How to Lose Friends…

Why Obama should reaffirm the importance of our relationship with Israel


The United States does not negotiate with terrorists—but we insist that Israel do so without preconditions.

We will not get entangled in the distasteful internal politics of Iran—but we define Israel's borders.

We will remove missile defense systems in Europe so we do not needlessly provoke our good friends in Russia—but we have no compunction nudging Israel to hand over territory with nothing in return.

This week, President Barack Obama spoke to the United Nations General Assembly and insisted that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate "without preconditions" (well, excluding the effective precondition that Israeli settlements are "illegitimate," according to the administration—so no preconditions means feel free to rocket Israel while you talk).

This tact, Obama hopes, will lead to "two states living side by side in peace and security—a Jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."

Hate to break the news to you, but there already exists a Jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis. This security is attained through a perpetual war against terrorism and Arab aggression.

And the most recent time Israel withdrew from disputed lands without preconditions to allow the potential of the Palestinian people to shine through was in Gaza. The Arabs, hungering for the light of freedom, used the gift to elect Hamas—now an Iranian proxy and always a terror organization—to rain rockets down on the civilians who voted to allow the first democratic Arab entity in history.

If Obama expects Israel to end the "occupation" that began in 1967, he also is demanding Israel abandon parts of Jerusalem. If he really anticipates that a Palestinian state will be "contiguous territory," what he expects is that Israel can't be contiguous.

And when he uses the word "occupation," he is negotiating for the Palestinians. None of the lands up for discussion are "occupied" territory. The president, a highly educated man, knows well that there never has been an ultimate agreement on borders, nor has there ever, in history, been a Palestinian state to occupy.

There is an ethical question that the president might want to answer, as well. Why would the United States support an arrangement that scrubs the West Bank of all its Jews? Why is it so unconscionable to imagine that Jews could live among Muslims in the same way millions of Arabs live within Israel proper? Not many international agreements feature ethnic cleansing clauses. (Isn't this, after all, about peace?)

Of course, we all know why: Jews would be slaughtered, bombed from their homes, and rocketed from their schools. This indisputable fact reveals the fundamental reality of these negotiations.

Instead of reaffirming the importance of our relationship with Israel, Obama has renewed our membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presided over by exemplars of self-determination and human dignity, such as Libya, Syria, and Angola. The hobbyhorse of this organization is accusing Israel of war crimes, which isn't surprising.

Noted intellectual George Gilder argues in his most recent book, The Israel Test, that where you stand on Israel—not always, but in general—is an indication about how you feel about the ideals of liberty and capitalism. The debate over Israel, he claims, is the manifestation of a deeper moral and ideological war around the world.

"The real issue," writes Gilder, "is between the rule of law and the rule of leveler egalitarianism, between creative excellence and covetous 'fairness,' between admiration of achievement versus envy and resentment of it."

This nation has no inherent duty to wage endless wars to secure freedom for the world's masses—often against their will. But shouldn't it stand with those nations that already value the basic tenets of a free and peaceful society?

Or are all people now equally deserving of our friendship simply because they exist?

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at