I had dual reactions to Obama’s speech Thursday. On the one hand I was relieved that he spouted Israeli propaganda because it’s good for Palestinians and Arabs to be constantly reminded who is against them and the United States can only be described as an enemy of the Palestinian people. And, no, I was not impressed with his meaningless words about the 1967 borders because he prefaced them by saying that no matter what Israel does or does not decide to do that our relationship with them would never change and that we would indefinitely continue to pick up the tab for the occupation without complaint.
However, It still shocks me when he ignores Palestinian deaths. Anyone listening to his speech would think that for every 100 Israelis that die, 0 Palestinians are killed–and not the other way around. Apparently, Palestinians can die, the babies, the elderly and the non-violent peace activists and it’s OK, because “Israel has the right to defend itself.” He did not even mention the international peace activists that have been killed or maimed by Israel–even if they are American, because Israel has the right to defend itself from peace activists too.
It still leaves me feeling appalled when I hear US demands that Hamas, again, recognize Israel’s “right to exist” when in reality it is Palestinians both from Hamas and Fatah begging Israel and the international community to recognize them on 22% of their historic land. I couldn’t believe the language about Palestinians ceasing incitement against Israel without a word about the systematic judicial and political discrimination sanctioned by Israeli law that is taking place against Palestinian citizens inside of Israel and those Palestinians living under Israeli control in the Occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Does Obama not realize that the same internet that spread information about Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria has made accessible for years information about Israel’s daily cruel treatment of Palestinians, the extra-judicial assassinations, land theft, home demolitions, detention of non-violent peace activists, routine detention of children, attacks on weekly peaceful protest and the killing of innocent young men and women by Israeli settlers and soldiers? Did I mention that any combination of these things happen daily? Am I to understand that Obama does not know those things or should we expect that Palestinians accept that dying in accidents related to being occupied on a daily basis is a fact of life. And that they should not complain lest it be construed as “incitement.” Apparently, after Israel commits its daily crimes against Palestinians they should say, “thank you, we love you.”
I was also disgusted by Obama’s comments on Bahrain was that for his Saudi audience? Anyone with a sense of decency should be outraged by the barbarity of the Al Khalifa regime which has taken to snatching young Shia girls from their classrooms and torturing them; arresting democracy activists, beating them to the point of disfigurement and then threatening them with rape; putting nurses and doctors on trial for giving medical care to activists. But for Obama, it seemed hard to pretend that Bahrainis had any humanity, they’re another set of very dispensable Arabs (like Palestinians) that don’t truly need to be humanized. It was difficult for Obama to even stutter out “B-B-Bahrain” as he briefly admonished the regime for demolishing mosques, he then blamed Iran for sectarian agitation there! What does Iran have to do with the fact that the majority Shia population in Bahrain are treated like second class citizens? Is it the fault of Bahrainis that the only people in the region expressing disgust over what that royal regime is doing to them happen to be Shia Iranians?
I’ve been disgusted with Obama for a while but it has now reached what feels like a crescendo. His speeches now elicit from me the same disgust I’ve felt listening to Mubarak, Suleiman, Qadhafi, Saleh, Al-Assad and Bush. I can’t listen to him without feeling absolutely revolted.