Monday, July 12, 2010

Obama and Palestine: We're easily satisfied

It seems less often than more when published political analysis reflects reality. But I was rewarded for my patience in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books (July 15, 2010) when I  read the following in David Shulman’s article on “Eyeless in Gaza.”

Maintaining the occupation is, of course, incompatible with making peace, and indeed it should be clear by now to all that the present Israeli leadership has no interest in resolving the conflict. Quite the contrary: the ongoing proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority are no more than a diversion. I know of no one in Israel who takes them seriously, least of all the Netanyahu government. Gaza itself provides another helpful distraction. The very idea of peace based on mutuality, compromise, and at least minimal respect for the dignity of the other side is anathema to the men and women in the Cabinet who are making the decisions. [dated June 16, 2010; Shulman is identified as a Professor of Humanities Studies at the Hebrew University]

Perhaps I liked Prof Shulman’s clarity because it was not inconsistent with my own suggestion that Obama's Middle East policy is really Rahm Emanuel's Middle East policy, which has opportunistically stood on the shoulders of the previous Bush-Cheney-Eliot Abrams Middle East "policy."

Bush administration policy was to give free rein to the most right wing elements in their administration to do their worst to the Palestinians. Accordingly they (very cleverly we must admit) engineered the Hamas electoral victory in January 2006. They insisted on going through with the election because they knew Hamas would win. And they also engineered the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007.

According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that Fatah was not ready.]

Thus Washington and Tel Aviv  had a perfect pretext to starve Gaza –NOT into submission -–submission to what? – -- but to starve them in preparation for the next step: expulsion and mass murder whenever  the political situation should be deemed appropriate. The Israelis are in no rush. They know time is on their side. (And their timetable has been speeded up by a decade or more by Bush and now Obama.)

Thus the purpose of Operation Cast Lead of December January 2008-2009 -- which Obama could have stopped. Destroy as much of Gaza’s infrastructure as possible. So the Israeli blockade against building materials going to Gaza makes sense since the Israelis have no intention of allowing what they destroyed to be rebuilt. It’s a plan that couldn’t be implemented without the approval of the Obama administration.

Here as in almost every other critical area, Obama makes a mockery of his theme of change, as by this time, 18 months into his term of office,  he stands exposed as having no independent policy or plan other than to allow and assist Israel to do its worst. Just like Bush-Cheney.

Many are familiar with the Hebrew song, Dayenu, which is traditionally sung on Passover: Dayenu means: it is sufficient for us; we are satisfied: or in the case below:  we would be satisfied.
With a slight twist to the lyrics we might sing to Obama: Dayenu: We understand that you have no intention of lifting the blockade of Gaza. That’s ok. But perhaps you can do something to repair Gaza’s sewage system destroyed in Cast Lead so that the many tons of raw sewage that flow daily into the Mediterranean can instead be treated and the Palestinians and their guests can once again enjoy their beaches. Dayenu.

Obama’s Plan A was to bark loudly about an end to settlement activity, a plan that was intended to fail. So little thought was given to the plan that the U.S. was caught by surprise when the Abbas “Authority” cleverly decided to take it seriously and refused to negotiate with the Israelis until it was implemented.

But it doesn’t matter. The Palestinians can refuse all they want. The surprise is that the White House doesn’t seem to have a face saving Plan B other than to show the white flag of surrender.

Here’s a nice symptom  of the surrender flag from Mondowiess’s invaluable site.

by Adam Horowitz on July 7, 2010

Robert Dreyfuss reports:

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu set up another illegal Jewish settlement, this time on the White House lawn. And, it appears, President Obama has agreed to serve as its armed guard.

So complete was Obama’s identification with Israel yesterday that he actually referred to Israel as “us” before correcting himself:

“We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against us – against it, that Israel has unique security requirements.”

One often hears things like: Hamas isn't hurt by the blockade since they get plenty of revenue from their taxes on what comes through the tunnels on the Egyptian border. It's the ordinary people of Gaza who are hurt. This of course is true, but surely the U.S. and Israel are aware of what’s going on.

Which goes to show that the blockade isn't intended against Hamas. Like Arafat, Hamas is Israel's friend, giving the government all the pretext they need to impose as much hardship and cruelty and oppression on the Palestinians as they can devise each month.

Yes, the blockade is intended to immiserate the Gazans and the larger Palestinians community. It’s a signal that the Israelis have the power to tell them they don't belong in land which Israel covets and to prepare themselves for  the day when they are to be shown the door.

Ah, if only Hamas would agree to give up Gilad Shalit. Unconditionally. That would show the Israelis that the Palestinians want peace. I actually heard this from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist on NPR, on a liberal talk show.

The last thing the Israeli government wants is the return of Gilad Shalit –which if they really wanted him back, it could be done in 48 hours. Like Arafat and Hamas, Shalit is a poster boy for Palestinian intransigence. If Shalit were returned, he'd only have to be replaced --probably at the cost of 15 or 20 or 1,000 or more Palestinian lives.