BigMo’s Blog

Politics and Economics in Israel

Between the Lines of Obama’s Pandering

President Obama’s whirl-wind tour of Saudi Arabia and Egypt earned him many kudos for stating things that previously were not said publicly by American or other world leaders. His speech covered many topics, but it left out important details, contained hidden messages and ignored important Middle East realities. And of course, he sugar-coated it with numerous quotes from the Koran, designed to evoke the applause the man needs more than oxygen.

On detainees
“I have unequivocally prohibited the use or torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” Naturally, his Cairo audience applauded him.  Would they have applauded if he told them that his administration is now planning to use Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan as a replace for the tainted Guantanamo?

As MSNBC – hardly a fountainhead of conservatism – reported on June 3rd, the Obama administration is challenging an April 2 decision by U.S. District Judge John Bates that applied the Boumediene (the ruling that granted prisoners at Guantanamo habeas corpus rights to challenge their detention) ruling to some Bagram prisoners.   Administration mouthpieces are arguing that Bates’ ruling would for the first time in American history extend habeas corpus rights to non-Americans (in fact, Muslims) in a theater of war in a foreign territory.

On the Holocaust

“Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories.” Not surprisingly, there were no applause for the President’s admonishment.   Arab attempts to demonize Israel as a Nazi-like state have been going on for years, and this propaganda weapon has become increasingly potent.  Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah are unlikely to surrender it.

There were two audiences for this statement, actually.  One audience was sitting there is Cairo and other Arab capitals and metropolises.  The second one was in Israel.  Combined with the acknowledgment earlier in his speech that there are now 7 million Muslims in the US, the message was to Israel: you are small and your supporters in the US are now outnumbered. American Jewry was instrumental in Bill Clinton’s two victories; not so in Obama’s.

On Palestinian Responsibilities

For many years, the world has treated Palestinian, indeed, most matters related to Arab countries, with kit gloves. The standards applied to Israel were those that America and Europe applied to themselves (or at least told themselves they were). However, these same standards were not applied to the Arab world. It is why Hamas was able to launch 40,000 rockets and missiles at Israel over a two-year period without so much as a whimper from the Eurostinians, or America bogged down in two wars.

Now, President Obama arrives with the message “It is neither a sign of courage or power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.” Adding to this, “Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.  The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people.” Unfortunately, the PA must contend with burgeoning population: they fear the cadres of 18 -24 year-old unemployed young men more than they do the Israelis.

Once the undergrads start parsing these and other statements in Obama’s speech, they will see the numerous quotes from the Koran as the pandering they really were.  And maybe Israelis will start to calm down a bit, despite the harsh spotlight that was shined on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | Middle East, Obama, Palestine | , , , | Leave a comment