by: MJ Rosenberg on March 25th, 2013 | 8 Comments »
Catching up on some of the news stories I missed about President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and Ramallah, it struck me how offensive his words and gestures must have been to Palestinians.
At every stop, he made clear that the United States is 100 percent on Israel’s side. Almost in so many words, he said that the United States and Israel are one.
Just read what Obama said upon his arrival in Israel last Wednesday. This is no mere statement of U.S. policy; it is America’s embrace of the Zionist narrative, right down to the references to the Biblical Abraham and his Israeli progeny (via his wife Sara), without reference to the Arabs who the same Bible tells us descended from Abraham (via his other wife, Hagar).
More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.
Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages — to be “masters of their own fate” in “their own sovereign state.” And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend …
This except was no more effusively pro-Israel than any other Obama remark or gesture doing the trip, whether at Herzl’s tomb, or Yad Vashem, at the dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres or anywhere else he spoke. Yes, as I noted in an earlier piece about the trip, there were also strong references to the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state and even to the legitimacy of non-violent protest against the occupation, but, looking back, it is clear that these were drowned out by the overall tone of the trip.
In essence it was an unprecedented embrace of Israel by a United States president almost as if he was apologizing for not being pro-Israel enough in his first term, a myth propagated by the right. (Israel has received more aid under Obama than under any of his predecessors). In fact, it was almost one of those mythical Obama “apology tours” Republicans like to yell about although they were, of course, silent about this one.
Particularly striking was Obama’s obsequiousness toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who worked so hard to elect former Governor Romney in 2012. Just read the transcript of the Obama-Netanyahu press conference and note the 10 times the President specifically invoked “Bibi,” as if the two were not leaders of their respective countries but buddies since childhood. (Imagine if Obama stood on a platform here with Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor and, to show bygones were bygones, smothered them with that kind of feigned affection). It was embarrassing.
But more than that it did significant damage to America’s ability to play the role of honest broker between Israelis and Palestinians if negotiations ever begin. Obama made clear which side he is on, going so far as to embrace the whole Biblical Jewish claim to Eretz Yisrael. How could Palestinians ever trust him? The umpire is not supposed to wear the uniform of either team.
Obama must know all this but he obviously thinks that Palestinians have no choice but to go along with anything he proposes. After all, they have nothing. He seems not to understand that because of that fact, they have, as the song goes, nothing left to lose. A Third Intifada or massive non-violent resistance could turn Israel upside down and Palestinians know it. Obama apparently doesn’t; he thinks, as Netanyahu clearly does, that the hungry are always grateful for crumbs.
MJ Rosenberg is Special Correspondent for The Washington Spectator where this originally appeared.