In a major speech (or at least that's how it was portrayed in the media) yesterday, President Barack Obama advanced the notion Israel should return to its 1967 borders as a means to try to bring peace to the Middle East. Understandably, Israel and its allies are upset at such a notion, especially in light of the fact Obama said he would never allow Jerusalem to be split, which would happen if Israel went back to its 1967 borders.
Let's play a little game of "what if." What if Israel decides to go back to the 1967 borders? Then what? Here's what I think would happen.
1) The violence in the Middle East wouldn't stop. The hatred that's there now would still be there if Israel would go back to the 1967 borders.
2) Israel would become more concentrated. Although it would mean it would be easier for Israelis to dig in to defend themselves with less land mass to defend, it would also make it easier for Israel's enemies to do more damage with terrorist or even military strikes
3) Jerusalem would become like Berlin after World War II. One of the most tragic events after the fall of Nazi Germany was seeing Germany and Berlin in particular split, separated by a wall and an ideology. If Israel goes back to its 1967 borders, Jerusalem will be the second coming of a divided Berlin.
4) Palestinians will be further emboldened. Having Israel pushed further back would give Palestinians more of a reason to keep pushing to get more concessions. And with world opinion seemingly on their side, there will be more pressure on Israel to comply.
5) The Middle East problem will still be there.
What Obama and the people who think his idea is valid miss is the Middle East situation isn't about land. It was and is about the justification of hatred against one particular group. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Middle East and who is the cause of the strife there. What isn't getting the attention it should is how Israel has accommodated Palestinians who want to live in peace, even being willing to scale back its previous land acquisitions to allow Palestinians a place to live. Yet, no matter how many olive branches Israel holds out, the Palestinians swat them away and hold onto their hate.
No, Mr. President, making Israel go back to its 1967 borders won't bring about Middle East peace. If anything, it will create more problems that will need to be dealt with for years to come.