It's quite rare to hear a comment about Israel from US President Barack Obama that I can actually agree with, but that comment was certainly made in yesterday's interview published in the New York Times.
Obama's First Comment:
“It is amazing to see what Israel has become over the last several decades. To have scratched out of rock this incredibly vibrant, incredibly successful, wealthy and powerful country is a testament to the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people."
--- I agree wholeheartedly, except for the part about our wealth that we don't yet have. The problem is that his remark was but a flowery prelude to a series of comments, given in response to a question, about pressuring Israel on the immoral and suicidal (for Israel) "land-for-peace formula". So while it was a generally positive statement, it was but a prelude for what followed.
Obama's Next Comment:
"If he (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him making some very difficult compromises, such as taking on the settler movement."
--- Ah, yes, we all know about that problematic settler movement, those pesky troublemakers who have the "chutzpah" to insist on their right to live in Israel's historic biblical heartland, and who are always accused of stealing so-called Palestinian land from the Palestinian Arab country that never existed.
Finally, the Obama we have come to expect - pontificating about the rights of the Palestinians:
"You have to recognize that they have legitimate claims, and this is their land and neighborhood as well.”
--- Let's work backwards on this one:
Is this their neighborhood, as well? If we understand neighborhood to mean the Middle East as a whole, then it's true that the individuals who now call themselves "Palestinians" do, in fact, live in this neighborhood.
However - Is this their land and do they have legitimate claims to it? Absolutely not. Most of them came to the Land of Israel in the early part of the 20th century from other parts of the Middle East. They came looking for work in a growing economy that was being created solely by the enterprising, energetic Jewish people that Obama referred to, some of whom had been living here for generations, and many others who had returned, to their formerly sovereign nation in the Land of Israel, soon to be reestablished as an independent nation in 1948.
No, Mr. Obama, while it's true that this land had been renamed "Palestina" by the Roman conquerers, who drove most of the Jews from their sovereign country 2,000 years ago, it was never again a sovereign country for any of the subsequent conquering colonists, nor for anyone, until the Jews finally returned to reestablish Israel.
As my Jerusalem-born father-in-law often reminds me, it is only the Jews of the Land of Israel who even used the term "Palestinians" to describe themselves. Yes, my father-in-law was considered to be a Palestinian Jew before 1948, but the Arabs living in what was then known to the world as Palestine never accepted the moniker "Palestinian Arab", insisting that they were not Palestinians, but were instead an integral part of "the Arab nation". The term "Palestinians" only reached its current usage about twenty years later when the Arabs realized that they needed to create an "underdog" in order to win the propaganda war against Israel, so they invented this new Palestinian people to refer only to Arabs, and usually to Arab Muslims. To further enhance the lie, and to increase their growing international political power, the Arabs nations and their fellow Jew-haters at the United Nations redefined the term to include all of the descendents of these neo-Palestinians, regardless of country of residence.
From there, the rest is history, but the claims of "legitimate rights" for a people that never existed historically, to a state that never existed historically, are absolutely and historically absurd.
Needless to say, the New York Times didn't inform President Obama of those uncomfortable historical facts.