34 thoughts on “Obama to Palestine: “Drop Dead” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.

  1. Richard I think that Obama simply followed the age-old wisdom that one catches more flies with syrup than with vinegar. He has talked softly and not shown a big stick yet but that might still come. He left at any case Kerry behind for further talks. Perhaps Kerry will do some tough talking, all in his urbane fashion of course. I haven’t given up hope yet.

    As Chemi Salev wrote in Haaretz Obama has put some heart in the Israeli center-left that didn’t touch in the recent election campaign on the issues that Obama talked about in his second speech because of fear that they were toxic.

    1. Be nice if that were true, Arie, but I doubt it. Anyway, the deeper problem all along with America as an honest broker is that American politicians who claim to support a 2SS always talk the way Obama does. He empathizes with both sides, supposedly, but everything he says is biased in Israel’s direction. Israeli parents, he says, would want the best for the Palestinian children he met. So Israelis are decent and Palestinian children are decent. Who isn’t decent? Well, Palestinians who use violence and/or reject Israel’s right to exist. So there is to be no discussion of the Nakba and the only bad guys are the Palestinians who use violence or who don’t kowtow to the Israeli image of their own state.

      Basically the message is this–all Israelis are well-intentioned lovely people, though some may not understand their own interests, and Palestinian children are nice and so are the PA leaders and so the reason there hasn’t been peace is a combination of Palestinian and Arab intransigence and violence, which has understandably meant that the Israelis are reluctant to take risks for peace. Israeli violence doesn’t matter at all, and the oppression of the Palestinians is unfortunate, but no actual blame is to be placed on the Israelis, only on those Palestinians who use violence or reject Israel.

      Even if one supports a 2SS, there’s no way the US could function as an honest broker given these stated attitudes.

  2. I agree. Obama is a disappointment with regards to the Israel-Palestine issue. But, as you acknowledge the political realities are as they are. The new Israeli government will fight tooth and nail to get more settlements built, and Obama needs every little bit of additional goodwill in Congress he can get to move the US forward.

    Truth is that any other President could not have done better given the circumstances. That is, unless he wanted to be a one issue President only to spend all his political capital for Israel and Palestine rather than for domestic issues. The peace process has become a pipe dream and Obama just packaged it in soaring rhetoric to make it easier to swallow.

    I wonder whether Israelis understand that with this disentanglement a withdrawal of US funds and support for Israel has become much more likely in the not too distant future. If the US decides that its involvement is not needed, then why should Americans divest badly needed funds to Israel and Egypt rather than spend it in the US?

  3. Great piece Richard. It was a trip about nothing. Obama has been spat in the fact by Netanyahu’s government and pretended it was rain. The “leader of the free world” embraces the status quo of Apartheid. The beneficiary of the US civil rights movement embraces a state of Apartheid and shakes the hand of the Israeli George Wallace. We don’t expect much from a politician like Obama but I always wonder how those people can get up in the morning, look in the mirror and not puke while he reads out those speeches.

  4. Die Bühne

    Obama’s failure in his first term required to reset lost stature with Israeli public/perception. Negotiations can only proceed and be succesful behind closed doors as the Norwegians illustrated with the Oslo accords.

    I had no confidence in Hillary Clinton and her minions [read part of Hillary dances the Sirtaki too …] in the State Department. If there is no step forward within one year, your pessimism will hold true. For the last 20 years I have kept a faint candle of hope burning, how difficult it has been at times.

    The Arab revolt and the overthrow of the Assad regime will be cause of grave concern for the State of Israel. The madman of Teheran will be replaced by the monarchs of the Gulf States and King Abdullah of the land of the two holy shrines. The crown-prince was quite upset with the Bush regime for the rejection of his Arab initiative to make peace with Israel in 2002. The kingdom of Jordan is next in line to fall to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movement. The goal of Al Sham comes closer.

    In biblical terms of a timeline, the founding of the state of Israel is in its infancy.

  5. Obama could always (have) use(d) secret diplomacy. He could have told Turkey that, altho USA cannot prosecute Israel for the 1967 USS Liberty attack, Turkey has his blessing for prosecuting Israeli leaders for the Mavi Marmara attack. signs are that Obama has, in fact, put the screws on Turkey rather than the opposite. Obama could (secretly) invite the EU to stop its trade with Israel (or, maybe, for starters, only as to OPTs) until the settlers are all removed, the WALL all dismantled, Gaza siege lifted, etc. Believe it when you see it happen. we live in a grotesque world.

      1. Well, I’ll be. So Obama did get something real out of this trip. My evaluation of it changes somewhat for the better. But I’m still bummed by the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, which Obama did nothing to resolve.

  6. Richard, when I read pieces such as this one it confirms my decision to support your work. You have precisely described the situation and the man. Obama is a master of the verbal smokescreen. I think he writes his own material, probably takes pride in that, and from the course of this administration, I think he believes the lofty fluff that he conjures up. All of us, to some degree, create in our heads a self-flattering view of the world that rationalizes our behavior – putting it in a favorable light. This process is automatic, we don’t realize we do it, but the consequences from this in politics is profound.

    Politicians are rarely self-effacing (Lincoln being a notable exception), they are extraordinary because they know it – it’s the fuel that keeps a politician going when the rest of us wonder how anyone could survive the ordeal of election then office. Obama’s history of simply orating greatness, then acting in a contradictory way, or not acting at all, then orating anew with no concession to the reality of his behavior has been continual.

    I’ve abandoned any hope that his second term will free the “real Obama” to do what he was expected to do when first elected. The lesson in this has been taught many times before, but the public never learns – it is a mistake to elect someone on appearances (he is the first black president! No woman has ever held this office before! Candidate X is a gay latino!). All that matters is what goes on in the head and how that relates to action, something completely disconnected from the physical appearance of the person and only revealed by actual behavior in office.

    Obama has taken us for a ride, the ride he was already on in his head and one that will continue until his term is up, and, for him, until the day he dies of old age.

    1. Would you rather, then, have elected Romney?

      History is what it is: a great unstoppable machine. It produced Obama, an unexpected blessing for the Western world, because the conditions were right. Intelligent people, dimly conscious of their own interests, recognized that he was the best we were going to get — far better than we, as a corrupt and morally bankrupt society, deserve — and granted him a mandate of qualified power (and even that has only been given grudgingly, paranoically, mingled with constant threats, suspicion and fits of anxiety).

      No man or woman can alter the course of the world: what one can do is anticipate where it is heading, and position oneself at its forefront, thus gaining some small measure of temporary influence upon its course (and so taking on the label of revolutionary).

      Obama is earnestly using his frankly negligible influence to attempt to position the great, blood-drenched leviathan of America on the right side of history, while understanding the limits of his role and his power, and of his own faculties of perception.

      History also, unfortunately, produced Netanyahu at this precise moment. He was elected just before Obama took office; once before, and now again.

      I am not convinced that we have seen the ultimate consequences of this highly strategic visit yet.

      I agree with you: for those of us with eyes to see, minds to think and hearts to bleed, yes, the optics were almost intolerable. The moral hypocrisy thrown in the face of the Palestinians was unbearable. We are right to be disgusted and angry, and so are the Palestinians. But we are not right to declare this sickening episode as being pointless or counterproductive. The purpose of the trip was not to reassure us, or the Palestinians, at this precise moment in time. The hypocrisy, the implied insults and the emblems of injustice were a part of the calculation. Obama is a calculating and ruthless politician — that makes him effective. In politics, the ends justify the means. We are all adults here. The purpose of the trip was precisely to cozy up to the Israelis in order to acquire political capital. How he uses that, and what opportunities he will have to use it, remains to be seen.

      John Kerry, the new Secretary of State, will now, it is claimed, engage whole-heartedly with the PA and the Israelis in order to restart the so-called peace process, or at least bilateral negotiations. That is not insignificant. While I am skeptical that the peace process may not actually be doing more harm than good — a smokescreen, as Norman Finkelstein suggests, to cover up the continuing annexation of the West Bank — this is no time to write off American involvement in the conflict.

      “Don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin.”

      1. Sure — it ain’t over ’til it’s over. But he ain’t gonna spend that capital on freeing Palestine either. It is the US that has caged these people. It is the US that bears this responsibility just as it bears responsibility for the devastation of Viet Nam at the dawn of my own political consciousness. Your description of the give and take of his presidency is right and true but one man can, at the threshold of history, make a big difference by pointing the way through the storm. Obama’s moment has come and gone in the darkness several times over.

        1. What was Obama’s choice? With the Cairo speech he got off on the wrong footing, the State Department was still filled with right-wing elements. Clinton picked too many envoys and advisors who had failed in the past. In Obama’s UN speech of September 2011, he raised the white flag and chose the side of Israel and win over the Jewish diaspora and the Israel lobbyists. I was devastated. Obama chose to run for a second term to make change possible in fringe areas, at least avoid a Republican presidency that would void all of his domestic policies. By appointment of Kerry – Brennan – Hage, Obama has trustful persons in place. Like I said, results on the I-P issue should come forward within one year, or he has truly failed. My analysis is, Obama is in a more comfortable position and he will let Kerry work diplomacy behind the scenes.

    2. Bush was our Augustus, instituting an autocratic regime, lightly disguised. Obama is our Tiberias, confirming the disguised autocracy. Israel/Palestine matter no more to our Caesars than American plebs do.

  7. It was nothing more than a dog and pony show for the Israelis and the world, from a president who is concerned with little more now than his legacy, having shown he is no match for Netanyahu. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, especially when you know your credibility in the Muslim world is zero. Leave your beautiful speeches to wow the fools who will someday venerate you as a great statesman and hope they won’t notice you’re nothing but an empty suit with pockets full of zionist money. Why do I say this? Because only money, a great deal of it, would have compelled me to make such a total ass of myself in front of the whole world, as Obama did in Israel.

    1. Money as political power, yes indeed. There is simply no other explanation. Obama has been bought off. We should somehow declare him officially dead, because for all intents and purposes that matter to Americans, he is dead. It just doesn’t matter what he brings to the table domestically or otherwise, why would anyone care? His administration is just as loathsome as the prior one maybe more so.

      1. He isn’t dead yet. He has to release Pollard and attack Iran to show his total and absolute submission.

        1. He may not release Pollard, but with Obama bumping up support in Syria, including publicly admitting CIA involvement with the rebels, he is sending a clear message to Iran. Reconciling Turkey and Israel is also a clear signal to Iran that when it comes to using aggression to stop any imagined Iranian nuclear weapons program, the more, the merrier.

  8. What about this?

    Obama compares Israeli occupation to racial discrimination in U.S.


    Everyone was wondering just how much tough love the president was going to show his friend, Israel, during his Jerusalem speech. And indeed, there were a few moments. Condemning settlement violence was a first, for example. And although his criticizing the settlements and the occupation on the whole was crystal clear, it didn’t really pack any serious punch beyond that.

    What did, though, was a comment he made in front of occupied Palestinians:

    Those of us in the United States understand that change takes time, but change is possible. There was a time when my daughters did not have the same opportunities as somebody else’s daughters.

    Powerful words. Maybe even a watershed moment. An African-American president comes to Ramallah and invokes the civil rights movement in the U.S. Without saying it specifically, he compares the situation of Palestinians under 45 years of occupation to blacks who suffered from racial discrimination. And he uses his own daughters in the process, making it personal. Showing his understanding.


    Any thoughts?

    1. Sorry, but not impressed. As I said to you, there was no urgency in Obama’s speech. No fire in the belly. The entire trip is a college lecture tutorial, not a political campaign leading to change or even action. Face it, Obama intends to do nothing on this subject except speak golden words, signifying nothing.

      1. Actions speak louder than words, and the fact remains that the US government has always supported the Occupation in spite of all its showy gestures and fancy speeches to the contrary. American taxpayer money pays for it. The UN consistently blocks UN action against Israel’s violations of the Geneva Conventions re: the Palestinians. And once again, the gestures of eternal fealty were made towards Israel’s zionist ideology, including laying a wreath on Herzl’s grave and mostly ignoring the Palestinians (except our big sand storm here forced him to travel from Ramallah to Betlehem by car, so he got a good close look at the apartheid wall).

    2. Black Americans had a place, if degraded one, in Jim Crow America. Palestinians, like American Indians, have no real place in society. They are supposed to disappear.

  9. “Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.”

    I’m wondering how many Native Americans back home on the ranch died laughing when they heard that. Obama would perhaps tell them, you have a land of your own, it’s called the USA, and you share it with many others. The parallels to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine are obvious – Native Americans were included, if slowly and grudgingly, only once they were utterly subdued and posed no “demographic threat” any more.

    Germany after WW I was weak-to-non-existent in its foreign relations, but its domestic apparatus of repression was still intact, even reinforced by the jingoistic factions among returning soldiers, as the graves of the 1919 revolution attest. Can you say the same for the PA? If Abbas makes the sort of deal you line out, and there’s a third, “internal” intifada against that Palestinian Petain, would the PA’s forces be able (and willing!) to quell it on their own, or would they have to call in their Israeli enablers, finally destroying whatever shards of legitimacy remained? So or so, the PA would be finished.

  10. Lots of US born-agains identify Palestinians with the biblical Philistines or even the Canaanites. They tend to think P.’s should disappear, like American Indians.

  11. If the US objected to the occupation of Palestine, it could have, and would have, ended it in 1967. The very idea that an occupied people should be required to negotiate with their occupier and agree to pay for freedom with their land and water, or face eventual annihilation, is an outrage. The US, however, thinks it’s a great idea. That is because it knows the Palestinians cannot stop Israel. There has never been a serious effort to free the Palestinians and give them justice, and unless this farce of a relationship between the US and Israel is ended, there never will be.

    The fact that so many people had hopes for this silly Obama trip just shows how easily they are still fooled by Obama’s empty rhetoric.

    And if you really believe this reconciliation between Erdogan and Netanyahu was anything more than another piece of political theater, you really need to wake up. It’s the war in Syria, stupid. Nothing to do with Palestine. What an insult to the memory of those fine men who were murdered aboard the Mavi Marmara.

  12. the world is facing a peculiar situation, and is not militarily but economical, this Arab springs, chaotic, and collapsing israel, is more an economical reality than, a good and bad guys. israel has not being a very nice neighbours and you got lots of military problems, and it looks as if it is nuclear war, arms race and devastation, but the result is an economical meltdown, globally. wars somehow are becoming less important in relation to the changes that the financial and economical system, ill advice strategies have giving as result. wars true often are to solve economical problems. this time it is more like the war is a veil to hide economical chaos, and citizens pay the bill, while the destructive, creativity is as well part of the economical reconstruction of destroyed cities. I do not think the issue is simply, Jews and Arabs, it has a financial hint, that covers the (what is behind the news.)

  13. “I’ve stood in Sderot…”

    Until Barack Obama has stood in Gaza, his Sderot remarks mean less than zero.

    “The same address that eventually led to a Black man in the White House.”

    Would Barack Obama be president today if Martin Luther King had “negotiated” with Bull Connor over which privileges Southern Whites would get to keep?

        1. As I mentioned in a previous comment, Obama had to forgo his chopper ride to Betlehem from Ramallah due to the sandstorm. So he got to see the wall up close and personal, at least.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *