeze is not maintained. In fact, many think they are only attending so they can blame the anticipated quick breakdown on "intransigent" Israel.
And there we have a recipe for a potential third act of the Palestinian uprising story, or at least for a new wave of Hamas terror attacks. This is especially the case since one-third of the local Palestinian population is not even under PA rule today, but governed in the Gaza Strip by the radical Islamic group. Its main outside backer, Iran, is hardly working for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, nor is the Shiite regime's heavily armed puppet Lebanese force, Hezbollah.
So the Obama peace push, like Bill Clinton's before it, is likely to help spark fresh violence and death instead of bringing lasting calm to the land. The apparent White House failure to understand that reality is truly arrogant. Worse yet, some Israelis suspect it may be deliberate.
Palestinians Clash with Police in East Jerusalem - Voice of America
For Israelis and Palestinians, History Repeats Itself - NewsMax.com (George Will)
Peace talks that will make war more likely - Ha'aretz
Israeli-Palestinian preview: Who’s coming to dinner at the White House? - JTA
Holy War for the Promised Land: Israel at the Crossroads - David Dolan (Book)