Robert Fisk writes:
So there I was, on the Via Dolorosa of course, chatting to a middle-aged guy in a red T-shirt and just a wisp of a beard with a prayer rug under his left arm.
And I asked him, of course, what he thought about Barack Obama’s speech. He grinned at me like he knew I had already guessed what he was going to say. “What did you expect?” he asked. Correct guess. After all, Haaretz had already referred this week to “President Barack Netanyahu” while the racist Israeli foreign minister said he would sign the speech with both hands. Maybe, I reflected in Jerusalem yesterday, Obama really is seeking election – to the Israeli Knesset.
But what was so striking about the streets of Jerusalem yesterday was the sense of resignation, of weary acceptance. The Israeli papers had warned of mass violence, but the crowds who turned up for morning prayers at Al-Aqsa simply laid out their prayer rugs on the highway outside the Damascus Gate or in the laneways behind the mosque and showed scarcely any interest in talking about Obama. Maybe America’s UN veto will rouse them to passion, but I have my doubts.
It’s a bit like the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib torture pictures, when the Americans restricted the number of photos to be released because they feared the pictures would enrage Iraqis. But I was in Baghdad that day and no one expressed any particular rage. What did I expect? After all, the Iraqis knew all about Abu Ghraib already – they were the ones who had been tortured there. So, too, Jerusalem yesterday. The Palestinians have watched America’s uncritical acceptance of Israeli occupation – the longest in the world – for 44 years. They knew all about it. It is only we Westerners who are horrified by torture pictures and by Obama’s hypocrisy.