Palestinians Alarmed at Obama’s New Christian Zionism, Failure to Push for Settlement Freeze

Aljazeera English reports on Obama’s failures and successes on his recent Mideast trip. Below, I quote translations from the Palestinian press showing for the most part extreme dismay by Obama’s courting of Israel and his surrender to the Israeli Right on the issue of new settlements on the Palestinian West Bank. Although Obama did mildly protest the way the Palestinians are being treated (for all the world like a subaltern speaking truth to power), his practical policy is now far more accommodating of the Israeli squatters on Palestinian territory than in 2009. In other words, the Likud Party won.

The USG Open Source Center translates Palestinian reactions to Obama’s stances during the trip:

Palestinian Commentaries on Obama Visit 22 Mar
West Bank and Gaza Strip — OSC Summary
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Document Type: OSC Summary

On 22 March, Palestinian media carry the following commentaries, reacting to the visit of US President Barack Obama to the region . . .

The Ramallah-based, privately-owned, pro-Fatah daily Al-Ayyam in Arabic publishes an article by Hani Awkal on page 13 of the Mar 22 edition under the headline “He Came Here To Bless the Settlers’ Government.” Awkal reviews the make-up of the new Israeli Government Netanyahu has just formed representing the settlers and right-wing, saying that Obama has come “to bless this government and support it with great strength.” Awkal says: “The objective behind Obama’s visit to Israel has nothing to do with specifying the stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or presenting an initiative. In any case, the presence or absence of an initiative will not serve the Palestinian cause,” since the objective of the visit is to support Israel politically and militarily. Obama “regurgitated his previous stances and declared them in Israel and Palestine,” including his non-opposition of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Awkal argues that Israel is benefiting from the current Arab situation to fortify itself domestically and acquire greater pol itical and military support; the situations with Iran and in Syria also play a role. Israel can tell its European partners that “we are living among a herd of wolves and you must understand our situation and our need to secure ourselves.” Awkal says the Palestinians should not just stand by and lament their situation because Obama did not support them; “in the final analysis, the man represents an old US policy based on loyalty to Israel and the US will not be able to sell us anything more than wasted words.” He concludes by calling for “strengthening our unity and turning it into an inalienable fact, as well as making the arrangements that could set the grounds for an ongoing peaceful, popular, struggle process, that confirms to the world, including the United States, that Israel’s security is linked to Palestine’s security and the establishment of the state.” Awkal ends his article that if the Palestinians persevere with this policy, then Obama and successive leaders will interfere, come to us, and place all their weight on ending the struggle to realize and acquire Palestinian rights.

Pro-Fatah Writer Urges Palestinians To Persevere, Stress That Israel’s Security Linked to Palestinians —

On 22 Mar page 18, the electronic edition of the independent, largest circulation, pro-Fatah daily Al-Quds in Arabic publishes its editorial under the headline “The Palestinian Constants Before Obama.” The paper says that irrespective of the fact that Obama’s visit to the region is intended for rapprochement with the Israeli public, his visit to Ramallah has given the Palestinian leadership an opportunity to present its stance on the peace process and whether it is possible to resume negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians had lesser expectations from Obama’s visit than the ones announced by the White House. It says: “What Obama said in Ramallah about the settlements could constitute the basis for a more effective and specific stance. Observers noted that he did not demand a freeze on settlements, thus averting a clash with the policies of Netanyahu and his government.” It reiterates the well-known Palestinian constants, which need to be taken into consideration and included in any new initiative for a settlement, if such a settlement is meant to break the current freeze and revive the peace process.

Obama Visit Prompted by AIPAC Pressure To Reiterate Jewish Historic Forgeries –Adil Abd-al-Rahman comments in Al-Hayah al-Jadidah in Arabic, the Ramallah-based, PA-owned daily, supportive of the presidency, on page 9 on 22 Mar under the headline “Obama Is Insulting History,” that Obama is forging history and insulting the Palestinian people by stating during his visit to Israel that he stood alongside the Jews on their historic land, their Israeli homeland for thousands of years, and that they had plowed the land and established the state of Israel in a renaissance. Abd-al-Rahman tells Obama that these statements are untrue, because “the Israelis never had a homeland in historic Palestine,” referring to the writings of Shlomo Sand, an Israeli historian who claims that there never was a people called the Israelis. Abd-al-Rahman says: Obama should have been fairer and more objective, so as not to appear as though he is “colluding with Zionist leaderships that have forged history.” However, he notes that Obama did not deny Palestinian Arab presence on this land, thus drawing the attention of “the nihilist leaders among the Israelis to the fact that there is a Palestinian partner and that the Palestinian people do need an independent state.” Obama came to the region to please the Israeli leaders and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in the United States, which is why he was being blackmailed by these forces, which forced him to forge history and drop the Palestinian rights. Thus, Obama has failed his test in history and politics. PA Writer Says US Must Recognize Palestinian State —

Yahya Rabah writes an article in Al-Hayah al-Jadidah on 22 Mar on page 9 under the headline “Obama Has an Opportunity,” that regardless of Obama’s statements in Israel, “his visit is very important and he has a chance to change the current course of history in the region and record his name with great qualifications as a distinguished policy-maker who does deserve the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded.” Rabah says the title or essence of Obama’s visit to Israel is not the “excessive flirting with Israel about its security requirements,” since this is the traditional stance of the United States. This visit, says Rabah, should “search for a real and serious opportunity befitting the world’s superpower, the United States,” and its president because without such an opportunity, the visit becomes “less than average and totally useless.” As for the opportunity, he says that on the Palestinian side, “we have accomplished many successes” and “raised our status to that of an observer state, a Palestinian state under occupation.” He says the United States must acknowledge this and use it to “cross the gap from isolation to taking action once again and participating with the rest of the world.” Rabah adds that Obama should not repeat the past because it has simply failed. He notes that the Obama visit is an important one, because it proves that the Palestinian cause is the central and topmost cause. He calls for waiting to see what steps US Secretary of State John Kerry will be taking on Saturday, expressing his optimism that “all the necessary elements for a new launch of the peace process are available now with great clarity and the Palestinian side cannot be held responsible for its failures, but Israel will be and so will the US Administration because it supports Israel.” Concluding, Rabah stresses that the Palestinians want success and the bare minimum of their rights as granted by international legitimacy, including the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital: “Welcome to President Obama along this road.”

Pro-HAMAS Site: Obama Statement on Settlements As Obstacle Gives Israel Green Light for More —

The Gaza-based, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)-affiliated news site, Filastin al-Yawm in Arabic, reports at 1507 GMT on 22 Mar on statements by the news site’s analyst for Israeli affairs that “Obama’s visit to Israel was mandatory, imposed on him by the Jewish lobby in the United States. Its first and foremost objective is for Obama to expose and entrench his loyalty (to Israel), like previous US presidents did before him.” He proved that he did not come to ‘Israel’ to apply pressures on it or on the Palestinian Authority (PA). The analyst says: “When Obama said that Israel must recognize that settlements are the obstacle on the way to peace, this means he is giving the ‘Israeli’ Government the green light to continue settlement-building and that there will be no pressures on the Netanyahu government from the United States to stop building settlements.” On Iran, the analyst believes that “Obama put the entire Iranian nuclear file in ‘Israel’s’ hands” when he said he will do all he can to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. With regard to statements on Syria, Obama said that the Syrian Government or the opposition’s use of chemical weapons there is “a red line.”

Ma’an Commentator: Admitting Failure of Obama Visit Will Re-Ignite Intifadah —

The editor-in-chief of the Bethlehem-based website of the independent, leading Palestinian news agency, Ma’an in Arabic, posts a commentary at 1458 GMT on 22 Mar under the headline “The Robot and the Shoe,” in which he discusses the orchestrated media machine Israel prepared for President Obama’s visit and the extensive coverage of his activities. The editor-in-chief concludes saying that it is customary among politicians and analysts to give any new government 100 days before passing judgment on it. He adds that he has no idea why it is 100 days, not 20 or 200. He says: “I believe we should give the Netanyahu government 40 days only to find out clearly what will happen in the next four years. I do not blame the liberals who exaggerated their optimism in the Obama speech. I also do not blame those who heavily degraded the speech and the entire visit. Both parties have their correct formulations; however, admitting the failure of the visit means that the intifadah is coming with great force.”

Writer in Website Says Outcomes of Obama Visit ‘Secret’ —

The Ramallah-based, independent Duniyat al-Watan website in Arabic on 22 Mar posts a comment by Ghazi Murtaja, director of the editorial department, saying that Obama’s visit to the Palestinian territories, Israel, and some countries in the region is highly significant and a declaration on the future of the entire region. He says that when Obama landed in Tel Aviv, he spoke “as if he was the spokesman for the Israeli army, not just its government.” When he met with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad, he praised the PA, not the Palestinian state, and “the black master appeared to be the biggest hypocrite in a hypocritical world.” Murtaja says: “This visit revealed the extent of ‘intelligence and genius’ of the protocol managers in the presidential or prime ministerial offices; their preparations for the visit took place at the same time as Mahmud al-Alul and his colleagues were building the village of Ahfad Yunus (the grandchildren of Yunus). Furthermore, rumors spread about containers of shoes in Ramallah to receive Obama with. So, the Palestinian protocol and Ramallah politicians have succeeded, and decision-makers exploited this visit the best way possible.” He warns that the Palestinians may regret this visit in a few days, describing it as a “visit with many objectives that are only secret, and with far-reaching motives that are also very secret. There are no leakages about ‘peace, or Syria, or Iran, or even Gaza.’ Is this going to be a ‘public relations’ or ‘important ends’ visit? This is what the coming days will reveal.”

HAMAS Writer Worries About Negative Effects of ‘Ill-Fated’ Obama Visit to Reconciliation

— The Gaza-based, HAMAS-run daily newspaper, Filastin in Arabic, on 22 Mar on page 7 publishes its “Free Space” column by Isam Shawir under the headline “Treacherous President and Ill-Fated Visit.” He says that the missiles fired at Sederot yesterday from the Gaza Strip were not the work of the resistance, but a protest to President Obama’s visit, “or a not-so-innocent attempt to urge the US President to criticize the resistance and move away from the facts relating to our people’s suffering in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Shawir laments that four “alleged” missiles fired at Sederot merit the US President’s protest, but “thousands of Palestinians in the Israeli occupation’s prisons and millions in the diaspora,” as well as the settlements in the West Bank do not merit any protest from him; in fact, he demanded “further dialogue and negotiations, as well as a search for solutions between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).” He describes Obama as a “lying cheat like George Bush Junior, Clinton, and other US presidents before him. They are in heart and mind servants and slaves of the occupying state.” He concludes: “The worst thing about the US President’s visit is the possibility of him succeeding in hampering internal reconciliation. The coming few days will show the extent of the negative effects of his ill-fated visit to our domestic state of affairs; I do hope I am wrong.” Pro-Fatah Daily Says Palestinians Had Lesser Expectations From Obama Visit Than White House —

8 Responses

  1. President Obama has once again shamed the United States through his unwillingness to speak forthrightly on behalf of the Palestinian people. The call for a Palestinian state while embracing Israeli occupation of Palestinian reflects the president’s continuing belief that as long as he says something he can avoid awkwardness through inaction. Not only does he once again embarrass the American people but provides a rationale for those who will argue in favor of an aggressive response to Israeli expansionism.

  2. Obama’s visit is probably best seen as an extension of US domestic politics. Palestinians were incidental, and the visit to Ramallah was window-dressing. Obama and the US generally will not do anything “for” Palestinian interests unless forced to.

  3. Some of those editorials are shockingly dishonest.

    Obama is forging history and insulting the Palestinian people by stating during his visit to Israel that he stood alongside the Jews on their historic land, their Israeli homeland for thousands of years, and that they had plowed the land and established the state of Israel in a renaissance.

    Yeah, no, that never happened.

    When Obama said that Israel must recognize that settlements are the obstacle on the way to peace, this means he is giving the ‘Israeli’ Government the green light to continue settlement-building

    Read that again. That doesn’t even make sense.

    This isn’t even about different editorial lines or viewpoints. These writers are flat-out making stuff up.

  4. What is hypocritical behavior by Obama is denouncing the four rockets that struck the Israeli city of Sderot. This attack had nothing to do with Hamas or Fatah but was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda-linked splinter group that enjoys little support among Gazans. No one was killed or wounded in the attacks and the only damage was to the wall of a house and some broken windows. Israel retaliated by limiting the ability of Gazan fisherman to fish offshore.

    Mr. Obama, during Operation Pillar of Defense, made no comment, nor did our State Department when 12 persons were killed by an Israel Air Force bombing – 10 from the al-Dalu family. The killings were denounced throughout the world.

    Israel initially stated that the head of the Hamas rocket program was killed in the strike; they later admitted that the person in question was likely not wounded in the bombing. They later identified a police officer of the al-Dalu family as a terrorist figure even though neighbors in Gaza dispued this.

    Human Rights Watch pressed the Israel Defense Forces for proof that the cited member of the al-Dalu clan was a terrorist – however the IDF ignored the request. Human rights organizations around the globe denounced the incident as a war crime. The New York Times was critical of Israel’s role in the episode, citing expressions worldwide condemnation over the deaths.

    The al-Dalu family tragedy was largely forgotten in the media after a few weeks. The Obama administration never addressed it and now has more concerns over a damaged wall and some broken windows in Israel than the deaths of twelve innocent Gazans last November.

    Is this the proper response of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate? Can we compare him to Martin Luther King or Ralph Bunche?

  5. Honestly, I’d say they are about spot on, particularly the second one. I don’t think the first one is an exact quote but the spirit is true enough, and the second one is without any real doubt accurate. Obama condemns settlement expansion with his mouth but uses every tool at his disposal to prevent Israel from being held to account over it. Thus, when he says they are bad, what he means is that they are no real problem.

  6. There is a VERY VERY SIMPLE REASON Obama’s not trying to push settlements on this meeting with Israel that Informed Comment (and all these Palestinian commentators) are neglecting to mention: the last time he tried to do so, it failed and blew up in his face!

    • Yeah, the reason parents don’t tell their kids not to pull the wings off of flies or beat up on the little kids in the neighborhood is that their kids may BLOW UP IN THE PARENTS’ FACE! Never let it happen that Dad cuts off the allowance, or sends the kid to his room…

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