President Obama's speech on the Middle East included a call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that should be negotiated around the 1967 borders. The new position (which may or may not be all that new) was quickly decried as anti-Israel by candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.
In his speech, Obama said, "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign and contiguous state."
The reaction to the statement was swift among the GOP's presidential hopefuls. Mitt Romney said "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus." Tim Pawlenty called Obama's statement "a mistaken and very dangerous demand."
But perhaps the quickest move came from possible nominee Michelle Bachman conducted 150,000 robocalls into Iowa and South Carolina and put out an internet campaign on twitter, Facebook, and ads linking to her website's petition to tell Obama, "You've Betrayed Israel."
On her Facebook page, Bachmann said, "Today President Barack Obama has again indicated that his policy towards Israel is to blame Israel first…President Obama has initiated a policy which shows contempt for Israel's concern and safety. In an era dubbed the ‘Arab Spring' we have seen increased volatility in the Middle East region, and President Obama has only added to the heightened hostility by calling on Israel to return to the 1967 borders. I disagree with President Obama and I stand with our friend Israel 100 percent."
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) also seized upon the statement. It asked people to join its own efforts "Petition to Protect Israel, Not Terrorists" The ACLJ said, "President Obama has sided with the terrorists — and against our friend and ally, Israel."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said that he was "shocked, saddened, and angered" by Obama's statement.
"The question of Israel's very survival as a state is one they face every day as they defend their borders and protect their people," Perkins said. "Scripture tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 112:6), and we should pray. But we know that peace is not achieved by weakness and accommodation. Dividing Jerusalem and disregarding the present borders would not lead to peace."
Steven Martin, executive director of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, also objected to Obama's statement, but for a different reason entirely. Martin saw the statement as just more-of-the-same, a continuation of the two-state solution rather than a "one-state solution, an Israel in which Jews and Palestinians live together in harmony."
"In 2011, this policy only spells destruction to the Palestinians, and perhaps to the state of Israel too," Martin said. "A two-state solution is indeed preferable. But if the time is already past, some changes must take place. Tear down the wall. Let the Palestinians share in the water. Let them work their farms. Let them travel and everywhere seek a better life for themselves. You have the land: now share it."
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