In John Ford’s film, The Searchers, Ethan (John Wayne) is talking with his bother Aaron. Ethan has been away from the family for several years.
AARON: How’s California?
ETHAN: How should I know?
AARON: But Mose Harper said…
ETHAN: That old goat still creakin’
around?…Whyn’t someone bury him?
It is time for President Barack Obama to be the leader who steps forward and finds a presidential way to “bury the old goat”.
The “Peace Process” is finished. The U.S. charade as an “honest broker” has been on its death bed for decades.
There has never been anything even closely resembling honesty in this U.S. charade. The U.S. was never a broker; it has always been”Israel’s lawyer”, to recall the description originally coined by Henry Kissinger.
Of course, should you prefer the guidance of the Gospel of Matthew rather than that of the Gospel of John Ford, here is a biblical version of the same burial recommendation:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27.
In his book, Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has undermined peace in the Middle East, Obama’s onetime University of Chicago colleague, Rashid Khalidi, has conveniently delivered the funeral oration for the Fordian “old goat”, and Matthew’s hypocrites.
Khalidi describes the process of deceit that has enabled Israel to continue its steady settlement growth backed by increasingly right-wing Israeli governments.
In a review of Khalidi’s book, Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, writes:
Khalidi analyzes three distinct periods in the U.S.-led “peace process.” He acknowledges omitting some other important historical moments, but these three typify the betrayal by successive administrations of their responsibilities as the principal mediator in the conflict.
The first case is the Reagan Plan of 1982, a failed initiative to interpret, in a more balanced manner, the sections of the 1978 Camp David accords dealing with the Palestinians.
The second failure covers the two-year period following the 1991 peace conference in Madrid, in which the United States brokered talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian representatives.
The third is President Barack Obama’s failure to follow up on his initial calls for Israel to halt the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
President Obama now has slightly more than 32 months left in his second term. That is more than enough time for him to stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu and his robotic allies in the U.S. Congress, and take whatever executive action he can devise to expose the criminal occupation Israel enforces on the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank.
Enough already, as his Jewish friends in Chicago should have told him months ago, with this pussy-footing around with Israel’s pretense that it wants a “peace accord”. It doesn’t, and Obama knows it.
Israel wants to extend its Middle East colonial empire from the sea to the River Jordan. Only an American president can slow that process.
The president recently signed an order to give Israeli travelers special visa privileges for entry to the U.S.
Obama could exercise his executive authority to control American borders, by removing that privilege for Israeli travelers until Israel ceases its harassment of U.S./Palestinian citizens who travel to Israel.
The New York Times, which favors same-sex marriages almost as much as it favors Israel, gives Obama a template to follow in his next policy shift.
With the catchy title, “How the president got to I do on Same Sex marriage” the Times traces the evolution of Obama’s change of mind on marriage equality, from his cautious hints of support to the moment when he gave equality his full support:
In his Inaugural Address on Jan. 21, 2013, Obama drew a straight line from the civil rights fights based on race and gender to the current struggle for marriage equality.
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said, “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Equality should extend to all human kind, he is saying, and that extension should be easy for him to make that apply to the people of Palestine whom he has failed so miserably to rescue from their occupation tyranny.
Al Jazeera covered the Holy Fire ceremonies in Ramallah Easter week-end.
(The picture here is that of a young Palestinian Christian boy who is shown watching the ceremony. It was taken in Ramallah for Al Jazeera by Silvia Boarini.)
Al Jazeera’s story of the Holy Fire ceremonies described the tradition:
Palestinians lined the streets of Ramallah to watch scouts (kashaf in Arabic) march in the traditional Sabt al-Nour parade on Sunday, marking the arrival of the Holy Fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
According to Christian tradition, every year, on the day before Orthodox Easter, a flame lights itself at the site of Jesus’ burial. The fire is then transported from Jerusalem to Orthodox communities across Palestine, and around the world.
There are 50,000 Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The festival serves as a celebration of Palestine’s rich history and national identity in the context of a protracted Israeli occupation and increased fragmentation of Palestinian land.
“The community is getting smaller and smaller,” Father George Awad of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jifna, told Al Jazeera. “Most families have a relative who emigrated to America or Australia. The situation is very difficult here. There are checkpoints and no jobs and it’s hard to care for your family.”
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) found that Palestinian Christians are increasingly unable to complete pilgrimage to Christian holy sites in Jerusalem during Easter or Christmas.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1980, declaring the city the undivided capital of the State of Israel. Palestinians’ entry to Jerusalem has since been regulated by a strict permit regime.
Israel reportedly issued 20,000 permits for Palestinian Christians to attend Easter festivities in Jerusalem this year. While Israel claims restrictions are implemented to guarantee public security and avoid overcrowding, it has been repeatedly criticised for not guaranteeing full Palestinian access to the city’s religious sites.
Does Obama want to be remembered as a president who allowed this tyranny to continue for eight years? Does he want to be remembered as the president that tolerated treatment of Palestinian children such as the boy above, who could not travel to Jerusalem to follow the movement of the Holy Fire?
Israel is the spoiled child of the American empire who has stolen the father’s keys and refuses to heed any advice to put the car back in the family garage.
No U.S. leader or mainstream commentator has the courage to tell him what he already knows but is unwilling to act upon.
The New Yorker adds its burial encouragement in a blog posting, What now for the Honest Broker?
From James Baker to Madeline Albright and now Kerry, senior U.S. diplomats have tried to present the United States as an “honest broker” between the two sides, interested only in the promotion of peaceful coexistence. About the only people who take this idea seriously are U.S. officials and commentators.
The United States isn’t, and can’t be, a neutral mediator in the Middle East. It has long acted as Israel’s closest ally, biggest benefactor, and ultimate guarantor of its security.
In an op-ed in the Times earlier this year, Avi Shlaim, the eminent Israeli historian who teaches at Oxford, pointed out some awkward realities:
The simple truth is that Israel wouldn’t be able to survive for very long without American support. Since 1949, America’s economic aid to Israel amounts to a staggering $118 billion and America continues to subsidize the Jewish state to the tune of $3 billion annually.
America is also Israel’s main arms supplier and the official guarantor of its “quantitative military edge” over all its Arab neighbors.…
In the diplomatic arena, Israel relies on America to shield it from the consequences of its habitual violations of international law.… America poses as an honest broker, but everywhere it is perceived as Israel’s lawyer.
The American-sponsored “peace process” since 1991 has been a charade: all process and no peace while providing Israel with just the cover it needs to pursue its illegal and aggressive colonial project on the West Bank.
In his book, Rashid Khalidi quotes William Quandt, “who dealt with this issue on the National Security Council staff during the 1970s.”
Quandt sums up the Palestinian dilemma in presidential decision-making: “the Palestinians had no domestic constituency”.
The religious communities in the U.S. are supposed to be the source of the nation’s conscience, the moral center that speaks for the voiceless.
Unfortunately, with some scattered exceptions, our religious communities are still trapped in their own self-imposed political prison, euphemistically referred to as “interfaith dialogue”.