by James M Wall
President Obama’s speech to the United Nations this week was also embarrassing, and grossly insensitive to the reality of the Palestinians who have since 1967, suffered the pain, death and humiliation of Occupation.
President Obama focused his speech on Israeli security, which has served as the excuse for Israel to continue its ever-expanding control over what is now called the West Bank and Gaza.
One reason the Obama speech was pathetic was that he studiously avoided uttering the word “occupation”. Instead, the President carefully parroted the ultra right wing Israeli narrative with even more vigor than he has used in previous talks to those annual AIPAC Israel-worshipping conferences.
The blame for this speech rests squarely on Obama. He chose his Zionist consigliere, Dennis Ross, as his in-house White House advisor. Ross has been protecting the Israeli narrative as the only Truth permitted in the White House, since he first emerged on the Washington scene as a Middle East “expert” for the first President Bush. Ross does not hide his proclivities, retreating to pro-Israel think tanks between stints in the White House.
Successive presidents from Bush One to Clinton to Obama, have allowed Ross and his Israel Lobby pals to corrode the ability of US political leaders to actually see or feel the suffering of millions of Palestinians who are incarcerated in ever-shrinking plots of their ancestral land.
The alternative? Before you totally abandon Obama, ponder this, how does a President Rick Perry sound to you? This Texas “good ole boy” has already demonstrated that he is an ultra Zionist. Unlike the former Texas governor who was president for eight years, Perry is prepared to preside over what those biblical End Times believers long for, an Israeli-owned Temple Mount to provide Yahweh with a platform on which to set off the final days.
O, Molly Ivins, why did you have to leave us so soon.
Meanwhile, while Obama follows Ross down the Zionist primrose path, those keepers of the nation’s conscience, mainline religious leaders, paddle along in their interfaith fairy pond, desperately afraid of being called anti-semitic; right wing religious leaders criticize Obama for his lukewarm Zionism; main stream media peddles the Zionist narrative; and over on main street USA, an ignorant American public struggles to survive in a disastrous economy, oblivious to what right wing Zionists have done to our economic health.
Imagine if all that changed. Imagine, for example, if the major Protestant denominations told the truth about the Occupation, and started preaching, instead, about justice, love and fairness. Imagine if those same denominations discovered they are called to be prophetic and decided forthwith to embrace BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) the Palestinian-inspired strategy that right wing Zionists detest because it has such a powerful non-violent bite.
Support for Palestinian statehood ought to be a slam-dunk. The Palestinian Authority has met, and far exceeded, all requirements for statehood. At the UN Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had his moment to formally request what is without question, a status for Palestinians that is long overdue.
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu followed Abbas to the podium and repeated his praise for President Obama’s earlier speech. He also seemed to enjoy telling the UN members that few in that room liked him. His speech, of course, was filled with what may only charitably be called “untruths”, as this analysis demonstrates.
In its report on the speech, the Palestiian news agency, Ma’an, included this sobering reminder of the game the “great powers” will be playing to block Abbas’ request:
The Security Council could delay action on Abbas’ request, giving the mediating “Quartet” — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — more time to craft a declaration that could coax the two sides back to the table.
This delaying tactic was orchestrated by the US to avoid an immediate Obama veto which would play badly at the UN. What the US wants is for enough of the 15 members of the Security Council to join the US in voting against the Palestinian statehood request, giving Obama the cover of a Security Council 9 to 6 negative vote.
Israel has few, if any, supporters in the UN, as Netanyahu has acknowledged, so for the Security Council to provide Obama with his flimsy cover, some high-powered US pressure would need to be applied. Will pressure work this time? I don’t think so.
And here is why: The Security Council has five permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, and ten non-permanent members, which serve two year terms. Currently the non permanent members, with the year their terms conclude are Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011), Brazil (2011), Columbia (2012), Gabon (2011), Germany (2012), India (2012), Lebanon (2011), Nigeria (2011), Portugal (2012), and South Africa (2012).
To reject the Palestinian request for statehood and eliminate the need for a veto by the US, 9 members, including the US, would have to vote against Palestinian membership. Do you see eight nations joining the US in that list who would reject the Palestinians? I do not.
Meanwhile, as we await the Security Council vote, which may come next week, or next month, no one knows for sure, the big speeches are out of the way, which means the Palestinian story will once again be relegated to the back pages. This allows the American media to focus even more on the circus that has emerged from the Republican race for the presidential nomination, a race currently led by above-mentioned Texas Governor Rick Perry.
You probably did not read about it in your local paper, but Perry held a press conference in a New York hotel on the day Obama spoke to the UN, timed, Max Blumenthal reports, “to pre-empt Obama’s speech at the UN in which the President would reject Palestinian demands for statehood.”
At the press event, Perry trotted out a cast of characters that looks suspiciously like members of the “brain trust” Perry could elevate to White House power.
New York Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, stood next to Perry at the Press event. Hikind is the former leader of the Jewish Defense League (JDL). The FBI has designated JDL as a “terrorist” organization, which was, according to Blumenthal, “responsible for bombing attacks on numerous Arab-American targets and a conspiracy to murder Republican Rep. Darrell Issa”.
At the press event, Blumenthal reported that Perry issued numerous stentorian condemnations of terror. He then handed the microphone to Hikind, who exclaimed, “I heard the Governor’s speeches and I said to myself, ‘He sounds like me!'” The two men then engaged in a sustained hug much to the delight of the assembled media.
This is the second time in recent months that Dov Hikind has surfaced in New York politics. Writing in both the Mondoweiss and the Beirut-based al-Akhbar web sites, Blumenthal looks back at Hikind’s involvement in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district, won by a Republican, Bob Turner.
The NY Ninth CD was an overwhelmingly Democratic district until Democrat Anthony Weiner resigned over an internet fiasco. Turner, who had no previous political experience, received the endorsement of former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch, a widely publicized shift in party loyalty.
Turner also was endorsed by Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the same Democratic Assemblyman Hikind who is now strongly supporting Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Neither Perry nor Turner has publically expressed any misgivings over Hikind’s previous relationship with the Israeli settler leader Meir Kahane. According to Blumenthal:
Under Kahane’s direction, Hikind operated a front group with the JDL cadre [of] Victor Vancier (aka Chaim Ben Pesach), who served 10 years in prison for carrying out numerous firebomb attacks on innocent people, and openly contemplated killing the renowned Palestinian professor Edward Said.
It is interesting to note, and a commentary not only on American Jewish-influenced politics, but also mainstream media coverage, that Hikind’s terrorist-related links were never mentioned in the election campaign by Turner’s Democratic opponent, David Weprin. Instead, Weprin and Turner both focused on who would be the best congressman for Israel.
Joining Hikind at Perry’s press event was Dr. Solomon “Joe” Frager, who was listed on official Perry press material, as the organizer of the press conference. Blumenthal provides Frager’s background:
Frager is the Chairman of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a front group for the Ateret Cohanim organization that steals Palestinian property in East Jerusalem and hands it over to fanatically religious Jewish families. They are the spearhead of Israel’s slow motion ethnic cleansing of Silwan and the Old City.
What then shall we do with this promising young president, who has humiliated himself, and the nation he leads, on the large UN world stage? Ralph Nader believes Obama should be challenged in the Democratic primaries. Fortunately, for Obama backers, no one pays much attention to Nader these days, except the right wing Washington Times which eagerly offered Nader space to do his part in bringing in blocking a second Obama term.
Criticism of Obama’s continued capitulation to the Zionist right, gets scant attention in the Mainstream Media, which is why voices like Robert Fisk must be heard and heeded.
Fisk’s report in The Independent was harshly critical of Obama’s speech:
For the American President who called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, an end to the theft of Arab land in the West Bank – Israeli “settlements” is what he used to call it – and a Palestinian state by 2011, Obama’s performance was pathetic.
As usual, Hanan Ashrawi, the only eloquent Palestinian voice in New York this week, got it right. “I couldn’t believe what I heard,” she told Ha’aretz, that finest of Israeli newspapers. “It sounded as though the Palestinians were the ones occupying Israel. There wasn’t one word of empathy for the Palestinians. He spoke only of the Israelis’ troubles…”
Too true. And as usual, the sanest Israeli journalists, in their outspoken condemnation of Obama, proved that the princes of American journalists were cowards.
Fisk offers an encouraging (and youthful) example of informed commentary from a member of the younger Israeli generation, Israeli scholar Yael Sternhell (at right), who has written:
Obama needs to hear criticism like this from Israel and from alternative US media. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once told a political leader who wanted him to take a progressive action, “Make me do it”.
We are called to make Obama move beyond his UN speech. He will need all the “making” we can give, to help him escape from Zionist control.
Neither the Progressive cable pundits and most certainly not the Main Street Media, will be of any help in this effort.
That includes pundits like Chris Matthews, who anchors the MSNBC evening lineup. After Friday’s dueling UN speeches by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, there was ole Chris acting like the high school Senior Class president who was proud to have as his guest to “discuss” the Middle East, the ever-charming, slick Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, who proceeded to overwhelm Matthews with his usual list of Israeli promises ( prevarications) that should bring the wayward Palestinians to another round of “negotiations”.
Matthews is the TV dean of the PEPs (Progressives Except for Palestine). Fortunately, following him in the MSNBC lineup we have the ever-reliable Rachel Maddow, who a week before the dueling UN speeches, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter. Not surprisingly for her, Maddow asked Carter about the Palestinian bid for statehood, knowing full well what he would say. Carter was precise: It is time for Palestinian statehood.
Obama has a rough 13 plus months ahead of him before the 2012 election. He is not likely to confront the media PEPs, nor any other part of the Zionist hasbara that has enveloped this country like a giant octopus.
This leaves us with the option of trusting that in a second term, Barack Obama will return to that 2008 promise, when, as Ron Suskind writes in his latest book, Confidence Men, we experienced that moment of “dizzying ebullience when Barack Obama and his beautiful family stepped onto the stage in Chicago’s Grant Park as America’s First Family”:
It was a sensation of such intensity as to startle many across the country and around the world into believing in the promise of America, the original and long-burning beacon of the democratic ideal.
Al Jazeera posted a 25-minute news program, “Inside Story“, Friday. Included are comments by US, Israeli and Palestinian observers.