Thursday, May 19, 2011

President Obama Delivers His AIPAC Speech Early

President Barack Obama's speech on Middle East perfectly illustrates the phenonemon known as 'PEP' – progressive, except for Palestine.

When referring to the Arab world, he used language like "democracy" and "universal rights". Of Bahrain, where the US is propping up an illegitimate regime, he said, "We have insisted publicly that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal right of Bahrain's citizens." In fact the term "rights was used over 15 times in the speech. But when we get to Israel, "rights" was mentioned once, in this passage,

But moving forward now [in the peace process] on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.

Do Palestinians not have the same rights as their brethren in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and Bahrain? Would it be so hard for the President to mention that while neither of the two parties lives in peace, only one party – the Palestinian suffers massive violation of human rights? The answer ,of course, is yes, it would have been hard. For all presidents are drilled in the principle of the symmetry of suffering and the importance of balance (while emphasizing the special relationship with the Jewish state.)

Mr. Obama did mention the occupation. But like Ariel Sharon, he did not speak of the occupation of territory, but rather the occupation of people, i.e., people living under occupation. Are Palestinian lands being occupied? And this sentence gives it all away.

    For Palestinians, [the conflict] has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own.

The "humiliation" of occupation, not its tyranny.

And how about this:

    The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself.

What does that mean? Should Israel be preparing itself for cyber attacks? Or is the "technology" referring to social networking? And what about Gaza? Only mentioned when citing the Gaza doctor who lost three daughters.

The Obama Administration, with this speech, has declared itself irrevocably out of touch. I am sorry I took the time to write the above about it.



Anonymous said...

His primary statement was 'the US cannot dictate the terms of an agreement. It must be consented between the parties'.

The change (or not) from Fatah alone to a Fatah/Hamas government is a big "if" in the world.

He stated the US' red lines, that he will NOT advocate for direct action against Israel, that he respects that Israel is a democracy.

Anonymous said...

oh jerry...give it a rest

the man was the first president to state that negotiations must begin at the pre 67 borders..even though there were none...and had israel known that the armistice line would have become a defacto border, it is hard to believe that they would have accepted the cease fire

you lefties wont be happy until america says that israel must retreat to the 47 borders, allow for a full right of return to any arab claiming to be a palestinian, and for all jewish israelis to accept their role as dhimmi

btw...why werent all the arabs in the so called occupied territories taking to the streets on happy nakba day? why didnt they do as their egyptian brethren did and continue to protest after happy naqba day ended?

is it possible that the so called occupation isnt that humiliating and awful, and they know what their lives will be like once hamas is the ruler of faux palestine?

pabelmont said...

The choice of the pre-1967 borders is arbitrary, but makes sense. Otherwise, Israel (and the Palestinians) would EACH have to fear that a peace was attainable only if borders (even) less favorable to them were agreed to. (Today, because of power politics, only the Palestinians have that particular fear).

But the whole concentration on "peace" and "borders" and all the rest is mere distraction; it is like the obvious gestures of a magician who hides his secret (and important) work with meaningless outer show.

The law does not (so far as I know) require peace. It does require removal of settlers, etc.

The correct business of the Palestinians and their friends is to put "peace" on the shelf for a while and work on the removal of the settlers, the wall, and the settlement-buildings, all of them, as the law appears to require and as UNSC-465 (1980) actually called for (but without "teeth").

Talk about peace is just talk. Action to impose peace is very hard to imagine.

On the other hand, action to remove settlers, wall, and settlements (if it would occur) would be reality speaking and would, I feel sure, have major impacts on Israel, USA, Palestinians, and all others.

"Hurry up, please. it's time!"

B.BarNavi said...

Bacci shows the typical maximalist position of a right-wing Zionist: the 48-67 borders are not subject to negotiation because Israel is entitled to all the land of Mandatory Palestine and all the Ah-ra-veem must leave.

Oh wait, he didn't say that? Then qal ve'homer, what does it say about Bacci's characterization of Prof. Haber's position?

The 1967 borders as a starting point is absolutely nothing new (it has been the position of several administrations now). Yet right-wingers like to pretend that it is a revolution in American foreign policy. They like to act as if when the administration claims "starting point", it's going to act as if it will be the end result. On Democracy Now, Norman Finkelstein did a brilliant deconstruction of the statement "mutually agreed land swaps" and the omission of "equal area", showing that using the 48-67 borders as a starting point for negotiations means absolutely jack in the end, as it doesn't rule out an outright Israeli land grab. It's quite telling when NORMAN EFFING FINKELSTEIN sounds more reasonable that Mr. J Street, who appears to have written the Obama foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine.

One note of assurance is the statement that the putative Palestinian state must border Jordan. The implication is that Israel isn't entitled to the Jordan Valley, something that gets glossed over in just about every discussion about the region.

Unknown said...

Jerry -- As much as I understand and appreciate your point of view, I would think that President Obama will be criticized NOT for being sufficiently sensitive to the needs and rights of the Palestinians, but for being TOO MUCH so. He has gone far far far more to the "left" than any of his predecessors, period, and I think he should be applauded for that. Sure, it is a good idea to "keep reminding" people of some things -- but this speech showed real progress. IMHO! Yrs as always...

Aron said...

bacci40 -

If Israel believes that the Arabs of 'faux Palestine' are so lucky to be under Israeli rule, and Israel so sure that it's sovereignty should extend beyond the 1949 armistice lines, why doesn't Israel simply declare sovereignty over the all of eretz yisrael and incorporate those arabs legally under its benevolent rule? Could it be that the situation is a bit more complicated?

What Obama says is one thing, and not very impressive. But he clearly will do nothing in his power to assure honest negotiations based on pre 67 borders. His words are empty and his policies effectively the same as Bush II.

Sheldon Richman said...

We must keep the full context in mind. Palestinians are not occupying Jewish land.

Anonymous said...


i take it that your parents didnt provide you a jewish education...very sad

its not too late, you still can study torah

and you will learn that the arabs are indeed occupying jewish land

as to aron's query...i dont know...they should have annexed the west bank just as they annexed jerusalem

and they then should have petitioned the international community to allow them to do what the czechs were allowed to do to the ethnic germans residing in their borders

guess they figured that since the arabs seemed to have no problem with being occupied by jordan...they would have no prob being occupied by israel

John Welch said...

Looks like Netanyahu, a member of the Republican Party, disagrees with President Obama. Surprise. Disagrees because Israel has planted settlement after settlement on the land it conquered from the Palestinians in 1967.

These are "facts on the ground", in Netanyahu's phrase. The facts in the air, in Netanayahu's wishful thinking, is that the US should give "treasure and blood" to defend that conquest.

Why? Yes, I've seen the tee-shirts that say, "Don't worry, Israel...America is behind you", showing an American fighter-bomber. But that's just advertising just tourists.

"The slogan 'Jewish State' (or Commonwealth) is equivalent, in effect, to a declaration of war by the Jews on the Arabs" [journal note by Chancellor of Hebrew University, 1942].

Netanyahu agrees in 2011, but seems to believe that perpetual war is a good thing, and that the US will support that perpetual war.

Again: why should we?

Ben said...


Actually, if we're making criticisms of that sort, it might be your parents who didn't provide you with a Jewish education (as opposed to a Zionist one). In the Jewish tradition, the land in question is God's land, not 'Jewish land'. (See, for instance, Lev. 25:23.)

And the eliding of those two is characteristic of Zionism's radical reconfiguration of Judaism.

Anonymous said...


when allowing posts of your commentators that use biblical references, you should be good enough to explain to them what those pasukim are talking about

ben...the supposed learned jew, just referenced a pasuk that deals with yovel and why a jew is not allowed to permanently sell any of the land to a heathen

he just proved my point...not his own

Jeffrey Goldfarb said...

The speech is was a first step. Now for the second.Gershon Shafir offers his judgments.

LeaNder said...


any arab claiming to be a palestinian

As a lefty I always appreciate spiritual guidance. There is no such thing as Palestinians, right? They are all impostors?

But what parts of Jewish scriptures make sure that these Jewish & Israeli cititizen are included in the sacred gift of land ownership amd superior rights?

I am not absolutely firm in Jewish scriptures, thus I need a little help. Does this example ulitmately mean, it would turn thenon-existant Palestiniansinto real Palestinians, if only they collectively converted? Would they than not be guilty of claiming "false matter" anymore and could be allowed to return to the land of their ancestors. Or would their ancestors need to be Jewish several generations back? How many?

LeaNder said...

guess they figured that since the arabs seemed to have no problem with being occupied by jordan...they would have no prob being occupied by israel

Now this is a very interesting part of very interesting comment.

Can Arabs-occupied-by-Arabs be aaid to be occupied at all? Please explain.

Ben said...

bacci40, I was referring to the second half of the verse, where God says to Israel: "for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and settlers with Me."

So the bit about 'God's land' not being the same as 'Jewish land' still holds for those who haven't equated 'divine will' with 'Jewish national egoism.'

We can talk about halakhic details as well, but it doesn't help if you're starting from a conceptually self-divinizing point of reference.