Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obama at AIPAC: If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance


Three days after Obama made the speech about which Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said, “I am extremely troubled by President Obama’s call for Israel to ‘act boldly’ for peace” (h/t to Charles Davis), Obama gave another speech, to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


THE VALUES WE SHARE: “America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place -- and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds...” So the values we share come from killing Brits. Fair enough. Everyone enjoys killing Brits.

PRIORITIES: “[D]espite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign [i.e., to Israel] military financing to record levels.” So, although Twitt Romney said Obama threw Israel under the bus, Israel was pretty well cushioned down there by several billion dollar bills.

OBAMA DOESN’T WANT YOU TO MAKE A MISTAKE: “So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

SECURITY = LEGITIMACY, OR SOMETHING: “You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel.”


He beat up on Iran for a while, to great applause, then he went on for some time about how awful Hamas is and how Hamas should shape up or ship out, but “And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option.” He couldn’t say any more clearly that he wants Israel to put up a pretense of negotiations but doesn’t expect Israel to do anything that would make them a success. Netanyahu, of course, doesn’t even want to put on a dog and pony show for us.

SO WHAT DOES THE REACTION TO YOUR SPEECH TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR “REAL FRIENDS”? “I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another.”

He makes an argument that the “Arab Spring” requires Middle East peace talks: “a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.” Er, so we used to be able to come to a “just and lasting peace” with dictators and absolute monarchs?

IF WE HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT: “No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.”

HOW ABOUT LIMERICKS? “Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.”

WHAT ISRAEL CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO DO: “we know that peace demands a partner -- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist.” This formulation may be the least challenged pro-Israel trope. But what is this “Israel” whose right to exist Palestinians are expected to recognize? Netanyahu would claim Israel’s borders are set in stone, Obama said they should be determined by future negotiations. How do you recognize a state without set borders? Israel says no right of return for Palestinians but unlimited right of immigration for any Jewish person in the world, even if they’ve never set foot in Israel; Palestinians disagree. How do you recognize a state without a set population? Netanyahu and Obama speak of Israel as a “Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people” or even An oxymoronic “Jewish and democratic state.” If Israel’s legitimacy is not “a matter for debate,” what about that of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel? How do representatives of the Palestinian people recognize a state in which Palestinian people are defined as outsiders?

HOW WILL WE DO THAT? “And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric.”

SO THERE’S MARCHING INVOLVED? “But the march to isolate Israel internationally -- and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations -- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative.”


BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I TRIED TO AVOID PUTTING ANYTHING ORIGINAL INTO THAT SPEECH: “There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.”

BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I TRIED TO AVOID PUTTING ANY SUBSTANCE AT ALL INTO THAT SPEECH: “If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”

THE STORY OF ISRAEL TEACHES US THAT PEACE IS POSSIBLE? “For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.”

By the way, in neither speech did Obama say a word about the ongoing blockade of Gaza.

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