Ralph Nader’s Open Letter to President Obama: Decision Time for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

By Ralph Nader at Nader.org:

Dear President Obama:

On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, “America Must Recognize Palestine.” His urgent plea was directed to you to take “the vital step…to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership,” before you leave office on January 20, 2017.

Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called “for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” He noted that in 2011 you made clear that, in your words, “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” and that “negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

Former President Carter sees that the “combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership [for Palestine] and a UN Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy.”

With Israeli lawmakers moving to annex more Palestinian land (the 22 percent left of old Palestine), prompting a public plea by outgoing UN chief Ban Ki-moon to reconsider, and the forthcoming carte blanche for Israeli repression of the Palestinians from the Trump Administration, Mr. Carter sees these measures as “the best—now, perhaps, the only—means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people” and “that could destroy the Israeli democracy.”

He adds that “recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.”

In the remaining post-election weeks of your final term, you are freer than you’ve ever been to make these decisions for peace and justice in that troubled area—moves rooted in your pronouncements early in your first term.

More than any other president, you have approved the greatest transfer of the latest military weapons, research and intelligence to the Israeli government. More than any president, you have agreed to an unprecedented 10 year deal for the multi-billion dollar annual military assistance program. No other country has ever come close to receiving that gift from the American Taxpayers.

More than any other president, you have been forbearing to the extreme when the Israeli prime minister, in an impetuous move, widely criticized in Israel, circumvented the White House in 2015 so as to undermine your delicate, multi-lateral negotiations with Iran by his addressing a joint session of Congress.

In return for all this largess and astonishing self-restraint, you have been the subject of a non-stop revilement in Israel with ugly racist epithets and absurd accusations of anti-Semitism against Jews. This campaign of calumny has brought down your approval polls there often to single digits and diminished the Israeli peace movement.

Is it not time for action on behalf of regional peace? You’ll have the support of the active peacemakers on both sides—including numerous former heads of the Israeli domestic and foreign intelligence agencies (see The Gatekeeper and the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace), former cabinet ministers, mayors and public intellectuals, not to mention stalwart Israeli human rights organizations, such as B’Tselem.

As if any further urgency to act is needed, you must be appalled by the declarations of Donald Trump and his selection of his bankruptcy lawyer, who is privy to Trump’s innermost business dealings, David Friedman, to be the next Ambassador to Israel.

Friedman, who has accused you of ”blatant anti-Semitism ,” is a hard-liner on Israeli colonial expansionism and annexations in the West Bank. His bigotry against Palestinian Arabs is deep and long standing, making him an anti-Semite against these Arabs whose Semitic ancestors have lived there since time immemorial (See James Zogby’s “The Other Anti-Semitism”). If Friedman reflects Mr. Trump’s policies, the uncontrollable eruption of this long-simmering conflict is seen as a near certainty by expanding Jewish-American groups such as J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace.

What more foreboding do you need?

Many commentators who know you have described your last year in office as rounding out your historical legacy as President. I have suggested a number of initiatives that help define your presidency (see Return to Sender).

But Jimmy Carter is experienced, right and prescient—he’s earned that encomium—in believing that joining the community of nations by recognizing Palestine, allowing the UN security Council resolution to be passed and supporting UN membership for Palestine could be your most consequential contribution to Middle East security, and our domestic priorities, with other likely collateral benefits for world peace.

The American people, for the most part, including Jewish and Arab Americans, judging by the polls over time, would applaud such statesman-like actions.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

16 thoughts on “Ralph Nader’s Open Letter to President Obama: Decision Time for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

  1. Carol Moore/Secession.net

    Yet another Trump lie? He said he’ll work for America first, but he’s ready to jump into a 20 trillion dollar war – probably against Iran – to make Israel happy?

    Not to mention move the US embassy to Jerusalem and inflame Muslims even further.

    Some libertarians on the topic:

    Murray Rothbard, Ph.D. – “War Guilt in the Middle East”: details Israel’s “aggression against Middle East Arabs,” confiscatory policies and its “refusal to let these refugees return and reclaim the property taken from them.”

    Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D. – “The Alienation of a Homeland: How Palestine Became Israel”: “Palestinian Arabs have the rights to return to their homes and estates taken over by Israelis, to receive just compensation for loss of life and property, and to exercise national self-determination.”https://mises.org/system/tdf/5_4_2_0.pdf?file=1&type=document

    Richard Ebeling, Ph.D. – “Property Rights and the ‘Right of Return’”: “If a settlement is reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians, justice would suggest that all legitimate property should be returned to its rightful owners and that residence by those owners on their property should be once again permitted.” http://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/property-rights-return/

    I. Dean Ahmad, Ph.D. – “The Real Reason to Oppose Aid to Israel” : “The most interesting issue to libertarians is the issue of private property rights.Even the most pro-Zionist libertarian will fault Israel for its staunch socialism.The collectivism of Israel, however, is not just a flaw in Zionism, it is the core of the ideology. To appreciate this one should note that at the time of Israel’s founding, Jews, Zionist and non-Zionist alike, owned less than 7% of the land. This included land recently acquired from absentee landlords.” http://www.minaret.org/israeliaid.htm

    *Sheldon Richman “‘Ancient History: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War Il and the Folly Of Intervention” http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-159.html

    *”The Real Reason to Oppose Aid to Israel” by Libertarian I. Dean Ahmad, Ph.D. http://www.minaret.org/israeliaid.htm (on Minaret of Freedom)

    *4-10 articles a day on the issue http://www.antiwar.com
    * long list of articles and commentaries

  2. Matt

    “Yet another Trump lie? He said he’ll work for America first, but he’s ready to jump into a 20 trillion dollar war – probably against Iran – to make Israel happy?”

    But…but…some people on here keep insisting that Trump is a non-interventionist if not an outright peacenik on foreign policy just because he’s friendly with Putin (for now).

  3. Carol Moore/Secession.net

    While it is a nice fantasy that I’ve indulged myself about his being friends with Putin and avoiding nuclear war. The problem is that Trump’s actual motivation – whether he knows it or not – is he wants the White Christian nations to gang up on the Asian chinese nuclear armed nation who, with their billion plus people, intensive, merit-based educational system and great technology, ability to bring South American and Africa into their sphere of influence by trade and investment, etc. ARE on track to be world’s greatest nation. They’re making China great again. (The solution of course is for the people of the world to become libertarians and dissolve all the great nation states.)

  4. Matt

    Carol – good point. Of course, he also wants an expanded war of Christendom against Islam. Flynn says so openly, and Trump does so with barely a fig leaf.

  5. Carol Moore/Secession.net

    This is one where I think he’s conflicted. He wants to smash heck out of ISIS, but I also think he’d be glad to let Russians, Turks and Iraqis deal with ISIS do it. He looks like he’ll be a flunkie for Israel, but maybe he’s lying to them like everyone else. (Like maybe he puts forth an amassador to Israel he knows can’t get confirmed to have it both ways? Or is he that sophisticated?

    At least he didn’t put BOLTON in as Secretary of State and put in a guy who hopefully doesn’t want to see mideast oil fields bombed! And frankly I don’t have a problem with saying there’s a problem with TERRORIST Islam, just like there is with TERRORIST Christiainity, Judaism, Hindusim, etc. I don’t think he’s itching to start destructive and expensive new wars that will interfere with his cathedral like building projects, especially those airports he wants to build. 🙂 Time will tell!!

  6. Matt

    Ah and you were doing so well! Trump doesn’t just want to smash ISIS, he also wants to grab their oil, remember? And he can’t lie to Israel, or his son-in-law may cut down on his sleepovers with his daughter. The ambassador will get confirmed, like everyone else in the Trump/Congressional GOP honeymoon, and if perchance he’s not, the next one will be cut from the same cloth. Bolton is still in line for a top level job at the State Department, just not *the* top job. And yes, Trump will absolutely scrap the Iran deal.

    Of course there is terrorist Islam, and there will be a lot more of it thanks to Trump’s escalating provocations, but publicly harping about terrorist Islam as such from official sources does nothing to stop it and only helps to fuel its fire by painting the conflict as one between Christianity/the West and Islam in general, which is exactly what those terrorists want. Instead, it is better to emphasize the fact that they are terrorists and ignore what fig leaf they use to justify it, as that is all Islam is to them.

    As far as Trump’s building projects… well, you have to balance it against all the money his family could rake in helping to rebuild nations that his bombers laid waste. His hotels, golf courses, resorts, etc., present numerous opportunities for barely (if that) disguised bribery and influence peddling, and will rake in cash like nothing we have seen before. The Clinton Foundation, and perhaps even Putin with his reported $200 billion in stolen wealth, will pale by comparison. There are already Emirates moving their business and pleasure to Trump hotels before he has even taken office. Trump really sees the whole country as part of his business now, and corporate executives seeking government contracts and favors as well as foreign regimes will have plenty of opportunity to stay in Trump hotels, buy Trump apartments, vacation at Trump resorts, give Trump favorable terms on building supplies, etc., etc.

  7. Carol Moore/Secession.net

    Oh, the heck with holding on to delusions. I just won’t watch the news any more… Wasted far too much time opposing Bush/neocons/neoliberals 2000-2016. Can’t get any good secessionist stuff done doing so. Thus my 15 year old secession website.

    Of course, fighting prohibitonist statists in LP means http://pro-choicelibertarians.net at least now is in wordpress. Content needs massive updating even since June. Other pro-choicers willing to take on more of organizing vs prohibitionist fanatics. Those who will sell out “keep the govt out of the issue” for a little peace need constant reminders that prohibitionists won’t stop trying to make the party a prohibitionist one if they get rid of the abortion plank. It’s the dam holding back anti-gay/drug/etc. Xian/conservatives from flooding the party. (Must make that meme!)

  8. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Trump’s rhetoric always left much wiggle room. He promised to put “America First.” But a longtime talking point of the Israel lobby has been, “It’s in America’s best interest to support Israel.” So Trump can always say that in increasing aid to Israel, even in going to war to “defend Israel,” he’s “putting America first.”

    It’s like his rhetoric on the proposed wall. He promised a wall “with a big, wide door in the middle.” So anything he does about immigration, no matter how strict or lax, can fit his promise. He can be extremely restrictive on immigration and deport millions, and he can say, “Hey, I did promise to build a wall.” Or he can do nothing about immigration and let millions more enter the U.S. illegally, and he can say, “Hey, I did promise a big, wide door.”

  9. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    For one thing, Trump’s ardent fans chanted “build the wall” not “build a big wide door”. Will they be satisfied with “Or he can do nothing about immigration and let millions more enter the U.S. illegally, and he can say, “Hey, I did promise a big, wide door.””? Hell no.

    True. But betraying “ardent fans” is what politicians do.

    Which is why so many ardent fans eventually become apathetic cynics.

  10. Luke

    Ardent fans is a euphemism in this case, and if Trumpster firespreaders became apathetic cynics that would be a great improvement.

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