Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

Post-UN bid, anybody still think Obama is going to 'save Israel from itself'?

Since winning reelection, Obama has championed Netanyahu’s war in Gaza and rejectionism in the UN. Enough illusions about this U.S. administration.

It’s hard to see how Mitt Romney could have been any more pro-occupation or anti-Palestinian than Obama’s been since getting reelected three and a half weeks ago. (That’s all it was!)

First Rashid Khalidi’s old friend supports Operation Pillar of Defense as an exercise of Israel’s “right to self-defense,” without any mention of the people in Gaza (or the West Bank) living under Israel’s thumb for nearly half a century, or, God forbid, that they may have a right to self-defense, too.

And now this at the UN. The “good guys” did it again. The Obama administration actually lobbied the world not to recognize a Palestinian state, arguing that the way to go is for Abbas to negotiate with Netanyahu – on Netanyahu’s terms, without preconditions. The U.S. line remains identical to Bibi’s. (And Obama’s most influential domestic supporter, the New York Times, made the same case – no to Palestine at the UN, yes to peace talks without preconditions – in an editorial.) The president and his people warned and are still warning the Palestinians not to use their new status to take Israel to The Hague. About the only downgrading in the administration’s UN performance from the first time around, in September of last year, is that instead of Obama himself flacking for Bibi at the podium, UN Ambassador Susan Rice did it from her seat.

What’s going on? Obama and the rest of them can’t really believe this crap. They can’t believe Netanyahu wants to negotiate a deal with Abbas, or that the Palestinians were being rash (!) in going to the UN – they know that if Abbas accepts their advice, he and the Palestinians will get nothing but more Israeli contempt for their weakness. The folks in Washington aren’t stupid, they don’t like Bibi one bit, and they don’t have Likud in their blood, either. Everything Obama, Rice, Clinton and the rest of them have been saying since November 6 on Israel and Palestine is, for them, a lie. So why, when they don’t have to worry about Jewish voters in Florida or any other electoral consideration, are they still slinging it for Israel’s No. 1 Republican?

Any number of possible reasons – they don’t want to go back on their “strong for Israel” campaign rhetoric so soon and alienate a lot of supporters; they don’t want to admit, even to themselves, that they were bullied for the last four years; they’re saving their political capital to stop Bibi from bombing Iran – who knows? But the why of it, while interesting, doesn’t matter – the important thing is that Obama, freed of pre-election restraints, and with a long list of offenses from Netanyahu that he would be expected to want to avenge, is not only not avenging, he’s continuing to do this Republican hero’s bidding.

As for the why, my guess is that the administration has decided that it’s futile and self-destructive to try to play Middle East peacemaker again, so why not try to reap some benefit at home by playing Israel’s defender? But whatever the reason, the reelected Obama administration’s support for Israeli aggression in Gaza and rejectionism in the UN shows that it is not going to do a 180 one of these days and commit itself to getting Israel off the Palestinians’ necks. It would be just too weird. Too out of character. The post-November-6 war in Gaza and UN vote have been a compound moment of truth for Obama. What’s left to say? Only zeh mah yesh, if you’re Israeli, or, if you’re American, what you see is what you get.

It’s just like with Shelly Yacimovich, the ex-leftist who took over the Labor Party and is now pro-war, pro-settlement and altogether Bibi-compatible on the occupation – how could it be, she doesn’t believe this insanity, she’s just saying it to get elected … but Shelly’s been saying it now for years, at every opportunity, until you realize that this is who she is, this is what she stands for. People change, for all sorts of reasons, not always good. She’s one example. Barack Obama is another. On Israel-Palestine, not only is he not part of the solution, he’s no less a part of the problem than he’s been for the last few years, and that’s saying a lot to his discredit. There’s been no change in Washington, and hope will have to come from other sources.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. Brendon

      Hi Larry,

      Have you thought about this possibility: Obama cannot stand up to the Israel lobby. He would have to take on a sizeable chunk of the media, Congress and the Senate. But he can be subtle.

      Obama has done 2 things: he let it be known he did not want ground forces in Gaza, and nearly every western country made the same statement after Obama said it, putting pressure on Netanyahu. Netanyahu is accused of fumbling that conflict.

      And the second is what a lot of people aren’t noticing: Obama put next to no pressure on most of his allies to vote no. Just Micronesia, Canada and few others. That is not the way it has been done in the past. There is generally a sizeable “Coalition of the arm twisted arm victims” on issues like this. Obama looks like he just let it happen.

      And of course, that means he can play the game, and support Israel, escaping the wrath.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      Told ya.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      While I totally get that Obama’s got some big fish to fry (fiscal cliff), I don’t understand why he chose to be on the wrong side of history this time around. After all, it goes against everything he supposedly believes in. My gut feel is that, beneath his confident exterior, Obama is an incredibly insecure black man who still lives in the shadow of white supremacy. He wants to be more white than Romney, Gingrich and Trump put together. It’s pretty sad to see him now abandoning everything he used to believe in. By my estimate, he is probably the most anti-Palestinian president ever, as even George W. Bush said ‘no’ to Israel on occasion (and to his credit, got Israel to end the occupation of Gaza in 2005).

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Dude…. What the f**k?

        Reply to Comment
      • Mike

        Dude… WHAT THE F**K?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Babak

      Let’s consider another crazy possibility, that the Obama administration, who’s affirmed every right wing over reach of his predecessors including indefinite detention, drone assassinations, and pre-emptive war has more in common with Bibi than you would like to think. Go read Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech, in full, to understand his administration’s philosophy on war and peace.

      Western Liberals have created this image of Obama on which they can project whatever fantasies that they want. Whenever they are presented with evidence that challenges these projections, they start to perform all sorts of mental and political gymnastics to try explain the situation.

      It’s becoming a sad, pathetic spectacle to watch.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Philos

      Larry, another theory might be that Obama and his people have decided to let Israel and its loudmouthed lobby have its way. “To he’ll with them! Let them dig their own graves! We’ll deal with this when only when they’re begging us for help.” To me that would be the most prudent approach. Why exert oneself bending Israel’s arm when we’re convinced their actions mean certain national suicide? Let them swallow their poison and come to us for the antidote. That’s the advice I’d give Obama.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Michael

      In voting against Palestinian statehood, President Obama committed a gross injustice and shamed the United States.

      Reply to Comment
    7. blutopie

      Where is the bottom of the Israeli House of Cards?

      1967? 1948? UN 194 Palestinian Right of Return? UN 242?

      The Ponzi Scheme has been built one level at a time, with no foundation, decade after decade

      There are but a small handful of dispositive realities left:

      1- Israel finds herself with 750,000 illegal paramilitary contractors over her borders and no way to get them back short of a civil war with her settlers.

      2- Israel finds herself having successfully created the One State she always wanted, an Apartheid One State. (A blunder or ‘success’ of historic proportions I might add)

      3- Israel can no longer defend the Apartheid aspect of the One State, due to Palestinian access to the ICC

      4- One State minus Apartheid is one binational state – ONE REAL STATE. One man, one vote, from the river to the sea.

      This is the fast approaching bottom of the Israeli House of Cards – and the Israelis themselves know it

      Reply to Comment
      • The answer to your question is that the foundation of Israel’s “house of cards” is 1948. The foundation of the 1967 occupation, is, as you say, UNSC Resolution 242.

        You can deny the existence of an occupation all you want, and say over and over that there exists not an occupation but instead some kind of One State, but that doesn’t change the facts. The occupation rests on solid, unchallenged, undisputed juridical ground. No court in the world, including the ICJ, disputes either the existence or legality of the belligerent occupation (per se) or finds for some imaginary “One State.”

        Israel can end the occupation and dismantle the settlements whenever it wants. In the most unlikely, absolute worst case, it could even end the occupation and let the settlers either return to the metropolis or fend for themselves under a Palestinian state.

        This whole One State demon is a product of Western – not Palestinian, but Western – propaganda and the feverish imagination of a handful of gullible, not-so-bright Israelis such as Avrum Burg. Propaganda’s a great thing, but remember, never believe your own PR.

        Reply to Comment
      • It’s puzzling that you’d imagine an American president supporting the Palestinian right to self-defense. While they have a legal and moral right to resist occupation, the way they’re doing it – terrorism – is illegal.

        Hypothetically, in some imaginary world militias like Hamas and Islamic Jihad might decide to start fighting according to the Geneva Convention, like World War II partisans. In this world, endorsing a Palestinian “right to self-defense” is endorsing terrorism.

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          aaron – if you think that WWII partisans operated strictly in accordanced with the Geneva conventions, I’ve got some history books I’ll sell you.

          The problem with your claim is the tendency to define terrorism as “whatever Hamas does.” Reading the Israeli press, you can see all Palestinians referred to as terrorists, or all Gazans called terrorists. In the meantime, Jewish acts of terror, IDF acts of terror, are ignored.

          Reply to Comment
          • I do not define terrorism as “whatever Hamas does.” I admit that I wasn’t clear about that in my post. Much of what they do is terrorism, but some of it isn’t. As I understand it, none of their military actions, including even the attacks on combatants, are legal according to customary laws of war. Their fighters are not protected as combatants by the Geneva Convention even when they attack military targets.

            The 1949 Geneva Convention was specifically aimed at legitimating World War II style partisan fighting. That’s not to say that World War II partisans always followed the later 1949 rules, but the Convention protects those who do follow the rules of partisan warfare. That does not include any Palestinian militias, ever.

            I’m talking legality, not justice. As I’ve said many times, I think that terrorism – targeting noncombatants – is sometimes just. But to expect an American president to, in effect, encourage the Palestinians to continue committing war crimes is asking a bit much.

            Reply to Comment
          • betz55

            “The problem with your claim is the tendency to define terrorism as “whatever Hamas does.” Reading the Israeli press, you can see all Palestinians referred to as terrorists, or all Gazans called terrorists. In the meantime, Jewish acts of terror, IDF acts of terror, are ignored.”

            No, they are not ignored they are just called “price tag” in retaliation for the Palestinians defending themselves. Pathetic isn’t it. The illegal settler terrorists squats and the rag-tag Idiot Dumb and Dumber Forces are terrorists, period. So when you blog and come up against the usual BS hasbara about Palestinians “terrorists” just equate them to the so called “price tag” BS and watch them howl!

            Reply to Comment
        • That post of mine was mistakenly posted as a reply. It was meant as a regular post, and the “you” referred to Larry Derfner.

          Reply to Comment
    8. Howard

      On spot. As you say, the Obama people can’t really believe what they are saying. Rather, their stance is sheer hypocrisy a and expediency. All will be the losers–the Israelis, the Palestinians and the U.S. Shame on Obama!

      Reply to Comment
    9. Richard Witty

      It IS up to Israelis to change their own community.

      And, if there is any indication that that is occurring materially, then there will be room for Obama to assist.

      He can’t do Israel’s responsibilities.

      He can’t do what the Israeli liberal thinkers haven’t worked methodically to articulate politically, confidently.

      Anyone going door to door during this election season? Or, is the liberal/progressive left finding some rationalization for not putting their weight into it?

      Reply to Comment
      • I think you are right, Richard.

        But I think Larry has underestimated the importance of American mediation ending Gaza before a ground invasion, which would have cost many more lives and risked an Egyptian flare up, internally.

        Reply to Comment
        • Greg, you’re right that Obama helped end the war, but I think it was the least he could do, and no more than Romney probably would have done – Bibi didn’t want to invade, only the Israeli “street” and its leaders (Lieberman and the rest of the far right) did. I think the remarkable thing Obama did was to support the assassination of Jabari as an Israeli act of self-defense when in fact it escalated a clash that was dying down.

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            At the risk of being insulting.

            What the hell are you doing in reality to work to unseat likud?

            Are ANY at 972 working electorally, or are they all just watching from a distance?

            Reply to Comment
          • Oh, Richard, please. I hear behind your question the assumption that if the left were only more committed, it could take power, or at least be a contender. Would that it were true. And by the way, since when is writing about Israel in Israel “watching from a distance,” something that doesn’t count?

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            The point is to put your weight into this election.

            Yes, people could and should do more.

            And, to fail to is to neglect one’s responsibilities and capabilities.

            Reply to Comment
    10. delia ruhe

      ‘As for the why, my guess is that the administration has decided that it’s futile and self-destructive to try to play Middle East peacemaker again, so why not try to reap some benefit at home by playing Israel’s defender?”

      Basically correct. I don’t think Obama has much interest in “saving Israel from itself” anymore. Since he has promised to defend Israel’s national security, he’ll pay lipservice for the next 4 years.

      Obama knows a lost cause when he sees — or gets bitten by — one. Israel has no intention of making peace; never has, never will.

      http://conflictsforum.org/2007/the-great-middle-east-peace-process-scam/

      Reply to Comment
    11. While Obama does not have to stand again for reelection, in two years Democrats in the House and Senate do. Any perceived move on Obama’s part against Israel will be sure to bring Democrats down in 2014. And Obama needs some Democratic good will over his next four years. AIPAC doesn’t go away. The system rides on to apocalypse.

      Reply to Comment
    12. GKJames

      Obama, like every president since Truman, became a captive of the national security apparatus on the day of his inauguration. He’s bought into the only narrative that most Americans are exposed to, and that’s Israel’s. And, political calculation aside, it’s simply not in him to grab hold of an issue and bang heads at the negotiating table.

      The game’s up. Netanyahu can now focus his energy on picking a suit for the official Palestinian surrender to reality.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel