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No Hope for Change

Obama, Israel and Palestine

by ROBERT FANTINA

One wonders when, if ever, the nonsense that spews forth from the mouths of the U.S.’s elected, so-called representatives, ceases. Less than five months after his victory over a truly frightening opponent, President Barack Obama went to the Middle East to dance to the tune of his puppet-master, Israel, and, while there, to throw a worthless bone to the Palestinians.

Mr. Obama reiterated the U.S.’s support for Israel’s security, as if Israel was some vulnerable, third world country surrounded by powerful enemies. Israel is, and for years has been, the beneficiary of the United States’ most generous largess, amounting to a total of $8,500,000.00 per day in military aid alone, for a staggering total of $3,102,500,000 in 2012. Compare this to the amount of military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel’s mortal enemy, Palestine: $0.

The U.S. president, when meeting with the corrupt and ineffective Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said this: “Palestinians deserve a future of hope. Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” Pretty words, indeed, but as meaningless as all Mr. Obama’s half-hearted and ineffectual efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people. He once again urged direct talks, without preconditions, with Israel.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, Israel has no interest in negotiations. Real negotiations can only occur between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, and each of which must surrender something, in order to obtain from the other, what is wanted. Israel is free to take from the Palestinians whatever it wants, without consequences. Israel daily arrests Palestinians, including children, and holds them indefinitely, without charge. The international community, and certainly the U.S., says nothing. Palestinians in Israel jails are tortured. The response from the international community, including that self-proclaimed bastion of human rights, the U.S., is silence. Israel, in violation of several United Nations resolutions, controls all Palestine’s borders, including land, air and sea.

Hundreds of checkpoints and arbitrary road closures, ostensibly designed to prevent mythical powerful Palestinian terrorists from threatening equally mythical poor, vulnerable, Israel, force Palestinians to travel hours to work their own land, which should require only a few minutes’ walk. Palestinians seeking emergency medical aid in Israel, unavailable in Palestine because Israel will not allow the import of medical supplies and equipment, often wait hours at checkpoints, for no other reason than the arrogance and cruelty of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on duty. This unfair, unjust and arbitrary waiting includes women in labor, causing many to give birth at the checkpoint. In the last few years, at least seventy Palestinian babies have died at checkpoints, being forbidden needed care by IDF soldiers.

Israel builds modern roads on Palestinian land that the Palestinians are forbidden to use. If a new Israel road bisects a Palestinian road, Palestinians cannot cross the intersection. Palestinian famers bringing their produce to market are often stopped at checkpoints and forced to wait days, until the produce has spoiled.

And this is the country that Mr. Obama wants Palestine to negotiate with, without preconditions. What, one asks, is to be gained, other than the perception by a shrinking number of people, most of whom are in the U.S. Congress and are owned by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that Israel is acting in good faith?

In the past few years, Palestine has been the target of the wrath of many U.S. members of Congress. Palestine has been threatened with all kinds of sanctions, including the withholding of the minimal aid (none of it military) that the U.S. provides. And what has Palestine done to deserve this anger? There were two things the U.S. simply couldn’t countenance:

1) Palestine applied for, and became a member of, UNESCO, the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Winning approval by a vote of 107 to 14, Palestine and the United Nations could not escape U.S. punishment. The U.S. withdrew all U.S. funding of UNESCO, which comprises about 22% of that organization’s budget.

And what of UNESCO? What radical, terrorism-fostering program is this? As stated on that organization’s website, “UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.” Far too radical, apparently, for the U.S.

2) In November of 2012, Palestine applied to the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade its status to ‘non-member observer state.’ This passed by a vote of 138 – 9. In an unusual show of bipartisanship, the U.S. senate proposed a complete cut off of all U.S. aid to Palestine if that nation brought charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court, and the eviction of Palestine’s representatives from Washington, D.C., unless the Palestinians enter into ‘meaningful’ negotiations with Israel. Senator Lindsey Graham said this: “We will not use American taxpayer dollars to support a Palestinian entity whose primary goal, if they file a complaint in the ICC, is to marginalize the Jewish state rather than live in peace with the people of Israel.” Why he thinks Palestine’s goal is to ‘marginalize’ Israel, and not to obtain redress from the horrific crimes Israel perpetrates on the Palestinian people on a daily basis, he did not bother to explain.

Where will it end? What will it take for the U.S. to stop playing lip-service to supporting human

rights around the world, and actually take action? One is naïve indeed, if one thinks the U.S. will ever take such action. That would require courage and statesmanship, something with which the U.S.’s elected officials have no experience. It would mean standing up to powerful interest groups, stating obvious truths, and looking at reality through a lens uncolored by the green of lobbyists’ money. It would mean renouncing greed and the desire for the self-aggrandizement that are so much a part of the U.S. political process.

No, for the Palestinians to one day have a nation, it will take the courage of their leaders, and that of the world community. Why President Abbas has not yet sought to take Israel to the International Criminal Court would be a mystery, if his compliance with Israel’s demands were not so well known. But even he seems to have his limits; he did, after all, finally petition the United Nation for elevated status. The people he purports to lead desperately need him to take the next step. Doing so should not be held hostage by the U.S. and Israel.

ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006.