Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Has President Obama Sold Out the People of Palestine?

If you paid any attention to the photographs and videos from the July 6th meeting between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel, you could not help but notice Barrack Obama, smiling like a ten year old who just found a dollar in the street, as he talked about the commitment of the United States to the "security" of Israel.

Really? Why was Obama so ebullient in his praise of Netanyahu? I wonder what the consensus of public opinion might have been if our President had bothered to mention the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the housing demolitions in East Jerusalem, the invasive and destructive "security wall" that sliced up Palestinian villages and communities into powerless Arab Bantustans, and, most egregiously, the persistence of systematic economic warfare on the people of Gaza.

It is understandable that the Jewish people, having suffered the monstrous crime of genocide at the hands of the Third Reich, should have a fierce loyalty to the State of Israel. It is also logical that the people the United States should express deep concern for the protection of human life in Israel, as they should be concerned for any human community in the world.

But the plight of the Palestinian people, who are occupied and oppressed by Israel, is nothing to grin about. And that brings up another inconvenient question: Did Netanyahu walk out of his meeting with Obama with carte blanche to continue the occupation and expansionist policies of the Israeli government with almost total impunity, and with a blank check for continued U.S. military and economic support for his dirty deeds?

In the short term, President Obama may have looked at the political calculus of the U.S.-Israel relationship and concluded that the Democratic Party base of support from the pro-Israel community-in terms of both votes and money-necessitated his cuddle-up with Netanyahu.But in the longer term, such a gesture means even more trouble for the U.S., not only in the Arab/Muslim world, but among all people in the world who detest the violence of colonialism and human oppression.

Moreover-and we have General Petraeus to thank for this observation-the uncritical U.S. support for the Israeli regime gives legitimacy to militant anti-Americanism throughout the world, dis-empowers moderate U.S. allies in the Muslim world, endangers the lives of U.S. soldiers, and feeds the recruitment machines of the Taliban and Al-Queda.

In the final analysis, Obama's apparent submission to Netanyahu and the pro-Israel lobby will neither assure him of their political support, nor elevate his stature as a principled moral leader on the global stage. The survival of the Jewish state is not in question, but the protection of the human rights of the people of Palestine most certainly is.

This is, fundamentally, a question of whether America is willing to take a principled stand against blatant human oppression and the violation of international laws perpetrated by a U.S. ally. Our president has nothing to grin about concerning this matter, and neither do we.

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