Mar 23 2013
Never in my life have I seen a US President beg for the approval of the Israelis while demeaning himself in the process quite like Barack Obama has done during his current trip. This is all the more remarkable given his immense historical significance as the first non-white candidate to win the American presidency.
People expected this president to be different from his predecessors, precisely because he belonged to a group of people who have suffered persecution over the centuries. Obama used to speak about the humiliating racial segregation his grandparents and other relatives faced in Chicago when they were banned from sitting with white people on buses.
We thought he’d understand the Palestinians’ suffering under Israeli occupation, their humiliation at checkpoints and the whole racist infrastructure of the Zionist state.
But we were wrong. He has broken our trust and dashed our hopes, reminding us instead of Uncle Tom (from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin) – the black servant whose subservience to his white master overcame his humanity.
Barack Hussein Obama surprised us with his speech in Jerusalem when he demanded the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state and urged the Arab states to recognize Israel. People who deny Israel’s right to exit, Obama reasoned, are like people who deny the Earth and the sky.
The Israelis will never be alone as long as the United States exists, he concluded.
I don’t quite understand Obama’s reasons for such a speech, in the face of the threats posed by Israel to the Palestinians and the Muslims in general. The Hebrew state possesses 300 nuclear warheads that could wipe the whole region off the map.
How can an American president of African origin demand this of us, after his grandparents’ generation stood up to racial discrimination and sacrificed martyrs to this noble cause: putting an end to slavery and racism?
Obama wants us to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, what about the 25 percent of its population who are not Jewish, in particular the 1.5 million Arabs living inside Israel?
America’s long line of caucasian presidents never stooped this low; most of them pressured Israel to some degree to recognise the rights of the Palestinian people. Why is Obama be so keen to fawn at Netanyahu’s feet begging for forgiveness? Netanyahu who insulted him so grievously by overtly backing Republican Mitt Romney in November's presidential race.
Obama did not come to the region as a man of peace but as a war monger. He came to light the fuse of devastation, giving Israel the go-ahead to attack Iran, pledging that Tehran will never possess a nuclear weapon and declaring that Hezbollah belongs on the list of international terrorists.
And when he turned his attention to the Palestinians, even more bitter disappointments were in store. Obama now urged Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table with no concessions from the Israeli side, not even a freeze on illegal settlement building. What ever happened to the bold demands he made of the Hebrew state in his “seminal” Cairo University speech in 2009?
Obama's revised approach suggests that the Arabs and Muslims are in for four years of misery during Obama’s second term as president. By contrast, they’ll be good times for Israelis and their extremist government.
Palestinians who demonstrated in Ramallah were intercepted by PA security forces and prevented from getting near the Authority's headquarters, where Obama's helicopter landed; they were not permitted to represent the Palestinian people's true feelings towards this US President who has turned his back on injustice and sided with the oppressor.
The PA shares responsibility for this shift in the US president's attitude. As soon as his visit was announced, the PA ceased its reconciliation talks with Hamas, banned demonstrations and supressed the burgeoning third intifada which was rising from the streets following the death by torture in an Israel jail of the martyr Arafat Jaradat. The PA has not even insisted on an investigation into the circumstances of Jaradat's murder.
The PA is still pining for fruitful negotiations with the Israelis, believing, despite all the disappointments, that something good can come of them.
Now that Obama’s intentions are clear, and we see that he is prone at Netanyahu's feet, we should change our approach.We should prepare for intifada and civil disobedience. We should use the humanitarian resources available to us – the International Criminal Court, where Israel could be tried for war crimes, and the Human Rights Council. We must exert all our effort to confront the Israeli occupation.
Finally, we hope that the $500m cheque Obama brought and brandished in front of the PA will not tame the Palestinians and confirm his impression that they are a begging people waiting for crumbs of financial aid from donor countries in exchange for relinquishing all their legitimate rights and all forms of resistance.
Obama has given the Israelis billions in military aid, he brought them the iron dome and modern aircraft and has pledged eternal support for their security and existence…and he gives the Palestinians a little heap of hush money. It is the epitome of tragedy.
So why does he call on the Arabs to normalize with Israel? Should they reward it for Judaizing occupied Jerusalem, settling 600,000 settlers in the West Bank, storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and demolishing its foundations, and spitting on their every peaceful initiative? This is the age of American hypocrisy and Arab humiliation.