On January 20, 2017, Barack Obama will give up his presidency, leaving him fifteen weeks to fuss and fume over his inability to dislodge the Israeli elephant which sits on his back.
For evidence of that elephant’s heavy and humiliating presence, start with Bibi Netanyahu’s latest in-your-face insult to the departing Obama.
Ha’aretz announced the news Wednesday under the headline: “U.S. Blasts Israel’s Plan for New West Bank Settlement, Says Netanyahu Broke His Word”.
The subhead continues: “In unusually harsh statement, State Department ties timing of construction plans to signing of aid deal. U.S. official says White House was livid over timing of approval of plans, which seek to resettle residents of Amona”.
How is Obama expected to respond? He is a lame duck. Bibi revels in that fact. So, for the moment, Obama issues responses.
His options are small in number. The Congress belongs to Israel. It is, as Pat Buchanan once said, “bought and paid for”. Mainstream TV and print media, likewise. Cable television, ditto.
American Christian churches? Also bought and paid for in guilt chits and free trips. What Obama gets from the churches are resolutions issued periodically.
Luke 4:18 does not say issue resolutions. It says:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
With no national will behind him, Obama keeps White House and State computers set for “mild to harsh to outraged” responses.
The latest response to Bibi’s latest insult is a “harsh” one:
The U.S. administration published an unusually harsh statement on Wednesday against a plan to build an alternative settlement for residents of the illegal outpost of Amona.
The statement, signed by Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the State Department, drew an unusual linkage between the signing of the defense aid agreement with Israel and criticism of settlement building.
Toner stressed that the U.S. views advancement of the plan as a violation of a commitment by Netanyahu’s government not to establish any new settlements in the West Bank.
The State Department response to Israel’s Civil Administration Planning Commission’s decision “to approve a plan for the construction of 98 housing units in the new settlement to be established next to the Shvut Rachel settlement. According to the plan, it will be possible to build up to 300 housing units and an industrial zone”.
The claim, of course, is that this is not a new settlement but “only a neighborhood” of the existing settlement of Shvut Rachel meant to provide housing for soon-to-be evicted residents of the illegal outposts of Amona, (below right) an unauthorized Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Shvut Rachel is an illegal Israeli settlement founded in November, 1991. It is in the Palestinian West Bank, 30 miles north of Jerusalem, surrounded by other illegal settlements, including Shilo, Giv’at Har’el, Esh Kodesh, Keeda, and Adei Ad.
The land on which Shvut Rachel illegally sits is owned by Fawzi Haj Ibrahim Mohammad. Part of the charade which Israel has successfully played was to declare Mohammad’s property Israeli “state land”.
Neither Obama, nor any president before him, could halt this constant expansion, a half-century long crime, committed in full view of the world.
This latest U.S. response to Israel’s illegal expansion takes note of the timing of the announcement. Timing is an Israeli specialty.
A senior U.S. official said that the White House boiled with anger at the advancement of the plan and even more at the timing of the decision – just a week after the signing of the military aid agreement by which the U.S. will give Israel $38 billion for a decade, and the day of the death of former president Shimon Peres, whose funeral was attended by President Barack Obama.
Obama had not given Netanyahu all he demanded in that $38 billion decade-long deal, angering the Israeli leader. As Obama must have expected, Bibi’s retribution was swift.
Obama met with Netanyahu at Peres’ funeral (see picture above). Did Bibi assume it was inappropriate to discuss government business in a time of mourning? Don’t count on it.
The headline above, “I have met the future”, is, of course, not original with me. It belongs to Lincoln Joseph Steffens.
Steffens, born in 1866, began his career as a journalist at the New York Evening Post. He later became an editor of McClure’s magazine, After returning from a trip to Russia, he promoted his view of the Soviet Revolution.
In the course of campaigning for U.S. food aid for Russia, Steffens made his famous remark about the new Soviet society: “I have seen the future, and it works”, a phrase he often repeated with many variations. (adapted from Wikipedia).
It is impossible to peer very far into the future, but Israel’s political and emotional grip on the U.S. is so strong, it will survive unchecked for at least four or eight more years, under Clinton or Trump.
Of course, before he is replaced, Barack Obama has the next fifteen weeks to take action to support Palestine at the United Nations. Such a step would make excellent going-away gifts to Palestine, Israel, and the world.
The picture at top is by Emil Salman, from Ha’aretz. The picture of Amona is by Oded Balilty for AP.