Obama on Why the US Has Not Condemned Israel’s Human Rights Violations against the Occupied Palestinian People

A question was posed to US president Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in Tampa, Florida on 28 January. Obama took this as an opportunity to “talk about the Middle East generally.”

Obama: Israel is one of our strongest allies.

Would one’s strongest allies coax it into the quagmire of aggression and occupation? The US faces stiff resistance in Iraq; nonetheless, Israeli hawks encourage military action against Iran.

Obama: It is a vibrant democracy.

For who? Not for all its citizens. This is made clear by Israeli professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi.

Obama: It is critical for us and I will never waver from ensuring Israel’s security and helping them secure themselves in what is a very hostile region… I make no apologies for that.

… the plight of the Palestinians is something that we have to pay attention to, because it is not good for our security and it is not good for Israel’s security if you’ve got millions of individuals who feel hopeless, who don’t have an opportunity to get an education or get a job or what have you.

Imagine if a US president (imagine Franklin Roosevelt) had pledged unwavering support for Germany’s security while acknowledging the requirement to pay attention to the plight of Jews (and — if the president is a man concerned about all humanity — Roma, homosexuals, communists, and other victims) during World War II.

Many people would insist that such a scenario is preposterous, and I would agree. But why is Obama’s statement not preposterous? Everyone desires security, but the security of the Palestinian people is not supported or even mentioned.

Furthermore, the reason given for having to pay attention to the plight of Palestinians is because of security concerns for Israel and the US. That is a whole lot different than saying one is paying attention to improve the plight of Palestinians. A simple deconstruction of Obama’s words reveals that there is no altruistic intent.

Obama: [W]e are seeking a two-state solution in which Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security. In order to do that both sides are going to have to make compromises.

What compromises?

Malcolm X once said, “Don’t stick a knife in me ten inches, pull it out six, and tell me we’ve made progress.” The corollary here would be: Don’t steal all of my land, then allow me keep 10%, and call that compromise.

Compromise … It sounds already predetermined: a two-state solution. The land was the co-called Palestine Mandate before British collaboration with Zionist Jews aided in the killing and dispossession of Palestinians. Ergo, there is nothing tangible for Israeli Jews to compromise on. Compromise sounds like a reasonable request in a dispute;1 but compromise on what? For Palestinians, the entitlement of non-Mizrahi Jews in historical Palestine is a huge concession. Obviously, compromise has a latent perniciousness that Obama does not let on. Obama is likeliest calling on Palestinians to “compromise” on land forcibly seized by Israel in 1967. If so, where is the Israeli compromise in that?

Obama: As a first step, the Palestinians have to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel.

The first step places all the onus on the occupied, oppressed Palestinians. Again, what kind of “compromise” is this? The intent is clear; Obama frames the victimized Palestinians as the source of violence.

Obama: And Israel has to acknowledge legitimate grievances and interests of the Palestinians.

Obama makes a nebulous call to “acknowledge” not address the “legitimate” grievances and interests of the Palestinians. Why the obfuscation? Who determines what is “legitimate”? Is demanding Palestinians to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel legitimate? Why is there no demand for the Israelis to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Palestine?

Obama: The Israel government came in based on the support of a lot of folks who don’t want to make a lot of concessions.

Concessions? What can Israel concede to Palestinians? Their human rights? Their territory? How can a thief make concessions? The land belongs to the people who have long inhabited that land without freely selling title to the land: the Palestinians. Return of territory acquired by violence is repatriation. Yes, there has been the purchase of a small amount of land, but that land still belongs to the state. For example, foreigners own land in Canada and the US, but the land still remains a part of the state.2

Obama: On the other hand, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who I think genuinely wants peace, has to deal with Hamas, an organization that has not recognized Israel and has not disavowed violence.

Obama praises Israel (wrongly) as a “vibrant democracy.” Then he refers to Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority. Yes, he is, but this is deception. Why did Obama not refer to Abbas as president of the State of Palestine? Could it be because his term expired a year ago, and he granted himself a one-year extension? How democratic is that? Hamas is the democratically elected government that the US refuses to deal with.

Obama renders his own words nugatory.

Obama’s spiel was in response to a question: “Then why have we [the US] not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people and yet we continue to support financially with billions of dollars coming from our tax dollars?” Obama did not answer this question.

The Obama administration’s efforts are focused on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. This is the same strategy used by former US administrations. Obama might instead demand respect for international law and adherence to all United Nations Security Council resolutions by the Israeli and Palestinian sides. So-called peace talks filled with empty words are meaningless, as Oslo and the Roadmap demonstrated.

Obama billed himself as the candidate of change, yet there is no change in the approach to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Obama continues unchangingly to support the oppressor over the oppressed.

  1. Granted, it is exceedingly euphemistic to refer to a dispossession, occupation, slow-motion genocide, and humiliation as a “dispute.” []
  2. Whether or not statehood is legitimate is also relevant. Just as Zionist Jews have dispossessed Palestinians, nation states such as Canada, the US, and throughout the western hemisphere are erected on the dispossession and denationalization of the Original Peoples. Activists must oppose all oppression. []
Kim Petersen is an independent writer and former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on February 1st, 2010 at 9:45am #

    Very well said Kim.

    I will not forget his silence whilst Cast Lead went on… one President at a time wasn’t it?

    Here is an excerpt from his Tampa meeting. At the beginning he sounds like one of those fast speaking auctioneers selling a commodity like tobacco.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oniFAoHgSmw&feature=related

  2. bozh said on February 1st, 2010 at 10:40am #

    What can one expect form a country that stands mms away from nazi ideology?
    let’s forget what BHO, Clinton, Buh, kennedy, truman, johnson say. They r mere spokespeople for a minority of people [0001-2% of US pop] who own 98% of america.
    Of which a prez is the least important part. Even congress people stay longer in power than ?all prezes. Cia-fbi-army echelons, judiciary, educators-informants and judiciary stay in power even longer.
    All that these aforementioned members of one sytem do is directed by the minority which owns US.
    tnx

  3. Deadbeat said on February 1st, 2010 at 11:45am #

    bozh is correct and essentially illustrates why the entire system needs to be scraped.

  4. Ismail Zayid said on February 1st, 2010 at 12:24pm #

    Kim asks vibrant and accurate questions. However, the answers, that Obama is allowed to voice, are those that AIPAC and the powerful Zionist lobby would permit him to regurgitate, as with most past U.S. presidents.

  5. bozh said on February 1st, 2010 at 1:28pm #

    DB, with change of the system, socalled zionism and disproportionate influence of ‘jews’ on US policies wld much lessen. Even most ‘jews’ might be very happy ab it!
    Patching the same pants for 2 centuries now allowed slavery; later lynchings and terror against blacks, hiroshima, vietnam, korea.
    And it will, i assert, get worse yet and not only for ‘aliens’ but also for americans! tnx

  6. dan e said on February 1st, 2010 at 1:35pm #

    Deadbeat, you mean “scraped” like you do with a dirty plate into the cafeteria Solamente Basura can? hehe:)

    BTW, my translator friend has finally clarified the meaning of the term “al Qaeda” for me: it’s Arabic for MK Ultra.

    BTW the second, w/all due respect, “Zionist lobby” is a misnomer. The Zionist Power Configuration in the US is much more than just a lobbying outfit. But otherwise Ismail Z’s comment is right on & I thank you for posting it:)

  7. Rehmat said on February 1st, 2010 at 6:13pm #

    Ignoring the fact that Obama is an obvious AIPAC stooge – however, his rhetoric about Israel or for that matter the US – is hillarious.

    A political-aware person will never be fooled by such political rhetoric as “the only democracy in the Middle East (Israel)” or “the largest democracy in the world (India)” or the best democracy in the world (US). Because these are simply political dramas played by a minority of the privileged class, every four years to fool the brainwashed public and the world community at large. In reality, there are only a few countries where democracy by dictionary definition (“by the people for the people”) is practiced but their elected leaders are not recognized as democratic leaders because they refuse to bow to the Zionist perceived democratic world.

    Democracy, like the other slogans such as human rights, freedom, justce, gender equality, etc. – has been corrupted so much by the elites that they have all lost their original meanings. Interestingly, Muslims make the largest minority groups in the US, India and Israel – but they’re the most persecuted ones in those countries. American writer Stephen Lendman wrote: “Is it less true for America or in how Israel treats Muslims, many its own citizens yet denied virtually all rights afforded to Jews, and in Palestine none under military occupation.” Indian writer Arundhati Roy compared Hindu right wing (Hindutva) persecution of Muslims in India to Hitler’s persecution of Jews. She asks: “What kind of India they want? A limbless, headless, soulless torso bleeding under the butcher’s clever with a flag driven deep into her mutilated heart?”

    In the US, no political leader can dream of working for the interests of his own country. They all compete with each other to prove to the Israel lobby groups (AIPAC, ADL, AJC, etc.) that he/she can look after the interests of a foreign country (Israel) better than his/her opponents. Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has pulled the mask from the US democratic charade: “There are many Members of Congress who wants to be free. I am one of them. I wanted to be free to vote according to my conscience, but I had been told that if I did not sign a pledge supporting the military superiority of Israel, no support would come my way. And sure enough, I did not sign the pledge and no support came my way. I suffered silently year in and year out, because I refused to sign the pledge. An then like a slave that found a way to buy his freedom – I went to work – I wanted to be free – Free to cast the vote in US Congress as I saw fit and not as I was dictated to…..” – Cynthia McKinney.

    It is not a democracy, stupid!
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/it-is-not-a-democracy-stupid/