Henry Siegman writes: With his decision to oppose the U.N. General Assembly’s granting Palestine non-member state observer status, U.S. President Barack Obama leaves no doubt he is not modifying his pre-election position that “There is no daylight between Israel and the United States,” and that no matter how deeply Israeli behavior violates international norms and existing agreements, U.S. support for Israel remains “rock solid.” This continuity of U.S. Middle East peace policy was promptly reinforced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she assured Israel that despite her condemnation of its decision to proceed with new construction in the E1 corridor of the West Bank that will doom the two-state solution, this administration will continue to “have Israel’s back.”
The decision confirms America’s irrelevance not only to a possible resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict but to the emerging political architecture of the entire region, the shape and direction of which will increasingly be determined by popular Arab opinion, not autocratic regimes dependent on the United States for their survival.
The efforts promised by President Obama to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will be seen universally for the empty and purposeless exercise they will be. To be taken seriously, a new U.S. peace initiative would have to begin with an insistence that Israel’s government accept the pre-1967 border as the starting point of resumed negotiations. Without such a U.S. demand, backed by effective diplomatic pressure, the United States will have no right to ask Palestinians to return to negotiations that have no terms of reference, and therefore no prospect of producing anything other than cover for Israel’s continuing predatory colonial behavior in the West Bank.
The administration’s admonitions to the Palestinians that they find the political courage to return to negotiations with a government whose intention to prevent viable Palestinian statehood has been clearly and repeatedly demonstrated are singularly inappropriate. A U.S. administration that since the third year of its first term has been pandering to the Israel lobby by withdrawing its insistence that Israel’s illegal settlements project must end, followed by a muting of its demand that resumed negotiations be framed by reasonable terms of reference, should exercise considerably greater restraint before presuming to preach to others on the subject of political courage. [Continue reading…]
Great to read Henry Siegman again. Obama is now in a position where any real human would NOT EVEN think about “having Israel’s back” after all that the Netanyahu/Lieberman pair has done. It is not possible that Obama believes the lies he spouts from the AIPAC playbook. Now US policy, international laws and even promises made to Obama himself about the E-1 construction have been tossed aside, as Netanyahu knows that Obama will keep the evil “democratic Jewish State” on its cruel and greedy way. As Siegman says, this is not even good for Israel, bringing more world opinion against it. Security enforced by overwhelming violence is not a way fo any reasonable country to live.
You wrote: “Without such a U.S. demand, backed by effective diplomatic pressure, the United States will have no right to ask Palestinians to return to negotiations that have no terms of reference, and therefore no prospect of producing anything other than cover for Israel’s continuing predatory colonial behavior in the West Bank.” Agreed.
This means that IF peace will be achieved, THEN it will not involve the USA as a key player (unless the USA changes, perhaps after a significant showing from the American public or a showing of muscle by other states (perhaps led by France, UK, Turkey, Egypt) or both.If the USA is (today) talking the AIPAC talk but secretly encouraging EU states and others to get tough on Israel, that would help a good deal — and perhaps explain some of what has been going on.
Has anyone considered that the “O” has taken so much flak over the past 4+ years of being a Muslim, that his now taking a position of being a backer of the present Israeli stand, which is in reality, playing both sides for what he can get? After all, the Israelis say one thing but mean another, so why not the “O” too!
Anything Henry Siegman writes you can take to the bank. No scholar has ever been a match for his fearless, thorough and well reasoned scholarship. The best compliment ever paid him comes from the neocons: “he over simplifies.” When they say that about you you know that they’ve got nothing facts-wiseon you, realize that you’re too good for them to argue with and are preparing to do a Trotskyist slander job on you personally to ink up the waters. So, I must concede that Siegman has spineless Obama right– past tense that is. I voted and worked for Obama’s re-election hough I too considered him a spineless dupe of the Clintons. But Obama asked us to hang on and see how he comes through for truth. Normally, he’d have gotten my vote only because of the corpoRATe alternative. But Obama’s wife, I’m reliably told, has real cohones and did take him to the woodshed, demanding that he act like a man. So stay tuned. Besides, the Zionazis are totally self-destructive. I only hope they don’t take the millions of really wonderful Israelis with them, destroying that beautiful basic model for any Semitic modern nation. In conclusion, Obama can’t forever capitulate to them because he will soon realize that they are a HATEFUL BOTTOMLESS PIT OF DIRTY DEALERS. So I would ask Prof. Siegman if, despite the truth he tells, would he abandon Obama now or treat him as the only hope for a real peace?