Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ali Abunimah's Analysis of Obama's AIPAC Speech

http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/obamas-speech-aipac-affirms-commitment-israel-and-us-policies-doom-it

EXCERPT (go to above link to read original):

Here are some of the key points of Obama’s speech with analysis.

Demography

Obama:

Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian territories. This will make it harder and harder – without a peace deal – to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.

Obama is simply pointing out the reality that Palestinians if not already, will soon be, the majority population in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip combined).

Yet Obama does not call for a morally correct solution: equal rights for all who live within the territory and all who have been unjustly excluded from it on the basis of ethnicity, according to basic democratic principles.

Instead, the president exhorts Israel to rush to create a truncated Palestinian statelet in the false belief that a Palestinian mini-state on a fraction of historic Palestine can fulfill the rights of some 11 million Palestinians denied their human rights, and right to self-determination for decades.

Obama’s use of demographic scare-mongering indicates an acceptance of the fundamentally racist view that the mere existence of certain categories of humans (in this case non-Jewish Palestinians) in a country is unacceptable and dangerous – even if they or their parents or grandparents were born in that country. Palestinians “west of the Jordan River” are not interlopers or intruders. They are indigenous people of the country. Instead of searching for ways for Israel to escape them by gerrymandering a bantustan, Obama should be calling for full and equal rights, nothing less.

Obama’s failure to call on Israel to respect the full and equal rights of the 1.4 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, will also be taken as a signal by Israel that the president is fine with the growing raft of racist legislation directed against this indigenous community.

Obama’s use of the demographic scare-tactic would have had its equivalent during the existence of apartheid South Africa in a US president urging the defunct racist regime in Pretoria to rush to create more bantustans so that South Africa could remain a ‘white and democratic state.’

When Obama claims, as peace process insiders often do, that the vision he laid out for “peace” is “is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation” it is important to remember that these are “formulas” made by power players without reference to millions of Palestinians – especially refugees – who have never been consulted and who certainly don’t consider their own mere existence a threat to anyone’s “democracy.”

Military force is not enough

Obama said:

…technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace

Obama is acknowledging that military superiority is insufficient to maintain Israel in the absence of political legitimacy. But again there is a contradictory impulse: the unconditional US commitment to give Israel any and all technology and military means allows Israel to delude itself that it can rely forever on force of arms in lieu of a peace agreement.

Waning US hegemony means Arab public opinion now matters

Obama:

…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.

For decades the whole concept of the “peace process” was based on Israel signing treaties with unelected Arab leaders in spite of their publics’ deep opposition to such agreements that did nothing to restore the rights of Palestinians and only freed Israel’s hands to attack and occupy more. The 1979 Israel-Egypt and 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaties are prime examples, and for many years the US sought a similar deal between Israel and Syria.

Obama is acknowledging that if the United States is unsuccessful in imposing new obedient client leaders on Arab states (or maintaining the ones it still supports), Israel would actually have to be acceptable to Arab publics and electorates. This is true enough, but again, his solution: a truncated Palestinian bantustan is hardly a sufficient answer to the challenge.

Isolation of Israel will be unstoppable even with US support

Several times in his speech Obama vowed the United States would stand up against the “delegitimization” of Israel. That is the term Israel and its supporters have applied to the global Palestine solidarity movement, calling for equal rights, especially the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Obama also referred specifically to the Palestinian Authority effort to seek UN recognition for a Palestinian state this September. Despite these US commitments, Obama observed:

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. For us to have leverage with the Palestinians, with the Arab States, and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success.

This seems to be a clear warning to Israel and it should serve as an encouragement to Palestine solidarity activists everywhere. However, the president offered no sense that under his leadership the United States will take any action other than presidential speeches that have any “prospect of success.”

Obama backs Bush’s view on “1967 lines”

Perhaps the centerpiece of Obama’s speech today was when he addressed the fake controversy over his mention of the 1967 lines on Thursday. Today, Obama said:


1 comment:

Free Online Tutoring said...

Obama’s plan for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders was welcomed by key global players Friday including the European Union, the United Nations, Russia, the Palestinians and parts of the Arab world.