This is an insightful article by Huffinton Posts’ Robert Naiman. One can put a positive spin on Obama’s visit and speeches. While he didn’t promise to do anything to help the ‘peace process’ along, he didn’t seem to want to hinder it either – something that the Israeli government has relied on the US to do through successive administrations!
Indeed Obama would be doing the world a great service if he allowed some of Israel’s Arab and international neighbors to take a more intentional role in solving the Israel/Palestine debacle, and we all know that he has no personal desire to prop up Benjamin Netanyahu!
Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech With Gaza’s Ark
There’s a half-empty way and a half-full way of looking at President Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
The half-empty way of looking at it is: this was Obama’s white flag of surrender. To everyone around the world who for decades has been assuming that at the end of the day, the president of the United States would lead the way to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama was saying:
Don’t look at me. Just because the United States is the principal military, diplomatic, and economic protector of the Israeli government, doesn’t mean that I, as the president of the United States, will do anything about the military occupation of millions of Palestinian human beings. Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, and Congress — which defers to AIPAC — doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words — not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that — but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me.
The half-full way of looking at it is this: it was a great speech. If you “price in,” as the markets say, acceptance that the U.S. government isn’t going to lead on this, it was a great motivational speech. President Obama made a very compelling case that someone else should do something.
The interesting thing is that whether you see it as a great motivational speech or a white flag of surrender, the practical consequences for the public are largely the same: the initiative for justice is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best that we can probably expect from Obama is that if the initiative for justice comes from somewhere else, he won’t get in the way, or won’t get in the way very much. While that is much less than we are entitled to expect, it is much more than the Netanyahu government and its supporters want. They demand that President Obama do everything he can to get in the way of justice. So, if he doesn’t get in the way of justice, or only does so halfheartedly, he’ll be helping us more than they want.
Some people look to Europe. If Europe got serious about curtailing imports from Israel if the occupation doesn’t end, that’s something the Israeli business elite would take seriously, and they would put pressure on the Israeli government to compromise, rather than lose their export income. It’s striking to contrast how Europe is treating its trade with Israel to how it is treating its trade with Iran. In the case of Israel, Europe is toying with the idea of seriously curtailing imports from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In the case of Iran, Europe has shut down virtually all trade, including trade in lifesaving medicines, in violation of international humanitarian law. Giving Israel a little more of the Iran treatment could go a long way. In addition, Europe could support membership for Palestine at the International Criminal Court, and then could support legal action against the settlements and land confiscation at the ICC. So, Europe certainly has a lot of room to get serious about ending the occupation.
Some people look to the Arab Spring. Since 1979, the Camp David Treaty as implemented has been a pillar of the occupation. As many Egyptians see it, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Under the treaty, the Israeli military was supposed to withdraw from the West Bank. But of course, that never happened. What happened instead is that for 30 years the Mubarak regime traded compliance with Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for U.S. agreement to look the other way while the Egyptian government beat the Egyptian people. Now Egypt has a democratically-elected government. What if that government made ending the occupation a political and diplomatic priority?
read the rest of this article here
A powerful and pointed article from my friend, Miko Peled.
As the son of one an Israeli general, Miko knows the culture and people of Israel well. As an American citizen, he also understands American realpolitik.
Obama won’t bring peace to Palestine
Miko Peled 19 March 2013
If US President Barack Obama wanted to move the Palestine/Israel issue along, he would need to demand that Israel free thousands of political prisoners it holds in violation of international law, end its violations of Palestinian human rights, lift the siege on Gaza or at the very least end the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians.
However, because the fear that retribution by Israel’s lobby will be swift and painful, none of these things will be said — much less demanded — even though they are well-documented and widely known. And so, President Obama’s planned trip to Israel will not offer any solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue is, politically, a toxic wasteland that no US president in his right mind would want to clean up. It has become a vicious cycle of deceit and double standards, and it will contaminate any US politician who tries to clean it up. One may trust that President Obama, being fully aware of this, will avoid getting involved with this issue in his second term, just as he did in his first term.
Even if he does visit the West Bank city of Ramallah during his planned visit, there can be little doubt that Barack Obama will continue to stand behind Israel and place his real efforts elsewhere. It’s the cost of doing business.
The official US stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is that it needs to be resolved within the framework of a two-state solution but without the US pressuring the parties to reach a resolution. The pressures placed upon politicians in the US by the Israel lobby have created a reality in which criticizing Israel constitutes political suicide.
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, the Torquemada of the Israel lobby, stated recently on the satirical television program The Colbert Report that: “there are not many issues for which there is bipartisan support, the support for Israel is a true bipartisan issue” (“Obama’s Israel trip – Michael Oren,” 5 March 2013).
“Support for Israel” means a blank check. Understandably, Oren takes pride in this because it is an accomplishment for which his inquisition-style lobby has worked tirelessly. So much so, that the only vote on this issue that is acceptable in Washington is a vote that is aligned with Israel.
Reckless and destructive
The price of doing business in US politics is to applaud, encourage and pay for Israel to do whatever it wants, regardless how reckless and destructive it may be, and to ignore the plight of the Palestinians. This was true before the last Israeli elections, and now with the results of the Israeli elections clearly showing that Israelis have no interest in resolving the Palestinian issue, the president would have to go against Israeli electorate as well as the Israel lobby in the US, and all this to accomplish something no American president would even dare to articulate: peace and justice for Palestinians.
The naïve hope that Obama’s second term in office will be different than his first on this issue is just that, naïve. A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question will not come from an American president, nor will it come from an Israeli prime minister. The resolution of the conflict will come as a result of the fall of the Zionist state, not unlike the fall of theapartheid regime in South Africa.
No substance at all
As student groups, churches, trade unions, civil society organizations and the movement calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel increase their pressure, Western governments who are now complicit in Israel’s crimes will inevitably be forced to halt their support for Israel.
This, along with the ongoing pressure from popular Palestinian resistance, disobedience and defiance of the laws that allow the Zionist occupation of Palestine to function, will bring about a democracy in Palestine, in place of the Zionist state.
But this will not come about of its own accord. People who care about Palestinians and Israelis and who care about justice and peace need to act vigorously and demand a democracy with full equal rights in Palestine/Israel. As for the president’s planned visit, we may expect, and we will surely see no substance at all.
Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.
The answer to this rhetorical question of course is ‘NO’!
The following article that appeared in ‘The Times of Israel‘ is as ludicrous as it is unfounded. The US is not going to attack Iran as it would be suicidal – economically as well as militarily!
If Iran is attacked, the Straits of Hormuz are closed and the US starts losing valuable petro-dollars. The only option it then has it to send in a ground force and create another terrible quagmire like Iraq and Afghanistan, except that the Iranian resistance to invasion will likely be stronger than both of these other countries put together.
The US is not going to attack Iran, and if she was considering such an insane move it would be for the sake of her own strategic interests and not Israel’s. Enough said.
Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike
During upcoming visit, president will convey message that window for American military operation opens in June, TV report says
When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.
Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.
In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out.
“As we have repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot remain open forever,” said Kerry, on his first international tour as America’s top diplomat. “But it is open today. It is open now and there is still time, but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith.
“We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure, and so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians. And we hope they will make the right choice,” Kerry added.
A fresh round of high-level diplomatic talks were set to begin Tuesday in Kazakhstan — the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow failed to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear warheads.
You can read the rest of this article here: www.timesofisrael.com…
It’s hard not to feel a little cynical when you read this report. As an Anglican myself I can testify to the fact that our church has a sad history of making insipid statements on critical issues and this pronouncement from the Bishop of Bath appears to be sadly consistent with that history.
The Bishop’s statement seems to imply that all that stands in the way of peace is a little more goodwill between Israelis and Palestinians – a naive view that overlooks completely the way in which successive Israeli and US governments have sabotaged every potential peace plan for almost a generation!
It would be nice if goodwill were sufficient to establish a long-term peace between Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately it also requires a willingness on the part of the politicians involved to make genuine concessions – something that the Netanyahu government has shown no interest in doing.
Israel and Palestine must seek peace – bishop
The Bishop of Bath & Wells has spoken of his hope for long-term peace in the Holy Land following a recent trip to the region.
Addressing the House of Lords, Bishop Peter Price said civil society was “key to unlocking peace” between Israel and Palestine.
“Peace is the prize that all must seek for the welfare of generations of children growing up against the backdrop of uncertainty and fear,” he said.
Bishop Price made the visit as part of a delegation led by Christian Aid that also included the Bishop of Worcester.
He said the recent ceasefire between Israel and Gaza offered “hope for some measure of peace” and that US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit could open up non-violent solutions.
“What is hopeful is an increasing sense among the young that this situation cannot last forever,” he said.
During his visit, Bishop Price met Palestinian children taking part in a post-conflict trauma group.
He was moved by their dreams to become doctors, lawyers and teachers when they grow up.
“What kind of humanity leaves behind a child – any child – unable to hold onto its future?” he said.
“I am not seeking to make a partisan point here but a humanitarian one.
“Unless we can see in the eyes of the other the same human identity that is in ourselves, we risk only demonising the other.”
An evening of prayer and meditation is being held at Lady Chapel at Wells Cathedral next Tuesday, during which the bishop will talk about his visit.
The cathedral will host a Christian Aid photography exhibition until 3 March displaying work by young people in Gaza involved in campaigning against child labour.
Perhaps the US does still have a role to play as a peace-broker in the Israel/Palestine stand-off? Certainly a visit by Obama to the West Bank would be a healthy start!
Certainly this will be a boost for Mahmoud Abbas. Lately all the kudos has gone to his counterpart in Gaza, with visits from dignitaries around the Muslim world. Even so, the visit could further entrench the divide between the two Palestinian factions, with Hamas being seen as representing the Muslim world while Fatah remains a puppet of Western interests.
It will all depend on how Obama manages the situation. Personally, I hold out little hope. Israel and the US have been blocking the path to a negotiated peace settlement for many years now. Is this really likely to change overnight?
Obama to make first visit to Israel ‘in the spring’
President Barack Obama will visit Israel “in the spring” for the first time since taking office in January 2009, the White House said on Tuesday. Israeli media reports said the trip was set for March 20. Possible military action against Iran and the crisis in Syria seem sure to top the agenda.
Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the possibility of a visit during a Jan. 28 telephone call, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Carney said Obama would also visit Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and make a stop in Jordan, and that dates would be released later.
Obama visited Israel in July 2008, when he was running for office, but he has not been back since. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign—and Republicans in general—have sought to use that as a political weapon, suggesting it shows he’s willing to shortchange the staunchest U.S. ally in the region. But both of George W. Bush’s visits to Israel came in 2008, when his second term was nearly up, and Republican icon Ronald Reagan never went.
The visit will come as Obama and other world leaders, notably Netanyahu, have warned that time is running short for a diplomatic end to the tense standoff with Iran over that country’s suspect nuclear program.
“When the president spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on January 28, they discussed a visit by the president to Israel in the spring,” Carney said. “The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria.”