Imagine if a US president (imagine Franklin Roosevelt) had pledged unwavering support for Germany’s security while acknowledging the requirement to pay attention to the plight of Jews (and — if the president is a man concerned about all humanity — Roma, homosexuals, communists, and other victims) during World War II.
Many people would insist that such a scenario is preposterous, and I would agree. But why is Obama’s statement not preposterous? Everyone desires security, but the security of the Palestinian people is not supported or even mentioned.
Furthermore, the reason given for having to pay attention to the plight of Palestinians is because of security concerns for Israel and the US. That is a whole lot different than saying one is paying attention to improve the plight of Palestinians. A simple deconstruction of Obama’s words reveals that there is no altruistic intent.
Obama: [W]e are seeking a two-state solution in which Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security. In order to do that both sides are going to have to make compromises.
Malcolm X once said, “Don’t stick a knife in me ten inches, pull it out six, and tell me we’ve made progress.” The corollary here would be: Don’t steal all of my land, then allow me keep 10%, and call that compromise.
Compromise … It sounds already predetermined: a two-state solution. The land was the co-called Palestine Mandate before British collaboration with Zionist Jews aided in the killing and dispossession of Palestinians. Ergo, there is nothing tangible for Israeli Jews to compromise on. Compromise sounds like a reasonable request in a dispute;1 but compromise on what? For Palestinians, the entitlement of non-Mizrahi Jews in historical Palestine is a huge concession. Obviously, compromise has a latent perniciousness that Obama does not let on. Obama is likeliest calling on Palestinians to “compromise” on land forcibly seized by Israel in 1967. If so, where is the Israeli compromise in that?
Obama: As a first step, the Palestinians have to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel.
The first step places all the onus on the occupied, oppressed Palestinians. Again, what kind of “compromise” is this? The intent is clear; Obama frames the victimized Palestinians as the source of violence.
Obama: And Israel has to acknowledge legitimate grievances and interests of the Palestinians.
Obama makes a nebulous call to “acknowledge” not address the “legitimate” grievances and interests of the Palestinians. Why the obfuscation? Who determines what is “legitimate”? Is demanding Palestinians to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel legitimate? Why is there no demand for the Israelis to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Palestine?
Obama: The Israel government came in based on the support of a lot of folks who don’t want to make a lot of concessions.
Concessions? What can Israel concede to Palestinians? Their human rights? Their territory? How can a thief make concessions? The land belongs to the people who have long inhabited that land without freely selling title to the land: the Palestinians. Return of territory acquired by violence is repatriation. Yes, there has been the purchase of a small amount of land, but that land still belongs to the state. For example, foreigners own land in Canada and the US, but the land still remains a part of the state.2
Obama: On the other hand, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who I think genuinely wants peace, has to deal with Hamas, an organization that has not recognized Israel and has not disavowed violence.
Obama praises Israel (wrongly) as a “vibrant democracy.” Then he refers to Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority. Yes, he is, but this is deception. Why did Obama not refer to Abbas as president of the State of Palestine? Could it be because his term expired a year ago, and he granted himself a one-year extension? How democratic is that? Hamas is the democratically elected government that the US refuses to deal with.
Obama renders his own words nugatory.
Obama’s spiel was in response to a question: “Then why have we [the US] not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people and yet we continue to support financially with billions of dollars coming from our tax dollars?” Obama did not answer this question.
The Obama administration’s efforts are focused on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. This is the same strategy used by former US administrations. Obama might instead demand respect for international law and adherence to all United Nations Security Council resolutions by the Israeli and Palestinian sides. So-called peace talks filled with empty words are meaningless, as Oslo and the Roadmap demonstrated.
Obama billed himself as the candidate of change, yet there is no change in the approach to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Obama continues unchangingly to support the oppressor over the oppressed.
2. Whether or not statehood is legitimate is also relevant. Just as Zionist Jews have dispossessed Palestinians, nation states such as Canada, the US, and throughout the western hemisphere are erected on the dispossession and denationalization of the Original Peoples. Activists must oppose all oppression.