Two Humiliations - Can Obama Live With A Third?
By Alan Hart
March 10, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Amazing! While in
Israel, an American vice president explicitly condemns an Israeli decision
to build yet more homes, 1,600 apartments, in occupied Arab East Jerusalem.
"I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for
new housing units in East Jerusalem," Joe Biden said. "It's the kind of step
that undermines the trust we need". Yes, but...
They were only words. And they call to mind a comment made by Uri
Avnery, the grandfather of the Israeli peace movement, in a piece he wrote
for Tikkun on 23 September 2009, after President Obama's call for a complete
freeze had been rejected by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
"There's no point in denying it," Avnery wrote. "In the first round of
the match between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama was beaten...
In the words of the ancient proverb, a journey of a thousand miles starts
with a single step. Netanyahu has tripped Obama on his first step. The
President of the United States has stumbled." And Netanyahu had won in a big
way. "Not only did he survive, not only has he shown that he is no 'sucker'
(a word he uses all the time), he has proven to his people - and to the
public at large - that there is nothing to fear: Obama is nothing but a
paper tiger. The settlements can go on expanding without hindrance. Any
negotiations that start, if they start at all, can go on until the coming of
the Messiah. Nothing will come out of them."
Whether or not Netanyahu himself had advance knowledge of the decision
to humiliate Biden is not the point. It is that Biden and so Obama were
humiliated, the president for a second time. And that begs my headline
question - Can he, Obama, live with a third humiliation?
If the history of previous American attempts to give life to a peace
process is a good guide, Obama will have no choice but to live with a third
humiliation, and no doubt others, at least for a while. An explanation of
why is offered in the Epilogue of the forthcoming Volume 3 of the American
edition of my book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. (The Epilogue is
titled Is Peace Possible?) Explaining why Obama moved so quickly with his
demand for a total settlement freeze, I put it this way:
He knew something that all American presidents know about when serious
initiatives for peace in the Middle East can and cannot be taken. (I know
what that something is because one of them told me a few months after events
had denied him a second term in office). Any American president has only two
windows of opportunity to break or try to break the Zionist lobby's
stranglehold on Congress on matters to do with Israel/Palestine.
The first window is during the first nine months of his first term
because after that the soliciting of funds for the mid-term elections
begins. (Presidents don't have to worry on their own account about funds for
the mid-term elections, but with their approach no president can do or say
anything that would cost his party seats in Congress. In Obama's case that
is going to be an extremely critical consideration because of the Democrats'
loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat, on 19 January 2010, to a Republican
who had demonstrated his ability to read from Zionism's script during the
The second window of opportunity is the last year of his second term
if he has one. In that year, because he can't run for a third term, no
president has a personal need for election campaign funds or organised
And that calls to mind the words of an eminent Arab-American, actually
a Palestinian-American, who knew Obama very well and, before the race for
the White House entered its final, decisive stage, had private conversations
with him. A few months before Obama's victory, this gentleman said to a very
dear friend of mine, "Don't expect any real pressure on Israel from Obama
until he is well into his second term."
I am inclined to the view that after the mid-term elections of a
second term, Obama could indeed be the president to do whatever is necessary
to bring Zionism to heel in order to best protect America's own real
interests. But the prospects of him winning as second term don't look very
good at the moment.
Visit Alan's website http://www.alanhart.net
From: Sid Shniad
Israeli apartheid by any other name still stinks
Rabble.ca: March 4, 2010
By Jaso Kunin
As the annual Israeli Apartheid Week got underway this week in universities
across Ontario and around the world, the denunciations are mounting. In the
Ontario Legislature last week, MPPs from all parties supported a motion
brought forward by Willowdale MPP Peter Shurman condemning the event and its
use of the word "apartheid," which he called "hateful" and "odious." A
similar motion is expected to be moved in parliament by the federal
Conservatives this week.
Yet comparisons of Israel's occupation to South Africa's apartheid did not
just fall off the turnip truck. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and South
African Archbishop Desmond Tutu have both described the situation as
apartheid, and even two former Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Olmert and Ehud
Barak, have used the word in expressing their concerns for Israel's future.
Israelis do not use the word "apartheid" -- they have their own word,
"hafrada," meaning separation -- but as it amounts to more or less the same
thing, it makes little sense to use with the public a word most people are
unfamiliar with. A few facts about "hafrada" highlight the striking
similarities with apartheid.
Israel rules directly over approximately five million Palestinian Arabs and
six million Jews, yet for over 40 years it has maintained two sets of laws:
civil laws for Jews, and military laws for the roughly four million
Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israeli settlements in the
territories are garrisoned by Israeli military forces and are connected both
to each other and to Israel proper by an elaborate set of roads that are
reserved exclusively for Jewish settlers, who also get to vote in Israeli
Palestinians in the West Bank, meanwhile, have their movement curtailed even
within the territories by hundreds of checkpoints, including "flying
checkpoints" that appear without warning or reason. Israel controls borders,
airspace, and all movement. Israel also controls all water, which it diverts
for its own use while keeping Palestinians on strict water quotas and
prohibiting them from digging wells. It continues to confiscate farm land
for settlements, many of which are built on hills, dumping sewage onto
Palestinian lands below. Palestinians who engage in non-violent resistance
routinely face arrest and, quite often, torture.
If this cannot be described as apartheid, what can?
Defenders of Israel against charges of apartheid tend to point to its 1.3
million Palestinian citizens of Israel. Certainly this is a difference
between Israel and South Africa under apartheid. Yet "apartheid" has come to
refer to a spectrum of mechanisms for separation, just as the term
"genocide" encompasses a broad range of murderous actions, no two being
exactly alike in every respect.
Indeed, there are ways in which Israel's "hafrada" is even worse than South
In the Gaza Strip, which Israel has held under siege since 2006, 1.5 million
people live like caged animals. Despite a savage bombing campaign in 2009
that left the infrastructure in ruins and thousands of people homeless, the
Israeli government has imposed on Gaza a complete embargo not only of
concrete for rebuilding but also items such as crayons, musical instruments,
hearing aid batteries, bed sheet, mattresses, blankets, candles, matches,
Even within Israel proper, there are variations of apartheid.
Palestinian citizens of Israel, who lived under military rule until 1966,
have Israeli passports and citizenship, yet they must carry identity cards
identifying them as "Arab." Most are confined to specified "Arab" villages
that are prohibited from expanding, despite desperate overcrowding, and they
are chronically underserviced. Their schools receive only a fraction of the
funding of Jewish schools, and their teachers are vetted and scrutinized by
the Shin Bet (the secret service).
Palestinian citizens of Israel are barred from public service jobs. While
they are permitted to vote, Israel's laws prohibit them from organizing
politically to demand that the character of the "Jewish state" be modified
to include them too. The political elite regard them as a fifth column, and
they are routinely referred to as a "demographic threat." Israel's deputy
prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has even spoken of resorting to
"transfer" -- a polite word for expulsion.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that Israeli Apartheid Week started in
Toronto around the same time our elected leaders in Canada, without public
consultation, began reorienting our foreign policy strongly in support of
Israel. In the context of this imbalanced foreign policy, the use of the
term "apartheid" does not shut down discussion and debate, as its critics
charge; rather, its use in events like Israeli Apartheid Week represents an
attempt at the popular level to restore discussion and debate that is
missing at the political level.
Jason Kunin is a Toronto teacher and writer.