FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Endless “Peace Process” for Palestine

by DAVID SWANSON

The United States balances its endless war of terrorism with the institution of an endless “peace process” for Palestine, a process valuable for its peaceyness and interminability.

Josh Ruebner’s new book, Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama’s Middle East Peace Process, could just as easily have been called “Fulfilled Expectations: The Success of Obama’s Middle East Peace Process,” depending on one’s perspective.  Its story could be summarized: Obama’s performance in this area has been of a piece with his performance in every other.  Some people became very hopeful about his rhetoric and then very dejected about his actions.

In this case, among those getting hopeful were Palestinian negotiators.  But they didn’t just grow depressed and despondent.  They felt no obligation to behave like Democratic voters.  They swore off the Hopium and went to work on an international approach through the United Nations that has begun to pay off.9781781681206_p0_v2_s260x420

Obama began his “peace process” efforts “naively unprepared for the intensity of the pushback from Israel and its supporters in the United States to its demand that Israel freeze settlements,” Ruebner writes.  But evidence of Obama’s mental state is hard to pin down, and I’m not sure of the relevance.  Whether Obama began with naive good intentions or the same cynicism that he was, by all accounts, fully immersed in by his second or third year in office, the important point remains the same.  As Ruebner explains, Obama employs an all-carrots / no-sticks approach with Israel that is doomed to failure.

In fact, suggesting that the White House cease providing Israel with ever more weaponry and/or cease providing Israel with ever more protection from justice following its crimes is liable to get Ruebner himself denounced as naive, along with the rest of us who think he’s right.  Obama’s fundamental problem is not one of naiveté, but of “seriousness,” of upholding the solemn seriousness of willful belief in a respectable but doomed approach.  If Obama was surprised that Palestinian negotiators didn’t play along with this the way U.S. “journalists” do, that would suggest he had internalized the official point of view.  Whether that is naiveté or deep cynicism may be in the eye of the beholder.

Ruebner provides the chronological play-by-play from Obama’s first happy shiny moves in office to his familiar flailing about in search of propaganda that would continue to hold up year after year.  And Ruebner includes analysis of what activists were up to along the way.

In fact, Ruebner begins with Obama’s campaign promises, which — upon close inspection — prove, as with every other issue, to have been much closer to the President’s abysmal performance than to the glowing image people recall of his early hope-and-changey self.  Obama campaigned placing all blame on Palestinians, supporting Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, backing resolutions and legislation in the Senate imposing sanctions on Palestinians as punishment for having held an open election, and supporting Israel during its wars on Lebanon and Gaza.  Obama’s speeches and his website made his position clear to those inclined to see it.  Boycott campaigns against the Israeli government were, according to him, “bigoted.”

As with every other area, on peace in Palestine, Obama’s disastrous approach could also have been read clearly from his selection of individuals to run his foreign policy team.  During the transition period prior to his inauguration, Obama took positions on many foreign policy matters, but when it came to the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, he declared himself unable to speak prior to becoming president.

Watching the sequence of events play out post-inauguration is painful.  Obama urges an end to Israel’s expansion of settlements.  Netanyahu suggests that Obama, with all due respect, stick his proposals where the sun don’t shine.  But Netanyahu backs “statehood” (someday, with no rights or power or independence or actual — you know —statehood) for Palestinians, but proceeds to rapidly expand settlements, effectively eliminating territory on which to create any state.  Obama announces that victory has come and help is on the way!

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave up on freezing settlements and announced that slowing the pace of the expansion would be an “unprecedented” accomplishment — a claim that was less credible to people who had lived and suffered through many such claims before.  As reward for the same lawless abuses as always, Israel received from the Obama administration more weaponry than ever, and a veto of a resolution at the United Nations opposing more Israeli settlements.

Ruebner rightly concludes:

“Obama’s failure to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace resulted not only from his unwillingness to go to the mat with the Israel lobby over the issue of fully freezing Israeli settlements, not only from the scattershot, frenetic lurching of his policy initiatives thereafter.  Obama also foundered because his approach relied solely on providing Israel with carrots.  With the trivial exceptions of denying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu photo-ops at the White House on a few occasions and reportedly forcing him to wait for several hours before a meeting, Obama never brandished the proverbial stick.  But these personal insults did nothing to create incentives for Israel to cease openly and brazenly defying U.S. policy objectives.”

Hope is so much more popular than reality.  But Ruebner is full of hope.  He holds it out there in front of us.  All that’s required is a little actually useful action:

“[I]f the United States were to pull its backing for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, then Israeli intransigence would melt away in the historical blink of an eye, as it did when President Dwight Eisenhower terminated all U.S. aid programs to Israel after it invaded and occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in 1956.”

How do we get there?  Part of the answer, Ruebner persuasively suggests is Boycott-Divestment-and-Sanctions (BDS), a movement that is making great strides, including in changing the public discourse, altering the sorts of things that even U.S. politicians can get away with claiming with a straight face.

David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia.

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book isWar No More: The Case for Abolition.

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail