US on Wrong Side of History over Palestine

By Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai

The Palestinians have set the cat among the pigeons with their freedom song. And it’s good to see Uncle Sam and his fiendish brat break out in a cold sweat for a change.  

So what are Israelis and their patrons afraid of? All that the Palestinians have demanded is UN recognition for the little piece of territory that used to be their country.  Left only with Gaza and parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem, which is less than 20 per cent of the original Palestine, it is not much of a country to fight for.

The Palestinians aren’t even talking about their entire homeland and stolen homes from where they were driven out. They are content with setting up their ‘state’ on the tiny, splintered piece of land that they find themselves locked in today. But even this is not acceptable to the thugs who have stolen their country. But then the Israeli intransigence doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. It’s typical and characteristic of the Zionist regime.  

What is absurd and illogical is the US opposition to Palestinian moves. President Obama’s UN speech Wednesday aching for Israel and its endless "suffering" and the clear and present danger it faces from its Arab neighbors was remarkably similar to those of his bible-thumping predecessor. Not a word there about the seven decades of persecution of the Palestinians in their homeland.

All these years America has been telling the Arabs and the world that it’s committed to a ‘two-state solution’ and a "viable Palestinian state side by side with a secure Israel." Indeed, the very idea of a two-state solution is an American construct. 

It’s with the 1991 Madrid conference and the so-called Oslo peace process under Bill Clinton that for the first time brought Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table. It’s the US that talked Palestinians into giving up their claim over their motherland and settle for a new state along the 1967 borders. Until then the Palestinians had been fighting for total independence and restoration of their homeland.

The Palestinian leadership led by Yasser Arafat accepted the so-called two-state formula although to the majority of Palestinians it was unpalatable. Yet Palestinians saw no alternative but accept the US-dictated peace in the hope that they would at least have a state of their own, even if moth-eaten.

Today the same US is hell-bent on derailing the same Palestinian state. It’s all the more absurd considering Obama has been the most enthusiastic of all presidents in his rhetoric on the Middle East, rightly identifying it as the source of anti-Americanism around the world. From his campaign speeches to the much debated addresses in Ankara and Cairo, he has always presented himself as a champion of peace. 

One of the first major policy decisions that this president took was appoint George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East, dispatching him forthwith to revive the peace process. This was why the Nobel Committee picked him up for its highest honor. In the early days of his presidency Obama was seen as so pro-peace and so pro-Palestinian that Israeli newspapers used to caricature him in Palestinian keffiyeh. Whatever happened to that apostle of peace and his change-we-can promise? Where has he lost himself?

Today, Obama says Israelis and Palestinians both have "legitimate aspirations." How could he lump them together? Is there no difference between the aggressor and the victim? Does he know what he is saying? Obama says the Palestinian bid for UN recognition is not in the interest of peace and it will derail the peace process. Does he even realize what he is saying–the utter absurdity and incongruity of his words and actions?  Where is peace? And where is the peace process? Does it exist?

Ironically, in the same speech Obama celebrates the ‘liberation’ of South Sudan and hails the Arab spring and "moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw."

But the same freedom is clearly not acceptable for Palestinians. He says the only solution and way forward is a return to talks with Israel. But Palestinians have been negotiating with Israel for two decades. Where has it got them? Even as they were busy earnestly "negotiating", Israel has been eating away what little remains of their land. Under the land for peace deal, Palestinians have neither got the land, nor achieved peace. 

Yet Palestinians kept up with this charade for two decades forever chasing the chimera called peace. They did so because of US pressure and persuasion of the international community. After two decades of obfuscation and seven decades of deprivation, dispossession and persecution, the weary Palestinians have approached the UN. And instead of helping them get this symbolic recognition, Washington has the gall to oppose it and that too in the name of peace.

Last year speaking at the same UN, where he so haughtily trashed the Palestinian demand for freedom on Wednesday, he had declared: "When we come back next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel."

Today, Palestinians are seeking the same "independent, sovereign state." So what has changed over the past one year? What makes Obama so desperate that he must use all his awesome power to block Palestinian quest for independence? Is it his reelection concern and fear of the critical Jewish vote and money that is forcing his hand? Or is it that America simply doesn’t get it, even 10 years after 9/11?

Whatever the explanation, if the US goes ahead and vetoes the Palestinian demand in the Security Council, it would be committing a historic blunder of epic proportions.  The whole world has been electrified and excited by the idea of an independent Palestine, however imperfect. And this euphoria is not limited to the Arab and Muslim countries. 

As a BBC-GlobeScan poll revealed this week, a respectable majority around the world supports the Palestinian demand. Even in the land of the free, 45 percent people back the Palestinian aspirations. In the UN General Assembly that unlike the Security Council largely represents the democratic global opinion, the view is overwhelmingly in favor of the Palestinians. The world community knows that Palestinians have suffered enough.

Clearly, America and its enfant terrible are on the wrong side of history.  In its blind support to Israel, Washington remains curiously clueless about the world opinion, especially of the overwhelming sentiment in the Muslim world on the issue. More important, the US appears oblivious of the consequences of its veto against a Palestinian state. Nicolas Sarkozy of France was spot on when in his UN speech he warned of violence and grave fallout of Washington’s veto. Even Sarkozy says enough is enough after 60 years of Palestinian homelessness.

Washington has vetoed more than 40 UN resolutions critical of Israel or its own double standards, repeatedly infuriating the Arab and Muslim public opinion. As many have rightly argued, this blind support has been at the heart of the West-Islam conflict.

By scuttling the Palestinians’ bid for independence, the US is inviting the wrath of Arabs and Muslims and reasonable people everywhere. Here is a historic opportunity for peace and resolution of the world’s oldest conflict. The world will never forgive America and Obama for sabotaging it. The only obstacle in the way of peace now is America and its Nobel Laureate president. 

-Aijaz Zaka Syed is a commentator on the Middle East and South Asian affairs. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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