After reading Brad Burston’s veiled swipe at my supposed “cynical” view of Pres. Obama’s trip to Israel, I asked Aluf Benn, the managing editor, if he might allow me to let Haaretz’s readers know what I really feel about the subject. He graciously suggested I submit a piece. This is the result. It’s only my second piece in Haaretz and the first one since 2007. So I’m very proud of that; and of expanding the discourse regarding the failure of Obama’s visit to do anything other than reinforce self-aggrandizing notions among Israelis about their own innate goodness and liberalism.
The acclaim that greeted the trip and Obama’s golden, but empty rhetoric cried out for a contrarian approach. But calling it cynicism is a cheap shot. As I wrote, I have nothing against hope, optimism and liberalism as long as they are grounded in realism. But when those emotions are grounded on nothing that is substantive then they’re just cheating audiences and selling them snake-oil.
Though Obama may have the best of intentions, he cannot and will not follow through on them. Which makes his beautiful ideas little more than empty words and a cruel hoax.
lucia mayo says
Enraptured it’s, i’ve worked out, a modism (it does not exist in the dictionaries).
Did you mean embelesar, extasiar, (ladino’s words, active participle).
Richard Silverstein says
Someone who knows Spanish will have to help with this one. “Enraptured” derives from “rapture.” “Extasiar” sounds like it would be a proper synonym in Spanish.
lucia mayo says
Congratulations for your piece at Haaretz. I don’t thik you send a swipe.
Y. S., Lucía Enguita Mayo
The one, and possibly only, thing we will be able to say about Obama when he leaves office is that he’s good at being a politician. As a leader, he has been a grasping, duplicitous game player, breaking nearly every campaign promise he has ever made, eroding civil liberties, abusing executive power in a way Bush II never dreamed of, and he has been abysmally ineffective on Israel, and thoroughly sycophantic to Netanyahu. I imagine him, and Hillary Clinton, with their pockets stuffed with zionist money as they gloat over having destroyed the two-state solution. Mission accomplished, Obama will pretend to work on domestic issues in his second term while he allows the inmates in Gitmo to rot and adds more names to his “kill list.” Hillary will start working on her 2016 run for POTUS, starting out with full support from AIPAC. The Palestinians are yesterday’s news.
Obama ended America’s Iraq war and will end America’s war in Afghanistan. That isn’t nothing, and anyone who suggests it is nothing is insulting humanity.
It’s clear from the contents of your comment that you are merely venting anger rather than expressing any real analysis, but if you’re going to talk from the perspective of history, please do it in a serious way. There are plenty of other places on the internet where people can go to act childish.
Are you now vetting comments for Richard? I am not interested in your determination of whether or not my comment is nice or not. If Richard has a problem with it, it’s up to him to tell me, not you.
Obama did not end the war in Iraq. Iraq is still the most dangerous place on earth, or haven’t you noticed? It’s off topic, so I won’t go further.
Now put on your big boy panties and stop making an issue of the content of people’s comments, please. You could at least have said something about Obama, but you actually sat at your computer and banged out a comment about how “childish” my comment is.
How about you, or anyone else, telling me what wonderful things Obama will accomplish for the Palestinians?
Obama was pretty much forced to withdraw from Iraq: < Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout
Since you seem to misunderstand my comment, let me elaborate.
I was writing for myself, and no-one else, when I asked you to be serious. I took issue with what you wrote, just as I would have commented, autonomously, on someone spewing xenophobia or right-wing garbage.
What I said was that [b]Obama ended America’s Iraq war[/b] — which is also the military campaign that virtually everyone in the world refers to when discussing the Iraq War. Obama brought to an end “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, essentially terminating American military occupation of, and broader military involvement in, Iraq. This is immensely important. And anyone who denies this, as I said, is either a liar, or is deliberately insulting the Iraqi people, the victims of the American soldiers, the anti-war movement, humanity in general, and history itself.
You may find the Iraq War off-topic — and I would agree. But the Iraq War, along with any number of other topics, was implied in your reality-detached rant about Obama’s achievements outside of the Israel-Palestine conflict. So perhaps next time you should avoid making irrelevant and yes, childish, statements such as suggesting that Obama and Clinton [i]”gloat over having destroyed the two-state solution”[/i], or that [i]”the one, and possibly only, thing we will be able to say about Obama when he leaves office is that he’s good at being a politician”[/i], and comparing him unfavourably, which is mind-boggling, to George W. Bush, the man who used executive power to illegally, immorally and catastrophically START the war in Iraq (his second war in a single term), while Obama opposed it, voted against it, and campaigned on the vow to end it.
No, Obama has not ended all violence and fighting in Iraq. He has “only” ended the American policy of impunitive murder, pillage, rape and torture there. If you are actually a sapient adult human being, you will understand that ending all violence, including the sectarian fighting, is currently beyond the power of anyone. The one responsible for that is not Obama, but Bush (whom you say, and I don’t even know how you can write such a thing, “wouldn’t dream” of abusing executive power on Obama’s scale).
No-one here has said that Obama will “accomplish wonderful things” for the Palestinians, so I doubt anyone is going to answer your question.
What I’ve personally said before and will freely reiterate, however, is that it’s still too early to judge what effects this administration will ultimately have on the Israel occupation of Palestine.
Richard Silverstein says
@Daniel: It’s certainly not too early to judge what Obama will accomplish regarding the I-P conflict. You have 5 of an 8 yrs presidency from which to judge & the results are dismal. I might not say this if he were George Romney & I expected nothing or worse from him. But he came into the presidency with an avowed aim of solving the conflict & doing whatever it took to get it done. Instead, he waffled & wavered & capitulated when he met resistance. He gets a D on the I-P conflict. Perhaps he gets a B on domestic issues & a C overall on foreign policy only because he reversed the precipitous decline of the Bush years. Overall including all facets of his presidency, maybe a C+/B-. Better than the D- or F I’d give Bush. But think how much we expected of OBama & how much hope has been betrayed. That makes the disappointment all the more bitter.
Richard Silverstein says
I frankly don’t agree with the over-the-top argument Mary advanced about Obama, Clinton & “Zionist money” nor do I agree with you. While OBama didn’t start the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, he didn’t end them as quickly as he could. Not to mention that his drone, kill list & counter terror policies have ensured undying Muslim enmity for us for years, if not decades to come.
As for insulting “humanity,” I think that’s your own over-the-top phrase. And it’s not appropriate to accuse other commenters of acting childish unless they’ve done much more than Mary did to warrant the charge.
If we have to compare BUsh to Obama, the former thanks to the vision of Dick Cheney did more lasting damage to U.S. institutions than Obama. But the latter is certainly guilty of egregious & unpardonable sins considering how much hope we had in him & the values he espoused, & which he abandoned once he came to office.
Richard, I may have phrased it in rather strong terms, but the connection between AIPAC and what happens in the White House as it concerns Israel is definitely there. Why do you think most of the Congress swears blind allegiance to Israel? AIPAC money helps win elections. AIPAC criticism can ruin careers. American politics is money-based, and politicians respond to money.
Netanyahu must be thrilled. The status quo is great; no one pressured him about settlements. For Obama, the trip was a two-day shmooze. I actually cannot see just what he accomplished. No, it wasn’t the reconciliation between Erdogan and Netanyahu, because that was in the works for a long time.
Richard Silverstein says
Of course you’re right about Israel lobby political funding. I just wouldn’t present it as if Clinton & Obama are whoring for, as you called it, “Zionist money.” That’s too much of a caricature.