Last month, US President Barack Obama laid the blame for failed Middle East peace initiatives on the economic success of the Jewish State, saying, “Because Israeli society has been so successful economically, it has I think from a position of strength been less willing to make concessions.”
Speaking to a Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative at a town hall meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month, Obama explained why the phenomenon of Israel’s prosperity was the greatest obstacle to negotiations between Palestinians and Israel.
“If [Prime Minister] Netanyahu wants peace, he’s got to make concessions to create a Palestinian state. But he has to get elected, and he’s thinking to himself, if I make this concession, then somebody in my party, the Likud, may challenge me,” he said.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called the statement “an absurd anti-Semitic canard – which dangerously (and falsely) implies that ‘peace’ will ensue if the U.S. weakens Israel economically”. The ZOA suggested this was the strategy behind several recent Obama administration policies, giving as examples the US’s issuing of an anti-Israel labeling requirement in January and Obama’s attack against a pro-Israel section of a bipartisan trade bill in February.
Countering his own logic in the same speech in Buenos Aires, Obama claimed that economic weakness necessary for the Israelis to make progress in the negotiations was an obstacle for the Palestinians.
“The Palestinians, because of [economic] weakness, have not the political cohesion and organization to enter into negotiations and feel like they can get what they need,” the president said.
Obama’s comments were foreseen by the sages of Torah as part of the Messianic process.
In his prophecy about the days preceding the War of Gog and Magog, Ezekiel predicted that enemies would rise up against Israel’s after their return from the diaspora, attacking them for their economic success.
To take the spoil and to take the prey; to turn thy hand against the waste places that are now inhabited and against the people that are gathered out of the nations that have gotten cattle and goods that dwell in the middle of the earth. Ezekiel 38:12
The Malbim, Meïr Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser, a Torah scholar from the 19th century, explained this verse.
“Every one (of the inhabitants of the Land of Israel) will become a trader, trading there until it multiplies greatly, until they are sitting on the middle (umbilical cord) of the land and become the commercial hub of all nations, until the other nations come to them to cancel this trade which they claim is damaging to the world.”
In a global economy, each country’s success is dependant on having strong partners. The Malbim noted correctly that other nations attacking Israel for its financial prowess is like a fetus in the womb attacking the umbilical cord that connects it to the source of its sustenance.