This is a lousy time to have a president in the White House who is, apparently, contemptuous of Winston Churchill. President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest in a series of efforts aimed at weakening Israel and otherwise bending it to the U.S. administration's will a practice against which an historian/statesman like Churchill would have strenuously warned.
In his extraordinary memoir, "The Gathering Storm," the future British prime minister recalled how he had publicly pronounced in the run-up to World War II that he could not "imagine a more dangerous policy" than one then being practiced by the British government. It involved trying to appease Adolf Hitler by encouraging Britain's principal continental ally, France, to disarm -- even as Nazi Germany was remilitarizing in increasingly offensive ways.
This practice was subsequently applied by both the British and French as they compelled another powerful ally, Czechoslovakia, to surrender its formidable Western defenses and military-industrial capabilities to the Nazis. The results of these misbegotten initiatives produced not peace, but an unprecedented conflagration. Extreme care should be exercised to avoid a repetition of this tragic history.
Yet, every indication is that Mr. Obama is determined to weaken Israel, America's most important and reliable ally in the Middle East, by forcing the Jewish state to surrender territory and make other strategic concessions in order to create a Palestinian state. As in the past, this weaken-your-friend approach to achieving the so-called two-state solution will not work. It will encourage, not eliminate, the abiding ambition of other nations in the region and their terrorist proxies to "wipe Israel off the map." It will actually exacerbate regional instability, not alleviate it.
Fortunately, another thoughtful student of history and accomplished statesman has come forth in Churchill's footsteps (and follows his example) by laying out a markedly different approach to the idea of creating a second state out of the 22 percent of the original mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River that was not given to the Arabs in 1922. (The other 78 percent became "Transjordan," known today simply as Jordan.)
At a Washington dinner hosted on May 6 by the Endowment for Middle East Truth, R. James Woolsey was recognized as a "speaker of the truth." In his brief acceptance address, a man who has served presidents of both parties as undersecretary of the Navy, conventional arms control negotiator and director of central intelligence laid out preconditions that must apply before there is any likelihood of a Palestinian polity with which Israel might actually be able to live "side by side in peace."
Mr. Woolsey's analysis is informed by the status Israeli Arabs enjoy in the Jewish state today. They make up roughly one-fifth of the population of Israel. They are able to have their own places of worship and schools. They are free to own and publish their own newspapers.
Israel's Arab citizens are also entitled to vote for real representation in a real legislature. Currently, they have 10 of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. There is an Arab justice on the Israeli Supreme Court. And an ethnically Arab Druze holds a seat in Mr. Netanyahu's Cabinet.
Most importantly, as Mr. Woolsey notes, law-abiding Arab citizens of Israel "can go to sleep at night without having to worry that their door will be kicked down and they will be killed" by agents of the Israeli government or others among the majority Jewish population. In short, they enjoy real security as well as opportunities in a society in which Israeli Arabs are a distinct minority.
Regrettably, as Mr. Woolsey notes, the world has a tendency to "define deviancy down for non-Jews." As a result, governments around the world, including the Obama administration, never even mention the possibility that Jews should be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges in any future Palestinian polity that Israeli Arabs exercise today in the Jewish state.
So, instead of what amounts to a Hitlerian program of Judenrein in any prospective Palestinian state meaning, as a practical matter, if not a de jure one, that no Jews can reside or work there there could be about twice the number of Israeli Jews as currently reside in so-called settlements on the West Bank. They should be free to build synagogues and Jewish schools. And newspapers that serve the Jewish population in any future state of "Palestine" should be permitted to flourish there.
Jews should also have a chance to elect representatives to a future Palestinian legislature. They should be able to expect to be represented as well in other governing institutions, like the executive and judicial branches.
In order for the foregoing to operate, Jews in the Palestinian state must be able to live without fearing every day for their lives. In Mr. Woolsey's view, "Once Palestinians are behaving that way, they deserve a state."
By establishing full reciprocity as the prerequisite basis for a two-state solution Mr. Obama might just be able to make useful progress toward peace in the Middle East. If, however, he persists in distancing the United States from Israel and otherwise weakening the Jewish state, he will likely get war, not a durable end to hostilities. As Churchill and Mr. Woolsey might attest, no good will come of Mr. Obama ignoring history and his efforts to euchre Israel into doing the same.