Mark LeVine writes:
[Obama] might have dined with Palestinian professors back in Chicago, but there was no way he would have been allowed near the presidency if he actually internalised the historical narrative represented by Palestinian history and that of the Arab and larger developing worlds. Yes, he’s half African and grew up partly in Indonesia, and can give really nice speeches about the need for the peoples of the world to build a common future.
But more than anything, Obama is a product of the US political machine – from Harvard to Chicago to the White House. And you don’t go through that meat grinder and come out at the other end with many principles left intact.
Even if Obama can’t be blamed for the system – an-nitham, to use the entirely appropriate Arab connotation of the term – he must take responsibility for how many opportunities he has squandered and just how far US strategic designs have moved from the emerging realities in the Middle East and North Africa.
There are many arguments to be made for and against PA president Mahmoud Abbas bringing a statehood bid before the UN. Indeed, in a seemingly strange irony, one of the most eloquent arguments against the bid comes from Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, who explained that “there’s no shortcut, there’s no magic wand that can be waved in New York and make everything right … The reality is that nothing is going to change. There won’t be any more sovereignty, there won’t be any more food on the table.”
But of course, the reason for US opposition to the statehood bid – namely, US policy that supports Israel’s ongoing entrenchment of its occupation in the West Bank against the wishes of the entire world – is left unstated. Indeed, Rice and the Obama Administration are being patronising in the extreme by arguing that the push for a vote represents a “miscalculation” and a “gap between expectation and reality [that] is in itself quite dangerous”.
Instead, the reality is that the Obama administration, and the US foreign policy system it represents, are the ones who have badly miscalculated.
Palestinians understand quite well that this vote is largely symbolic. But with nothing to lose and the US hopelessly titled towards Israel, if the Palestinians can extract a political price by increasing the amplitude of the wave of anger of the newly empowered “Arab street” (a term that after decades of mis-use finally has some analytical bona fides) in response to the planned US veto in the Security Council, Palestinians will for once have played their historically bad hand well.