By Tammy Obeidallah
Congratulations to President Barack Obama for duping the Arab and Muslim community in America yet again with another hollow speech. He became the darling of many by opening his recent Cairo address with “Assalamu Aleikum.” So he is better at languages and public relations than G.W. Bush. Other than that, there is little difference between the two administrations.
First, there is the matter of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Obama has backpedaled on the issue of releasing photos of prisoner abuse citing it would “enflame anti-American sentiment.” Sound familiar? Then there is the manufactured red tape regarding which country will take the detainees once they are released. Common sense dictates they should be dropped off wherever U.S. soldiers captured them before unlawfully whisking them away to an overseas limbo.
If Obama supporters can stop fist-bumping long enough at their success in bringing hope and change to the masses, they might have time to raise these points and also question the status of detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, America’s new Guantanamo. If they get around to it, maybe they can also ask why Obama (like Bush in the beginning of his first term) pay lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state without holding the Israelis accountable for their actions.
In Cairo, Obama stood lamenting how “terrorists” could fire rockets at sleeping children in Sderot without one word as to the utter devastation and carnage visited on Gaza by Israeli Occupation Forces less than six months ago. Not a single word. Obama never mentioned the 1,500 Palestinian men, women and children that were murdered, not to mention the thousands of mutilated wounded: amputees, burn victims and those who simply died due to lack of equipment, electricity and medicine during the Israeli-imposed blockade.
It is frustrating when supporters of a Palestinian state—to be built on less than 20% of historical Palestine—express hope in Obama’s empty rhetoric against Israeli settlement construction, while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu states that Jerusalem will be the undivided capital of “Israel” and that there will be no Palestinian military. No military with a hostile nuclear neighbor? The scenario would be laughable except that so many are buying into it.
To add insult to injury, Obama followed up his Cairo visit with a tour of Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Nothing plays into Zionist spin better than tying a visit to the Arab World with a Nazi concentration camp. Obama is smart enough to know that, and with quintessential opportunism, he invoked the Holocaust at every turn during that visit and later at the D-Day commemoration in France. Obama also used these occasions to launch a verbal attack against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for his “threats” against the Jewish State, mostly created when western media mistranslated and misrepresented his words. Also appearing at Buchenwald, fellow opportunist Elie Wiesel recited a litany of man’s inhumanity to man in the decades since WWII. After Rwanda and Darfur, the massacre in Gaza was blatantly omitted yet again.
So while Obama enthusiasts talk about hope, change, and what a pleasant departure from the Bush-Cheney era the last few months have been, nothing has changed on the ground.
Ask a villager in Waziristan if she has seen any change since Obama’s inauguration. Has she seen any respite from drone attacks and do she and her children sleep any more easily?
Ask Mohammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, who was detained at Guantanamo Bay for over seven years with no charges if he saw any change from the endless torture of being held indefinitely. Did a brief surge of hope rise up in his chest as Obama pledged to close the facility? We will never know what Salih hoped and dreamed; he killed himself on June 2.
It is high time we step up the pressure on Obama and not let him get away with the double-talk, smokescreens and blatant lies which got him elected in the first place.
– This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com.