In 2002, then-president George W. Bush (like his father and many other presidents) tossed ‘brave rhetoric’ around while signing checks to Israel. His rhetoric was as fresh and promising as President Obama’s this week in Cairo, in that it wasn’t.
“It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve….
“If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine….
“Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel’s identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for. So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.
Mr. Bush even acknowledged the illegality of the settlements:
“Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them. This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders.”
U.S. military welfare to Israel increased in 2007, committing $30bn for a decade. Mr. Bush also signed over another $20bn and $13bn to the brutal dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, respectively. All three of these countries elevated its atrocities and were rewarded by the Bush administration for terrorizing people.
Prof. Noam Chomsky’s reaction to President Obama’s speech seven years later: “Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.”
According to a senior Obama administration official, the U.S. will not cut military welfare to Israel, nor has the administration given any reason to believe that continuing to enable the Saudi and Egyptian regimes of terror will cease, either. This week, Mr. Obama called the despotic Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a “force for stability and good” and contrary to the Newspeak, Mr. Obama grants tacit consent to Israel’s illegal occupation which already exists in the West Bank — only objecting to further expansion of the colonization, as Olivia Zemor points out:
The media speaks of the American president’s “firm stand.” What sort of firmness is that? The AFP wrote again recently, “On Monday, before leaving for the Near East, the American resident Barak Obama reaffirmed the necessity for a certain firmness regarding Israel, on the subjects of a Palestinian state and the settlements in the Territories.”
That’s right: Obama is not demanding the dismantlement Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. He’s not demanding the end of the occupation, nor the end of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, nor the payment of the costs of the enormous destruction wrought on the Gaza Strip.
Obama is not demanding that Israel return to the Palestinians what was stolen from them. Not all, not even some. Obama’s “demands” consist of calling for “a freeze in the settlements:” nothing new there! And the Palestinian state, where will that be now that Israel has annexed 89% of the Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem? What Bantustans will Obama propose to the Palestinians?
They dare to “arm wrestle” with us again: in what is now a well-oiled production. The Israeli government plays the “impossible and too painful concessions” card in order, as usual, to ratify a fait accompli. A fait accompli which consists of stealing and annexing practically all of the land in order to later give the impression of conceding when they stop, when there is no longer anything left to take….
The Israelis will have made a “painful concession,” and isn’t it that which counts? The settlers will cry out and menace. They will say, like the butcher Sharon, transformed into a man of peace, “Ah, what courage the Israeli government has to stand up to the pressure of a part of its population, its parliament, and its own government.” And while we talk about the yet to be born children of settlers who will be deprived of playgrounds, Israel can continue to massacre Palestinian children, chase Palestinians, destroy their houses, uproot their olive trees and imprison and torture thousands of Palestinian men, women and children. She can also continue to show proof of a confident racism by refusing to give the same rights to Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, without being restricted by any government or institution. Investigation reports follow one another when the massacres become too obvious. And we continue to roll out the red carpet for all of those war criminals, presenting them to be men of courage who have made generous propositions, but which the Palestinian terrorists refuse to accept.
And Obama, like Clinton, will he undoubtedly replay the “I did what I could” scene, but the Palestinians made the negotiations fail? How could an outlaw state oblige another outlaw state to act morally? Obama has just raised the US military budget and sent new troops to Afghanistan. Is it really like that, that you take the road to peace and justice?
In 2007, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, where they analyze the lobby’s influence on the actions of the U.S. government, no matter what the rhetoric of its leaders. Former American president Gerald Ford “threatened to reassess U.S. support for Israel”. In 1992, then-president George H.W. Bush “briefly withheld loan guarantees”. (165)
The Clinton administration of the 90’s is highly revered for the Oslo Accords in 1996 and the frequently misreported Camp David Summit in 2000:
The Clinton administration’s Middle East policy was heavily shaped by officials with close ties to Israel or to prominent pro-Israel organizations. The two most notable individuals in this regard were Martin Indyk, the former deputy director of research at AIPAC and cofounder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who served on Clinton’s National Scurity Council, as ambassador to Israel (1995-97, 2000-01), and as assistant secretary of state (1997-2000); and Dennis Ross, who served as Clinton’s special envoy to the Middle East and joined WINEP after leaving government in 2001. They were among President Clinton’s closest advisers at the Camp David summit in July 2000.
Although both Indyk and Ross supported the Oslo peace process and favored the creation of a Palestinians state — which led hard-liners to denounce them unfairly for betraying Israel — they did so only within the limits of what would be acceptable to Israeli leaders… The American delegation at Camp David took most of its cues from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.… Even the “Clinton parameters” presented in December 2000 were less an independent American proposal than Clinton’s summary of where negotiations stood and his assessment of the bargaining space within which a solution might be found. Palestinians negotiators complained that the Israelis would sometimes present them with a specific proposal, and then later the Americans would offer the same idea, on the Americans would label it a “bridging proposal.” As another member of the U.S. team later admitted, Israeli proposals were often “presented [to the Palestinians] as U.S. concepts, not Israeli ones,” a subterfuge that fooled no one and reinforced Palestinian suspicions. (165-166)
It’s worth noting that Dennis Ross is a member of the Obama administration as one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special advisers.
Dr. Mearsheimer recently commented:
The special relationship [between the Israel Lobby and the American government] means Washington gives Israel consistent, almost unconditional diplomatic backing and more foreign aid than any other country. In other words, Israel gets this aid even when it does things that the United States opposes, like building settlements. Furthermore, Israel is rarely criticized by American officials and certainly not by anyone who aspires to high office. Recall what happened earlier this year to Charles Freeman, who was forced to withdraw as head of the National Intelligence Council because he had criticized certain Israeli policies and questioned the merits of the special relationship.
Many hope that Obama will be different from his predecessors and stand up to the lobby. The indications thus far are not encouraging. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama responded to charges that he was “soft” on Israel by pandering to the lobby and publicly praising the special relationship. He was silent during the recent Gaza War—when Israel was being criticized around the world for its brutal assault on that densely populated enclave—and he said nothing when Freeman was forced to quit his administration. Like his predecessors, Obama appears to be no match for the lobby….
In short, a clear majority of Americans do not favor the special relationship and would back Obama if he leaned on Israel to accept a Palestinian state. The lobby, however, would surely side with Israel and pressure the White House to back off. Given the lobby’s track record—as well as Obama’s—it is difficult to imagine him not caving.…
This week, Dr. Walt asked, “Is the Lobby Getting Weaker?“:
Let’s start by recognizing that all Obama has done so far is lay down some rhetorical markers.… But Obama has yet to put any real pressure on Israel, and he certainly hasn’t tried to make U.S. support (still over $3 billion/year) conditional on Israeli compliance. And the main bone of contention right now is simply whether Israel is willing to stop expanding settlements; we haven’t even gotten to all the steps that will be necessary to make a viable Palestinian state possible.
Furthermore, we pointed out in our book that the lobby exerted more influence in Congress than on the Executive Branch, and we noted that several past Presidents (e.g., Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush) had been able to put limited pressure on Israel in recent decades. So mild Presidential pressure on Israel is hardly unprecedented. In the meantime, the situation on the Hill hasn’t changed very much: a recent AIPAC-sponsored “Dear Colleague” letter telling Obama to privately coordinate his Mideast diplomacy with Israel (and proposing various conditions on the Palestinians) garnered 76 signatures in the Senate and 329 in the House. And there are signs that Israel’s supporters on the Hill are beginning to mobilize in more direct ways.
Dr. Mearsheimer continues:
Israel’s backers often maintain that American support for Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, but this claim is simply not true. Consider the motivations of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, whom the 9/11 Commission describes as the “principle architect of the attacks.” According to the commission, “KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” Numerous independent accounts have also documented that Osama bin Laden has been deeply concerned about the Palestinian situation since he was young, and the 9/11 Commission reports that he wanted the attackers to strike Congress, which he saw as the most important source of support for Israel in the United States. The commission also tells us that bin Laden twice wanted to move the date of the attacks forward because of events involving Israel—even though doing so would have increased the risk of failure.
In short, there is little hope of ending America’s terrorism problem and improving its standing in the Middle East if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved. That will only happen if there is a two-state solution, and that will only occur if the United States puts pressure on Israel.
Mr. Obama’s words are nothing new. Israel’s dissent toward a president’s words are nothing new. The actions of the American government unconditionally favoring of Israel through it’s robbery and mass murder, contrary to rhetoric from the American government — its most charitable and loyal financiers — is nothing new.
Mr. Obama can say all he wants to seduce the ‘Muslim World’ as he seduced his way into the White House. They can’t avoid seeing him for the torture enabling, warmongerer that he is as he tortures and kills them, their mothers, their fathers, and their children. Alexander Cockburn asked in an absolutely scathing article a couple of weeks ago titled, “From Anti-War Law Professor to Warmongerer in 100 Days”: “How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, ‘decapitation’ strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?”
After the Cairo Speech, Paul Craig Roberts is quick to point out:
In [Obama’s] first 100 days, Obama managed to create two million Pakistani refugees. It took Israel 60 years to create 3.5 million Palestinian refugees.…
Muslim extremists are the creation of decades of Western colonization and secularization that has created an elite, which is Muslim in name only, to rule over religious people and to suppress Islamic mores. All experts know this, and most of them hail it as bringing progress and development to the Muslim world.
Obama said that “human progress cannot be denied,” but “there need not be contradiction between development and tradition.” However, the West defines development and education. These terms mean what they mean in the West. Muslim extremists understand that these terms mean the extermination of Islam.
Days before the speech, Robert Fisk accurately predicted strong rhetoric and the reaction that would occur from American client states and so-called “liberals” in the West:
He can, and will, surely, try his global-Arab line; that every Arab nation will be involved in the new Middle East peace, a resurrection of the remarkably sane Saudi offer of full Arab recognition of Israel in return for an Israeli return to the 1967 borders in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 242. Obama will be clearing this with King Abdullah on Wednesday, no doubt. And everyone will nod sagely and the newspapers of the Arab dictatorships will solemnly tip their hats to the guy and the New York Times will clap vigorously.
And the Israeli government will treat it all with the same amused contempt as Netanyahu treated Obama’s demand to stop building Jewish colonies on Arab land and, back home in Washington, Congress will fulminate and maybe Obama will realise, just like the Arab potentates have realised, that beautiful rhetoric and paradise-promises never, ever, win against reality.
Ali Abunimah captured the Newspeak aftermath of the Cairo Speech to the ‘Muslim World’ best — saying it “will please American liberals much more than it will convince [the] intended audience (unless that is the audience).”
Considering where the president is gaining political capital with his lies, the ponzi scheme seems to be in full effect.
MORE ON THE PRESIDENT’S CAIRO SPEECH:
- “Obama’s Cairo Speech” by Noam Chomsky
- “Obama in Cairo: High Words, Low Truths” by Alexander Cockburn
- “Obama, Like Bush, Just Doesn’t Get It” by Jacob G. Hornberger
- “Obama in Cairo: Words, Words, Words” by Justin Raimondo
- “Obama in Cairo: A Bush in Sheep’s Clothing” by Ali Abunimah