Oct. 13, 2015
Goldberg: OK, so Obama says the status quo is not sustainable. The status quo in the West Bank is not sustainable; Israel’s legitimacy is eroding; its democracy is going to erode; its demographic balance is going to erode. And what Obama says—he doesn’t call the prime minister a coward—but I think he believes that the prime minister is an ostrich with his head in the sand. What you hear from people around Bibi is, “Who is this naive outsider who is telling us our best interests?”
Ross: Look, I think that Obama asks a lot of the right questions about Israeli policy. My concern about Obama is that he never asks anything about the Palestinians. He gives them a complete pass.
Goldberg: Because Israel has more power than the Palestinians.
Ross: The problem is that it makes it worse for the Palestinians. For the Palestinians, you have a political culture that is driven so much by this profound sense of victimhood and grievance—the idea that they should do anything towards the Israelis, they should make any accommodation towards the Israelis, is completely illegitimate. If it becomes clear that no one is ever going to ask anything of you, then why would you ever take the hard path where you actually have to confront your political culture to do the kind of thing that is necessary for you? When you focus all the onus on the Israelis, you give the other side an excuse to do nothing.
Goldberg: This is certainly something that predates this president, but it would be nice to hear a president say to the Palestinians, “Look, you guys have had five or six serious opportunities over the past 70 years or so to have a country of your own, and each time you’ve booted it. Why don’t you examine why this is so?”
Ross: Well to be fair, George W. Bush was trying to get at it when he first came out for Palestinian statehood and said, “Look, you can’t build a state based on corruption and terror.” But he wasn’t saying, “You know, you’ve had opportunities, and you haven’t taken advantage of it.”
Goldberg: The point of saying that would be to try to force the political elite among the Palestinians to—
Ross: —To own up.
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