President Obama's remarks in Cairo were excellent, in substance and delivery, although he made one major change in U.S. policy by referring to the Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal. Until now, the State Department has referred to them simply as impediments to peace.
Obama, however, does not advocate the demolition of existing settlements created before March 2001. Their final status is being left to the ultimate outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The expectation or hope of many observers is that there will be a land exchange, representing 3 percent of the West Bank, in exchange for Israeli acreage of equal value and size.
I suggest that Obama now press Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt to create a number of panels to address such problems as water, electricity, tourism, media incitement, economics, agriculture, defense, and terrorism. All decisions must be unanimous to be binding.
Each country and the Palestinian Authority would appoint representatives to those panels having as their goal the creation of an economic union modeled on the European Union. All should bear in mind that France and Germany, countries that once loathed each other, now are the closest of allies.
How long before New York State joins New Hampshire and becomes the seventh state to recognize same-sex marriages? New Yorkers, going back to the days of Al Smith, have taken pride in the fact that they live in a state on the cutting edge of social reform. Surely this state in the 21st century should not take a back seat to Iowa and the New England states that have decided their citizens no longer will be discriminated against on the basis of sex, or more accurately stated, same sex, when it comes to marriage.
I support the efforts of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to strengthen U.S. ties with China, which has become the largest creditor of the U.S. government. China now owns more U.S. Treasury notes than any other country, and we rely on it to continue buying those notes as an essential part of our economy.
China is perhaps the only thriving Communist economy in the world. Vietnam may be another. Their success apparently is based on allowing a limited capitalist market economy to exist within a political system of total control, with the central government retaining all the forms of repression traditionally associated with communist control of the country’s political system.
The New York Times reported, “Mr. Geithner’s language and tone appear decidedly gentler” toward China. As the U.S. becomes more reliant on China to finance our economy, the question is: Do we have a Plan B should the Chinese make unacceptable demands upon us in our foreign policy or with respect to our economy?
Racial discrimination continues to be present in our society. As mayor of New York City, I opposed the use of racial quotas to address situations where racial discrimination had been established. Instead of racial set-asides, I advocate lotteries allowing whites and minorities to be included.
Many whites, blacks, and Hispanics have a different view. They believe racial quotas are supportable even now that we have a black president. Correcting a situation where discrimination against minorities has been established with race-based quotas is simply, in my opinion, engaging in reverse racism. I agree with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Before Roberts' statement, I believed those who took the view that racial quotas, which they prefer to call affirmative action, goals, and timetables, were acceptable had won the argument. I now believe that those who never surrendered their view that racial quotas were wrong and just as distasteful as race discrimination against blacks have won.
The Supreme Court soon will hear arguments in the Connecticut case involving a civil service test for firemen. That test was set aside when a sufficient number of blacks and Hispanics did not pass. The technical jargon is that there was a disparate outcome for blacks. White applicants and one Hispanic who had passed the test and committed no discriminatory acts were denied promotions.
Interestingly, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her capacity as a federal circuit court judge, affirmed the decision of a lower court judge setting aside the results of a Civil Service test leading to the outcome described. I support the nomination of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, notwithstanding my disagreement with her decision. Until the Supreme Court settles the matter, her point of view, which many hold, is as valid as the opinion I agree with, that reverse racism is as wrong as racism.
Clarification: In my commentary last week advocating the "road map" and the two-state solution for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, I erred when I wrote that I had met King Abdullah II of Jordan. I intended to state that I had met his father, the late King Hussein.
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