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Obama, Mitchell and the Palestinians

Abe Foxman, head of the “Anti-Defamation League”, claims that George Mitchell is too fair to be a broker between Israel and the Palestinians.  I guess that Foxman, in denouncing the choice of Mitchell for Middle East negotiator, shows that he is accustomed to such impartial mediators as Dennis Ross, who, when he left the Clinton Administration returned to the Israeli Lobby, whence he came.  Or he possibly could be making a comparison between George Mitchell and Alan Dershowitz, the notorious Israeli propagandist.  (I once called Dershowitz a “snake” on Al Manar TV, which prompted him to write a column in the Jerusalem Post calling me an anti-Semite.  My mistake was to forget to apologize to the snakes.)

I’m sorry to say that, as much as I admire George Mitchell for the public service he has provided over the years, being fair will not be enough to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the brutality that accompanies it.

The gyrations of various administrations over the years, all of whom have put on great shows of “settling” the conflict, has done nothing but waste a great deal of newspaper ink and television time reporting peace efforts, as though the media believed what snake oil salespeople, such as Condi Rice, were selling to the public.  What someone in our government should have realized by now is that Israel absolutely does not want to give up the West Bank for a Palestinian state, even though there are warnings that if a “two state solution” is not reached, the Palestinians will be forced into a state of apartheid for the rest of the century.  Certainly, the Israelis have no intention of allowing the Palestinians to outvote them in Israel, which leaves South African style apartheid as the only solution.

One can count all the reasons given by the Israelis for not achieving the “peace” that Israel claims it wants, reasons such as:

We have no negotiating partner. The Palestinians have to recognize Israel’s right to exist first before we talk to them. They have to end terrorism first.  We made the Palestinians the best offer they could ever have gotten, but they turned it down.

These are just some of the shopworn excuses trotted out to avoid cutting a deal.

It seems that very few people have caught on to this scam, even though it has been exposed for many years.  So, as the establishment continues to blather about achieving “peace,” Israel continues to swallow up Palestinian lands, beating up, imprisoning and massacring Palestinians on a daily basis.

It is very clear to me, as well as to anyone else who declines to see the conflict through an Israeli prism, that only when an American President flatly tells the Israelis that they must  move the settlers out of the West Bank, there will be no peace, only more occupation, more brutality, more violations of international law, and more bloody slaughters of civilians such as the one we only recently witnessed in Gaza.  Anything short of that leaves the Israelis in complete control, and it will leave America with more and more enemies not only in the Middle East, but around the world.

President Obama mentioned recently that if he doesn’t get the economy turned around in his first term, he will most likely not have a second term. What he has not yet calculated is that the Israeli occupation results in angry terrorism against American interests all over the world.  He is faced with the choice of either angering the Likud Lobby by demanding that the Israeli settlers be kicked out of the West Bank, or of continuing the heavy spending required to maintain Israel’s occupation against the wishes of the people they are occupying.  What is your guess as to what he will do?

Surely we should have learned by now that America can no longer afford to listen to the Abe Foxmans and the Alan Dershowitzes of the world.  As a nation, we are out of money, bereft of ideas, and incapable of curbing the moral and financial corruption in Washington, D.C., which includes the corruption brought about by the Likud Lobby.

The result is that the rich get richer, the poor and the middle class become more and more desperate, searching for jobs that no longer exist, and for homes they can no longer afford.

The likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have brought the world down around our collective ears, and after having done so, they have ridden off into the sunset, happy in the knowledge that they’ve taken care of their rich friends, who have profited from the wars they have started.  The oil price surge, the conflicts in the Middle East, which have brought about the surge in military spending has created fortunes for their cronies, all paid for by the people of this country.  We are, unfortunately, not finished paying the price for Mr. Bush’s costly — in terms of human lives and of money — puerile adventures for the past eight years.  We will be reaping the hatred and the violence caused by their wars, in addition to suffering  the economic fallout resulting from their policies of greed and corruption.  And we have not yet counted the kinds of misery and poverty and corruption these two heroes have spawned as a result of the Iraq War.

The cowardice of our presidents and of our Congress keeps Israel in the driver’s seat so far as continuing the occupation.  Brutality is the natural product of an occupation that is necessary to keep the land they’ve stolen from the Palestinians.  We are in desperate need of “change,” and we hope and we pray that Mr. Obama will have the courage to put it in motion.

James G. Abourezk is a lawyer practicing in South Dakota. He is a former United States senator and the author of two books, Advise and Dissent, and a co-author of Through Different Eyes. This article also  runs in the current issue of Washington Report For Middle East Affairs.  Abourezk  can be reached at georgepatton45@gmail.com

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James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.

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