Abunimah on the Palestine Papers: ‘If the US is unable to change its utterly failed policies, it might as well get out of the way’

on 13 Comments

Ali Abunimah reviews the Palestine Papers in the Christian Science Monitor and says they are evidence of a failed US foreign policy across the Middle East:

Some might say that the revelations about the peace process are hardly surprising. After all, its credibility was already threadbare. I disagree. What kept it on life support until now was the opacity and mystique that came from Mitchell’s tight-lipped shuttle diplomacy, from the hopes that Mr. Obama was somehow really different, and that at the end of all this the United States would show its hand and pressure Israel to do the things it doesn’t want to do but that are needed for peace.

The Palestine Papers show us once and for all that this is all a bluff. Mitchell has no cards up his sleeve, and the other players are no longer even at the table. The Palestine Papers have probably struck a regime-ending blow to the Abbas leadership. True, Abbas may remain in Ramallah for some time to come, thanks to massive external support. But his clique does not speak for, and cannot make a deal on behalf of the Palestinian people. As for Israel’s leadership, the supposedly “moderate” government of Ehud Olmert consistently rejected Palestinian concessions on every key issue – concessions that, when revealed in The Palestine Papers, have shocked the Palestinian public. It’s impossible to imagine Mitchell returning to the same old game.

It is possible, however, to imagine a dynamic new US approach: ending unconditional aid and diplomatic support for Israel, allowing Palestinians to democratically choose a consensus leadership – even if the US doesn’t like it – and supporting their global, grassroots struggle that takes as inspiration the same values as those of the US Civil Rights movement and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The US would also insist that any peace process has as its goal the fulfilling of international law and universal human rights. More broadly, the US would end its backing for reviled dictatorships across the region so that people can reshape their futures as they see fit, with all the hopes, opportunities, and risks such dramatic change would entail.

Of course, that is a distant dream. I expect the US will carry on as it has since the last time a US president, Eisenhower, challenged Israeli territorial aggrandizement head-on back in the 1950s. But the message from the reaction to The Palestine Papers and the protests for democracy and economic justice in countries across the region is that if the United States is unable to change its utterly failed policies, it might as well get out of the way and let the people act to secure their rights and dignity.

13 Responses

  1. Potsherd2
    January 27, 2011, 2:58 pm

    The US has been actively blocking Palestinian freedom for decades. “Get out of the way” is right.

  2. Jim Haygood
    January 27, 2011, 3:22 pm

    ‘More broadly, the US would end its backing for reviled dictatorships across the region so that people can reshape their futures as they see fit, with all the hopes, opportunities, and risks such dramatic change would entail. Of course, that is a distant dream.’

    Let’s face it — we’re the Evil Empire now. We arm and subsidize the dictatorial archipelago that surrounds Israel, even though they are as despised by their people as eastern Europe’s Comecon regimes were. They may be bastards, but they’re our bastards.

    The mild-mannered Mohamed ElBaradei, irked beyond endurance at Hillary Clinton’s cavalier calumnies about the ‘stability’ of the Mubarak regime, tore a bloody strip out of her steatopygous posterior:


    “I was stunned to hear secretary Clinton saying the Egyptian government is stable. And I ask myself at what price is stablity. Is it on the basis of 29 years of martial law? Is it on the basis of 30 years of [an] ossified regime? Is it on the basis of rigged elections? That’s not stability, that’s living on borrowed time.

    “When you see today almost over 100,000 young people getting desperate, going to the streets, asking for their basic freedom, I expected to hear from secretary Clinton stuff like democracy, human rights, basic freedom – all the stuff the US is standing for.

    “I’ve been trying for a year to engage the regime through peaceful means, by collecting signature[s] for demands for free and fair elections, for opening the door to Egyptians to run for [the] presidency, for having [a] parliament representative of the people.”

    link to guardian.co.uk


    In Berlin in 1987, Ronald Reagan challenged, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

    By 2005, Hillary Clinton visited Israel’s apartheid wall for a smiling photo op with the wall builders.

    With the help of the Lobby, a succession of US administrations have methodically and comprehensively sold out every value held dear in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Welcome to the Gulag, comrades! Your papers, please …

    • annie
      January 27, 2011, 7:55 pm

      yes i agree completely. i’m so sick of this. i’m sick of this stupid pretense we support democracy when clearly we do not.

  3. yourstruly
    January 27, 2011, 3:24 pm

    yes, get out of the way, yankees

    and go home

    as in vietnam

  4. Richard Witty
    January 27, 2011, 3:25 pm

    The United States will remain committed to the existence of Israel. The two-state solution on the basis of 67 borders seems close to me, touchable.

    If anything, Ali Abunimeh’s comments sends any effort back 60 years or more.

    The goals articulated in the early descriptions of the goals of BDS are palatable.

    1. 67 borders
    2. Equal rights for Palestinian Israelis
    3. Rational definition of right of return

    The urging of a single state is INCONSISTENT with those goals, and confuse and threaten more than invigorate.

    There is a path to a federation of two and/or other states in the region, analagous to the EU, facilitating freedom of movement and residence. There is NOT a path to a single state, absent the formation of moderate civilist parties that achieve majority status in both communities.

    That the effort for human rights is still presented as a nationalist effort, rather than an entirely civilist effort, is also threatening.

    If Ali were to choose that approach, rejecting the nationalist in favor of ONLY the civil, he would also lose the credibility of his community.

    Thats what happens when an effort actually attempts to accomplish something, and therefore has to choose and to compromise. That contrasts with the theme that “no compromise” is best in a conflict.

    • Jim Haygood
      January 27, 2011, 4:44 pm

      ‘The two-state solution on the basis of 67 borders seems close to me, touchable.’

      Lovely eulogy, Richard.

      We all miss TSS terribly, I’m sure.

      The funeral was held on Monday, though.

      • sherbrsi
        January 28, 2011, 4:20 am

        The deceased would like that you donate green yarn and “better wheels” to AIPAC and Yesha.

    • Donald
      January 27, 2011, 11:48 pm

      Richard, you should preach that sermon to the Israelis and the pathetic Palestinian stooges who are supposed to do America’s bidding.

      Get some Palestinian leaders who were legally voted into power by their people and let them negotiate. It’s for them to decide whether they want a 1ss or a 2ss. It’s not for arrogant racist Westerners who think like you do to pick their leaders for them and applaud when they cave in to Israeli demands.

      • Richard Witty
        January 28, 2011, 5:58 am

        I think you are right that Israel should negotiate with elected Palestinian leaders.

        They should also get to ratify or reject (an election), the terms of a proposal for peace with Israel.

        Do you want Palestinians to wait until Fatah and Hamas agree to, and then on the terms of their election.

        You use ridiculing words to describe Fatah. I think the language is ignorant. I think they deserve Palestinians and solidarity’s respect, not condemnation. The worst that I would accuse them of is misjudgement.

        If you are committed to democracy as a principle, representation by electorate, then you and I have to accept that the right wing coalition in power in Israel was also elected (even though Kadima got the most votes). To change that requires an election as well, changed by persuasion, not by external decree.

    • pjdude
      January 28, 2011, 3:53 am

      3. Rational definition of right of return

      i suppose by this you mean one that negates the whole purpose of the right of return? if paeople getting their legal rights prevents conquror from keeping their conquests. I’m sorry witty despite your fantesies. the palestinians right of return trumps a the wishing of a illegitiamate government of conquerors

  5. DICKERSON3870
    January 27, 2011, 4:35 pm

    RE: “the US will carry on as it has” – Abunimah
    MY COMMENT: Yes, because the Obama administration is in bed with Haim Saban and his ilk. You will recall that Saban reportedly was willing to spend a million dollars to secure the vote of just three delegates for Hillary Clinton back in 2008.
    ALSO SEE: Self-fulfilling prophecy: Dennis Ross doesn’t think anything can get accomplished, by Paul Woodward, War in Cotext, 01/20/11

    (excerpts)…Ali Gharib lays out the multiplicity of reasons why Dennis Ross — “a three-time-loser on Israeli-Palestinian peace-making” — lacks the competence for any role in the Middle East.
    So why does this Ross guy keep getting jobs that he doesn’t think are possible? I picked up Ross’ book off of my shelf here in D.C., and it amazed me how many times he says you cannot make any kind of deal with the Iranians. Then, Obama put him in charge of making a deal with the Iranians. Ross, we now learn, doubts that a peace deal can be reached in Israel-Palestine, and Obama gives him a job making peace in Israel-Palestine.

    So what does this tell us about Obama? That he’s beholden to AIPAC; that he lacks courage, creativity and imagination. Above all, that lacking confidence in his own capacities of leadership he pays undue deference to the “qualification” that a subordinate possesses talent for no better reason than that he is an old hand — and that’s where Ross has “out performed” George Mitchell: more frequent flyer miles clocked up between the US and the Middle East.

    ENTIRE WOODWARD POST – link to warincontext.org
    ALI GHARIB ARTICLE – link to lobelog.com

  6. bijou
    January 27, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Great analysis by Gideon Levy here.


    ….After the night when the documents were released by Al-Jazeera, with Livni represented by an announcer speaking English with a particularly repellent Israeli accent, a major uproar could have been expected the next day, not only in the Palestinian street and in the Arab world, but also in the streets of Israel.

    And what a (predictable ) surprise: the Palestinians and the Arabs raised an outcry against the far-reaching concessions of the Palestinian Authority, threatening to crush it once and for all, and in Israel: silence.

    Who cares about another fateful missed opportunity? Who cares that for this West Bank Story of real estate, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, we are condemned to more lives of war, danger and ostracism.

    Who cares that for a decade our leaders brazenly lied to us, deceived us by saying that there’s no partner, that the Palestinians are evading giving answers, that there is no Palestinian proposal, and above all, that Israel wants peace, not the Palestinians.

    We eagerly bought the lies, and now that they’ve been exposed, we remain apathetic. Riots? Protests? Fury at those who missed the chance and misled the nation? Not in our backyard. ….

  7. seafoid
    January 27, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Israel had the chance over the last 63 years to come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians. It won’t always have the chance.

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