Appearing on Glenn Beck’s show last night to discuss President Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, former unconfirmable UN ambassador John Bolton engaged in some pretty blatant and dishonest fear-mongering on the president’s policy toward Israel.
“This is the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any president making,” Bolton said, noting with alarm “two phrases in what you just heard”:
The president says America does not accept, and I’m quoting now, “the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” Not new Israeli settlements, continued Israeli settlements. Which, you know this is Mr. Wordsmith here, that calls into question, in my mind, all Israeli settlements. Then he says ‘we want a Palestinian state that’s contiguous’ — by the way, Gaza and the West Bank were never contiguous Palestinian areas before — and that ‘ends the occupation that began in 1967.’ That means, I think, a return to the ’67 borders. Now he doesn’t say that, but it’s certainly implicit in this statement.
Beck and Bolton then took a map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories and used a big red magic marker to show how Israel could be sliced up if Obama’s nefarious plans were implemented. Needless to say, Beck and Bolton’s scribblings did not resemble any plan offered by anyone, ever.
“Did we sell out Israel today?” Beck asked, wearing his best grave face.
“I think it’s very close to it,” Bolton answered. “As I said, I think it’s the most anti-Israel speech I can remember by an American president.”
But what Bolton failed to mention in his transparently dishonest attempt to scare Fox viewers is that President Obama’s language almost exactly reproduces language used by President George W. Bush in describing the opening point for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in 2008:
BUSH: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.
As for Obama’s statements on settlements, U.S. policy going back to the 1970’s has been that the settlements are illegitimate and counterproductive to peace in the region. Under the 2003 road map promulgated by the Bush administration, the Israeli government committed to freezing settlements, a commitment it has failed to honor.
Some, like Bolton, feel that Israel should be able to ignore its agreements with the United States, which actually tells you a lot about the low regard in which he holds the U.S.’s credibility as an honest broker. But even that doesn’t justify his misrepresenting decades of U.S. policy, or President Obama’s words, and irresponsibly whipping up paranoia about the United States “selling out” Israel.
Jeffrey Goldberg says that the real news in the president’s speech “was Obama’s clear description of Israel as a ‘Jewish state.’” Pretty far off from a “sell-out”.