Obama’s weasel words

Published Mar 25, 2013 05:25am

FOR those still hopeful for American support for an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem, Obama’s visit to the region would have been a big disappointment. At a press conference in Ramallah, he was shifty and evasive when asked about the continuing construction activity in the occupied West Bank.

Terming them ‘counter-productive’ and ‘an irritant’, he seemed to suggest that this rapid colonisation of conquered territory was a minor matter that could be discussed at peace talks, if and when they happened. He further implied that there was some kind of moral equivalence between the settlements and the occasional rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. It took the Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas to remind his guest that these settlements had been declared illegal in no fewer that 13 UN Security Council resolutions.

By contrast, Obama oozed charm when he met the right-wing Israeli prime minister at the elaborate welcome ceremony laid for the American president in Jerusalem. In his speech, he said everything Israelis wanted to hear: America was their eternal ally, and would do everything to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

All this is a far cry from Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo in which he demanded a halt to settlement activity, and called for a viable Palestinian state. Since then, Israel has grabbed more territory, and is now set to begin construction in an area near Jerusalem where the new illegal housing would block access between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This would, in effect, cut off the hoped-for state from its planned capital. While most of the world has condemned this move, Obama has limited his criticism to saying that the Israeli plan is ‘not helpful’.

To understand the reason behind Obama’s craven surrender to Israeli wishes, one only has to see the recent Pew Institute survey that shows 64% of all Americans to be supportive of Israel. For Republicans, this number is even higher.

To his credit, Obama has tried to extricate the US from the disastrous wars he inherited from Bush. He has resisted the bellicose demands to attack Iran coming from Tel Aviv as well as from America hawks. And thus far, he has kept America from getting too heavily involved in Syria.

All this points to a basically domestic agenda. Faced with a battered economy and a huge public debt, Obama needs at least some Republicans to support him in his battle to push his budget through as the opposition controls the House of Representatives. He cannot therefore afford to be tough on Netanyahu without alienating Israel’s many hard-line supporters on Capitol Hill. Thus, the fate of Palestine is hostage to domestic American politics.

Nothing new there. But what has changed is the decreasing dependence of America on oil from the Middle East. Previously, this factor would enter Washington’s calculations when it considered its policy in the region. But now, with Obama’s ‘pivot to the East’ and the growing exploitation of shale oil and gas, Obama no longer has to appease the Arab world.

The uncertainty caused by the Arab Spring is another reason why many Americans support the status quo which, in this case, means open-ended support for Israel and its continued colonisation of Palestinian land. Although the Muslim Brotherhood is now in charge in Egypt, President Morsi is heavily dependent on US military and economic aid that amounts to over two billion dollars a year. The army would strongly resist a change in policy towards Israel that might deprive it of all the weapons and spare parts it gets from the Pentagon.

Syria is in turmoil, and it will probably be a long time before it is a serious player. Iran is seeing its principal ally, Bashar al Assad, becoming weaker by the day. Squeezed by debilitating sanctions, Tehran‘s position in the region has been severely weakened. Ahmadinejad’s bluster aside, Iran poses little threat to Israel. Hamas, its proxy in Gaza, has proved incapable of overcoming its dogmatic mindset, thus preventing a united front with Fatah. This infighting has done more to discredit the Palestinian cause than anything else.

But at the end of the day, we need to recognise that Israel is just not interested in peace: what it wants is the territory it seized back in 1967, and a subdued Palestinian people. The whole notion of a ‘land-for-peace’ formula is a fantasy. Over the last 46 years, Israel has seen that there are no sanctions for virtually annexing the land it captured in the 1967 war. Despite UN condemnation and pro forma criticism about the harshness of the occupation, the world has done nothing to change the situation.

While blaming the US, we forget how complicit the Muslim world has been. That Israel would want to hold on to Palestine is understandable from its perspective; for the Americans to support them for their domestic and regional policies also makes sense when viewed through the eyes of American politicians. But what’s our excuse?

Muslim nations have been vocal in their support for the Palestinian cause, but that’s where it starts and finishes. Occasionally, the Saudis and their oil-rich neighbours dole out some cash. None of them have used their diplomatic and economic leverage to push Washington to lean on Tel Aviv. On the contrary, Egypt has helped Israel in making Gaza a prison.

So when Obama pays more attention to his own domestic constituency than to the demands for a just solution to the Palestinian issue, should we blame him? Politicians, in spite of their lofty rhetoric, care more about elections and polling numbers than about abstract appeals for justice. Obama is no different, even though we were initially dazzled by his eloquence and his apparent idealism. But it’s still disappointing to discover that he’s just another politician after all.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

‘Look where you are born’

It is about loss of lives, about a juggernaut that has faced no challenge and encountered no inquiries on its way to

Comments (38) Closed




Sue Sturgess
Mar 25, 2013 03:39am
64% of americans are supportive of Israel??? Where did they take that poll outside a synagogue??
USDesi
Mar 25, 2013 04:28am
From this blog it appears that according to Mr. Husain all Muslim countries should show solidarity when it comes to the case of Palestine. If all Muslim countries were to show solidarity in the case of a Muslim nation, why shouldn't Non-Muslims non-Muslims show solidarity with other non-Muslim countries (for instance Israel)? Please note that no non-Muslim country has been mentioned in this blog as supporting the Palestinian cause, whereas countries like India, China, Russia (all non-Muslims) have also supported Palestine When the author tries to preach solidarity on the basis of religion, he should should be willing to concede the right of non_muslims to show solidarity too.
ruby
Mar 25, 2013 04:45am
Nobody had any illusions of American support for an equitable solution. Except the author perhaps.
jay1345@yahoo.com
Mar 25, 2013 07:00am
I always wonder why there is no criticism by the Muslim World regarding Muslim occupation of India for 100s of years and permanent occupation of Pakistan and Bangladesh by Muslims? Do not expect this comment to be posted of course.
LOL
Mar 25, 2013 08:02am
President Obama had no choice. He is doing his best, considering that WashingtonDC gets its marching orders from Tel Aviv.
Alice
Mar 25, 2013 08:04am
It is nearer to 90% on the street and online.
T. Celtic
Mar 25, 2013 08:08am
Much higher than that actually. People are ready to send their treasure and children to fight and die for Israel. Have you not noticed the massive deployment circling Iran. And the impending invasion.
Akram
Mar 25, 2013 09:28am
good article, however author should have pointed out why Israel is supported in america. the work of the america israel lobby is what caused this. To balance it, a Muslim or Palestinian lobby is required, else as is currently the position they are only hearing one side of the debate.
Saleem
Mar 25, 2013 12:05pm
The Muslim Ummah have to look deep inside for the answer. What have we Muslims in the recent history done for humanity, but violance and killing of inocents? We hate everyone, even within ourselves, and forgot why Allah created us, Allah says in the Holy Quran" You are the best Ummah created to SERVE the mankind" . So when we forgot our purpose of creation, and dance in the street when nuclear test is done, and kill each other using the name of Allah. We should not compalin. It is about time for us to wakeup, or Allah has the power to create those who serve HIM with humilty, fear HIM and serve the mankind.
Russe Sethna
Mar 25, 2013 12:59pm
You snatched it from the animals. We took it from you. Superior genetics won both times. Why grumble at the laws of nature.
Zabyz Skyova
Mar 25, 2013 01:29pm
Mini Mountain Buster Nukes with the power of Hiroshima have been prepared for Iran and being deployed in the Gulf. And in Israeli Subs entering the Suez as we speak. After Iraq came Iran. Pakistan will be next.
Alamgir
Mar 25, 2013 01:35pm
The best solution would be for Jews to live in peace under the protection of Muslims as they have done for centuries. The present zionist expansionist state and its recalcitrance proves that it was a bad idea to allow Jews to have their own sovereign state.
BRR
Mar 25, 2013 02:14pm
Bulls eye - clearly showing how wrong Mr. Husain is again.
Zabyskyss
Mar 25, 2013 03:20pm
Zabyz Skyova .. You forgot the graveyard of Afghanistan .. attack on Iran .. and you will see the stock market ..winter freeze , and pushing of suv. well Pakistan is a different story.. They had been collecting those ass busting nukes for decades .. from 1982.. I hope you will be on marching orders in the front line .. are you ready
Ace89
Mar 25, 2013 03:45pm
No, not even the author. He's a journalist. If he doesn't write, he doesn't get paid, so he just needs something to write about.
pathanoo
Mar 25, 2013 04:15pm
So TRULY spoken.
pathanoo
Mar 25, 2013 04:19pm
Love to see us dealing with Pakistan realistically without emotions and political considerations. But it is more hope than reality.
pathanoo
Mar 25, 2013 04:33pm
Dear Irfan, I have always read, admired and respected your articles on Pakistan and fanatics in Pakistan and other issues. You have clarity of thought and mastery of situation in Pakistan. That said, I have almost always disagreed with your articulations on the world events specially vis-a-vis USA. You, I believe, have been out of your depth on those. But, THIS ONE. You have hit this one out of the park. ABSOLUTELY ACCURATE. You have pointed out EVERY IMPORTANT PARAMETER accurately and without bias. So, Let us start reviewing it. You are so right......Obama is a WEASEL, and an incompetent one at that. WHOLE HEARTEDLY AGREED. Obama does NOT care for America so forget about Arabs or Israel. He only cares about Obama. I am an Israeli supporter in that I want it to live in peace and security with it's Arab neighbor. That does NOT mean I support Israel blindly. Au Contrair, I am shocked at the brutality of Israelis towards the Arabs and their land grab policies. Specially, coming from people who have known what oppression is. Jews have been the most oppressed and abused people in the history of mankind. For them to forget their own oppression and turn around and oppress the Arabs defies every human values and boggles the mind. You have enunciated all that is important in the Palestinian conundrum except that peace is not in the offing in our life times. The Palestinian suffering will go on unabated. A SHAME. A SHAME ON ISRAEL. A STRONG MAN SHOULD BE A MERCIFUL AND JUST MAN.
bnath
Mar 25, 2013 05:08pm
So then, why are you complaining about the Jews?
Arslan Rasheed
Mar 25, 2013 05:42pm
Welldone.you depicted a great picture of all scenario of muslims nations, no doubt that we have entangled in our own created problems.A lot of natural resources existed in muslims countries are exploited by others and making lucratives from it.we have to be united and should control our resources with our own hands and not be puppets.after this we will be able atleast to pressurize america and his allies.
sri1ram
Mar 25, 2013 07:03pm
Thank you. So snatching and looting with violence and lies is "Superior genetics". We all can see the comparative status of the two neighbors today. Wonder whose genes are superior now?
Zafar Malik
Mar 25, 2013 07:09pm
Nothing lives for ever. Did any super power survive for ever? Are the current super powers above the law of impermanence? arrogance does not pay. It is only matter of time when these powers will be gone too.
mikefoxtrot
Mar 25, 2013 07:49pm
nearly all Americans support Israel's right to exist in peace, Susie dear. Americans favored the both the partitions, the one that created the state of Israel and the one that created the state of Pakistan. many Americans disagree with some of the policies of the Israelis, and a far greater number of us disagree with many of the policies of Pakistan, but we support the continued existence of both states.
Marvin (Edmonton, Canada)
Mar 25, 2013 09:40pm
Thank you....lately Mr. Husain has lost edge in analysis and fail to critically analyze the issue. I noticed fallacy in his analysis. The norm is that muslim should defend muslims regardless they are right or wrong. Then they expect non-muslims to be fair with them which is totally absurd.
A.J.Siddiqui
Mar 25, 2013 09:45pm
What did you describe in your future projection is very true. But, brother ! what is the solution ? How we can backfire the coalition of Evil Forces ? And please do'nt give us a lecture on unity of Ummah, because that's not going to happen. We know it for sure.
Akil Akhtar
Mar 25, 2013 10:30pm
Not really, it is not that simple. The west has a thousand years history of aggression against Islam and this is just a continuation of it. Lobby as much you want it will not make a difference.
Rahmat
Mar 25, 2013 10:56pm
Alamgir, Jews existed before Islam was born so how can you make this inane suggestion of Jews living under Muslim subjugation. No one should be subjugated to anyone else's whims. Religion and individual freedoms must be delinked. Freedom is an instinctual imperative that has nothing to do with man made religion.
Asad
Mar 25, 2013 11:37pm
Think of it no Taj Mahal,no bollywood you guys would be irrelevant ;)
Bharat
Mar 25, 2013 11:57pm
Not sure how much of an impact this statement will make in Washington. Pakistan and Pakistanis are marked as double crosser everywhere in the world. Few people tend to put give you any c redit
Shoaib Mirza
Mar 26, 2013 01:49am
We love to brag about our show of strength. When we are weak, we complain. Talk about hypocrisy.
havi
Mar 26, 2013 04:20am
There's no room weasel words as Muslims are fade up. Peaceful solution is warranted and only country can deliver justice to PALESTINE is world super power and that's US. I call it spade as it's......................
Rajesh Kumar
Mar 26, 2013 06:56am
In your article, you mentioned several times 'We'. What it means - We (Muslim folk)? If it is so, your liberal credentials are in disarray.... Rajesh
DS
Mar 26, 2013 08:55am
It can be 100% if I use my two computers and two cell phones.
khatun
Mar 26, 2013 09:22am
No Americal president has the guts to stand against Israel. Remember John F.Kennedy.
Yousufzai
Mar 26, 2013 03:59pm
Rahmat, good ideals on freedom. I do think Alamgir was joking around or being sarcastic :)
pathanoo
Mar 26, 2013 04:18pm
Really, Alamgir? Would you share the weeds you are smoking? Are you related to abbastorronto? I thought only he has such creative thoughts. May be there are more like him. No wonder Pakistan is such a mess.
Mansi
Mar 26, 2013 07:15pm
Since when did Bollywood become a Muslim thing?! If you are so good at film making why is there no film industry in Pakistan? If you have any doubts of Indian movie industry you need to look at vernacular language industry, it is/was doing better than Lollywood.
shimon perez
Mar 26, 2013 08:35pm
yeah right