Obama won’t have to write another speech for AIPAC on Monday

Well, democracy and nonviolent protest are great for the Arab world, says Obama, but not for Palestine. So there is reference to the “humiliation of occupation” but not to the fact that the people under occupation have no rights. A friend says the speech could have been delivered to AIPAC. 

One reference to “settlement activity,” some acknowledgment that the peace process has produced nothing. Idrees Ahmad says, this is how it’s being interpreted in Israel: No criticism of the settlements, not illegitimate.”

Another friend: I/P formulation about the same as in the Cairo speech, I think. (Hillary Clinton in December speech at the Saban Forum was a little more explicit actually.) As I read it, he begs off personal engagement following advice of Thos. Friedman. Advises “the parties” to solve territory and security first and go on to right-of-return and Jerusalem later. His act of courage, in his own mind, was saying the word 1967.

Chuck Todd and Richard Engel on MSNBC were much more impressive than Obama. Todd acknowledged the domestic Jewish politics of the issue as pressure on Obama– at last! And Engel said that the Arab spring will demand that Palestinians get freedom, the new Arab street is no different from the old Arab street in that respect, and if Obama can’t get ahead of these forces, he will be “overtaken by events.” Hints of violence to come. 73 percent of Palestinians believe a third intifada is about to begin by the way, according to Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.

Here are Obama’s Israel/Palestine remarks:

Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security, prosperity, and empowerment to ordinary people.

My Administration has worked with the parties and the international community for over two years to end this conflict, yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on for decades, and sees a stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward.

I disagree.  At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people – not just a few leaders – must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away. But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. 

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat.  Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations.  Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I know that these steps alone will not resolve this conflict. Two wrenching and emotional issues remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.

Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel – how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist. In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. He said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” And we see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate…Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow”

That is the choice that must be made – not simply in this conflict, but across the entire region – a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past, and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 125 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Donald says:

    “For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. ”

    So there it is, the usual American pseudo-liberal formulation of the conflict–Palestinians feel humiliation, while Israelis live with the fear that their children will be blown up. Who are you going to side with? The people fearing their children will be blown up, or the people who are blowing them up because they feel humiliated?

    The US cannot be an honest broker with this attitude. At least the Palestinian leadership is currently acting like it knows this to be the case.

  2. hophmi says:

    Are you opposed to anything he said?

    Are you opposed to peace negotiations?

    • seafoid says:

      Another choice comment from Livni, this one from a Nov. 13, 2007 meeting, where she and Abu Ala (Qurei) were discussing what should be included in the “terms of reference” for the upcoming Annapolis meeting (the eighth meeting on this question):

      AA: International law?
      Livni : NO. I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer…But I am against law — international law in particular. Law in general. If we want to make the agreement smaller, can we just drop some of these issues? Like international law, this will make the agreements easier.

      110308

      link to haaretz.com

      In a letter she appended to the article, Livni explained to me that the role of the leaders of the free world, and especially in Israel, is to harness the world to the future shaping of the region in accordance with those interests shared by Israel and the free world. Livni claims her initiative “correctly translates the values of democracy in a way that will be acceptable to all the pragmatic and moderate elements in our region.”
      She proposes banning all parties that uphold violence and/or racism and/or do not respect international agreements.

    • Shingo says:

      Are you opposed to peace negotiations?

      Yes, when “negotiations” is code for enforcing the Israeli will on the Palestinians, with the US playing enabled.

  3. Walid says:

    Looks like he gave it all away to Israel.

    He talked about a Jewish state and a Jewish homeland for Jewish people, so Palestinian-Isrelis should start packing.

    He talked about a demilitarized Palestinian state and the neverending security concerns of Israel. That just about covers the part where Israel wants to keep soldiers posted in the Jordan Valley.

    He talked about Jerusalem and the return of the Palestians being subjects to be discussed at a future date. This tells me that Palestinians should take that to mean to forget all about Jerusalem and anyone ever returning.

    It’s sickening.

    • Shingo says:

       He talked about a demilitarized Palestinian state and the neverending security concerns of Israel.

      What’s sickening about this mantra, is that it is a continuation if a policy imposed by the British in 1936 – the Palestinians had to be brutally disarmed, but the Israeli militias were allowed to arm themselves to the teeth because they were a minority and yes, you guessed it, had the right to defend themselves.

      Arabs who had so much as a spent shell near their houses had their homes demolished. 

      Not only did this leave the Palestinians utterly defenseless come 1948, but the British took part in expelling Palestinians.

      And Israel gloats about how clever they were as fighters when the cards were stacked entirely in their favor.

    • LeaNder says:

      He talked about a demilitarized Palestinian state and the never ending security concerns of Israel.

      Apart from the passage Donald has already cited, this one puzzled me:

      The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people – not just a few leaders – must believe peace is possible.

      First sentence: The ethnographic threat?

      Second sentence: Can somebody explain this too me? The US doesn’t believe in technology anymore? Or does he believe technological war power is useless in asymmetric wars?
      If he means–technology alone will make it harder–why doesn’t he say it. …

      Third sentence: Is this a very odd and distorted way of saying: The people in the region, which is undergoing a profound change, must remain as peaceful and wise as the leaders they dethroned. We have to do all we can to influence public opinion in this direction.

      Is the master of Change we can believe in the same old authoritarian we know already? Why would a large majority of e.g. Egyptians demand war–because these Arabs all want to sacrifice themselves and their children?–aren’t there many other things that must be much more important to them? The sentence suggests, the Arab street wanted war all along to me. And that is why they needed to be suppressed. What do I get wrong?

      How will the Arab street read this statement?

      Who wrote this speech?

  4. Kathleen says:

    Yep his Aipac speech is ready to go…confirming once again that Netanyahu, Schumer, Weiner, Ros Lehtinen, Liberman etc have our Presidents balls in a vice grip and they just gave it a crank.
    How many times can Netanyahu and team kick Obama, Biden etc in the balls and keep hearing Obama and team say ‘we love you, we are there for you no matter how many times you kick us, no matter how often you threaten US National security through your actions. Talk about a seriously abusive and dysfunctional relationship

    He did say “contiguous” Palestinian state. Has any other president used that word to describe Palestinian land?

    • Jim Haygood says:

      I hear Beavis and Butthead in the background: “Ha ha, he said ‘contiguous.’”

      But you’re right, this does seem to be unprecedented.

      Of course, the minimal interpretation would be Israel’s idea of a tunnel from the West Bank to Gaza … perhaps with an iron portcullis midway through, which the Israelis can clang shut on Jewish holidays, and whenever the Palestinians ‘vote wrong.’

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “He did say ‘contiguous’ Palestinian state. ”

      Two cantons connected by a twenty mile dirt road, three feet wide, is technically “continguous.”

    • ToivoS says:

      He did say “contiguous” Palestinian state. Has any other president used that word to describe Palestinian land?

      yep George Bush did:

      link to israelnationalnews.com

      The settlers went apocalyptic over the reference.

    • Hostage says:

      A viable and contiguous State of Palestine has been a U.S. talking point since the Clinton era, e.g. See The “Clinton Parameters” (January 7, 2001)

      It was part and parcel of the “agreed swaps” in the Quartet Road Map formula (smoke screen) to cede the settlement blocks to Israel in order to “enhance maximum territorial contiguity, including further action on settlements in conjunction with establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders.”

      Israel and Jordan conducted fruitless negotiations for a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza for years.

    • chet says:

      I guess I’m a “glass half-full” guy in that I believe that Pres. Obama broke some new ground (minimally) in the face of a re-election campaign that hogties him domestically – did anyone really believe that he would break new ground when 40 % of his campaign money comes from Jewish sources?

      I still believe that after the 2012 election, when he will not be obliged to pander to AIPAC, he will take much stronger positions – at the very least as payback to Netanyahoo for causing the humiliations he has been forced to endure.

      • Elliot says:

        chet –
        I bet you’re right. I feel bad for the President having to spend quality time with Bibi. Obama is smarting under these humiliations. The timing of the major speech was an attempt at stealing Netanyahu’s thunder.

        But I don’t see how he can get out from under this. In his 2nd term there will be plenty of particular reasons why the President won’t be able/want to do anything different to what he’s done all along: no political support/lame duck president, other priorities, shoring up Jewish support etc.
        Why would he bother?

  5. eljay says:

    Obama could not have applied his tongue to Israel’s backside any more effectively:
    - Both Israel and the Palestinians are responsible for the current state of affairs…but more so the occupied Palestinians than the occupier Israel.
    - The U.S. stands by Israel, regardless of how unjust and immoral it may be.
    - Israel must be able to defend itself…but the Palestinians must remain “non-militarized”.
    - The U.S. supports a supremacist “Jewish state”.

  6. Kathleen says:

    One other comment that jumped out at me was when he referenced hopefully free and fair elections in the region and said that the US would not oppose the outcomes even if they did not “square with our world view” Thought that was big.

    “contiguous” jumped out at me

    • he said land swaps, to me that’s NOT 1967 lines.

      what i noticed was the new use of the phrase “Middle East North Africa” rather than “Muslim and Arab world”. I also noticed this was used on NPR before the speech. Hillary also referred to the region as “Middle East North Africa” seems like an interesting departure and I am curious what instigated this new language? I get the feeling they’re trying to turn over a new leaf perhaps change language and imagery that was used for fear and war mongering to language that is more neutral and good for international business maybe?

      • Mikhael says:

        what i noticed was the new use of the phrase “Middle East North Africa” rather than “Muslim and Arab world”. I also noticed this was used on NPR before the speech. Hillary also referred to the region as “Middle East North Africa” seems like an interesting departure and I am curious what instigated this new language?

        Maybe “Middle East and North Africa” is more neutral, less biased than “Muslim and Arab World”–which either plays into the Islamist thesis that the region is inherently Dar al Islam–the “Domain of Islam” or pan-Arab notions that the region belongs to Arab peoples and only Arab peoples when the reality is that there are many non-Muslim and non-Arab peoples who have deep history and roots in the region–non-Arab majority Muslims such as Berbers,Turks and Kurds as well as non-Muslim peoples such as the Assyrian Christians, Egyptian Copts, Lebanese Maronites, and yes, ISRAELI JEWS. Both pan- Islamists and pan-Arabists must learn that MENA (Middle east North Africa) belongs to others as well.

  7. Obama to Abbas: Palestine is going to continue to be devoured by Israel, the US will continue to allow this to happen, and going to the UN won’t make any difference.

  8. Koshiro says:

    Well, I have to say although it is mostly duckspeak, with some doublethink (“…every state has the right to self-defense… sovereign, non-militarized state”) thrown in for good measure, it’s better than I expected. I guess it’s hard to be disappointed when your expectations were so low.

  9. Kathleen says:

    To Gaza with Love

  10. lysias says:

    Obama says nothing about Palestine (including Gaza) having the right to defend itself against any threat.

  11. lysias says:

    So does Obama think white South Africa was right to refuse to negotiate with an ANC that insisted on an end to apartheid?

  12. Kathleen says:

    DC Riders for Peace launch billboard ad campaign in Washington D.C.
    link to moveoveraipac.org

  13. Hostage says:

    You missed one of the most unforgivable remarks that the President made in his speech today:

    In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression.

    Ahem (*cough*). This President recently directed his UN Ambassador to veto a Security Council resolution which would have declared that Israel’s continuing colonization of the Arab territories occupied since 1967 is illegal. It is unacceptable to employ a purported “end of colonialism” as a straw man argument and to defend Israel in the very next breath. The US government continues to facilitate and underwrite Israeli colonialism. There is no evidence to support the President’s claim that the status quo is unsustainable. He, himself, is going out of his way to sustain the status quo.

  14. seafoid says:

    This is exactly the same as what happened to the financial sector prior to the collapse of Lehman Bros. Complete regulatory capture by vested interests. Massive and totally avoidable wealth destruction followed.

    It can’t stop the Palestinians. As they say in Mexico,

    “Esto se va poner de la chingada”

    translation here :

    link to nybooks.com

  15. Taxi says:

    Blah blah blah blah blah, is what I clearly heard.

    No one cares cuz Obama lied much of much since his Cairo speech and EVERYONE’s been taking note of this. You just won’t find any civilians in the Arab world wearing his iconic ‘hope’ t-shirt anymore.

    Is he trying to buy the revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia? Why not send bread and strawberries to the hungry masses there?

    And the 2SS diatribe? Delusional poetry – as if the ‘experienced’ Palestinian has never heard of January 25th 2011.

    A ‘de-militarized’ Palestinian state? (surprise-surprise Palestinian ‘security’ is secondary but israeli security is paramount)

    What does it all mean?

    Trouble, of course.

    Because in trying to adhere to our constitution as well as appease all sides, obama comes across as confused and impractical. Not to mention totally out of touch with both the Arab street and the israeli street.

    We’re still behind the tightening curve and it don’t look like we’ll ever get a hold of the steering wheel of history.

    “The Status Quo is unsustainable”. ‘For the United States’, you shoulda added mister President.

    • Mooser says:

      “Blah blah blah blah blah, is what I clearly heard.”

      That’s all I ever hear when Obama speaks, but I have neither the vocabulary nor the intellectual acuity to comprehend Obama’s world-changing orations. That must be it. Everyone else says he’s a “spellbinder”.

  16. Duscany says:

    I don’t know where Obama gets the notion that the US and Israel have a “shared history,” given that Israel was started by a bunch of European socialists and America was founded on the principles of Jeffersonian democracy.

    • “I don’t know where Obama gets the notion that the US and Israel have a “shared history …”

      Precisely. It’s a familiar hasbara talking point. Not surprising that Obama, the presidential hasbara parrot, would use it.

    • chocopie says:

      A shared history of land theft and genocide, obviously. Also demonizing the native people and treating them as less than fully human.

      • Antidote says:

        a “shared history …”

        Well, they are both ‘chosen people’, in the good old Judeo-Christian tradition.

        • Mooser says:

          “A shared history of land theft and genocide, obviously.”

          Yes, Hophmi, Witty and many others trolling through always remind us that Israel has the right to any atrocity or crime committed throughout recorded history. “But the Mongol hordes…..”

  17. he said 1967 lines with lands swaps. that is doublespeak, that’s not 1967 lines. epic fail.

    • jon s says:

      Lydda, the President said “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps”. I don’t see what your problem is . If the lines are, say, 97% according to the 1967 boundaries, and the two sides agree on “swaps” for the remaining 3% and the purpose of those swaps is to prevent situations where towns and villages are divided, why would that be so wrong?

      • Taba 2000 btdt = epic fail plus the fact that settlements are STILL being built in Israeli Occupied Palestine, that’s my problem.

        • jon s says:

          Lydda, I don’t know what “Taba 2000 btdt” means.
          I also oppose the settlements in the occupied territories (I’m for two states).
          As to the land swaps, note the “mutually agreed” wording.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        The problem is this: if the Palestinians don’t “agree” to the Zionists’ “offer they can’t refuse” of trading choice farm land or land in al-Quds in exchange for sand dunes in the Negev, then what???

        If the answer isn’t, “tough luck for Israel, the 1967 lines it is,” then the whole statement by Obama is a bunch of bullshit. The invocation of the 1967 lines is a lie, if the Palestinians cannot insist on the 1967 lines.

        • jon s says:

          Woody, note the term “mutually agreed” land swaps. It’s not a matter of “offer they can’t refuse”. There’s a quaint concept called “negotiations” – one side makes a proposal, the other side rejects it and makes a counter-proposal, a compromise emerges, and so on…
          On the ground there are several places where land swaps would make sense and be mutually beneficial.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          I understand that, jon s, you don’t understand my point.

          My point is this: What if Israel, for its part, lists major land swaps that it wants, but thePalestinians say, “you know what, we want the 1967 lines and are only interested in swapping for one street in all of the proposals made by Israel.” What then?

          If the answer is that there is a deal upon the 1967 lines and the swap that they agree upon — the single street — then saying “1967 lines with agreed upon swaps” is fine.

          However, if the answer is that there is no deal and the brutal, inhumane, criminal occupation continues, then saying “1967 lines with agreed upon swaps” is a lie. Like Lydda Four Eight said, it’s doublespeak, as, in that latter situation, the 1967 lines are included only to try to sell a lie.

          Put it this way: Everyone knows that the Palestinians are not going to get more than the 1967 lines. The Zios successfully stole the rest. If they’re not even going to get that much — if the negotiations don’t include not only what land swaps, but whether the Palestinians will agree to land swaps or settle for the 1967 lines, then saying “1967 lines” at all is a sham.

        • Hostage says:

          note the term “mutually agreed” land swaps. …There’s a quaint concept called “negotiations”

          You should also note that there were five year temporal limits for obtaining Palestinian consent that were contained in the Carter Administration’s Camp David Framework agreement and in the Oslo Accord Declaration of Principles. The Quartet Road Map had a deadline for an agreement on interim borders of 2003. The Annapolis deadline has also lapsed. Obama knows perfectly well that the Palestinians will not accept an interim agreement on borders that does not include East Jerusalem as their capital and that his proposal to put-off negotiations on refugees is also unacceptable. He said that both of those issues could be negotiated by September, and the Palestinians have said they are going to the UN after that deadline expires.

      • Mensch says:

        Why should the Palestinians negotiate away ANY of their own land? With the 1967 borders as the starting point, they have everything they want and need. This includes East Jerusalem, the aquifers (what remains of them) and their most treasured Holy Sites. The Palestinians should not negotiate away any of their own land. Rather they should keep it all and ask the UN to help them force the Israelis to move back across the line to their own nation.

        When that is accomplished, they should sue Israel for reparations for over 40 years of repression and occupation and mistreatment of their people and destruction of their land.

        The Palestinians should demand that the 1967 borders be respected in their entirety and hold rigidly to that demand. Let Israel come begging for what scraps Abbas is willing to part with.

        • Watching President Obama’s speech yesterday, I was reminded of something.

          Some years ago, Brittany Spears made a movie, and the critics, as critics are wont to do, torched the poor thing to death. When some smart-ass entertainment reporter asked Brittany why the critics hated her film, she sniffed back that she had made the film for her fans, and not for critics.

          That is what I think can be said for the President’s speech yesterday; it was for Obama fans only, not for critics.

          It never ceases to amaze me how the President’s MSNBC cheerleaders seem to coo endlessly over these torturously nuanced speeches of his, where it becomes almost impossible to know what he is really trying to say unless Andrea Mitchell or Chris Matthews are there to translate for him. The speeches always follow the usual, dreary, mind-numbingly equivocal pattern so beloved by the MSNBC crew: everyone is at fault and no one is at fault, so let’s all put the past behind us, cast aside despair for hope, and build for a new tomorrow.

          Of course, the President pushed for a two-state solution with modified ’67 borders, denounced the settlements, spoke disapprovingly of the Fatah-Hamas merger, and scolded the Palestinians for ditching negotiations for UN sanctioned statehood, which, he correctly pointed out, they will not get. From my perspective this is all well and good, though the pro-maximalist/pro-rejectionist, pro-Hamas, anti-Israel left will think it yet another victory for Israeli colonization, ethnic cleansing, land theft, dispossession, apartheid, and genocide etc, etc, etc…

          Whatever. But the point that all can agree on is that the President really said nothing new, and just rolled out the same old even-handed tripe. He really had nothing to say, and just said something because he had to say something for the occasion, which was really not much of anything at all, as usual.

          He said what his advisers have told him to say for his election prospects, and to avoid being hassled from pro-Israel members of Congress. But the question persists: what are his real feelings on the on the ME and I/P conflicts? I sometimes wonder.

          Candidate Obama came into the presidency with some starry-eyed assumptions about his ability to tame the furies of the Middle East. Confident of his powers of persuasion, he was sure he had the long awaited answer to the I/P conflict. Eager to “restart” the peace process, he willfully ignored the intransigence of the Palestinians and the compromises and concessions made by Israelis in the past decade and, consulting his friends in the pro-Palestinian left-liberal foreign policy establishment, decided to make the freezing of settlements in the West Bank a precondition for further talks. This shocked and bewildered many. Even the Palestinians had never made this a precondition for further talks, as it was always understood since the 1993 Oslo Accords that they would be dealt with in final status negotiations. The Palestinians, who were as bewildered as anyone by Obama’s demand, nonetheless adopted it as their own, for, as Abbas told Newsweek recently, he could hardly afford to do anything less, lest he be seen as less pro-Palestinian than the President of the United States.

          After much hectoring, the President duly obtained from the Israelis a 10 month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank. Predictably, it did not a whit of good; the Palestinians still refused direct negotiations despite the freeze, demanded an extension of the freeze when it elapsed, and are still refusing direct talks in any event. So, that’s where we are today. Obama, in the end, achieved a minor miracle of diplomatic incompetence: he elevated what was previously an issue to be negotiated between the parties in a final settlement to a precondition for further discussions, given the Palestinians a new alibi for intransigence, and increased Israel’s diplomatic isolation as well as becoming the least trusted American President among both Israel and the Palestinians. Quite an achievement, that.

          His courtship of the gangster-mullahs of Iran has followed a similar trajectory. The problems with Iran, he was sure, stemmed from America’s hawkish and aggressive posturing, from which Iran’s rulers, seeking only comity and peaceful co-existence, had naturally and understandably recoiled. Our beastliness and our warmongering had driven them to pursue nuclear weapons, to lavishly fund terrorism in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and to take harsh measures against its own people. Our hostility and duplicity (“lying” about WMD, you know?) have made it impossible for Iran’s rulers to negotiate with us in good faith; we are simply too untrustworthy. All that was needed here was an open hand offering friendship and a soft word, and the mullahs, being rational, reasonable folks just like us, would overcome their distrust and hostility, see the errors of their ways, and get with the program. Engagement was the key.

          Also, our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our blind and unscrupulous support for Israel’s “oppression” and “occupation” of the Palestinians, is the obstacle to Mideast peace and has understandably put into doubt our integrity, our impartiality, and our good faith.

          In sum: the furies wreaking havoc both in and from the region come not from culturally and politically dysfunctional societies long wedded to a centuries-old pathology of violence, oppression, corruption, and cultural stagnation, but, rather from the United States, and, of course, Israel.

          Obama’s handling of the I/P peace process has gone to pot, and in return for the open hand of friendship he extended to the mullahs he got a clenched fist and a thumb in his eye. The mullahs spat contempt on his friendly gestures, brutally suppressed a pro-democracy protest to a rigged election, and continued ahead unabashedly with their nuclear program.

          The President ignored the mullahs’ rebuffs, snored through the brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy Green Movement, and continued dreaming his no-more-nuclear-weapons dreams all the way to his fall-2009 UN speech even after an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility had been discovered at Qom, which he deemed too impolitic to mention, lest it derail his “engagement” fantasies with the mullahs.

          The President, to be fair, seems to have recovered from a few of his dewy-eyed assumptions: he now realizes that the mullahs’ pursuit of a nuclear weapon will not be deterred by friendly gestures, and he has recently been acquainted with the stone-cold wall of Palestinian rejectionism.

          He seems to have genuinely thought that by putting distance between the US and Israel, and criticizing the settlements, he would incur goodwill and concessions from the Palestinians. It did not. It merely raised their expectations about what he would deliver for them, increased their disappointment with him when he did not deliver, and intensified their intransigence. Obama’s whole approach was revealed to them for what it was: weakness to be exploited.

          However much they may have welcomed the criticism of both Israel and Bush in his 2009 Cairo speech, the tribal-minded among them could not have failed to see the faithlessness of his treatment of his ally, or the self-serving cynicism in his disparagement of one of his own countrymen in a foreign land. There is an old Arab saying: it is my brother and I against our neighbor, and all of us against the stranger. The President was revealed as a feckless, faithless, ingratiating equivocator who could be played for the duration. He just did not understand: the Arabs respect strength and resolution, and they despise weakness like a cockroach to be stomped on a kitchen floor. The President, alas, had been seen as a weak horse.

          The time when his words had any effect is long past. His efforts have come to naught, and, harassed by domestic concerns, he does little but splutter and whine about about his ineffectuality, and continue his stewardship of our decline.

          Perhaps the bin Laden hit will change that perception along with his attitude; I certainly hope so. But I have my doubts.

          I have the feeling that if the President was injected yesterday with truth-serum he would have said something like the following:

          “We all know what the real obstacle of ME peace is folks. It’s the settlements. Yep. You heard me. If only those loony right wing Israelis would stop their stupid settlement building, all would be well and there would be the peace. I’ve known this for a long time; my friend Rashid Kalhidi told me so.

          He also told me about what you Israelis have been getting away with all of these years while being appeased and pampered by the Jews, er, I mean, neo-cons in the Bush administration. You guys have had quite a ride, and think you’ve got it made here. You act like you own the joint. Well, I got news for the Jews: I’m president now and you’re not; Bush is now president of his Crawford ranch, and Cheney, well, don’t get me started on that war-mongering, water-boarding, neo-con troll, or I may never stop. Suffice to say, he can rot.

          I’ve had it up to here with all your settlement building and occupation and checkpoint shenanigans. And please shut up with all your whining about your “security.” I’m sick to death with hearing about it and I’ve heard it all before: blah, blah, blah. I’ve got other things to worry about than your stupid problems. Ever hear of health care, or the economy?

          My advisers tell me that making the kind of statements I’ve just made will piss off pro-Israel members in Congress and, of course, the people in the all-powerful Israel lobby. Stephen Walt can explain.

          And since I don’t intend to be put into early retirement a year from this November, I’ll make the perfunctory happy-face pro-Israel token statement I promised my pollsters and advisers I would make. Here goes:

          Israel is a great country and a wonderful friend.

          There, I said it. Happy now?!

        • Hostage says:

          It never ceases to amaze me how the President’s MSNBC cheerleaders seem to coo endlessly over these torturously nuanced speeches of his, where it becomes almost impossible to know what he is really trying to say unless Andrea Mitchell or Chris Matthews are there to translate for him.

          Cenk Uygur of MSNBC said that the President’s speech had been roundly condemned by Republicans, even though there was noting new in the statement about 1967 borders and agreed swaps. He correctly pointed out that the President’s statement discouraging the Palestinians from obtaining recognition of their state from the UN was ironic, since the Israelis had gone to the UN to get their own state.

          This [settlement freeze] shocked and bewildered many. Even the Palestinians had never made this a precondition for further talks, as it was always understood since the 1993 Oslo Accords that they would be dealt with in final status negotiations.

          Phase 1 of the Quartet Road Map said:

          “Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.”

          The Road Map was endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003).

          In any event, Israel’s attempts to alter the status of the territories through treaties, legislation, and administrative acts are null and void. The International Court of Justice reviewed the Oslo Accords as part of its own legal analysis of the status of the territory. The Court determined that the settlements violated Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly.

          The Mitchell report said:

          The Fourth Geneva Convention
          During the June War of 1967, Israeli armed forces occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1968, restated the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and applied this international principle specifically to the Israeli occupation of Arab territory. Since then, all serious efforts to end the Israeli-Arab conflict have depended on implementation of this resolution requiring the Israeli withdrawal from Arab territory acquired by force and the subsequent termination of all states of belligerency.

          Security Council Resolution 1322, consideration of which forms part of this Committee’s mandate, makes explicit reference to several other Security Council resolutions, all of which emphasize the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention (“Convention”) to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the illegality of Israel’s unilateral annexation of Jerusalem and of the steps Israel has taken to change the city’s character. The international community, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly affirmed that the Convention applies de jure to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the International Court of Justice has noted that the Geneva Conventions are customary international law as well. Israel itself originally recognised the Convention’s de jure applicability but subsequently reversed itself.

          The Committee’s recommendations are in line with the Convention, and appear directly linked to the Convention’s application. Israel’s settlement policy, for example, is “illegal under international law” precisely because of the application of Article 49 of the Convention which prohibits the transfer of an Occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory it occupies.

          CONCLUSION
          Israel’s emphasis on security considerations alone, while taken very seriously by the Palestinians, cannot dictate the course of peace talks or attempts to end the current crisis. The PNA has repeatedly expressed its desire to resume security cooperation with Israel within the context of those elements necessary to make such cooperation sustainable. The Committee has correctly identified that security cooperation is not sustainable without meaningful political negotiations and that such negotiations cannot exist while Israel continues to colonise the territory from which it is ostensibly negotiating a withdrawal.

        • Mensch says:

          Too long.

          Did not read.

          Sorry.

        • Hostage says:

          Invest your time wisely. If you can read and comprehend the word S-T-A-T-E when it appears in a Federal Court ruling, then the post wasn’t intended for you in the first place.

  18. I think Obama was speaking to a wider audience than just AIPAC, I understood his comments on Cairo/ Egypt as further proof that the Revolution was hijacked by multi-national corporate interests. The revolution has been about elite Egyptian businessman wanting a piece of the Emerging Egyptian Economy pie, at least until I see 80 million Egyptian lives improve and not just the elites and multi-nationals open markets.

  19. Jim Haygood says:

    ‘A growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River.’

    This is a bizarre formulation. To American ears, it’s like saying ‘a growing number of Mexicans live north of the Rio Grande,’ implying some sort of infiltration. From this statement, you’d never guess that Palestinians are FROM the area west of the Jordan River. Some who are hazy on geography and history will get a false impression.

    ‘Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people.’

    And its corollary: second-class citizenship for non-Jews. This is Barack Obama’s emphatic endorsement of Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous 1896 Supreme Court decision which held that making black folks ride in the colored railway carriage posed no constitutional problems. So, making Arabs live with legal disabilities in Israel is no problem either.

    It’s a real head-buster that America’s first black president would be standing tall for Ol’ Jim Crow overseas. But truth is stranger than fiction. And money talks. ;-)

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      Jim, I thought the “west of the Jordan” line was outrageous. The land “west of the Jordan” IS Palestine.

    • James says:

      that is a good way to summarize it.. someone ought to send it off to obama in a letter..

      ‘Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people.’

      “This is Barack Obama’s emphatic endorsement of Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous 1896 Supreme Court decision which held that making black folks ride in the colored railway carriage posed no constitutional problems. So, making Arabs live with legal disabilities in Israel is no problem either.”

      i gotta say the civil rights parallels are striking and it is disturbing that obama who surely can see them is unable to voice anything but the exact opposite…………

  20. iamuglow says:

    Its funny to read the reaction on twitter you’d think Obama called for the return of 1946 borders…..

    ‘Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps’

    Nothing new here.

    On the one hand its good that support for Israel is being presented as a partisan issue from the right…which could lead to it being discussed…on the on the other hand, as we know, Obama and the Democratic party are just as much in israel lobby as the Republicans….Its a fake debate…that comes up with a Pro-Israel party in power, no matter who wins.

    • Jim Haygood says:

      ‘Nothing new here.’

      Right — ’1967 borders with swaps’ were exactly where the negotiations stood before they broke off due to Israel’s refusal to extend the settlement freeze.

      Obama imagines that talks can just pick up where they left off — with no settlement freeze this time, and as if the Arab Spring and the Palestine Papers never happened.

      Obviously he doesn’t get out much.

      • Hostage says:

        Even the Bush administration endorsed the conclusions of the George Mitchell report:

        “Israel’s emphasis on security considerations alone, while taken very seriously by the Palestinians, cannot dictate the course of peace talks or attempts to end the current crisis. The PNA has repeatedly expressed its desire to resume security cooperation with Israel within the context of those elements necessary to make such cooperation sustainable. The Committee has correctly identified that security cooperation is not sustainable without meaningful political negotiations and that such negotiations cannot exist while Israel continues to colonise the territory from which it is ostensibly negotiating a withdrawal.”

        Obama claimed today that colonialism ended a half century ago.

      • iamuglow says:

        The headlines and twitter are all a flutter about Obama mentioning 1967 borders as if it is some bold new step and betrayal of Israel. It’s all BS, and IMO very deliberate…

        It creates this false sense of having a choice

        ‘you want to support Israel, choose Republicans!’
        ‘otherwise be different and vote Democrat!’

        But there is no difference. Obama didn’t say anything that George Bush didn’t say in his roadmap from 2002….

        ‘Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them. This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders. GWB’

        link to middleeast.about.com

  21. ig says:

    I agree with the sentiment that this speech could have been given at AIPAC. However, I think that the AIPACer’s will expect and get more in their own house. I cringe thinking about what we will hear there.

    The President hit all the high points: no American proposal for 2-states, no to Hamas, no to the Palestinian statehood proposal at the UN, no to criticizing settlements (can anyone say freeze) and no to the future Palestinian state’s right to self-defense, although in the same paragraph Mr. Obama stated that it is the right of every state.

    I am a bit surprised the President did not save all this for his date with AIPAC. But, I guess he may be taken at his word here when at AIPAC it could be dismissed as pandering.

    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.,

  22. eee says:

    Obama as good as said the US is against the right of return when he endorsed Israel as a Jewish state. So who will you guys vote for next presidential elections?

    • seafoid says:

      We can wait until peak oil , eee. Israel won’t make it to 100. Watch it all fall apart here.

      • eee says:

        Seafoid,

        So now you are waiting for peak oil? What will that help you? You might as well wait for the Messiah.

        In the meantime please tell any unemployed Irish Jew you see that we have plenty of jobs in Israel and that he/she are welcome here. Thank you.

        • seafoid says:

          The day the bond market turns on Israel will be the day to watch.

        • ToivoS says:

          eee if there are so many jobs in Israel why do 750,000 Israeli live and work over-seas. Over 10% of your own people have chosen to live elsewhere and you seem to think it is a promised land for Jews.

          Do you not see a small disconnect between state propaganda and the reality on the ground? Most rational thinkers would see a contradiction here.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “Obama as good as said the US is against the right of return when he endorsed Israel as a Jewish state.”
      Meh. That racist language has been part of US rhetoric for years. It’s not law; it can change. And, frankly, if you people didn’t believe in a fascistic ideology, it wouldn’t matter what you, Obama or anybody else called your shitty little entity.

      “So who will you guys vote for next presidential elections?”
      Whoever is the most progressive candidate.

      • Hostage says:

        That racist language has been part of US rhetoric for years. It’s not law; it can change.

        The establishment clause of the 1st Amendment be damned, it sure as hell is the law. It will take a majority of both houses of Congress or a Court decision to get it changed:

        U.S. Code Title 22, Chapter 32, Subchapter III, Part I, § 2378b “Limitation on assistance to the Palestinian authority”. The relevant portion regarding initial and semi-annual certifications provides:

        (b) Certification

        A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that—

        (1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has—

        (A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist; and ….

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          Hostage,

          I don’t read that as requiring anything more than an acknowledgement that the entity has “a right to exist” but doesn’t require an acknowledgment that the entity is a “Jewish state.”

          That goes without saying that both are idiotic notions, as there is no such thing as a state’s “right to exist” nor can a state be “Jewish” (and israel isn’t “Jewish” in any event, as it is 20-50% [depending on your definitions] non-Jewish) Dopey language, for sure. But it doesn’t do what eee thinks it does.

        • Hostage says:

          But it doesn’t do what eee thinks it does.

          The Congress has its own research service that could inform their opinion, but the power to conduct foreign relations resides with the Chief Executive. Any law that relies on the honesty of the President’s certifications to Congress never does accomplish anything, except aggravate the President and his State Department advisors.

          The fact is that the United States recognized the State of Palestine in 1932. The State Department used to put “Palestine” on the birth certificates of persons born in Jerusalem, until the government of Israel complained about the practice. In 1963, the State Department told the government of Israel that, in a de jure sense, Jerusalem was part of Palestine and that pending an agreed settlement it had not become part of any other sovereignty.

          The Congress has adopted laws suggesting that the US government should move its Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but no President has ever agreed to do that. §204 “Recognition and Maintaining Diplomatic Relations: Law of the United States”, in “The Restatement of the Law (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States” explains that under the Constitution of the United States the President has exclusive authority to recognize or not to recognize a foreign state or government and to recognize foreign sovereignty over territory. The President also has the constitutional authority to conclude international agreements related to recognition without authorization from Congress or consent of the Senate. See United States v Belmont, 301, US 324, 57 S Ct. 758, 81 L.Ed. 1134 (1937). It would be interesting to see if the White House or State Department would abide by a Supreme Court decision that says otherwise.

    • ToivoS says:

      Probably Obama. I never expected him to solve the IP issue and was really quite surprised when he announced the settlement freeze. We all know that the lobby controls US policy towards Israel and we all know that the lobby is dominated by the ultra-right.

      There are still a number of us who support the state of Israel and we see that they are currently on a destructive path and one that may well lead to the disintegration of the state. If Israel and her billionaire supporters here in the US want her to go down that road then they will prevail.

      My political interest is to try to get the US to get out of the way when it happens. Under no circumstances do I support nuclear war in order to protect Israel.

  23. It does not matter what Obama says — come on, it was entirely predictable anyway.

    Isarel seems destined to hang itself. Nothing can stop them. Let nature take its course.

    • seafoid says:

      I’m reading “the political economy of Israel’s occupation” by Shiri Hever. Subtitled “repression beyond exploitation”.

      Systems like this go to the bitter end. Beyond the point of salvation. Obama is just another bought politican.

      Apartheid was the same. There can only be one ending.

  24. Chu says:

    Our guy in the white white house (yes,the audacity of hope)
    earning his Jewish donors’ cash, true to form.
    Way to go, man!
    Larry Summers can help him draft
    this new ‘vision’ as we move down
    the path toward hell.

    • mig says:

      chu :

      “”Our guy in the white white house (yes,the audacity of hope)
      earning his Jewish donors’ cash, true to form.””

      ++++ Yup, according to wall street journal :

      Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel
      Jewish donors and fund-raisers are warning the Obama re-election campaign that the president is at risk of losing financial support because of concerns about his handling of Israel.

      The complaints began early in President Barack Obama’s term, centered on a perception that Mr. Obama has been too tough on Israel.
      Some Jewish donors say Mr. Obama has pushed Israeli leaders too hard to halt construction of housing settlements in disputed territory, a longstanding element of U.S. policy. Some also worry that Mr. Obama is putting more pressure on the Israelis than the Palestinians to enter peace negotiations, and say they are disappointed Mr. Obama has not visited Israel yet.

      One top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami developer Michael Adler, said he urged Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to be “extremely proactive” in countering the perception in the Jewish community that Mr. Obama is too critical of Israel.

      Rest of a “or else” here :
      link to online.wsj.com

      • mig says:

        Ah, didnt notice that this was allready in other topic. Well admin can use their might to remove my above reply. Sorry.

    • Walid says:

      We still don’t know exactly how much of the company store Erekat and Abbas had agreed to give to Israel and whatever it was, we can be sure that whatever had been agreed to in principle by the PA officials is as good as cash in the bank for Israel and it won’t budge from that starting point. In other words, if Erekat and Abbas had discussed a return of about 50,000 over 4 years (if I’m remembering the Wikileak on this subject correctly), then Israel will say that this number is now cut in stone and there’s nothing further to discuss on this point. I’m guessing that what the PA has already offered “in principle” to Israel is much more horrific than we can imagine.

    • seafoid says:

      A future generation of New Yorkers fleeing the city after a 2 metre rise in sea level due to climate collapse will wonder why so much energy when there was so much time to ACT went on fellating a client state in the far away Middle East that itself disappeared.

      This was about Bush but it’s about Obama too : .

      link to youtube.com
      Hey yo
      Lights, camera, tragedy, comedy, romance
      You better dance from your fighting stance
      Or you’ll never have a fighting chance
      In the rat race
      Where the referee’s son started way in advance
      But still you livin’ the American Dream
      Silk PJ’s, sheets and down pillows
      Who the fuck would wanna wake up?
      You got it good like hot sex after the break up
      Your four car garage it’s just more space to take up
      You even bought your mom a new whip scrap the jalopy
      Thousand dollar habit, million dollar hobby
      You a success story everybody wanna copy
      But few work for it, most get jerked for it
      If you think that you could ignore it, you’re ig-norant
      A fat wallet still never made a man free
      They say to eat good, yo, you gotta swallow your pride
      But dead that game plan, I’m not satisfied

      [Chorus]
      The poor get worked, the rich get richer
      The world gets worse, do you get the picture?
      The poor gets dead, the rich get depressed
      The ugly get mad, the pretty get stressed
      The ugly get violent, the pretty get gone
      The old get stiff, the young get stepped on
      Whoever told you that it was all good lied
      So throw your fists up if you not satisfied

      {*Singing*}
      Are you satisfied?
      I’m not satisfied

      Hey yo, the ants still steal
      The anthrax got my whole earth wearin’ a mask and gloves to get a meal
      I know a older guy that lost twelve close peeps on 9-1-1
      While you kickin’ up punchlines and puns
      Man fuck that shit, this is serious biz
      By the time Bush is done, you won’t know what time it is
      If it’s war time or jail time, time for promises
      And time to figure out where the enemy is
      The same devils that you used to love to hate
      They got you so gassed and shook now, you scared to debate
      The same ones that traded books for guns
      Smuggled drugs for funds
      And had fun lettin’ off forty-one
      But now it’s all about NYPD caps
      And Pentagon bumper stickers
      But yo, you still a nigga
      It ain’t right them cops and them firemen died
      The shit is real tragic, but it damn sure ain’t magic
      It won’t make the brutality disappear
      It won’t pull equality from behind your ear
      It won’t make a difference in a two-party country
      If the president cheats, to win another four years
      Now don’t get me wrong, there’s no place I’d rather be
      The grass ain’t greener on the other genocide
      But tell Huey Freeman don’t forget to cut the lawn
      And uproot the weeds
      Cuz I’m not satisfied

      [Chorus]

      {*Singing*}
      All this genocide
      Is not justified
      Are you satisfied?
      I’m not satisfied

      Yo, poison pushers making paper off of pipe dreams
      They turned hip-hop to a get-rich-quick scheme
      The rich minorities control the gov’ment
      But they would have you believe we on the same team
      So where you stand, huh?
      What do you stand for?
      Sit your ass down if you don’t know the answer
      Serious as cancer, this jam demands your undivided attention
      Even on the dance floor
      Grab the bull by the horns, the bucks by the antlers
      Get yours, what’re you sweatin’ the next man for?
      Get down, feel good to this, let it ride
      But until we all free, I’ll never be satisfied

  25. He said the right things.

    To Hamas he said, ‘if you don’t accept Israel at the basis of the green line, you will expose your people to endless war’

    To Israel, he said, ‘you have no good reason not to negotiate in good faith on the basis of 67 borders’.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “To Israel, he said, ‘you have no good reason not to negotiate in good faith on the basis of 67 borders’.”

      Except to the lunatics who buy into the Zionism garbage, the theft of Palestine from non-Jews is a sufficient reason.

  26. jon s says:

    I think the President’s speech was excellent: he hit all the right notes, morally and politically. It’s a new day .
    Moreover , I think that those who oppose the 2 state solution need to seriously address what may happen in September: the declaration of a Palestinian State, and it’s recognition by the UN and most of the world. We will be in a different reality: for example the presence of Israeli military and civilians on the territory of a sovereign state would be even more untenable than the present situation. The Palestinian authorities will also be under pressure to behave “responsibly” , as befits a state.
    So I’m asking opponents of the 2 ss : will you oppose the Palestinian state, because it will be based on the principle of partition? will you advocate its abolishment?

    • Sumud says:

      So I’m asking opponents of the 2 ss : will you oppose the Palestinian state, because it will be based on the principle of partition? will you advocate its abolishment?

      I’m not sure if you’ll get too many takers jon s, asking for the opinions of 2SS opponents. I think for most people the shift towards advocating for a single state in mandate Palestine is a pragmatic recognition that Israel has worked hard at making a Palestinian state impossible, and has succeeded, rather than them being ideologically opposed to two-states.

      I fall into that category at any rate. If I were Palestinian I wouldn’t accept anything less than 100% of the piddly 22% that is left of mandate Palestine. In fact I’d probably be advocating Israel be rolled back to the borders Israel officially accepted and acknowledged in 1948, the 55% allocated to Israel in the UN Partition Plan. I know you said on an older thread that UN 181 is dead, but it isn’t that simple. If Israel never annexed the land outside those of it’s declared borders – and it has not – then that land is also occupied territory.

    • Mensch says:

      Sumud raises some sharp points.
      a) There are few opponents of the 2-state, but many who have acquiesced to Israel’s destruction of the possibility of a viable Palestinian state in the WB and Gaza.
      b) Why should the Palestinians not demand the 1948 borders?

      • Hostage says:

        b) Why should the Palestinians not demand the 1948 borders?

        After Israel withdrew from Gaza, the Security Council adopted resolution Resolution 1860 (2009) which says that territory will be part of any Palestinian state. So, Gaza is no longer negotiable.

        The Palestinians asserted a claim to the 1948 borders through a safeguarding clause in the 1949 Armistice agreement. However, the West Bank Palestinians were represented in the Jordanian government that signed the agreement. It permits Israel to govern the territory until any changes are mutually agreed upon. Resolution 242 does not give Israel the right to violate that agreement. King Abdullah of Jordan did conclude a special agreement that would have provided for a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza and access to Israeli ports, but when the details became public, his Cabinet resigned. See Foreign relations of the United States, 1950. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, page1095

        Bear in mind that the UN Mediator and nearly every Arab leader who had dealt with Israel in the Armistice negotiations was assassinated – Nokrashy in Egypt, Zaim in Syria, Riad Solh in Lebanon, and Abdullah in Jordan. The diplomatic history of the agreements shows that they were intended to be permanent settlements that would only be subject to minor revisions. The safeguarding clauses simply provided the negotiators with a plausible alibi. In any event, most of the negotiators ended-up being charged by their own Arab and Jewish citizens with permanently ceding away parts of the Arab or Jewish homeland.

        Under international law, an armistice agreement allows the belligerents the same rights and duties as those of an ordinary state. Those rights are not limited to the rules contained in the Hague regulations or the Geneva Conventions. Both Israel and Jordan extended their municipal jurisdiction to the new territories. Despite complaints from the Arab League, that was perfectly legal under the terms of their agreements.

        • Sumud says:

          Thank you Hostage. As always your comments are information packed – a valuable contribution to Mondoweiss. Much appreciated.

        • Hostage says:

          You are welcome Sumud. It is possible that the Organization of Islamic Conference states will back a referral of the 2007 and 2011 requests of Special Rapporteurs Dugard and Falk for an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ – just like they did back in 2004. I think the Saudis and the Arab League gave Obama a deadline after he was elected and that his time is running out.

          If the Court does a legal analysis on the specific questions of “annexation”, “ethnic cleansing”, “occupation”, “colonialism”, and “apartheid” that were asked by both Dugard and Falk, then the use of the partition plan, the armistice agreement, and the Six Day War to violate the rights of the Palestinian inhabitants will come into play – along with the role played by the so-called Quartet in continuing to place obstacles in the way of obtaining a just settlement.

          The Abbas Op-Ed in the New York Times indicates that pursuit of claims through the ICJ will be one result of UN recognition of a Palestinian State. The written submissions in the earlier case from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, & Syria already charged Israel with ethnic cleansing and apartheid, but the resolution requesting the opinion did not ask that specific question. There is no parallel to the Nambia case. The Swiss-cheese map that the Israelis are proposing is analogous to South Africa and Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei.

          I don’t believe there will ever be progress until a Court permanently forecloses some of the illegal ideas that are being floated for a “negotiated” settlement.

  27. Woody Tanaka says:

    This was a sop to Israel and the Jewish donors in America. The giveaway was the statement “In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions…”

    Come on. Christianity, Islam, Hindu and Buddhism are “world reglions.” Judaism can be a fine belief system, if you’re into religion, but to say that it is a “world religion” is nonsense. It is a tribal religion that 99.8% of the world doesn’t practice.

    • As the mother of Christianity and the acknowledged predecessor of Islam, Judaism is a world religion because it still exists at any number over 100,000 and is the acknowledged forerunner of two religions that measure in the billions.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        To mean all that means is that Judaism is just a small religion that gave rise to two world religions but is not, itself, a world religion.

      • Mooser says:

        “As the mother of Christianity and the acknowledged predecessor of Islam, Judaism is a world religion because it still exists at any number over 100,000 and is the acknowledged forerunner of two religions that measure in the billions.”

        Whoopee! Patsh zich in tuchis und schrei “hooray”!!!

  28. American says:

    This reminds of when Vanity Fair magazine columnist James Wolcott said of Hillary’s speech at AIPAC… “She did everything but squat and shit a turd for Israel.”

    His exact words btw, not mine.

  29. MRW says:

    What’s the news from Europe and Asia and Latin America? Obama is not their president. And as I understand it, the General Assembly can help Palestine this fall.

    • Bumblebye says:

      Just listening to bbcR4 news, Jeremy Bowen was saying something about Netanyahu being upset that Obama suggested a Palestinian border with Jordan. Suppose it’s not in his bantustan plan!

  30. petersz says:

    This reminds about Scotland. One third of Scottish people apparently want “independence” from England. But does the Scottish National Party who have the majority of seats in the Scottish parliament really want independence and is Scotland capable of being a viable independent state? The answer is no. The SNP is not even calling for a separate currency from England or even a separate Foreign policy and the Queen would still be head of state. Had Scotland been independent in 2008 two of the UK banks were in Scotland that needing bailing out which was possible for a country of 60 million but not 7 million. An independent Scotland would be in an even worse position than Greece is today and it was a banking collapse in 1707 that forced Scotland in to the union of the 2 countries. It is quite obvious that a Palestinian “state” that everyone talks about is not viable either. Palestinians and Israelis use the same currency, would a Palestinian “state” keep the Israeli currency as well and would its security and control of airspace be under the rule of the Knesset as Israelis seem to insist. Is it possible for 2 independent states to exist in such a tiny area. I think the answer is no as Meron Benvenisti former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem has also come to this conclusion.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      If that is the case, then the continued insistance on the occupation and the judeo-fascist policies of the Zionist state are all the more evil.

    • Hostage says:

      petersz,

      Too much of the revenue producing Arab land and properties were included in the territory of the proposed Jewish State for the proposed Arab state to ever be economically viable. That’s why the original UN plan of partition included the establishment of an Economic Union which would have redistributed revenues to the Arab State and provisions that allowed the Palestine Commission to implement the plan in the event that either side didn’t sign onto the agreement by April of 1948.

      The US State Department had complained in its position paper on the UNSCOP report that:

      “Clarification should be sought with regard to the problem of the viability of the two states. On page 53 of the UNSCOP report it is stated that “the creation of two viable States is considered essential to a partition scheme”. Yet on page 48 of the report it is indicated that the Arab state will be forced to call for financial assistance “from international institutions in the way of loans for expansion of education, public health and other vital social services of a non-self-supporting nature.” Moreover, the technical note on the viability of the proposed states prepared by the Secretariat (pp. 55-56) is not conclusive as regards the viability of the Arab State. In view of the central importance of the question of viability as stressed in the Committee’s report, a special subcommittee of the Ad Hoc Committee should be established to consider this question.”

      A technical note from the Secretariat explained that loss of grain and other revenue from Jaffa would adversely effect the Arab State under the UNSCOP and all of the earlier plans of partition. The Committee said that without some redistribution of customs from the Jewish state, the Arab Palestine would not be economically viable. See United Nations Special Committee on Palestine Report to the General Assembly, A/364, 3 September 1947, “A Technical Note On The Viability Of The Proposed Partition States Prepared By The Secretariat” and Foreign relations of the United States, 1947. The Near East and Africa Volume V, Page 1167

      So Israel was established at the expense of the Palestinians and has always shifted its obligations to other states in the region and UNRWA donors.

      Palestine is still being bailed-out by the international community through the AHLC donor mechanism. There are many experts who say the common currency of the Eurozone has exacerbated the debt crisis for the countries, because they no longer control their own currencies or issue their own public bonds.

      Your comment portrays the Palestinians as dependent on Israel, but the state of Israel stole billions of shekels from Palestinian laborers over the decades; imported foreign laborers; closed-off the territories; and palmed-off its expenses as the responsible occupying power onto the international community.

      Palestine belongs to the Arab Economic Union, and the Arab free trade zone. The EU has allowed the US and Israel to interfere with its own proposals for a relationship with Palestine under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (1995 to 2004), European Neighbourhood Policy (2004 to mid-2008), and Union for the Mediterranean (mid-2008 to 2010).

      Benvenisti and the Knesset are trying to reintroduce the hierarchy of states so that Palestine can be converted into a dependent demilitarized autonomous state.

      • Donald says:

        “Benvenisti and the Knesset are trying to reintroduce the hierarchy of states so that Palestine can be converted into a dependent demilitarized autonomous state.”

        I think Meron Benvenisti is in favor of a binational state, not the two state solution.

        • Hostage says:

          I think Meron Benvenisti is in favor of a binational state, not the two state solution.

          The right of self-determination includes statehood. It is the subject of legal protections and judicial remedies like any other right. Benvenisti’s suggestion that it can ever be “too late” to respect the law and the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants of the occupied territories does mean that they are considered second class non-self-governing or dependent peoples whose wishes are secondary to the Jewish minority.

  31. Shingo says:

    Where’s Witty to tell us that he saw the speech differently and see’s it as a positive sign Ibama is serious about resolving the conflict, and that only Obama’s approach is the realistic one?

  32. Les says:

    Haaretz
    Published 21:25 19.05.11
    Latest update 21:25 19.05.11
    Obama granted Netanayhu a major diplomatic victory
    After Obama accepted Netanyahu’s demands, the PM now cannot be apathetic to the U.S. president’s proposal for 1967 borders.
    By Aluf Benn

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can feel satisfied while flying to Washington Thursday night. U.S. President Barack Obama has granted Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory.

    In return for his call for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, without defining the size of these lands, Obama accepted Netanyahu’s demands for strict security arrangements and a gradual, continuous withdrawal from the West Bank.

    He suggested beginning negotiations on borders and security arrangements, and delaying discussions on the core issues such as Jerusalem and refugees.

    More importantly, Obama scornfully rejected the Palestinian initiative to attain recognition at the United Nations and to isolate Israel, demanded the Palestinians return to negotiations, and called on Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. These points came straight out of the policy pages of the Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem. Netanyahu could not have asked for more: Obama outright rejects Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ recognition campaign, as well as the Palestinian reconciliation agreement.
    . . .

    link to haaretz.com

  33. It’s not exactly clear what Palestine backers were hoping for from Obama’s speech. The statement regarding 67 borders and land swaps means that Obama in the middle of his first term has come out publicly with a deal more favorable to the Palestinians than the Clinton parameters of December 2000, something offered weeks before the end of his second term. The problem is how the vague general statement made by Obama will interplay with other events. There is very little indication that the Palestinians have any choice but to pursue the UN recognition extravaganza and the reconciliation attempt, which is supposed to lead to elections, so Obama’s next steps are not clear. A lot of the press that I’ve read expects the Hamas Fatah reconciliation to fall apart after September and before elections. I’m not sure what the pressures are on Hamas or Fatah, so I really can’t make any predictions.

    • kapok says:

      “I’m not sure what the pressures are on Hamas or Fatah…”

      Ok, here’s a hint: Death from the sky! you gold-plate maroon!

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “It’s not exactly clear what Palestine backers were hoping for from Obama’s speech.”

      I was hoping that there would be some indication that he was interested in justice for the Palestinians in their homeland that he was interested in being something other than an AIPAC ass-licker.

      • Woody- If you were truly expecting “a justice for Palestinians” speech from Obama you haven’t been paying attention these 28 months of his presidency.

        The timing of Obama’s speech was designed to preempt Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress and therefore there was only one key line: 67 borders as the basis. Whether the gain from making the statement will be worth it in the struggle of wills between Netanyahu and Obama will be played out in the next few years.

        All this Aipac ass licker rhetoric I guess is considered appropriate blogosphere rhetoric, but I’m not really impressed.

        • James North says:

          WJ: Good point.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          wondering jew,

          You didn’t ask what I was expecting, you asked what I hoped for.

          And I don’t concern myself with whether you’re impressed or not with the expression “AIPAC ass-licker.” I don’t use it to impress anyone, I used it because what I wanted to say probably would not have been permitted.

  34. So this was the general speech, for all Americans. Sundays whoring to AIPAC will be the speech for all status-quo-supporters. Then why doesn’t he balance that with a third speech for the justice-seekers? He could deliver a speech when the US Ship to Gaza departs, for example.

  35. ish says:

    Isn’t calling for the State of Palestine to be “demilitarized” key here? I mean I’m quite against war, but the Palestinians must have the right to defend themselves. Otherwise this is just the proposal for a Bantustan a la Bophutatswana and Transkei. Apartheid indeed.

    • lysias says:

      As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat.

      If every state has the right to self-defense, doesn’t that mean that the new Palestinian state must also be able to defend itself against any threat? Just how does a demilitarized Palestine do that?

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      ish, You are absolutely right. There is nothing in the “demilitarization” plan that is, in any way, just. Indeed, as Obama said, every state has a right to defend itself, as, indeed, every people, have a right to defend themselves. Thus, the Palestinians must be permitted the weapons needed to fight their tormentors.

    • pjdude says:

      calling for a demilitarized palestinians state is calling for no palestinians state. a military and the ability to freely defends own territory is one of the most fundemental aspects of a state.

  36. yourstruly says:

    open the door, presiden barack hussein obama*

    open the door and let us** in

    open the door president barack hussein obama

    open the door and let us in

    how?

    by his declaring that justice for palestine + troops now is the way towards a just peace in the mideast

    turnabout?

    just around the corner

    at most a half an hour

    one can count on it

    based on?

    it’s in the stars

    *to the tune of “open the door richard”

    **us, as in the all for one and one for all

  37. I assume you read Netanyahu’s reaction, not so positive.

    AIPAC influence? Prove it.

    A speech for AIPAC? Good, he says the same thing to all audiences. Integrity.

    • annie says:

      integrity?

      hahahahahahahahahahaha

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “AIPAC influence? Prove it.”

      Witty in Astronomy 101: “The Earth goes around the sun? Prove it.”
      Witty in English 101: “The word ‘house’ is a noun? Prove it.”
      Witty in Biology 101: “Blood carries oxygen? Prove it.”
      Witty in Physics 101: “If I let go of a stone, it falls to the floor? Prove it.”
      Witty in Math 101: “1 + 1 = 2? Prove it.”
      etc.

      • Donald says:

        Witty fish in the ocean: “You mean there’s such a thing as water? Prove it.”

        I’m a broken record on this subject, but American liberals who want to sound sympathetic to Palestinians often phrase the issues in ways that suggest Palestinians are inferior beings whose lives and rights don’t matter as much as those of Israelis. It’s there all through the I/P section of Obama’s speech. Witty doesn’t notice it because those assumptions permeate his own thinking.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Witty doesn’t notice it because those assumptions permeate his own thinking.”

          I think that is exactly right. When someone like Witty or some PEP tries to pump up their liberal/progressive credentials and goes off on how the situation for their favored group constitutes an exception, then I just shake my head at the complete lack of self-awareness.

    • Shingo says:

      Prove it.

      How do you like that? Witty, who can never produce a link to verify his claims (because he claims he can never find them) or who invents quotes is demanding that someone else come up with….PROOF.

      • Mooser says:

        “How do you like that? Witty, who can never produce a link to verify his claims (because he claims he can never find them) or who invents quotes is demanding that someone else come up with….PROOF.”

        Gosh, Shingo, you noticed that, too? But he’s so subtle about it, how did you get wise to him? I mean, it’s not like it’s obvious or anything.

    • Elliot says:

      Netanyahu’s selling point to his constituency is: “I am standing firm against Obama.”
      If Obama had offered to build the Third Temple in Jerusalem, demolish Gaza and forcibly move all American Jews to cities on the West Bank built by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Netanyahu would still have needed to find something to kvetch about.
      At least, Netanyahu has revealed that his supposed support for a 2ss was a big, fat lie.

  38. seafoid says:

    Maybe Obama is playing Bibi like a violin. He knows that anything other than Bibi’s 6 conditions -Jerusalem, Jordan valley etc – is suicide for Likud/YESHA. He knows Israel can only tolerate the status quo. Even the little he has suggested is “Auschwitz”. Israel’s reaction is so over the top it’s ridiculous. Maybe it’s going to be death by 1000 cuts.

  39. pjdude says:

    I still don’t understand why US presidents talk about the 1967 armistice line as being the border. the US can not legally recognize those borders. to do so would be ignoring a signed treaty and there fore unconstitutional.

    the treaty in question is the montevideo convention.

    • Hostage says:

      I still don’t understand why US presidents talk about the 1967 armistice line as being the border. the US can not legally recognize those borders. to do so would be ignoring a signed treaty

      Article 103 of the UN Charter explains that:

      “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.”

      Treaties negotiated in accordance with the Constitution, like the UN Charter, are part of the laws of the land in accordance with the Supremacy clause of the Constitution itself.

      The armistice lines were agreed upon by the parties concerned. The UN Security Council accepted the terms of the agreements and cited Chapter VII of the UN Charter when it directed the parties to observe the agreements pending a final settlement. See UN SC resolution 73.

      Under the terms of the UN Charter, members have agreed to accept the decisions of the Security Council when it is acting on their behalf in the maintenance of international peace and security (Articles 24 & 25).

      The Declaration regarding the principles of international law contained in the Charter says:

      Every State has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate the existing international boundaries of another State or as a means of solving international disputes, including territorial disputes and problems concerning frontiers of States.

      Every State likewise has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate international lines of demarcation, such as armistice lines, established by or pursuant to an international agreement to which it is a party or which it is otherwise bound to respect.

  40. “Obama won’t have to write another speech for AIPAC on Monday”

    Obama was afraid he’d be taken up in the Rapture on May 21st so he planned ahead of his AIPAC speech to include meaty morsels of love to Israel.

  41. Obama did say ostensibly the same thing to AIPAC.

    More power to him. A skilled man with backbone.