Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obama in the Middle East: A state of their own

Obama went to the West Bank today.

WHAT THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE DESERVE: “The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities.” Yesterday when he was standing next to Netanyahu, as I noted, he said that Israel should be “strong and secure” but didn’t say the same about Palestine. Today, standing next to Abbas, he used the second s-word (although for Palestinians as individuals, not in the collective).

“Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”

He says that the West Bank is wonderful and thriving and whatnot “in stark contrast to the misery and repression that so many Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza -- because Hamas refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to live freely; and because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down rather than building Palestine up.” Yes, the Israeli blockade of Gaza has absolutely no causal relationship with misery and repression in Gaza, and everything is Hamas’s fault.

WELL, IT IS LITERALLY CONSTRUCTIVE, WITH THE BUILDINGS AND THE FENCES AND THE JEWS-ONLY ROADS BEING, YOU KNOW, CONSTRUCTED: “we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace. So I don’t think there’s any confusion in terms of what our position is.” Yes, your position is that you won’t do a damn thing to stop it, ever; no confusion about that.

Indeed, he later responds to a question by refusing to call for Israel to stop building settlements before peace talks, calling that demand “constantly negotiating about what’s required to get into talks in the first place” and “put[ting] the cart before the horse.” In fact, all you have to do is negotiate a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel and “the settlement problem will be solved.” So I guess we can solve the settlement problem without ever talking about settlements, because that’ll totally work.

Abbas drily points out that settlements violate international law.

Later in the day, Obama gave a speech in the Jerusalem Convention Center.

ALSO A NICE COFFEE CAKE: “I bring with me the support of the American people, and the friendship that binds us together.”

He repeatedly referred to Israeli Jews as “a free people in a land of their own.”

CLEAR: “That’s why we have made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza”.

THEY BUILT A STATE IN WHOSE HOMELAND? “Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

A WORLD THAT HAS CHANGED: “Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over.” Yeah, the rights of the Palestinians are just a “distraction” and any Arab state that brings them up must be doing so cynically to hoodwink their own people (which is not to say that that hasn’t happened, frequently, but Obama implies that that’s the ONLY reason anyone ever champions the Palestinians.

“Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel.” Before Israel’s borders are settled and it comes to an accommodation with the Palestinian people? No, now is not the time.

“Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state”. And that they will either be expelled or remain as second-class citizens – you know, business as usual. Honestly, they should just recognize that already.

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of his speech, someone heckled him (in Hebrew) about Jonathan Pollard.

By the way, Israel has exerted a lot of pressure to pardon Pollard over the years, but has never been willing to tell the US exactly what documents Pollard handed over.

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