By William A. Cook
Consider the potential consequences of Obama’s speech in Cairo last week. Set aside the complaint that he offered no actions to correct the crisis; ignore the fact that he did not repudiate the absolute bond that tethers United States policy to that of Israel; avoid his silence regarding the racist urgings of Lieberman and the arrogance of Netanyahu as they dictated foreign policy for the U.S.; and forego any latent desires to have heard criticism of U.S. complicity in the 60 years of occupation as the people of Palestine lost all but 22% of their homeland to the Zionist forces controlling Israel. Consider instead the possibility that Obama, without fanfare or hint of change, struck out on a new stealth strategy toward reconciling the crisis in Palestine.
What if Obama’s intentions have been carefully thought out over a prolonged period of time, before he won the Presidency, before he decided on his Cabinet, before a continuation of the plans was forced on him that merely extended the failures of the past to bring resolution to the conflict but furthered the interests in Israel as it continued to take absolute control of all of Palestine by occupation, coercion, and land theft, with the intent of forcing no other resolution than “conditions on the ground” dictated, leaving only three bantustans and the Gaza strip. What if he understood that no man can win the Presidency without the support of AIPAC and the Jewish lobbies it supports and had, therefore, to devise a means to resolution that could enunciate absolute support for Israel’s security yet find a way to bring an end to the occupation letting the Palestinian people establish their own state.
What if he knew that the only means to that end was to sever the bonds that shackle the United States to Israel by forcing deliberations out of the back rooms of the White House and the Knesset into the open air of world scrutiny. What if he sensed that the only way to bring the reality of the situation to the American people would be to force the controlled main stream media to cover the crisis realistically. Considered in this light, Obama’s commitment to a resolution of the Israeli/Palestine conflict at the beginning of his Presidency — including his first act as President, a call to Mahmoud Abbas, followed by an anonymous White House item that included Israel as a state with nuclear weapons, followed by his policy of two states living side by side in peace before Netanyahu became Prime Minister, followed by a speech to the Arab world from Cairo, a speech anticipated by the entire world – suggests that he intended to thrust this issue before the American people, before the EU, before the Arab world so that Israel could not maneuver developments to its own ends as it did most recently with the Annapolis Peace initiative.
In short, the plight of the Palestinians under the 60 year occupation, as asserted in his speech, now must be resolved, and he outlined how that could be done in this speech.
The speech achieved six primary goals: first, it altered dramatically the relationship between the United States and the Arab world by recognizing the need for the United States to change its stance from one of confrontation and antagonism to one of mutual respect and dignity based on tolerance and partnership; second, it established a new political dynamic by forcing Israel to deal with its neighbors beyond Jordan and Egypt; third, it engaged many states in the Arab world by using the Arab Leagues’ 2002 Peace initiative as a base, forcing the EU as well as Israel to recognize the pre-1967 borders as a viable means to create a Palestinian state; fourth, it removes Netanyahu and his coalition from dictating terms for resolution, indeed, it forces Israel to accept the existence of a Palestinian state and in the process forces the hand of AIPAC to comply as borders are at last established for the state of Israel; five, it forced open the need for U.S. mass media to address the “plight” of the Palestinian people at a time when the visual slaughter inflicted on them in January is still present in the press and on You Tube; and sixth, by referencing the need to control all nuclear weapons, it brought attention once again to the reality that Israel alone in the mid-east possesses them.
This week Netanyahu is scheduled to present a peace plan to the citizens of Israel. Before Obama’s talk to the world, he would have asserted the need to put it on the back burner; Iran’s perceived nuclear arsenal was of first importance. But now he must confront a plethora of issues, not the least of which is how to fashion a Palestinian state without giving up any land or removing settlements from the West Bank. He will try delaying tactics including the retention of settlements in exchange for land exchange, especially those areas with Palestinian populations now in Israel, or time to work out removal of some outlying settlements in exchange for retention of Gush Etzion, Alfei Menashe, Ma’aleh Adumim, and Ariel that ensure the Judification of Jerusalem, or requiring the Palestinians to become “fit” for statehood by waiting for them to create an adequate infrastructure that compares to respectable states, a way of denying statehood for decades.
Obviously, what Netanyahu wanted to present as his first state of the state address is not what he will have to address. Even the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Sallai Meridor has stated, it would be “morally and politically destructive of Israel” to now deny them a state.
But that’s not all Netanyahu has to confront as a result of Obama’s initiative. Internally, the Settlers have become a powerful force, both vocally and militarily; they openly confront even the IDF if they act contrary to their wishes. That means Netanyahu will face skirmishes and even open battles between Jews and Jews, the religious zealots and the secularists and traditional Torah Jew. A state for Palestine means defined borders, which means in turn a change in mental perception and a reduction in land. And, finally, the issue of a “right to return” must be dealt with openly before the world.
Considering the potentials that could result from Obama’s speech, we have to ask ourselves if none of this could have been foreseen. I would turn to the ingredients of his talk to glean from it the probability of his intentions. He asserts these points. Action must be executed on “principles of justice and progress” leading to “tolerance and dignity” of all; justice assumes the actions taken will rest on a legal frame as expressed in international law between states and upheld and expressed by 160 UNGA resolutions identifying these laws. Action will be transparent, not behind “closed doors” necessitating “opening hearts” to bring all in harmony toward a resolution based on “listening to each other” and “seeking common ground.” Action will be found that binds all by interests “we share as humans” as opposed to those that “drive us apart.” Action will require “equity of all peoples, races, and religions” spurning “violent extremism” everywhere, including America, Arab lands and Israel by implication. And, finally, there must be a “partnering with all nations” not an imposed peace forced by imperialism of the mighty. Obama’s America is not the “dominant power on the planet” that controls all, but one that understands the uncertain destiny this world faces.
Should Obama’s speech be the tool that severs the shackles that bind U.S, policy to Israel under its Zionist leaders, then there is yet another implication resulting from this strategy. Since 1941 Israel has maintained a systematic and calculated process of expulsion or eradication of Palestinians from their homes and villages as established by Israeli historians Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe. This campaign began in the 1947-48 invasion of the Partitioned area of Palestine designated for Palestinians by UN Resolution 29 and continues to the present day, a slow motion genocide to take full control of all of Palestine. Obama’s call for the state of Palestine now, effectively places borders around the state of Israel for the first time in 60 years, finally defining where that state is, forcing it to recognize the state of Palestine, and stopping the genocide that has existed since the state of Israel was declared.
– William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy, "The Rape of Palestine" and "The Chronicles of Nefaria." He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.