- Perhaps one way to view Obama's speech is saying you
can please all the people some of the time, some of them all the time,
but not all of them all the time. World reactions were indeed mixed, though
policies, not posturing, are key.
- Obama's, in fact, have no ambiguity, including imperial
wars and rock-solid support for Israel. However, not everyone believes
it, including the Zionist Organization of America, the oldest American
one, founded in 1897.
- On May 19, its press release headlined, "ZOA: AIPAC
Should Rescind Invitation for Obama to Speak," saying:
- ZOA "strongly condemned President Obama's Mideast
speech (favoring) the establishment of a Hamas/Fatah/Iran state on the
Auschwitz 1967 indefensible armistice lines. This would almost surely become
a Hamas/Iran terror state threatening Israel and further destabilizing
the Mideast. President Obama has dealt Israel a severe diplomatic blow,
which harms all those who care about peace and fighting terrorism."
- The statement's bigoted absurdity requires no comment.
Its contempt for truth and justice is self-explanatory.
- In contrast, the Anti-Defamation League, no paragon of
virtue, applauded Obama's Israeli support, saying:
- The ADL "commended (Obama) for his statement of
US priorities in the Middle East, his strong affirmation of the deep and
'unshakeable' relationship between the United States and Israel, and expressed
support for his vision of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement with
strong security provisions for Israel and a non-militarized Palestinian
- On May 22, Obama will address AIPAC at its annual Washington
conference, affirming America's commitment to Israel, as will other top
US officials. They include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker
John Boehner, and other congressional members, genuflecting to the Israeli
Lobby's power in their annual pilgrimage to AIPAC.
- According to Mondoweiss' Philip Weiss, "Obama won't
have to write another speech" for their conference, quoting his pledge
of allegiance to Israel, saying:
- "....(O)ur friendship is rooted deeply in a shared
history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable.
And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international
- It was enough for J Street, another pro-Israeli organization,
to commend Obama's "important speech today outlining his approach
to the changing Middle East and stating that efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict through a two-state solution are 'more urgent than ever.' "
- "We are grateful that (Obama) reiterated....America's
friendship with Israel (and) commitment to (its) security."
- On May 19, Reuters reported other instant reactions to
his speech, including:
- Cairo University Professor Ezzedin Choukri-Fishere, saying:
- "I think this goes substantially beyond what Obama
said in his Cairo speech in 2009, where he merely....talked about general
principles of a new American policy toward the Arab world."
- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood senior member Essam Al-Erian:
- "A disappointing speech. Nothing new. American strategy
remains as is. American cover for dictatorial presidents in Syria, Yemen,
Bahrain remains as is. American promises are just promises. There is no
decisive decision to immediately withdraw from Iraq or Afghanistan. Threatening
Iran remains the same."
- Moreover, his June 2009 Cairo speech "evaporated
after two weeks. This speech will evaporate in a few minutes. And the message
it carries to the nations of this region is basically that: Do not wait
to get any support from the White House. Maintain your efforts and achieve
- Doha-based Brookings Center research director Shadi Hamid:
- Obama tries "to appeal to everyone and ends up disappointing
everyone. (He) says US core interests align with Arab hopes. Well, why
didn't they align for five decades?"
- Cairo University Professor Hassan Nafaa:
- "It was a great speech, very eloquent, full of hope.
There was a real commitment to democratic transition in the Arab world."
- West Bank Birzeit University analyst Samir Awad:
- "Obama did not come up with any new position. He
totally adopted the Israeli position and that is not the role of an honest
mediator. I do not think that this speech will bring the sides closer to
peace. As a Palestinian, I was expecting more from him.
- Council on Foreign Relations member Robert Danin:
- "It's very significant. For the first time, the
United States has articulated what the territorial basis for a settlement
between Israel and the Palestinians should be."
- Mixed Media Reaction
- London Independent analyst Robert Fisk headlined, "Lots
of rhetoric - but very little help," saying:
- "It was the same old story. Palestinians can have
a 'viable' state, Israel a 'secure' one. Israel cannot be de-legitimized.
The Palestinians must not attempt to ask the UN for statehood in September.
No peace can be imposed on either party....Oh yes, and the Palestinian
state must have no weapons to defend itself. So that's what 'viable' means!"
- A New York Times editorial headlined, "Peace and
- Promising "strong support to those yearning for
freedom, (his) speech on Thursday did not go far enough....The two big
questions now are: How quickly will Washington deliver (on promised aid
to) Egypt and Tunisia? And how much harder (will Obama) push Israel and
the Palestinians to start serious peace negotiations," no matter that
past ones were irrelevant and stillborn, what Times editorials won't acknowledge.
- A Washington Post editorial headlined, "A new Mideast
- "Obama laid out a far-reaching and energetic new
approach to the unfolding Arab revolution. (He) unequivocally stated that
'it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the
region,' and to support transitions to democracy....In short, (he) gave
coherence, resources and direction to a US Middle East policy that had
been confused and underpowered."
- At best, in fact, he offered old wine in new bottles,
endorsing imperial dominance, support for Israel, other key regional allies,
and lip service only for Palestinians, meaning nothing ahead will change.
- Nonetheless, Wall Street Journal writer Laura Meckler
headlined, "Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel," saying:
- He risks "losing financial support because of concerns
about his handling of Israel....complaints (centering) on a perception
that (he's) been too tough on Israel."
- According to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman
of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
(CPMAJO), the leading Zionist umbrella group:
- Possible discontent may affect Obama's fundraising. "It's
that people hold back. People don't have the enthusiasm and are not rushing
forward (to) be supportive. Much more what you'll see is (others will)
hold back now."
- Notorious bigot Alan Dershowitz's Jerusalem Post op-ed
headlined, "President Obama's mistake," saying:
- "Without insisting that the Palestinians give up
their absurd claim to have millions of supposed refugees 'return' to Israel
as a matter of right, he insisted that Israel must surrender all of the
areas captured in its defensive war of 1967, subject only to land swaps."
- Former Chicago columnist Mike Royko once remarked that
"no self-respecting fish would (want to be) wrapped in a Murdoch paper."
He might have added the Jerusalem Post for publishing any Dershowitz op-ed,
an earlier article calling him:
- -- a purveyor of myths, canards, false logic, and hate;
- -- a misinterpreter of fundamental law standards;
- -- a believer in unique Jewish suffering, mindless of
- -- an advocate of torture, targeted assassinations, land
theft and dispossessions; and
- -- a committed Zionist and Israeli apologist, legitimizing
its aggression, its worst crimes and abuses, believing that "international
law, and those who administer it, must understand that (in times of war)
the old rules" don't apply against "fanatical foes."
- He also defends preemptive wars, no matter how lawless,
calling the UN Charter's 51 (limiting attacks to self-defense) "anachronistic,
(a) mid-twentieth century view of international law" inapplicable
to today's threats.
- In other words, like other extremist pro-Israeli apologists,
on matters affecting Israel, laws don't applies, threat or no threat.
- On May 20, Haaretz headlined, "Obama to aides: Netanyahu
will never do what it takes to achieve Mideast peace," but neither
will he or other US officials.
- Nonetheless, Netanyahu said "Israel appreciates
(Obama's) commitment to peace," ahead of his May 20 White House meeting.
- Palestinian Reaction
- After Obama's speech, President Mahmoud Abbas called
for an emergency meeting with other Arab leaders to discuss it. His spokesman,
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said an official response will come after consultations
are completed. Thursday night, Abbas called Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi
foreign ministers to discuss Obama's speech.
- Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said his speech reiterated
failed US policies, adding that he "even refuses to denounce the ongoing
Israeli occupation, and expressed ongoing support to Israeli crimes."
- Hamas political bureau member Izzat Al Rishiq said Obama
demanding Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state shows his clear
bias. He also denounced his support for Israeli settlements and backing
for delaying discussions on Jerusalem and refugees until final peace talk
stages. Palestinians, of course, have heard that excuse since pre-Oslo,
knowing by now that tomorrow never comes.
- Moreover, a Hamas press release strongly condemned Israel's
announced addition of 1,500 units in Pisgat Zeev and Abu Ghneim (Har Homa)
East Jerusalem settlements, saying:
- They "escalat(e) Israeli violations and illegal
constructions of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including
in occupied East Jerusalem."
- A Final Comment
- After 44 years of occupation, every day is Nakba Day
for Palestinians, what political posturing won't change, especially because
Washington and Israel won't tolerate it.
- Daily in fact, Palestinians experience reality on the
ground, documented in weekly Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports.
Its latest May 12 - 18 one covered escalated Israeli West Bank and Gaza
- -- killing two Palestinian children;
- -- wounding 144 others, including 47 children, five women,
and four journalists;
- -- firing on fishermen off Gaza's coast, no casualties
- -- arresting 12 peaceful protesters, 15 others in West
Bank community incursions, and another four at military checkpoints;
- -- terrorizing children at the Al-Thawri neighborhood
Orphanage School in East Jerusalem;
- -- allowing settlers to "commit systematic crimes
against Palestinians" and their property with impunity; and
- -- much more in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and besieged
- Nakba is Palestine's catastrophe, an ongoing daily disaster
under illegal military occupation. Changing reality to hope starts with
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.