Saturday, June 6, 2009

Obama of Cairo

Obama's references to Palestine/Israel in his 4 June speech in Cairo and my comments thereon:

Obama the Zionist

"Now the second major source of tension... is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries. And anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust."

The Zionist lobby has the US by the nuts. Cultural and historical ties between the US and Israel? Absolutely! Both are colonial-settler states built on the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of native peoples. And that reference to a Jewish homeland? Where have we heard that before? Of course, the Balfour Declaration of 1917: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." You can see that it's back to the future for Obama. Implied is the Zionist dogma that there is an internationally dispersed entity known as 'the Jewish people' for whom the Jewish homeland in Palestine is their only authentic home. Obama thus espouses all the core beliefs of political Zionism. Likewise, in true Zionist fashion, he shamelessly argues that European anti-Semitism somehow justifies the creation in Palestine of a Jewish state. That reference to around the world is merely a diversion.

Obama's international law free zone

"[I]t is also undeniable that the Palestinian people... have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own."

The pain of dislocation? Sheeesh, what's a dislocated shoulder to a Holocaust around every historical corner? Surely just an accident of history, a result of Palestinian clumsiness and ineptitude. Shhh... don't mention the war! Don't mention the series of massacres and expulsions known as the Nakba, the destruction of hundreds of towns and villages, the theft of the collective wealth of 85% of the Palestinian people in four fifths of their Palestinian homeland, 6 decades of statelessness, exile, bombing and butchery in scattered refugee camps. And the occupation? A mere matter of daily humiliations. Shhh... don't mention the occupiers or their made-in-America arms or the land-grabbing wall or the choking checkpoints or the army with the trigger finger or the suffocating closures or the arbitrary arrests or the imprisonment or the torture or the death-squads or the settler pogroms or the deliberate impoverishment of the occupied. The situation of the Palestinians is intolerable? Hardly an advance on Bush's use of "untenable": "It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation." (Rose Garden Speech on Israel-Palestine Two-State Solution 24/6/02) And there's no reference to international law or the Palestinian rights of self-determination or return. It's now merely the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own. An insistence on implementing hard-won UN resolutions is, like, sooo yesterday.

And the colonizer shall lie down with the colonized

"For decades... there has been a stalemate. Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers. For Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history... But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth. The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

An inexorable US-backed process of wiping Palestine off the map (and gunning down any native who dares lift a finger to prevent it) is a stalemate? Israel has legitimate aspirations? Creating and maintaining a Jewish supremacist state is a legitimate aspiration? Colonizing, expelling, and occupying others are legitimate aspiration? Displacement, dislocation - keep those euphemisms for Zionist ethnic cleansing and slo-mo genocide coming. Constant hostility? Should the natives have responded with hugs and kisses instead? Celebrated their dispossession perhaps? Either Obama is blind to the truth or he's engaged in a deception.

Obama's way with history

"Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa... It's a story with a simple truth: violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus."

Violence? When Palestinians resist with kalashnikovs and Qassams it's violence. When Israel uses every weapon in the book and some that haven't even made it there yet, it's... not a whisper from Obama. And Uncle Tom's retrospectively telling black slaves in America: Just learn to put up with master's whip until history decides it's time you were emancipated. Hear that? Black resistance fighter Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) is turning in his grave. And South Africa? Wave a magic wand, and hey presto, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC's military wing, has magically disappeared from the historical record.

Now listen up, Hamas

"Hamas does have support from some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities, to play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people. Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."

So the elected Palestinian Hamas government has support from some Palestinians? Israel's right to exist as a what? As an apartheid state? As a state that refuses the right of return to millions of Palestinians simply because they're not Jews? As a state of all Jews wherever they currently reside, but not a state of its citizens, whether Jew or non-Jew? Yeah, sure!

Israel, stop it or you'll go blind

"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security, neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace. And Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress."

Oh, so apart from a spot of settlement expansion - we'll overlook the existence of the settlements themselves - we've got no bones to pick with Israel? And what's this Israeli obligation? Is it obliged to get out of the occupied Palestinian territories? No. To implement UN resolutions? No. Obey the ICJ? No. Its only obligation is (we presume) to ease up on the checkpoints. Ah, Gaza, remember Gaza, the crime against humanity? For Obama, it's just another humanitarian crisis brought on by some natural disaster or other. As for Israel taking concrete steps, does Obama really think Israeli settlements are made out of mud brick?


"Mr Obama, asked by reporters after the speech what the US would do if Israel refused to stop building settlements, said: 'It's only been 5 months for me. Netanyahu has only been in office for 2 months, we've been waiting for 60 years. So maybe we should try out a few more months before everybody starts looking at doomsday scenarios." (US push to shore up ties with Israel, John Lyons, The Australian, 6/6/09)


Anonymous said...

Given the State Department's recent statements about the absence of US-Israel agreements permiting "natural growth" I was particularly disappointed with the weasel-words in relation to settlements.

The rest is pretty much as expected, though it was bizarre to see a US President finally own up to the USA's part in the overthrow of the Iranian democracy, while failing to identify any actors responsible for the misery of the Palestinians.

MERC said...

Touching briefly on the CIA coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953 ("played a role in the overthrow" - just a bit player, eh?), is probably safe for Obama. What he won't acknowledge is that it led to a quarter century of repressive rule under the Shah, which triggered the Islamic revolution in 1979, the results of which, in terms of the emergence of political Islam, are still with us today. Apart from the allusion to 1953 and a cursory reference to "colonialism," the concept of blowback is entirely missing from Obama's speech. Can you imagine Obama owning up to the American "role" (Dayton/Dahlan) in the 2007 attempt to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza?

Anonymous said...

Or the support for the attempted coup on Chavez?

Anonymous said...

Yes. There is an implied equivalence between supporting the Shah and his murderous hoons for a quarter of a century, and the breach of diplomatic protocols in holding the embassy staff hostage.

Nancy Harris said...

It is indeed very interesting to hear what the President of United States have to say about muslims. Quoting from the Quran for emphasis, President Barack Obama called for a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims". This is truly a new page upon which history is being written. His words will mean a lot, but it's the policies that count. Hope for the best.