Obama blew it yesterday.
The Israelis are infuriated, numerous sharp-eyed lawmakers spotted the forced concessions Obama was demanding of Israel and, if former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block is any indication, the most prominent pro-Israel Jewish group is very, very worried. So what does Obama do? He reverses course — fast!
On the BBC last night, Obama immediately nixed his definitive language on the 1967 borders and reverted to language that sounded more in tune with that of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush:
To the BBC, the president said, “The basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides. That’s on the one hand and on the other hand, and this was an equally important part of the speech, Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank and that security element is going to be important to the Israelis.”
The president said that the Israelis “will not be able to move forward unless they feel that they themselves can defend their territory particularly given what they have seen happen in Gaza and the rockets that have been fired by Hezbollah.”
That is as sure a sign as any that the speech was an overstep, and a misstep, that the Israelis are infuriated and that Obama is now in a pinch.
What to make of all the liberal Jewish groups and pundits who fawned over the speech and insisted there was no change in U.S. policy contained in Obama’s statement on the 1967 borders (which is a misnomer; there is only the 1949 armistice line)?
They have, to the extent they had any credibility, discredited themselves as reliable translators to Jews and Americans at large of the peace process. Whether through ignorance or through an insatiable need to defend a liberal president at all costs, they leapt into the fray to deny that Obama said anything damaging at all.
The proof of Obama’s misstep is his swift backpedal, which, I suspect, will continue today.