This morning Mr. President you are so popular in Israel. You are the king of Israel. You did great job. It will be such a shame if you lose the next elections after such a speech.
While you where speaking at the UN, Ahed Wahdan, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot yesterday by Israeli soldiers with rubber bullet in his eye, listened to you.
Farmers in the Palestinian village Deir Estya, who lost their 500 fig and olive trees after settlers set fire to their lands the day before, also listened to you. They were joined by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jail, Palestinians under siege in Gaza, Palestinians in refugee camps. We all listened to you, and so did millions in the Arab World.
We listened to you when you talked about Israel’s citizens who have been killed by rockets fired at their houses, and that other children are taught to hate Israeli children. Do you not think that Israeli children hear what is said by rabbis who preach hate about Arabs? And we listened about Jewish suffering. No doubt Jewish people have suffered Mr. Obama, but let us put things in order: Jewish people are not the victims here. The Israeli state is not the victim; it is the occupier and the oppressor which continues to deny Palestinians living in their homeland and in exile ‘their universal right to live in freedom and dignity’.
When you fail to mention Palestinian suffer under occupation, when you fail to consider Palestinian children as equal human beings who deserve a better future, who are also entitled to human rights, you might win elections, but you lose your integrity, and you make it clear to everyone why the ‘so called peace process’ should be out of your hands.
We listened to you when you said “there are no shortcuts”, we couldn’t stop wondering, how come South Sudan deserved such a shortcut? A new precedent has been made with the case of South Sudan, UN recognition in five days. No need to answer, we understand that the interests there are different, and so are the standards and the values.
You are telling us: after 63 years of ongoing Nakba, dispossession, denial of our basic rights, killing and imprisonment of our people, there are no shortcuts. You are telling us: that after the PLO compromised, recognized Israel and accepted only 22% of Palestine (and Palestinians can’t access 60% of that), there are no shortcuts, and after 20 years of negotiations that lead nowhere there are no shortcuts. Is that why the US vetoed 42 security council resolutions critical of Israel against the whole world? Actually Mr. Obama it is not a shortcut we are looking for, it’s an end to the occupation and apartheid, and that’s the one thing we have learned your negotiation process will not give us.
We listened to you when you talked about the Arab Spring with such a passion. We listened with much suspicion, as America was very happy with the leaders of those countries who ruled for decades, and did not care then for Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan, Syrian, Yemeni and Bahraini aspirations for freedom and dignity. And we know that you won’t leave those nations alone.
We listened to you and we did not understand why Palestinian freedom and dignity can wait? The only thing your speech made clear is that you do not dare to speak honestly.
If anything you should have learned from the Arab Spring is that you can’t dismiss the intelligence of the Arabs, especially the new generation. Your popularity, and America’s, in the Arab world passes through Palestine. There is no other way. So far, elections, and the support of the Israel lobby, seem to matter more to you. We understand this. But your image as a hypocrite will be engraved in the minds of people around the world and will be difficult to change.
You mentioned the word hope many times in your speech. We too have hopes and we believe ‘we can’, even without your support.
Abir Kopty blogs here. Follow her twitter feed @abirkopty. A media analyst and consultant and political activist, she is a former city council member in Nazareth & former spokeswoman for Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel.