Obama: Dead Wrong on Palestine
Pres. Obama went before the UN today and delivered possibly the least credible, most irrelevant, and downright disappointing speeches of his career. A career which has seen its share of stunningly wonderful, eloquent ones. It is yet a another mark of how completely lost his presidency has become.
The major contention of this speech was that statehood would not come for the Palestinians at the UN, but rather must come through direct negotiations between the parties. He’s got it precisely wrong. Israel has guaranteed that negotiations between it and the Palestinians, even with U.S. mediation, cannot work and will never work.
France, in the form of Pres. Sarkozy, has it more or less right. The two parties must be given strict time tables and even parameters for negotiation and told that if they fail the UN will recognize a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. And that if Israel refuses to accept the outcome it will be subject to UN sanctions.
At this point, this is the only language Israel can understand. I hate to express things this baldly since I am a supporter of Israel. But supporting a country means leading it away from the precipice when necessary.
Speaking of precipices, Obama ought to take a very close look at the staff who’ve served him so poorly on this one. Why, in heaven’s name did it even come to this? If you have nothing to contribute on the subject, why even intervene in the way he has? He hasn’t just wasted his political capital, he expended it unnecessarily in opposition to his own interests. If Dennis Ross was the champion of this strategy it’s about time to do some housecleaning. Several pundits have begun to call for Obama to rid himself of advisors like William Daley. But he ought to take a look at Ross as well, who’s led him in a political Valley of the Shadow of Death. Can a president countenance retaining advisors who lead him into irrelevancy on the world stage?
This comment by a NY Times reader was telling:
If the message is that the only way for the Palestinians to find peace is by declining to stand up for themselves, constantly backing down in the face of aggression, and capitulating to their enemies at every turn, I can’t imagine a better messenger to deliver that message than a man who lives it every day, President Barack Obama.
Sarkozy’s speech,which really wasn’t radical at all, appeared so, in juxtaposition to the stale irrelevancies of Obama’s. Sarkozy too was capitalizing on the decline in Obama’s stature on the world stage. He was telling the U.S. president: if you can’t lead, get out of the way.
Obama can expect many more such challenges if his rhetoric continues falling as flat as it has. Further, Obama is not only falling flat, but he’s actually betraying the progressive expectations many of us had for him. That means he’s going to retain all his Republican enemies, plus he will anger his former supporters who expected so much more of him. Obama right now suffers from the worst of both worlds. I fear that the upcoming elections may repudiate both him and all Democratic Congressional candidates.
Can any U.S. president not realize when he’s embraced warmly by Bibi Netanyahu, as he was in the latter’s UN speech, that he’s in big trouble?
34 thoughts on “Obama: Dead Wrong on Palestine – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Well said ..NO JUSTICE NO PEACE
France’s position is something Obama should have been proposing months ago. Why didn’t he? Because Israel, and its Likudnik fifth column in the US, wouldn’t like it and he would lose some Jewish/Christian Zionist votes. Another reason: Obama put somebody like Dennis Ross in an influential position on this issue. And another: Obama and his administration–Clinton and Rice in particular–don’t have the courage or imagination to come up with what Sarkozy has, not just because of the vote thing, but because they are mired in the old game of US-sponsored negotiations. No wonder George Mitchell resigned in disgust.
Its not just Obama that’s in big trouble: the US government is an extension of Netanyahu’s embrace.
The future is not pretty. The lies and historical distortions are now firmly cemented into American consciousness.
Elites within Israel and the US really do believe they can suppress the entire Middle East, and are willing to extinguish the remnants of openness in Israeli and American society to drive forward their policies to do so.
I have to ask a simple question: is it possible that this was the Palestinian game-plan all along i.e. to force Obama into a position where he has to stand before the General Assembly and expose to the entire world that the USA is completely unfit to “own” this “peace process”?
If so, then they have succeded.
As for Sarkozy’s speech (which, apparently, Is Not To Be Mentioned In The Israeli Press) its importance is not so much on what he said, but on the unspoken undercurrent.
Which was this: America, get out of the damn way and let the grown-ups deal with this.
12 months ago even hinting at such a thing would have been unthinkable, yet I suspect that by the time this UN session is over there will be a consensis i.e. don’t even bother listening to the USA, because it’s babbling like a doofus.
Can the USA still cling to its sole ownership of this conflict?
Not after today, no, it is going to be sidelined exactly as it was during the fight over Apartheid.
But Obama and Uncle Sam aren’t going to get out of the way, are they? They’re standing behind a barricade of burnt out cars on a blocked road holding shotguns, warning all those crawling towards them that they won’t get through. And anyone who wants to run for President, man or woman, Republican or Democrat, has to pick up his or her shotgun, too, and promise to shoot.
No, there’s no cleverness hidden in all of this. This is power through the barrel of a gun speaking, pure and simple.
I believe that the USA did exactly the same thing w.r.t. apartheid south africa.
The rest of the world simply went around the barricades, with the result being that the USA was so embarrassed at its own irrelevence that it put down the weaponry and joined the gang.
You’re aware of how naive that analogy is in this instance, aren’t you? The American Congress was not controlled by the South African government. The American Government is an extension of the Israeli Likud party.
It’s true that other countries will try to go around the blockade, but the US, rather than recognizing its own irrelevance, continues to grow ever more belligerent.
At some point one has to understand that Israel wants it all, and the US is supporting that, and is willing to “reconfigure” the Middle East to achieve it.
“The American Government is an extension of the Israeli Likud party.”
No, an extension of the US religious right, the Dispensationalists, the Xtn Zionists, the people who want the end of the world.
I don’t see how Obama can hope for re-election even given any one of the dullards now looking to make the bid. He has angered his progressive supporters very much and I, for one, am thinking of going to the dark side on the old theory that the worse it gets, the better.
Pandering to people who won’t thank you for it while alienating your traditional supporters seems to be Obama’s whole modus operandi now.
Had re-election been Obama’s sole concern, your observation would be dead right.
With western economy going nowhere and an even deeper recession at his doorstep, Obama needs to function, right now, as the President of the US and to do so requires a remotely cooperative legislature.
Biting this bullet in public at the UN was not meant to win the yet distant popular vote, but to urgently appease him who calls the shots in the Israeli-owned congress.
This suggests that there is a legitimate and effective plan to change the US economy without changing the disastrous foreign policy… but there isn’t. They are demonstrably linked.
Pres. Sarkozy did not say what you write here.
He did not say anything like “if they fail the UN will recognize a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. And that if Israel refuses to accept the outcome it will be subject to UN sanctions.”
This is your own fabrication and is far from what he said:
“Doesn’t that oblige us to change methods and timetables?
— One month to resume discussions
— Six months to reach an agreement on borders and security
— One year to reach a definitive agreement.
And France proposes to host a donors’ conference this fall so that the Palestinians can complete the construction of their future State. France wants to say that you must not seek a perfect solution from the outset, because there are no perfect solutions.
Let us choose the path of compromise, which is neither a renunciation nor a disavowal, but which will allow us to move forward, step by step. ”
In addition he said:
“For 60 years now, the Palestinians have been waiting for their State. Hasn’t the time come to give them hope? For 60 years now, Israel has suffered from being unable to live in peace. For 60 years now, the question of peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis has continued to fester. ”
He further said:
“Put yourselves in the place of the Palestinians. Don’t they have the right to demand their own state? Of course they do! And who cannot see that a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian state would be, for Israel, the best guarantee of its security?
Put yourselves in the place of the Israelis. After 60 years of war and terrorist attacks, don’t they have the right to demand guarantees for this long-awaited peace? Of course they do! And I emphatically say to you that if anyone anywhere in the world were to threaten the existence of Israel, France would immediately and wholeheartedly stand by Israel’s side. “
This is the real money-shot: “Let us stop believing that a single country or a small group of countries can resolve so complex a problem”
He is telling the United States of America to get out of the way and let the real grown-ups deal with this mess.
You watch: before this UN session is finished that will become THE topic of conversation i.e. everyone (but Obama and Netanyahu, of course) will agree that American stewardship of this “peace process” is precisely why it is all process and no peace.
Don’t be an idiot. I never claimed Sarkozy said any of the things you say. Those are MY views, not Sarkozy’s. Can you read?
And if you use the term “fabrication” once more here you’ll be banned. I didn’t fabricate anything. YOu can’t read. That’s yr problem, not mine.
The Israeli gov’t has the right to make compromises that will ensure the state’s future existence. If it refuses as it has so far, they have no rights to expect anything but blood and fire I’m sorry to say.
What is so impressive about Sarkozy’s plan? Why shouldn’t he just clearly and unambiguously support Palestinian statehood? At least Obama has the excuse of a very powerful Jewish lobby that lurks in all of the corridors of power in Washington. America has saddled itself this way since at least 1967. What is France’s excuse not to vote yes?
Just to offer only half a loaf? Just to be difficult? There’s no Jewish lobby in France. Just like there is no Jewish lobby in Germany. These guys don’t have the guts to go against the US entirely. So they slip slightly to one side.
In the time that the Palestinians wait — according to France’s master plan — before anything real is attempted again for statehood the only thing that will happen is that Israeli expansion into the West Bank will increase. An Israeli schoolboy knows that.
If you don’t vote yes for the state, you are voting yes to Israeli erasure of Palestinian society, history, and living breathing rights. But what does Sarkozy care?
Well, I think you get to it at the end. Sarkozy hasn’t any different plan for the future than the US… delay is in order, and a promise of “action” after more delay is in order… but when the time for action has come and passed… more delay is still in order.
nobody is reading obama correctly. he is a patriot who understands that the interests of his homeland america are fostered by the strategically moral pursuit of the only way to get recognition for a state of palestine over the heads of AIPAC and the right-wing republicans. by appearing to be weak and helpless he has deprived his opponents the pro-israeli lobby in america of a target to blame and crucify. poor netanyahu should have known that you can’t hustle a hustler and a GrandDeceiver like obama.
wait and see: the united nations will recognize palestine as a state before the 2012 presidential election and obama will be reelected for president of the united states. $10 … any takers?
What exactly does appearing to be weak do for the Palestinian bid? I’m confused. He didn’t just appear weak and helpless: He is weak and helpless against the right wing and AIPAC.
I think Hillary Leavett gets it right in her interview with Al-Jazeera. She says Obama argues for the application of universal human rights, but then makes an exception of the Palestinians.
It is, once again, simply an argument from exceptionalism.
Please read SunTzu and consult books on Strategic Deception.
“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”
you ask : “What exactly does appearing to be weak do for the Palestinian bid?”
the answer is nothing yet. but for obama to appear weak and under pressure from the jewish and right wing votes absolves him of blame and raises the heat against “those in america who act against the best interests of america and do israel’s bidding.” meanwhile the palestinian bid goes on the UNSC council agenda and NO ONE REALLY KNOWS what the US will do when the rubber hits the road. NO ONE.
we now have a new playing field in which the palestinians have the initiative and israel finds itself in uncharted territory where the century old zionist strategy for securing Greater Israel could begin to unravel. with a state of Palestine on (Eretz Ishmael) the West Bank, Greater Israel will never become the reality on the ground that Jabotinsky (the spiritual father of Netanyahu and Likud) envisioned it to be.
with his bid in, ESAU the palestinian now says to YAAKOV the israeli:
This Time, Take Your Bowl of Soup and Shove it Yaakov, Your Lies Don’t Play No More This Time.”
with his bid in today, the Palestinian stood fast for his birth right and Yaakov is stunned.
Can we try to rein in the over-the-topness please. No one knows what the U.S. will do except Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Dennis Ross and the 100 U.S. officials who’ve warned the Palestinians that the U.S. will veto the resolution. But before it has to do that it will beg, borrow or steal (w. Israel’s assistance) to prevent there being nine Yes votes for statehood in the SC.
are we at least in agreement ……. ?
(1) that with their bid for statehood at the UN the palestinians put themselves in a situation with only possible win-win outcomes that for them are definitely better than where they were just a week ago,
(2) that with their bid the palestinians strengthened obama’s hand to deal with netanyahu.
(3) that netanyahu is now boxed into a lose-lose situation between a rock and a hard place: (a) the UNSC and/or the UNGA potential actions, and (b) Obama’s pressure on him to negotiate on terms they want to avoid, and
(4) that the playing field has now changed to the detriment of israel.
as for Ross, Indyk, and Satloff … i personally met and had an exchange (civilized confrontation?) with two of them at a high-level consulting meeting in 2008. i know how they think and act and i have a expert gut feeling that Obama thinks and (when the time comes) will act differently than what they will advise him to do. call it a experience-based hunch.
Sorry @Richard, i can’t offer you more and i’m not over the top. we’ll have to wait and see.
thanks for your efforts on this blog.
We don’t agree about #2 at all. Abbas hasn’t strengthened Obama’s hand at all. In fact, Obama’s hand is about as bad as any hand can be. As for Bibi, he’s not at all boxed in domestically. So unless the world wants to beat down his door and force a settlement on him & Israel, he’s sittin’ pretty.
If Obama acts with any guts or gumption I’ll be hugely shocked. I hope you’re right but fear you’re not.
Facts tell us that we are dealing with criminal junta, in Iraq, Libya, Palestine, … (the full list is too l o n g). Yet again the fraudulent and rotten core of the empire is exposed. And they are simply laughing at us.
Here’s what someone as smart as Obama might be doing: recognizing that he can’t push the parties due to electoral considerations, he’s knowingly outsourced the process to Sarkozy, who isn’t similarly constrained.
If you read or watched Obama’s truly embarrassing speech in the UN, for himself and for his country, and concluded that he is extraordinarily smart… well.
i fully agree. i’ll even add that obama has been steering mahmoud abbas in his palestine bid at the UN. netanyahu knows it but can’t do much about it.
Is that a joke or are you serious (I hope the former)?
First read my comment above to @David.
And yes i am dead serious. check my comments on your blog for the past year under “kalaam” and “jjcostandi” where i have always called AbuMazen Abbas “the MossadMole.”
mubarak did america’s bidding in egypt and america turned on him. (the same is true of many others). Abbas did netanyahu’s israel bidding in the “palestinian authority” occupied territories at the urging of Bush’s america. Obama’s america turned Abbas on netanyahu to do obama’s bidding now for a new middle east.
some would call it speculation. i call it well-grounded assessment? and as always time will tell … soon enough.
Speculation? I call it stuff ‘n nonsense. I have little good to say about Abbas. But you don’t need to weave a grand conspiracy to explain his actions (or inaction) and lack of conviction.
R Richard Silverstein said on September 24, 2011 at 1:09 AM
Speculation? I call it stuff ‘n nonsense. I have little good to say about Abbas. But you don’t need to weave a grand conspiracy to explain his actions (or inaction) and lack of conviction.
In answer jjcostandi says:
and of course we didn’t give the green light to Saddam Hussein to attack, invade, and occupy Kuwait, and we didn’t spread all those WMD lies, and … i could go on and on and on.
to speak of these “events” the way i do is not to promote conspiracy theories. it is to see things the way they really are. it is how experts see and assess things. whoever calls this expert view “stuff’n nonsense” and conspiracy talk should check their own expertise and their own colored frame of reference.
people like you @Richard who very disappointingly call my assessment “stuff ‘n nonsense” (how
pitiful!) have the need to wait ten whole years to experience the aha! retrospective discovery of what is plain, simple, and clear today to those of us people like me who understand the field because they grew up in it.
@Richard, i apologize but please don’t insult me and i won’t insult you in return. it’s your blog after all … and if you kick me out… i’m sure i’ll survive it as DY and others have before me … but you @Richard will end up with the mutual-admiration-society blog that your blog (almost) is today.
It doesn’t matter what anyone says about (or during) negotiations if even ONE SETTLEMENT STILL STANDS FREE OF A TIME-CERTAIN-DEMOLITION-ORDER at the moment of such discussion.
Israel must see, feel, taste, smell, hear the walls of its own Jerico coming down as a prod (in the interest of saving a bit of this Jerico) to serious negotiation.
If the world fails to impose this TIME-CERTAIN-DEMOLITION-ORDER, then Israeli leaders will have motivation to seek a just and lasting peace.
As long as Israel thinks it can keep ALL or SOME of its settlements, and leave ALL or SOME of its settlers in place, free of mandatory removal/demolition orders enforced by UNSC or by state-level BDS (via UNGA), it will not negotiate in good faith for a return to the 1967 borders (with minor alterations).
Sarkozy may perhaps mean well, but I don’t understand him to have seen this necessity for international action if a just peace is to be attained.
At this point it should be clear to everyone that I/P “negotiations” – from Oslo onward – are a procrastinatory ruse whose purpose is to provide cover for the expansion of settlement building; they are part and parcel of Israel’s plan to empty the West Bank of Palestinians. “Negotiations”? Obama might as well recommend that the Palestinians find a Reverend Jim Jones who will lead them to a mass suicide.