Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama in Florida Avoids Addressing the Human Rights Issues Regarding Palestinians

First of all, this exchange could not have happened in a "town hall" format during the George W. Bush administration.

You can watch his mind at work, as he sort of tries to answer this courageous student's question at first, then realizes he can't, then acknowledges other people in the audience, to diffuse focus on her initial question, then tries to broadly address what she brought up without getting into a conflict with his administration's operative policy.

His administration's operative policy is to continue to allow the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; to finance the building of a wall around Gaza that goes 200 feet underground at the expense of Palestinian human rights (a lot of the work being let out now is being arranged under no-bid contracts to Obama donors); to accomodate the Israelis in their refusal to allow the basic necessities of life from getting into Gazagrad; to refuse to support Palestinians in the West Bank who are true 21st Century Gandhis, but have been targeted by the Israelis for detention, imprisonment or assassination; and to put no pressure on U.S. laws that allow Americans tax credits for investing in expansion projects which steal Palestinian land.

This young woman, when interviewed after the event by local media, commented on the President's response to her question:

Of course we love a two state solution, but there has to be trust and dialogue between two sides. The Palestinian people are ready for a two state solution, but the Palestinian people are the ones being occupied by Israelis. How are the Palestinian people supposed to do anything if they’re the ones being occupied? The occupiers have to allow for something to happen which they have not yet allowed to happen. I asked President Obama why he says America as a nation supports human rights, but at the same time, one of our greatest allies is Israel, a country that does not support human rights, and has many human rights violations. President Obama did not really answer my question or address it, so I’m really disappointed right now.

The context of the student's question had, of course, meaning in the Gaza invasion last year, in which the IDF killed over 1,000 civilians in a few days, and intentionally destroyed a lot of valuable infrastructure, using your and my money to do the job. This criminal set of acts involved a lot of intense violence. Yet Obama states that Palestinians, whose land is being stolen every fucking day, have to renounce violence, and recognize an Israel that is - from their viewpoint - gobbling up their land duman by hectare by acre - and that country's right to continue to do just that.

hat tip - Adam Horowitz at Mondoweiss


AKSmoke Salmon said...

How come Egypt never wants the Gaza Strip back???

If I remember correctly, wasn't the Gaza Strip is formerly part of Eqypt?

IF the Sinai can go back to Egypt, why can't the Gaza Strip?

What, there are ethnic differences amoungst Muslim?

What, Egypt doesn't want to be stuck with the Gaza Strip?

I thought it was all Brotherhood and Humble Pie in the Land of the Pharoahs...

I guess as long as we continue to frame the whole debate as Palestinians against Israelis, Egypt gets a big get out of jail free card.

Where is the open border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt?

Philip Munger said...

Good questions.

The Gaza Strip was part of the Palestinian Mandate, and was to go toward the Palestinian state, to be established in 1948. The Egyptians occupied it from 1948 to 1967, but it was never part of Egypt.

Many of the people in Gaza either formerly lived in what is now Israel, or are their descendants. Some are descended from refugees from political turmoil in Egypt during the 19th and early 20th centuries. They certainly don't consider themselves Egyptian now. Some are descendants of the variety of eastern Med people who have lived in the area for a long, long time.

My closest friend from Gaza now lives in the USA. Her family was driven out of the Nazareth area in 1948, by Israeli settlers. They moved to Gaza, then to the USA. Even though their ancestors had moved to Gaza from Alexandria - and then on to Jaffa and the Galilee - in the 16th Century, they considered themselves Palestinian, not Egyptian or as willing Ottoman citizens. They are Coptic Christian.

The corrupt, anti-Democratic Egyptian government will do what we tell them to do on this issue. And they are very sensitive to persuasion from the Israelis, too.

AKPetMom said...

Even a Democratic President can't fight the religio-political mandate in the region.

This in one thing that Obama is forced to drink the koolaid on and he can't make it better.

It's one of those things that any president hopes will be so far under the rug that very few will question it, much less expect answers.

anon. said...

Expecting Obama to answer for the actions of another sovereign state is total naive lunacy.

Expecting that he can control another sovereign state is even more simple minded and even more looney.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I don't understand your preoccupation with Palistine. How about giving some balanced blog space and advocacy for the oppressed people of countries such as North Korea, Tibet, China, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, etc.?

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 6:12 am:

See my Saturday Alaska blog roundup for a reply.