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Obama says peace talks are pointless because Netanyahu won’t see the ‘best’ in others

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President Obama is throwing in the towel on the peace process; he will not try again in the next 18 months. And he warns Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to turn away from the politics of fear and his inability to see the “best possibilities” in Arabs and Palestinians. And P.S., the U.S. won’t be able to defend Israel at the U.N. anymore.

The president made these statements in an interview with Israeli Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan that aired yesterday. Haaretz says Israeli ministers have been ordered to shut up about the interview.

Netanyahu’s famous lecture of Obama in the White House four years ago? It is repaid here; President Obama is giving the upstart P.M. some free advice. Here’s Obama’s first statement about the politics of fear and Netanyahu’s inability to see the best in others:

I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who’s predisposed to security, to think perhaps that peace is naive, to see the worst possibilities as opposed to the best possibilities in Arab partners or Palestinian partners. And so I do think right now those politics and those fears are driving the government’s response. And I understand it. But what may seem wise and prudent on the short term can actually end up being unwise over the long term.

And if the status quo is not resolved, because of the demographics, because of the pressures and the frustrations that are going to exist in the West Bank and certainly already exist in Gaza, that over time, Israel is going to have a choice about the nature of the Israeli state and its character, and if it loses its essential values that are enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, that is something that has to be guarded against as well.

Dayan says that despite his last minute campaign promise to never allow a Palestinian state, Netanyahu is actually for a Palestinian state, and has shown he does in recent statements. “He does endorse a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel… Why not take him at his word?” Obama isn’t buying it:

I think when he spoke right before the election, he was fairly unequivocal in saying that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership. As long as he was prime minister, there wouldn’t be two states. Subsequently his statements have suggested that there is a possibility of a Palestinian state, but it has so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met anytime in the near future. And so the danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution. The statement the prime minister made compounded that belief that there’s not a commitment there.

Dayan notes that in his Atlantic interview, Obama referred to Netanyahu’s pre-election statements about Arabs and against two states and said that they will have consequences. This is Haaretz’s story, Obama won’t defend Israel at the U.N. anymore.

The practical consequences I referred to, let’s be very specific, if there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations.

Up until this point we have pushed away against European efforts for example, or other efforts. Because we’ve said, the only way this gets resolved is if the two parties worked together. Well, here’s the challenge. If in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult, to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation, it’s more difficult for me to say to them, ‘Be patient. Wait, because we have a process here,’ because all they need to do is to point to the statements that have been made to say, ‘There is no process.’

Now he throws in the towel. Dayan asks, “Do you think there’s a chance of you giving it another try in the next 18 months.”

I don’t see a likelihood of a framework agreement. I don’t see the likelihood of us being able to emerge from Camp David or some other process and hold up hands and say–

Dayan: You’re not that naive?


Again he turns to the politics of fear at the end of this video excerpt.

There’s no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu and I come from different political traditions and have different orientations. I am less worried about any particular disagreement that I have with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I am more worried about what I described earlier, which is an Israeli politics that’s motivated only by fear. And that then leads to a loss of those core values that, when I was young and I was admiring Israel from afar, were what were the essence of this nation. There are things that you can lose that don’t just involve rockets.

A lecture, and a spiritual one at that.

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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81 Responses

  1. RobertHenryEller on June 3, 2015, 3:26 pm

    Netanyahu literally does not see Palestinians as human.

    Just like his father. In their own words:

    • on June 3, 2015, 4:51 pm

      Oh. And by the way. To show how serious I am, here is an additional aid package of another $1 or $2 billion per year to buy weapons to keep killing the Gazans and the Lebanese if that is your planned summer killing spree.

      Good words from Obama.

      Horrific actions

      • CigarGod on June 4, 2015, 9:33 am

        I always want the whole idealistic enchilada, too. However, Obama has to stir up a recipe that is deliciously persuasive but not so hot that there is a riot in the restaurant. Imo, we are in spotty…but open revolt in usa. Half the country is ready to jump to their feet and drag him to a tree. This looks like a signal to those who like to write UN resolutions.

      • Froggy on June 4, 2015, 5:48 pm

        Obama’s financial support of this murderous military is a war crime, or it it isn’t, it should be.

    • JLewisDickerson on June 3, 2015, 6:45 pm

      RE: “Netanyahu literally does not see Palestinians as human. Just like his father.” ~ RobertHenryEller

      SEE – “Bibi’s Father’s Answer to the ‘Arab Problem’: Hang ’Em in the Town Square”, By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 4/04/09

      [EXCERPTS] Imagine, if you will, if Barack Obama’s real father was Rev. Jeremiah Wright and imagine, if you will, that Wright gave an eight-page interview to USA Today the week of Obama’s inauguration. Then you can imagine the “interest” with which such a ‘Maariv’ interview with Bibi Netanyahu’s father was met in Israeli circles.
      Noam Sheizaf, who works for Maariv, has translated portions of the interview . . .
      . . . And without further ado, I give you, Ben Zion Netanyahu, the father of the man:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . • Question: You don’t like the Arabs, to say the least.
      Benzion Netanyahu: “The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases.
      The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetuate war.”. . .
      . . . • Question: Is there any hope of peace?
      Benzion Netanyahu: …No…The two states solution doesn’t exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation … they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.”
      • Question: So what’s the solution?
      Benzion Netanyahu: “No solution but force… strong military rule. Any outbreak will bring upon the Arabs enormous suffering. We shouldn’t wait for a big mutiny to start, but rather act immediately with great force to prevent them from going on…
      If it’s possible, we should conquer any disputed territory in the land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war. We should conquer Gaza, and parts of the Galil, and the Golan. This will bring upon us a bloody war. . .
      . . . There is valuable experience [on this matter] we don’t pay notice to. I mean the Ottoman rule over the Arabs. The Turks ruled over the Arabs for 400 years, and there was peace and quiet everywhere. The Arabs hated the Ottomans, but every little thing they did brought mass killings and hanging in towns squares. They were hanging people in Damascus, and Izmir… every town had hanging posts in its center…the Arabs were so badly beaten, they didn’t dare revolt. Naturally, I don’t recommend the use of hangings as a show of force like the Turks did, I just want to show that the only thing that might move the Arabs from the rejectionist position is force. . .


      • pabelmont on June 3, 2015, 8:42 pm

        JLD: Thanks for showing us Bibi’s father’s remarks. “The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab.” Didn’;t like being rules by furriners, whether Muslims (Ottomans) or Jews (Israelis). But then, to be sure, the Jews (Israel Jews that is) don’t bow to anyone, would not be ruled by GB, used terror to evict the rulers, qadn terror to evict the Arabs. dod the Israeli Jews evidence am essential tendency toward conflict? Looks that way. Kettles and Pots are all black?

  2. pabelmont on June 3, 2015, 3:39 pm

    So President Obama has threatened to allow a European UNSC resolution go through? Good. Threats are good things. (I didn’t hear it in the video — was it there? When did he say this?). But will he follow through? 18 months is very little time.m If he wants to get any business done it must be done before ANY next president takes office, for all candidates may be expected to “owe” something to the Adelsons among us.

    • Krauss on June 3, 2015, 3:50 pm

      The French UNSC resolution is basically the American position in the late 90s. The fact that is seen as “radical” is just a testament to how far the goalposts have been shifted, probably permanently. (Of course even back then those conditions were impossible but it was at least possible to pretend otherwise. Today, nobody is fooled. The Apartheid state has grown so much as to swamp everything else).

      Also, Phil, yes Obama said all those things.

      He also defended the Apartheid alliance over and over again. He also used the demographic argument (can you imagine Obama doing so to a white-ruled country to a non-white population?).

      He obviously thinks Jewish apartheid is more acceptable than white Apartheid and he is keeping his eyes on the post-presidential speaking tour.

      What was this interview about? Washing his hands, not “going after Israel”. So he can say in his memoirs that he did his best etc (horseshit). He’ll sell the Palestinians down the river until the very end.

      Obama is a reactionary on this question. That he is dragging his feet is just an indication that the earth if moving beneath him. Just like he dragged on gay marriage. So his statements should be seen as a reflection of the broader sea change, not as any real liberalism on his part(hahaha!).

      • JLewisDickerson on June 3, 2015, 6:51 pm

        RE: “He [i.e., Obama] obviously . . . is keeping his eyes on the post-presidential speaking tour.” ~ Krauss

        MY REPLY: Not to mention the billion or so dollars he needs to raise for his presidential library! ! !

    • annie on June 3, 2015, 4:03 pm

      (I didn’t hear it in the video — was it there? When did he say this?) – See more at:

      i think it was here:

      The practical consequences I referred to, let’s be very specific. if there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations.

      albeit, i think the punctuation should read:

      “The practical consequences I referred to, let’s be very specific, if there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations.”

      she quoted him from an interview in the atlantic when he said “all that has foreign policy consequences” (video 5:40) then she says “i must ask you on a practical level mr prez ‘what is it israel is getting from the US today that it might not get in the future?’ ” obama goes on to say the US provides israel security, intel, military assistance’ etc and that won’t change. and then at 6:09 he starts talking about the practical circumstances and says “if there are additional resolutions at the UN” implying — we can’t hold them (europe) off forever if they don’t believe palestinians have no partner in negotiation.

    • Robert Brooks on June 4, 2015, 11:41 am

      Pablemont, I’m with you. I heard a hint that things may change in UNSC, a consequence of Israeli hardened position, but the word I was looking for–the USA won’t use its veto–wasn’t there. But the upside is that we will not waste time taking Bibi’s bait to resume the peace process.

  3. eljay on June 3, 2015, 3:39 pm

    And if the status quo is not resolved, because of the demographics, because of the pressures and the frustrations that are going to exist in the West Bank and certainly already exist in Gaza, that over time, Israel is going to have a choice about the nature of the Israeli state and its character …

    Barry O.’s concern is not that Israel is a supremacist “Jewish State” and a rogue state that has been committing (war) crimes for almost 70 years and with impunity.

    Barry O.’s concern is that Israel might not resolve the “status quo” in time to prevent “demographics” and blowback from oppressed Palestinians from threatening its existence as a supremacist “Jewish State”.

    A real humanitarian he is, that Barry O. Give the man (another) Peace Prize.

    • Empiricon on June 3, 2015, 4:38 pm

      Consider, in the context of RobertHenryEller’s comments below, the audience to whom he was speaking — Israelis. He seems to be trying to speak to them somewhat from their perspective, rather than call them out as the “rogue state that has been committing (war) crimes for almost 70 years and with impunity.”

      While I agree with that characterization, what would his making such a statement do to try to change the collectively sick mindset of Israelis. As the saying goes, you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

      • eljay on June 3, 2015, 6:45 pm

        || Empiricon @ June 3, 2015, 4:38 pm ||

        Barry O. has no problem openly condemning and even existentially threatening states like Iran, Russia and North Korea. There’s no valid reason for him to treat Israel any differently.

        And while I don’t expect him to tell Israelis that they are a “rogue state that has been committing (war) crimes for almost 70 years and with impunity”, I do expect him – and other world leaders – to advocate and uphold the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality.

  4. Citizen on June 3, 2015, 3:50 pm

    I’d like to be a fly on the wall when Obama agave his private observations regarding the plight of the Palestinians and the power of AIPAC, and on the single focus agenda of Zionist billionaires and their impact on the best interests of the USA and humanity.

  5. jd65 on June 3, 2015, 4:03 pm

    Wow… As far as U.S. political rhetoric/posturing goes, that’s actually pretty solid of Obama. “Solid” as in calling a spade a spade. At the moment I’m impressed. I’m currently pressed for time, so I’ve only read the quotes in the above article. Will watch the video and see if there’s more to it later tonight. Thanks for the heads up…

  6. Kay24 on June 3, 2015, 4:08 pm

    All nicely said Mr. President, and I do agree with you, but the question is, why then do you keep supporting this rogue state led by Bibi who obviously keeps the status quo going by fear mongering and doomsday predictions? You have always given it unwavering support, increased the aid, protected them at the UN, and handed them more weapons. If you cease to do this, Bibi and his band of warmongers will change their tune quickly.

  7. a blah chick on June 3, 2015, 4:12 pm

    “I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who’s predisposed to security..”

    No, he’s predisposed to see certain segments of humanity as less than human.

    “And if the status quo is not resolved, because of the demographics, because of the pressures and the frustrations that are going to exist in the West Bank and certainly already exist in Gaza, that over time, Israel is going to have a choice about the nature of the Israeli state and its character, and if it loses its essential values that are enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, that is something that has to be guarded against as well.”

    You could fertilize several acres with the amount of crap in that one paragraph.

  8. RobertHenryEller on June 3, 2015, 4:24 pm

    There is a lot of political naiveté displayed by some Mondoweiss commenters regarding what President Obama can and cannot effectively do to move things in Israel and Palestine.

    Too many people will be happy with nothing less than Obama going all out, unequivocally condemning Israel, as if that will accomplish anything. All such grandstanding would accomplish is to give a lot of you a frisson of emotional self-satisfaction. But it would do nothing for the Palestinians.

    Obama can do nothing if he goes out so far that he’s standing alone. He has to leave a bridge in order for others to join him politically. So far, no American President, or any other U.S. politician, has skirted closer to the edge on this than Obama is doing now.

    So, you can self-indulgently and sanctimoniously condemn President Obama. Or you can take the time to understand how diplomacy and statesmanship act in the real world. You don’t have to enjoy it.

    The President also knows he has to let Bibi and his cronies hang themselves. So far Bibi and company are doing an excellent job of self-destruction. President Obama has to largely stay out of their way. There’s going to be some very ugly and tragic collateral damage. But the alternative would be worse.

    • Jethro on June 3, 2015, 4:54 pm

      I agree 100%–no American President has skirted this close to the edge. And he has helped shift the national discussion in the right direction, without having been see to do so.

    • a blah chick on June 3, 2015, 5:08 pm

      Being a woman of a certain age I do not think myself naive about anything. Personally I can’t say that I am disappointed in Obama because to be disappointed you have to have been expecting something different. I did not think that a man who had come through the ranks of the Democratic party would be the closet Black Panther but the Cairo speech did give me hope.

      I understand how party politics works in this country, still I would have liked to see him spend at least some of his political capital, especially after he was re-elected. Netanyahu and his cronies (and their myrmidons in congress) have treated him with gross disrespect and yet he still gives them weapons and support. The speech in March would have been a good opportunity to put some daylight between him and the Likud regime. In the end he decided to play it safe.

    • pabelmont on June 3, 2015, 6:30 pm

      I suppose we must recall two things here. One is that politics is the art of the possible. The other is that much diplomacy is not conducted in public. we do not know what changes are happening, or how fast, in Europe. (We do know that they are changing too slow here in USA.)

      If EU will not call for (or vote for) a serious UNSC resolution demanding a rollback of all settlements and recall of all settlers, then Obama alone can do little. His concern for $$ after the presidency (Obama Library, speeches) might be overcome but only if the EU makes useful forward motion possible with his help.

      I’d like to think he’s discussing this, but he also has to placate the $$ via TPP and TTIP and to do something big (and this is far more important) about climate change. I don’t think human rights are on his to-do list.

    • Donald on June 3, 2015, 10:52 pm

      I think there is also some political naïveté in those who defend Obama on this and other issues. I think Obama is much better than Bush, but that is setting the bar low. His drone assassination program and the way his Administration has gone after whistleblowers is enough to tell me he isn’t all that progressive on foreign affairs. He is not a demon, but he’s also not the imaginary secret friend that so many Obama lovers wanted him to be.

      On this issue I think he is a liberal Zionist–he might know better, having been friends with Ali Abunimah and Rashid Khalidi, but if he wanted to rise in the political world he couldn’t ever hint that he agreed with them. So in practice, whatever he might say to Michelle when the doors are closed, he is a liberal Zionist and not one like Jerry Slater, but more like Tom Friedman. He has been dissed and bullied and humiliated by Netanyahu and the Lobby for years–since Netanyahu overplayed his hand by working too closely with Republicans in Congress, Obama has gotten angry. I think that is what this is. If Herzog and Livni were in power, Obama would be more than happy to go back to the never-ending peace process and any pressure applied would be placed on the Palestinians to make concessions.

      But anyway, even if Obama is a secret anti-Zionist Mondoweiss commenter, it’s not our job to give him credit for good intentions. Our job is to point out that his words are a mixture of good and bad, and his actions include the continued arming of Israel. It’s fine to point out that maybe he is doing the most he could–I’m not sure of that but suppose it is true. Then it is our role to say this isn’t good enough.

    • MoCHo on June 4, 2015, 4:48 pm

      I totally agree with RobertHenryEller’s comments. This is really huge — it might not be all we want, but it’s better than we really could have expected from our government, to be sadly honest. Everyone who is so unhappy he didn’t go farther, have you actually written to him to thank him for how far he HAS gone instead of just complaining here that he didn’t say enough, do enough? Pretty sure he doesn’t read Mondoweiss. I just wrote to him — thanked him for these statements, asked him to keep them and not change his mind, and then reminded him of all the reasons we should not support Israel, all the lies they’ve told that we have believed that have so seriously impacted our own status in the world. All the horrible things they have done to the Palestinian people, especially the children. I asked him to do what he can to continue to allow the use of BDS and not outlaw that. I think we need to appreciate even the littlest steps in the right direction. Just my opinion, of course.

    • Rusty Pipes on June 4, 2015, 8:25 pm

      I have assumed that many of the (costly) bones that Obama has been throwing to Israel as it growls about the Iran deal has been in large part to give Democratic congresspeople enough cover with their donors to support the deal. I also have assumed that Obama has been deliberately vague about the possible repercussions from Netanyahu’s electioneering (anti-Arab voter fearmongering and pledges of no 2SS on his watch) while the Iran deal was still up in the air.

      Obama’s willingness to become more concrete about vacating a UNSC veto makes me believe that he is confident at this point that he has enough congressional Democratic support to push through an Iran deal and that he is getting ready to turn his attention next to Palestine. He is even calling out Netanyahu’s fearmongering (although couched in the language of “over-caution”). He’s not going to let Bibi drag this out forever or even to the end of his term.

  9. Scott on June 3, 2015, 4:54 pm

    It’s no mystery why Obama doesn’t push harder; politics is the art of the possible, the Iran deal is possible, Democratic funders, blah blah. I don’t really fault Obama for not trying harder–he is after all only President, not King. The Israelis are more a mystery. A two state solution would be really good for them, quite obviously, but they resist it. It’s like they need people to hate them, they don’t feel really whole without it. Or maybe an analogy is like (self) cutting, which supposedly releases endorphins or something which make people who do it feel better. I mean, that previous post– Netanyahu claiming that the world is saying that Jews drink the blood of children or whatever, it’s like more and more Israelis feel like the only way to feel good is to have the world hate them, and Bibi is assuring them that yes in fact the world does hate them–(when in fact the world just yearns for a nominally acceptable solution/end to the occupation).

    • a blah chick on June 3, 2015, 5:16 pm

      “A two state solution would be really good for them, quite obviously, but they resist it.”

      Actually what they have right now is a Two-State solution. Let’s face it, the creation of the PA is the best thing that ever happened for Israel. Basically they have, right now, all they could ever want from a “settlement” with the Palestinians. They control the water, land and resources without having any responsibility for the non-Jewish people. The current “Piss Process” is about getting the Palestinians to accept the present situation permanently, which they will never do.

      • Bornajoo on June 4, 2015, 10:30 am

        “The current “Piss Process” is about getting the Palestinians to accept the present situation permanently, which they will never do.”

        Well said ABC! + 1

    • pabelmont on June 3, 2015, 6:37 pm

      Israeli behavior (occupation/settlement project) can be likened (metaphorically) to drinking the blood of Palestinian children (think of the murders, tortures, imprisonments, stealing), and even as a religious ritual — after all, much of the occupation/settlement project is conducted by people who claim to be religious and appear to be religious fanatics.

      In other words, Israelis damn the world for thinking (or saying) that Jews drink blood — and then go ahead and do it (metaphorically), for all to see.

      Similarly, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion recite (I imagine) that (rich) Jews control the world, and AIPAC and its European cousins do, indeed, seem to be doing just that. To say nothing of the rich banks which in some cases have Jewish ownership and/or control and/or origin. But no-one is to say so, because to say so is to say an antisemitic “trope”. Cute!

  10. Ismail on June 3, 2015, 5:16 pm

    Robert Henry Eller –

    1. Obama has some leeway as Chief Exec to act on matters not requiring congressional approval. He also has the mantle of leadership which provides a symbolic push to matters of justice as in Palestine. He’s failed on both counts b/c he’s a phony progressive, an empty suit.

    2. I’m tired of the various iterations of this “sure, you immature types want him to don a keffiyeh and deliver the next State of the Union address in Arabic, but he’s got to be realistic”. It’s false when Norm Finkelstein disses BDS on similar grounds (“it gives the naive a warm feeling but has no effect”) and it’s false in your version.

    3. Obama has gotten pass after pass from some people who should know better and more who don’t, just as Clinton had gotten – “he’s doing his best, those troglodyte Repubs are tying his hands”, etc etc. This tactic has pushed the Democratic party as a whole to the right.

    4. As far as Obama “skirting closer to the edge than any US politician” goes, not even a teeny bit true. Eisenhower made sure Israel left Sinai – he went directly to the US public when a recalcitrant Congress resisted pushing Israel on this issue. His words are worth repeating; their applicability to Israel’s colonization of the West Bank is unmistakable:

    “Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agreed that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order.

    If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the organization and our best hope of establishing world order. The United Nations must not fall. I believe that in the interests of peace the United Nations has no choice but to exert pressure upon Israel to comply with the withdrawal resolutions.”

    Bush One tried to withhold loan guarantees to Israel. Bush Two actually did withhold some aid over colonization activity.

    Can’t recall Obama doing anything nearly as substantive.

    • JWalters on June 3, 2015, 6:22 pm

      Bush One “briefly cut off loan guarantees to the Israeli government over their settlement policies, successfully forcing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir…to attend the Madrid Peace Conference.” That was a brief moment of hope for justice. Bush Two “threatened” to withhold loan guarantees, but then let Israel have their way with the Palestinians, and carried out Israel’s Iraq war. When Obama’s Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell suggested withholding loan guarantees, the sh*t hit the fan.

  11. Ismail on June 3, 2015, 5:26 pm

    Scott –

    Stop with the psychologizing. Israel acts as it does b/c it profits them to do so, not b/c they’re in thrall to some mass neurosis.

    Why would the 2SS be good for them? Right now, they’re getting the land, the water, the resources for very little in terms of national pain. Most Israelis don’t feel the colonization at all.

    When the time comes that BDS expands enough to cause them real distress, when enough nations step up and say “Enough” as they did with South Africa and follow through with real economic and political penalties, Israel will see the disadvantages of being a colonizing force. Not before.

    After all, can you think of a time in history when a colonizer with almost unparalleled military supremacy over its immiserated victim, with a first-world economy and the support of the world’s reigning hegemon, when such an unequal conflict resolved via the beneficent concessions of the aggressor, absent any immensely disruptive internal or external force?

    With a supine PA doing its policing for it and the US Godzilla providing support, Israel can live with the occupation just fine.

  12. JWalters on June 3, 2015, 6:03 pm

    If Obama were to openly condemn Israel’s crimes he would be quickly crucified by the Israeli-controlled American press and political establishment. This is a change that must be done in small steps, with people’s minds being prepared before each step. Especially helpful would be if the Jewish American community comes along.

    Some have wanted Obama to spend his presidency on a progressive political suicide mission, in order to wake everybody up to the oligarchy. Since he didn’t take that course they’ve concluded he’s Bush’s evil twin. But the course he has charted in the Middle East is clearly the opposite of Bush’s.

    No one will be able to say Obama didn’t give Israel every chance to abide by its own Declaration of Independence and be a civilized country. But now a change is gonna come. It’s the fourth quarter of his presidency, and “interesting things happen in the fourth quarter”. In the language of diplomacy and presidential statements, this is a sea change.

    • Donald on June 3, 2015, 11:10 pm

      Well, if we want to change people’s attitudes then part of that will involve criticizing Obama for not going far enough. Even if Obama really is a super-liberal in his heart (and I really don’t believe this), we should still criticize him for not going far enough. It’s fine to say he couldn’t go further even if he wanted to (I’m not sure about that) , but the last thing we want is for Obama’s center-left Zionist statements to be defined as the progressive position.

      This reminds me of numerous other issues–the size of the stimulus package, to take one. I agree it was as big as he could have gotten. But it wasn’t big enough, as Krugman said at the time and liberals should have been screaming this, because the Republicans would claim that the resulting slow growth was because stimulus was a bad idea.

      • JWalters on June 4, 2015, 1:21 am

        I agree we don’t want “Obama’s center-left Zionist statements to be defined as the progressive position”. Similar agreement on the stimulus package. And I agree with Krugman that people should have been screaming it wasn’t big enough. But if the stimulus “was as big as he [Obama] could have gotten”, why scream at Obama instead of the Republicans?

        Similarly, why are progressives not screaming about Israel’s chokehold on America’s mainstream media and Congress? It seems to me Obama is trying to move the ball down the field despite this chokehold, and despite the silence of public liberals and progressives on this topic (Mondoweiss being a very notable exception.)

        Criticisms are great, but should they not be accurate?

      • Donald on June 4, 2015, 1:46 pm

        If we only criticize Republicans and never Obama, it gives the impression that Obama’s position is our position. Being accurate would mean criticizing the Republicans more, but also Obama to the extent his words and actions deserve it. I think they deserve some criticism no matter what his real beliefs might be, but sure, we should give whatever credit is due him.

      • JWalters on June 4, 2015, 6:36 pm

        That’s fair.

  13. just on June 3, 2015, 6:23 pm

    O/T~ Lincoln Chafee has announced today that he’s running for President.

    fyi. Interesting, imho.

    • Citizen on June 4, 2015, 7:34 am

      He voted NO to Bush Jr’s Iraq War. On interview last night, he talked vaguely about foreign policy; it was clear he wouldn’t placate the war mongers; but his rhetoric sounded like a well-meaning lefty student’s–easily ridiculed by war hawks. He liked the Iran Deal, representing his approach, i.e., talk first, don’t immediately start brandishing the mighty sword.

      • just on June 4, 2015, 9:47 am

        Yes he did~ the only republican who did not vote for that murderous debacle. He was always more of a thinking man than most, imho. He’s no longer the ‘liberal’ republican that he was, he went libertarian, and democratic in 2013.

        I’ve always liked him.

        Here’s a bit from 2009 wrt P/I:

        “Chafee Chides Obama on Gaza: Brown Bag (IV)
        I wouldn’t call Lincoln Chafee child-like, but he does have the penetrating eye of the innocent kid who sees through magicians’ tricks — who speaks up about what emperors are wearing, or aren’t. The ambitious ex-Senator Chafee is the working politician in this round of conversations at the Watson Institute on the first fortnight in the Age of Obama. And, as usual, he’s the sober, utterly independent voice at the party — “disappointed,” he volunteers, “in the silence from the Obama team as the Israelis invaded Gaza…”

        In the US Senate, Chafee of Rhode Island cast the only Republican vote against the Iraq war authorization in October, 2002. In 2006 he fought the White House for renomination and the Democratic tide for reelection, but seemed selflessly content to lose his seat in the end because the vote was so clearly a repudiation of President Bush, not himself; and because his losing was required to empower a Senate opposition. From the start of the 2008 campaign, Chafee campaigned for Barack Obama because he was the only serious candidate “most fervently opposed to the Iraq war.” And so his counsel to the President, while we’re all presuming to give advice, is just the reminder: “That’s what got you elected.” He speaks here about two of his passions, Latin America and the Middle East, with common sense that passes these days for radical courage, about the rampage in Gaza, for example:

        I would have hoped for… just a few words of disappointment as to how this is going to affect the region. It just makes the task of peace in the Middle East harder and harder. Hatreds are ratcheted up when children are killed and housed are demolished. I don’t see it working. It’s been a mystery to me — for my time in the Senate, as I served on the Foreign Relations committee and as chairman of the Middle East subcommittee. How does this agenda work for Israel? I don’t understand it.
        Former US Senator Lincoln Chafee in conversation with Chris Lydon, January 30, 2009.”

      • just on June 4, 2015, 9:59 am

        Sorry~ he went independent, not libertarian!

  14. Tom Callaghan on June 3, 2015, 9:12 pm

    I always enjoy watching an Obama interview especially when the subject is Israel.

    What comes through is idealism and determination. Obama is constitutionally incapable of doing something he thinks is wrong and he cannot be stopped from continuing to do what he thinks is right. I’d love to see him project a little more vigor and optimism…but, you can’t have everything.

    If the Netanyahu/Adelson wing of the Israel Lobby goes full tilt, bet the ranch to beat the Iran Deal, Obama is going to have to put it in another gear.

    • Donald on June 3, 2015, 11:17 pm

      “Obama is constitutionally incapable of doing something he thinks is wrong”

      Wow. I seriously don’t understand how anyone could believe this about any politician.

      • piotr on June 4, 2015, 12:09 am

        You are too cynical. Take the most recent war waged on Yemen. Obama chose a principled position: the first priority is to fill book orders of American arm companies. Badly needed manufacturing jobs for American workers, yea! And some profits too. Sometimes I wish that he was more pragmatic, perhaps noticing that this is pointless s..t that can backfire on us.

      • RoHa on June 4, 2015, 12:53 am

        I am prepared to believe that most politicians are constitutionally incapable of thinking something they do is wrong.

      • Tom Callaghan on June 4, 2015, 10:14 am

        I’ll admit to a little hyperbole to make the point…but only a little.

        The easiest thing for him to do politically, would be to turn the military loose for massive indiscriminate bombing of ISIL controlled areas with all the civilian casualties that entails. That’s not Obama.

        He’s far more “pro-life” than the family values crowd that can’t stand abortion but love cluster bombs.

      • Kris on June 4, 2015, 12:01 pm

        Obama, like many politicians, is apparently a sociopath. Of course he doesn’t think anything (extrajudicial assassination, for example) he does is “wrong.”

    • Gregory Wonderwheel on June 5, 2015, 11:09 pm

      We must be watching different interviews. Obama is all hat and no cattle. Obama whines about Netanyahu but does absolutely nothing about breaking the criminal blockade. I’m old enough to remember when the USA stepped up and broke the blockade of West Berlin and that is exactly what needs to be done now with a Western nation that has a real Air Force and Navy going to Gaza and the West Bank to deliver supplies and show Israel that they have just gone too far.
      Instead Obama whimpers and plays right into Netanyahu’s hands giving Netanyahu exactly what he wants by the USA throwing in the towel and doing nothing leaving Israel to continue with its oppression, apartheid, and crimes against humanity.

      • echinococcus on June 6, 2015, 4:46 am

        I’m old enough to remember when the USA stepped up and broke the blockade of West Berlin and that is exactly what needs to be done now with a Western nation that has a real Air Force and Navy going to Gaza and the West Bank to deliver supplies and show Israel that they have just gone too far.

        Escorting a Gaza flotilla with Turkish Navy and Air Force units had been somewhat seriously considered by the Turkish government three years ago.
        There are rumors that the plan is not entirely forgotten (depending on the day’s mood and the balance between rhetoric and the need for a show of action.)

      • CigarGod on June 6, 2015, 8:38 am

        A lot of us are tired of the tiptoeing, chess moving, dripping with hope bs. I often feel more like a cultist…loyal for no reason…on this topic.

  15. piotr on June 4, 2015, 12:04 am

    My take is that poor Kerry broke his leg and now just cannot find enough masochism in his body to suffer extra pain of going through pointless meeting and getting all the hate from Israeli ingrates who did not appreciate American efforts to provide them with a smokescreen. In the same vein, Obama should designate a special officer, preferably autistic, who would take care of all calls from Netanyahu or whoever else wants to call from Israel.

  16. David Doppler on June 4, 2015, 3:15 am

    It’s hopey changy stuff vs fear of terrorists crawling out of the ground to attack kindergartens.

    I think it’s good that Obama lectures the Prime Minister in such an intellectual, analytical, I feel your fear, but don’t endorse its consequences, sort of way.

    It is practicing the art of the possible, and he just needs to erode a couple votes from Netanyahu’s 61-59 majority to topple that sucker. He’s chipping away at it, but seems to have found a voice that let’s him do so, while avoiding too strong an attack. I think he’s carrying a lot of American Jews with him, as well. No, we don’t believe Netanyahu’s backtrack on never peace on my watch. He is motivated by fear, and fear can be a disabling somatic state, can cause one harm. It’s all so calm and reasonable, and Netanyahu seems – is – a lying fear-monger, by contrast. The Tel Aviv Labor Israelis will be motivated, while the right-wing settlers will be non-plussed.

    • Tom Callaghan on June 4, 2015, 10:29 am

      I think the record of the last Gaza engagement indicates the Hamas fighters came out of their tunnels to engage the Israeli personnel who were pummeling them from what they thought was a safe distance.

    • JWalters on June 4, 2015, 7:01 pm

      Interesting point about the vote count. And I very much hope you’re right about carrying a lot of Jewish Americans with him.

  17. Jackdaw on June 4, 2015, 3:17 am


    The Palestinians are the ones who refused to accept the president’s formula for extending the peace negotiations. It’s Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) who have called for “popular resistance,” which has led in recent years to stabbings, stonings, and attacks with cars and Molotov cocktails against Israelis.
    Note how since the PA ended the peace negotiations, there has been a sharp increase in attacks and casualties in Israel.


    All the president had to say in the Adas Synagogue about the Palestinians was that “the Palestinians are not the easiest of partners.”

    An understatement from a sitting United States President who never quite understood the Middle East; the ‘Arab Spring, Syria, Iraq or the I/P conflict.

    • larick on June 4, 2015, 1:30 pm

      Obama’s comments signal the end of Americans being BS’d by a false Israeli narrative based on a racist assumption that Israeli “feelings” of insecurity are not even linked to their colonizing someone else’s land. When you name “stabbings, stonings, and attacks with cars…etc.” and leave out the killing of 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza with a 70% civilian victim rate, its obvious whose live are of value to you and whose are not.

  18. michelle on June 4, 2015, 8:37 am

    to bad this wasn’t said to the American people
    in this issue the ‘Israel’ fear (if there is any)
    would most likely be the fear of justice
    G-d Bless

  19. Jasonius Maximus on June 4, 2015, 11:59 am

    Anyone else catch his slip at 00:35, when he refers to “…Prime Minister Nut… Netanyahu”?

    Clearly his nickname over at the White House is not good ol’ ‘Bibi’ as they would have the world believe.

    Big O’s contempt for Netanyahu and his regime’s policies and activities are palpable throughout the entire video interview. And who could blame him? Having to hide your open disgust and contempt in plain sight for the world to see in the name of diplomacy must be utterly soul destroying. Mr. Obama is clearly a better man in this regard than I.

    One still has to wonder, though. Will we EVER see a sitting President, Congressman/woman or Governor with the spine to talk openly and honestly about this unhealthy and grotesquely unnatural relationship we have with the rogue State of Israel?

    The way every single U.S. politician carefully treads when talking about anything remotely related to Israel is embarrassing and harder to watch than the “interview” scene in Basic Instinct with your parents in the room. Yet, at the same time is it disturbingly fascinating to watch how they twist and turn and pick each and every word so very carefully as if they were tip-toeing through a minefield. You can almost see them constructing, editing, censoring and replaying each phrase in their mind before re-edting, reconstructing and then vocalizing the new interpretation as they slooooowly speak. That is, the ones with half a brain or any sense of the situation. The rest of the political puppets that prattle on at full speed, are simply paraphrasing popular Hasbra talking points issued by AIPAC and their rich campaign donors and trying to pass it off as their own respective and unique views and opinions on the matter, while the rest of the world sees right through their gibber jabber.

    • JWalters on June 4, 2015, 6:58 pm

      Good observations. I wonder if they think nobody notices their twists and turns. It’s testimony to the immense, hidden force operating on them. Some background on how this controlling force came to be.

    • larick on June 5, 2015, 1:22 am

      I’ve had a conversation with a Congressman who was Jewish, who said with staff and guests in the room at his office, that Palestinians should be able to go back to their homes (meaning in Israel). He was publicly associated with J-Street, which was a brave thing to do. He didn’t say this in a public forum but was very plain spoken about it. He’s probably not the only one who this way, and I think the space for these views to be more openly discussed by elected officials will begin to exist very soon. I believe as “tip-toed” as Obama’s remarks are, they are nonetheless ground breaking because they are breaking the taboo against public criticism of Israel at all. I find this extremely significant and encouraging.

      • annie on June 5, 2015, 1:26 am

        me too.

      • JWalters on June 5, 2015, 6:38 pm

        Wow! Thanks for this extremely good news. And your analysis makes complete sense. It does sound like a carefully calibrated, significant step toward justice.

  20. just on June 4, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Juan Cole has an article about the interview that is very good, and includes these bits:

    “Adelson Tabloid slams Obama for Listening to ‘Court Jews’ in Questioning Israel’s Credibility

    …BBC Monitoring translated a vitriolic reaction from casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper in Israel, Yisrael Ha-Yom, by journalist Haim Shain. Shain slams Obama for reaching out to Muslims “at the expense of the State of Israel.” He condemns Obama’s negotiations with Iran as being “again on the back of the State of Israel and its survival.” Then he says that Obama is not antisemitic or against Israel. Rather, he is under the influence of “court Jews” who dislike the Israeli right wing parties and who support Israel’s left wing, which is in thrall to Haim Saban (who made billions with children’s cartoons) and former president Shimon Peres.

    …The theory that Obama is under the influence of liberal American Jews who dislike the Israeli right wing parties comes dangerously close to echoing antisemitic tropes. Obama is depicted as not having his own views on the matter, but rather being influenced by “court Jews” who are working at cross-purposes to the ruling Israeli Likud Party. That sounds like a cabal.”…

    ‘Court Jews’?

    New word!

    • Bornajoo on June 4, 2015, 4:31 pm

      Thanks for the Juan Cole article Just.

      Court Jews??? Now who the hell are they supposed to be. Where do they get these terms from? Court?

      Well to hell with the tribal unity. Now they need to excommunicate these court Jews too.

      • just on June 4, 2015, 11:17 pm

        You’re very welcome, Bornajoo! I keep rolling the words around…

        This made my jaw drop and my heart go pitter-patter:

        “Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence meets Obama aides in Washington

        Left-wing nonprofit met with White House National Security Council and State Department’s human-rights bureau to discuss Israeli soldiers’ testimonies from last summer’s war in Gaza.

        Senior White House officials met this week with members of the left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence. The meeting, the first of its kind, dealt with testimonies that the organization had collected on alleged human-rights violations by the Israel Defense Forces during last summer’s war in Gaza. The meetings were held a few days after Israel’s Foreign Ministry tried to get a Breaking the Silence exhibition to be held in Switzerland canceled.

        Matt Duss, president of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, organized the meeting between Breaking the Silence representatives and members of the White House National Security Council.

        The meeting did not take place at the White House but at the offices of an American nonprofit in the capital.

        A Breaking the Silence representative also held a separate meeting at the State Department with senior officials in its human rights bureau.

        Duss told Haaretz that during the meetings, Breaking the Silence presented its recent report last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Obama administration officials reacted with a great deal of interest, Duss said, asking “many questions about the vetting process of the witnesses, the testimonies and the fact-checking.”

        The briefing provided them with many details on what occurred during the Gaza operation, Duss added, “especially about the rules of engagement.”

        According to Duss, the fact that both White House staff and the State Department held meetings with Breaking the Silence shows that the organization has an open door to the administration.

        “It is in line with what Obama said recently. These are the shared values between Israel and the United States – wanting to improve our society,” said Duss. This is Washington recognizing “they are young Israeli patriots who are trying to improve their society,” he added…

        …Founded in 2004, Breaking the Silence is a veterans’ organization that has often aroused controversy in Israel over the testimonies it collects from IDF soldiers serving in the occupied territories.

        The meetings with representatives of the NGO came during a week in which the organization attracted harsh criticism from the Israeli government because of its exhibition in Zurich, partially funded by the Swiss government. Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, lodged a protest with the Swiss Foreign Ministry over it, and asked that donations and support for a group that deals with the “defamation of Israel” be halted.”…

        there’s more @

        Kudos to BTS!

      • Bornajoo on June 5, 2015, 3:46 am

        Wow. Thanks again Just. Quite significant

        “there’s something happening here ”

        Well I Damn well hope so but I’m not going to get too excited just yet (been here quite a few times before).

      • JWalters on June 5, 2015, 6:43 pm

        just, thanks for that report. Sounds like the Obama administration may be preparing a case for justice. Very encouraging! Kudos to Breaking the Silence!

  21. James Canning on June 5, 2015, 1:20 pm

    Obama clearly is correct in believing Netanyahu will not accept a “two-state” solution.

  22. Edward Q on June 5, 2015, 1:44 pm

    I was struck by how haggard Obama looked in this interview. He didn’t look happy and his body posture was uncomfortable.

  23. Gregory Wonderwheel on June 5, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Obama tries to analyze Netanyahu’s position but does not offer any concrete steps on his part. Obama has no backbone whatsoever. He is a hypocrite. If he really wants to change the situation, then he can force Israel to the table in one day simply by saying the USA will no longer veto UN resolutions about Israel and will no longer allow Gaza and the West Bank to be blockaded by Israel. A threat of the USA ending the Blockade of the Palestinians like we ended the Blockade of West Berlin would be real backbone. Obama is a wimp.

    Obama is giving Netanyahu exactly what Netanyahu wants– a hands off policy that allows Israel to continue doing its oppression and apartheid without a peep of real concern by the USA. Obama has “thrown in the towel” rather than use his office to make real change and to bring real relief to the Palestinians. By letting Netanyahu continue on his way unobstructed by the USA we continue to be complicit in Israel’s crimes against humanity, while Obama pretends like a poser that he doesn’t like it.

    • CigarGod on June 6, 2015, 9:08 am

      Good points.
      This summer will be the 3rd or 4th attempt to breach the blockade by boats/ships. There have been truck convoys. I dont know of any secret usa funding for these efforts.
      Im guessing the Berlin airlift had the support of congress, military and american people. None would support a Gaza airlift, would they? If Obama is Jewish in his conditioning and his soul, as is reported lately, the Airlift idea would have to jump the wh fence to get his attention…but his staff would quickly bury it in the lawn.

      • just on June 6, 2015, 9:31 am

        Well, it is antisemitic to deny the Palestinian people any relief from the abject misery, deliberate cruelty, and privation that the US sponsored Israelis subject them to day in and day out.

        It’s also antithetical to the Christian teachings/beliefs that Obama professes.

        It’s also inhuman.

        It’s anti- American and anti- democracy, too. Isn’t it?

        (that was a fun exercise/not)

      • CigarGod on June 6, 2015, 10:02 am

        Yes, my friend.
        It is all those things…and established international law. The ground is firm and would support his weigh…if he would just take the first step.

      • just on June 6, 2015, 10:21 am

        Thanks, CG~ there is that pesky, always ignored (wrt Palestinians) international law thing-y and the law of Occupation wrapped in there, too. And you’re correct when you write that: “The ground is firm and would support his weigh…if he would just take the first step.”

        Amazing that the US and Israel tout their ability to mobilize massive aid and support for natural disasters in distant lands, but not one finger can be lifted for the people next door that are the victims of the biggest, baddest, most offensive military on the block. It’s a man- made, full- blown, deliberately engineered humanitarian disaster of epic proportions. It is a crime upon crimes. Are we really supposed to accept, with a shrug, this slow genocide?

        And on Dan Cohen’s great article ( ) there are actually many folks that are condemning some of the Palestinian people for preparing for Israel’s next assault.

        It truly boggles the mind.

      • CigarGod on June 6, 2015, 10:34 am

        Our ability to hold contradictory positions on the same issue, do boggle…but i think i’m in recovery.

        I dont know what the concentration is of the combustible gas that hugs the ground in the usa…or how big the spark required for a flash fire…but, like all other things humans do…we try to get a good read on conditions and then consquences…before we flick our bic…or toss a propane bottle onto the campfire(we can talk more about that learning event later;-)
        Obama has a lot of smart people around him…im sure he has a nate silver sort of brainiac dedicated full time, trying to gauge stuff like this.

      • just on June 6, 2015, 11:53 am

        …”we try to get a good read on conditions and then consquences…before we flick our bic…or toss a propane bottle onto the campfire(we can talk more about that learning event later;-) ”

        OK, now you’ve really piqued my curiosity!

        Seriously though, what will it take from all of us to “light the fire” under the administrations around the globe???

      • CigarGod on June 6, 2015, 8:52 pm

        I wish I had a simple answer. None of them will sacrifice themself for the common good. No one will be the heroic Jew who stands tall in a crowd of Nazi’s. Self interest…position, power, job, keep them a quiet cog in the machine. I see more good action from groups who have nothing left to lose…or the young…who have nothing…but idealism.

  24. Boomer on June 6, 2015, 10:07 am

    re Just: “Well, it is antisemitic to deny the Palestinian people any relief from the abject misery, deliberate cruelty, and privation that the US sponsored Israelis subject them to day in and day out. It’s also antithetical to the Christian teachings/beliefs that Obama professes.
    It’s also inhuman.
    It’s anti- American and anti- democracy, too. Isn’t it?”

    True. Profoundly true. Profoundly significant too, if people would reflect on these truths, and act in ways consistent with the values they claim to profess.

  25. W.Jones on June 7, 2015, 1:19 pm

    “The practical consequences I referred to, let’s be very specific, if there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations.”
    United Nations?

    Didn’t Chomsky say that they should just call it BD because sanctions are impossible, nowhere on a horizon?

  26. echinococcus on June 7, 2015, 5:21 pm

    Chomsky may say that with good reason, others, with more reason, say it should be called BS as long as it limits itself to post-67 occupation instead of applying to everything from the rogue state “Israel” –it won’t convince either friend or foe.

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