Obama on Palestine-Israel
by Sarah Dwidar
I just can’t resist putting in my two and three quarter cents on Obama’s speech in Cairo. All day I’ve heard negative reviews about how horrendous it was and how it amounted to nothing more than zionist propaganda. I finally come home, make dinner, sit down and watch it……and I wonder if I even youtubed the right speech…..Have Muslims/Arabs become so jaded and our blinders so thick that we can’t even pick up on his revolutionary and blatantly obvious language in support of the Palestinian people? And let’s not ignore all the little nuances sprinkled into his speech. I’ve heard all day that he “only criticized Palestinians.” If you think he can get away with haphazardly throwing around terms like “apartheid” or “one state,” your head’s in the clouds. But moving on, let’s review his Zionist rhetoric…
(1) He publicly recognized that Palestinians are living under OCCUPATION: “They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation.”
(2) He implicitly likened the Palestinian struggle to the struggles of blacks in the Civil Rights Movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement and Israeli govtl policy to that of the oppressors in the those conflicts–
“For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.”
Critics focused on his criticism of Palestinian violence, claiming that he continued to feed the stereotype that all Palestinians are terrorists when in fact they have a right to protect themselves. Yes they do. But, as he points out, no one has the right to target civilians. But he doesn’t stop there. Immediately following that criticism is an implicit understanding o his part that Palestinians are not the initial aggressors but that “Palestinian violence” (for want of a better…phrase) is the inevitable resistance of a people who have been suffocated and dehumanized for decades. In short, he said “Hamas has gotta stop killing people. The blacks in our country also suffered like you. I understand where you’re coming from. We were humiliated like you. But we realized that violence wasn’t going to get us anywhere.” I don’t see how you could argue with that. If he didn’t go on to criticize Israel, you could. But he does.
(3) He LEGITIMIZES Hamas: “they [Hamas] have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people.” ……he’s going to have to get AIPAC off his back after that one…...
(4) He points out the hypocrisy in Israel demanding recognition (the right to exist): “At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.” (This was my favorite lines of the speech…possibly b/c I had been waiting so long to hear it).
(5) Illegality of settlements: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.”
(6) Israeli “security” measures serve another purpose: “And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank.
So no ladies and gentlemen, Obama did not JUST criticize Israel for its settlement expansion. And although a lot of the aforementioned points may not come across as revolutionary to you, they are to the average American. The average American does not think Palestinians are under occupation but that they are in a centuries old (misconception) religious conflict (misconception) with another country that has relatively equal sovereignty (misconception). The average American would never even think to compare a Palestinian to a black during the civil rights movement or a South African although both resistance movements had violent, “terrorist” (deemed by the govt) elements. ANC? The average American would not want a “terrorist group” to “play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations” but would rather see to it that every Palestinian associated with Hamas had a price on their head. To the average American, Palestine does NOT have a right to exist. To the average American, Israel has the right to build settlements because it’s “their land.” And finally, to the average American Israel’s policies are NOT a façade but, in fact, for legitimate security purposes.
And to tell Joe Shmoe otherwise is revolutionary.