Central View: Next year in Jerusalem
In his autobiography, “My Life,” former President Bill Clinton wrote that Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, complimented Clinton by telling him, ‘You are a great man.” Clinton replied, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one.”
In 2000, President Clinton brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, together at Camp David. During four days of negotiations, Clinton was able to get Prime Minister Barak to agree to every one of Yasser Arafat’s demands except one: the “right-of-return.” That demand was left on the table for future negotiations.
President Clinton blamed Arafat for the failure of the Camp David negotiations. Clinton said, “I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that nation [meaning Palestine] into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace.”
Pro-Israel authorities blame Arafat for walking away from the negotiations without making a specific counter offer and for promoting the Palestinian riots that followed in the wake of the failed Camp David Summit. While Palestinians take the opposite view, history also records that Arafat and his wife were making millions off the PLO and that a lasting peace would not be in the economic best interests of the Arafat family.
During the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, many Palestinians fled or were driven to neighboring Arab nations. When General Moshe Dayan defeated five Arab armies in the 1967 Six-Day War and occupied the West Bank and the Sinai Desert, even more Palestinians took flight. Ironically, General Dayan took a lot of political heat for begging the Palestinians to stay and help build a unified nation.
Interestingly, “right-of-return” is meaningful to both the ancient Jews and to the Palestinians, AKA the ancient Philistines. The Jews claim a 3,000-year history with the land of Israel from which they have been expelled several times. Jews think their “right-of-return” is, in point of time, stronger than that of the Palestinians which have their “genesis” in the more recent 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the 1967 Six-Day War. History records. You decide.
Prior to Israel’s victory in 1967, Jews were not allowed to pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. They could not attend Hebrew University or be treated at Hadassah Hospital on Jerusalem’s Mt. Scopus. Jews could not live in the historically Jewish Quarter where Jewish homes and synagogues had existed for millennia.
Long before President Obama, it was American foreign policy to veto any U.N. Security Council resolutions that declared Judaism’s holiest places to be illegally occupied by the Jews. But, in his final days as president, Barack Obama went before the United Nations to engineer a Security Council resolution declaring Judaism’s holiest places in Jerusalem to be “occupied territory” and Jewish use of them a “flagrant violation under international law.”
Supporters of Prime Minister Netanyahu have ample reason to believe President Obama “colluded,” albeit failed, to prevent Netanyahu’s reelection. By declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, President Trump swept President Obama’s attempt to punish Netanyahu and Israel into the dustbin of diplomatic history.
Happy Hanukkah, Israel!
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and was a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Hamilton is the author of “The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: The Sage of Sheepdog Hill,” Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017).
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