The most telling line in President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday to students in Jerusalem was his plea for Palestinian statehood on the basis of “fairness”: “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own,” he said.
Sixty-five years ago, the Jews and Arabs of Palestine had an equal opportunity to achieve statehood. The Jews took that opportunity, and declared Israel’s independence. The Arabs chose not to take that opportunity, and attacked Israel instead.
After the 1948 war, Israel absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands, but Arab states refused to integrate Palestinian refugees. In the decades that followed, the Arab states and Palestinian leadership refused to seize opportunities for peace, waging war instead.
So the reason a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own–whether Palestine, or the state in which her grandparents settled–is entirely due to the decisions made by Palestinian leaders. Today, many Palestinian children are being raised to hate, so that they can repeat the same terrible mistakes.
Is that “fair”? Yes–unless the only thing “fairness” measures is what people have today, not how they earned it.
Obama is wedded to the false ideal of “equality of outcomes.” No matter how many wonderful things he says about Israel–whether acknowledging the religious and historic connections of Jews to the land, or the Zionist achievement in building a new society long before the Holocaust–that false idea is his undoing.
The fact that his remarks were applauded by an audience of Israeli students merely confirms that many Israelis also share the same bad idea. Israeli politics may be dominated by conservative parties, and the Israeli economy may enjoy a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, but Israeli society is markedly socialist. In 2011, the country was seized by “social justice” protests that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets.
The left–in the U.S. and in Israel, too–rejects equality of opportunity for equality of outcomes, refusing to hold people responsible for their choices. As a result, people who make bad choices are reinforced in their bad behavior.
The fact that Palestinians are rewarded lavishly with money and goodwill, time and again, for rejecting of peace with Israel (and statehood for themselves) merely encourages their leaders to keep saying “no.”
The mainstream media are treating President Obama’s remark as if it were a profound statement of wisdom and insight, a message that had to go over the heads of Israel’s leaders and directly to the country’s youth in order to create the change that is needed. In fact, he revealed his own foolishness, and his ideological rigidity.
In 2008, Obama told ABC News’ Charlie Gibson that he would raise capital gains taxes even if doing so brought less revenue to the federal government “for purposes of fairness.” Hence his refusal, over the past four-plus years, to take budget deficits seriously as he pursued tax hikes that have damaged the U.S. economy.
His remarks in Jerusalem apply the same illogic to international affairs.
Obama wants Israel to make deep concessions to the Palestinians, even if those concessions might make matters worse (see the Oslo peace process), because doing so would be “fair.”
The students in the audience cheered. Many of them will grow out of such notions after they graduate.
Not so President Barack Obama, for whom “fairness” has become a governing philosophy. America and Israel–and the Palestinians, too–are poorer for it.