Obamas Muslim Speech.
-An Ode to Joy this is not.
Wednesday, 3rd June 2009
As we all know, Obama is to make a speech of cosmic significance in Cairo. The run-up to this speech has been characterised by some epic spinning from shadowy American and Israeli â€˜sourcesâ€™ which has been creating a powerful bow-wave of feverish speculation and alarm. The Israelis are apparently shocked and appalled by Obamaâ€™s demand â€“ transmitted through Hillary Clinton, no less â€“ that not only should Israel build no new settlements but must not allow the current ones to expand through natural growth. In other words, a thinly disguised requirement for ethnic cleansing through a policy of slow strangulation.
If Israelâ€™s government really is shocked and appalled by this, I would regard that as the most shocking and appalling thing of all, since Obamaâ€™s irrational beliefs that a) removing the settlers is the route to a Palestinian state and b) such a state will end the Arab war against Israel and help defeat Iran, not to mention c) his ignorance of international law dating back to the still legally binding Mandate giving the right of Jewish settlement throughout the whole of (then) Palestine which includes present day West Bank and Gaza, have been crystal clear since way before his election. (As for Hillary, since she was against Israelâ€™s interests before she was for them -- which by an astounding coincidence took place while she was Senator for New York â€“ and is now against them again, who can be surprised?)
According to this Washington Post story, Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that Netanyahuâ€™s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, offered the Palestinians 97 per cent of the West Bank for a Palestinian state, plus â€˜the right of returnâ€™ and large-scale Palestinian immigration into Israel â€“ yet still this wasnâ€™t enough for the Palestinians. So how can Obama maintain that all now hinges on the dismantling of the settlements and the construction of a Palestine state, when clearly this is not what the Palestinians want at all?
On the other hand, however, all this is still just spin. If the US were to punish Israel for not agreeing to commit national suicide, the real Israel lobby in America -- the Christian heartlands â€“ would go nuts. Plus the relationship between the two countries is not a one-way street: if Israel were to stop sharing its intelligence with the US, for example, the reaction of the US military would likely dwarf even their fury with Obama over publishing â€˜tortureâ€™ pictures or shutting down the military tribunals. Given that a strategic game is being played vis a vis Iran, every pronouncement or shadowy bit of spin surely has to be regarded as inherently unreliable. But the mood music is all playing one tune, and it sure isnâ€™t the Ode to Joy.
It was a grim commentary on the current British contribution to peace in the Middle East that it took the BBC this morning to make Obama seem quite reasonable in relation to Israel. In an interview, the BBCâ€˜s North American editor Justin Webb pressed Obama to say what he would do to force Israel to keep its commitments under the Road Map, given (and here his voice rose in righteous indignation) that Israeli ministers had been declaring flat-out that Israel would refuse to bend under Obamaâ€™s bullying statesmanlike peace initiative. No mention of the claim by Mahmoud Abbas that Obama was apparently intent on producing regime change in Israel (to the BBC, it seems, regime change is only a crime when used against genocidal tyrants -- but of no interest whatever when contemplated against their victims).
No mention by Justin Webb that the Palestinians were in breach of their commitments which are rather more fundamental than settlements, being the requirement to stop waging a war of extermination against Israel. It took Obama to murmur that the Palestinians had to stop their incitement to hatred and murder â€“ something he said a day or so ago, and it is notable and encouraging that he said it; although heâ€™s still not indicating that, as per the Road Map, the Palestinians are required to dismantle their infrastructure of war before Israel is expected to do anything in its turn.
What is also highly troubling about Obamaâ€™s imminent trip is not just his speech in Cairo but where he is going after that. For his next stop is Buchenwald â€“ and straight after that, Dresden. Dresden? Why on earth Dresden of all places? One reason only, surely. The symbolism is unmistakeable â€“ the site of the most controversial Allied bombing of World War Two. It looks horribly like Obama intends to make a symbolic statement of reproach for that event â€“ just to go there makes the point, without even saying anything -- and even worse, to make some kind of equation with the slaughter at Buchenwald. One holocaust doesn't deserve another, would seem to be the unspoken message, would it not? Or to put it another way, if Jews defend themselves by military means, they turn into Nazis.
In the light of Iranâ€™s genocidal threats against Israel and the nuclear weapons that Obama is giving it the time to assemble to make good those threats, such symbolism would be unspeakable â€“ and another feather of western defeatism for a gloating Iran to stick in its cap.