U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia today issued the following statement, which should be read as if it were issued on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, the day before the President’s speech at the State Department on May 19, 2011:
Ackerman on What the President Should Say
(Washington, DC – May 18, 2011) “As an unabashed supporter of Israel, and as a proud champion of the pro-Israel community in this country, I’d like to suggest what I, and other friends of Israel, hope to hear from the President tomorrow.
“The President should begin by calling for peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on two states with secure and recognized boundaries, to be arrived at only through direct negotiations. President Obama should absolutely adhere to this longstanding, bipartisan U.S. position, which is not only consistent with the policy of every President since Lyndon Johnson, but it’s also Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position as well.
“The President should slam the Palestinians for refusing to deal directly with Israel and condemn out of hand their proposal to make an end run around negotiations by proposing to take their case to the UN General Assembly in September. He must blast Palestinian efforts to delegitimize Israel. He needs to reject any possibility of Palestinian statehood while Hamas terrorism continues and he has to defend Israel’s objection to negotiating with anyone that refuses to accept its right to exist. He ought to emphasize that any deal on territory must be “mutually agreed,” effectively giving American backing to an Israeli veto over any new lines. Moreover, he should make plain that America’s goal is for Israel to remain both a Jewish and a democratic state, which would speak VOLUMES concerning the Palestinians’ so-called ‘right of return.’
“He should powerfully recommit the United States to our vital role as Israel’s steadfast partner on the all important issue of security and in the battle against terrorism. And further, he should unhesitatingly adopt Israel’s position that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized. It is critical that he endorse Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, and he should focus hard on Israel’s security, telling the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that all security arrangements leading to two states must to be demonstrably effective before any Israeli efforts can be expected to wind down.
“That’s what the President should say.
“No doubt, even if the President accepted these pro-Israel policies, even if he gave a strongly pro-Israel speech that included every single last one of them, I suspect I know what some would say: all the right-wing attack outlets, the partisan hacks, the political nut-jobs and espousers of ‘the Rapture’ as a foreign policy are going to allege everything from ‘a betrayal’ to ‘a hit-job’ to ‘throwing Israel under the bus.’ No matter what the President says, his automatic opponents are going to be opposed.
“But their objections are not in fact going to have anything to do with Israel or Israel’s security. Their true contention, as has been illustrated by the whole stupid birth certificate thing, is that the President is alien, illegitimate and untrustworthy. That’s their smear and they’re sticking to it. Israel for them is just another brush they can use to spread slime.
“I know that if the President were to give this kind of strongly pro-Israel speech, that the pro-Israel community, which is very savvy, would surely be smart enough to say ‘thanks for the cake’ instead of ‘but where’s the icing on top?’”
(Washington, DC—May 20, 2011)
P.S., He did. And, of course, so did they.