• June 14, 2009

Minefields in Obama’s Cairo Speech

Minefields in Obama’s Cairo Speech

It is hard to treat with indifference President Obama”s speech in Cairo on 4 June, 2009.The speech itself seemed to represent an ostensible departure from the virulent anti-Islam rhetoric which very much characterized the general discourse of the former Bush administration.

Needless to say, the calumnies and canards concocted by Bush against the world”s 1.5 billion Muslims; using the term “Islamofascists” and claiming that Muslims “hate our freedoms” effectively put the United States and Islam on a virtual collision course.


Eventually, this sullen hostility to Islam and Muslims found expression in the genocidal wars of aggression the United States and its allies waged against Muslims, resulting in the invasion, occupation, and the destruction of two sovereign Muslim states.


Hence, it is laudable to see the Obama Administration making a real effort to mend relations with Muslims, and trying to refurbish America”s tarnished image throughout the Muslim world.


Nonetheless, Muslims, especially Arabs and Palestinians, should not be carried away by the false euphoria accompanying the speech although arguably balanced — by the American standard — and ostensibly friendly it may be.


Rehtoric Cloaked in the Same Policy


Will the creation of that contemplated Palestine involve full and total Israeli evacuation from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem? 

If we put symbolism and matters of style apart, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that Obama did not really come up with any real  surprises in terms of actual policies, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue; the main and enduring point of contention between the United States and the Muslim world.


His assertion of the two-state solution is hardly a surprise. George Bush had spoken ad nauseam of his vision of seeing a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace.


Bill Clinton had done the same thing while allowing Israel to keep up building Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian stolen lands.


In his remarks about the Palestinian issue, Obama actually left many questions unanswered as to the nature of the Palestinian state for which he has declared his support and backing.


For example, will the creation of that contemplated state involve full and total Israeli evacuation from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem?


And what would be the fate of the huge Jewish colonies in and around Al-Quds, such as Pisgat Zeev, French Hell, Har Homa, and Maali Adomim — to mention just a few colonies?  Would these colonies be dismantled or annexed to Israel?


Indeed, even Israel itself does not really object to the creation of a Palestinian state as long as the Zionist regime has the final say in determining all the characteristics of such a state.


Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will deliver a speech in which he is expected to declare his “acceptance” of the two-state solution.


However, Netanyahu is likely to insist that Israel must be in control of that state”s “borders”, border-crossings, air space, territorial water, underground water, telecommunications channels, and international relations.


Netanyahu will also insist that the prospective state would have to be totally demilitarized and deprived of any right to make treaties with foreign states.


In other words, Netanyahu will propose a state with a form and a name, but without any substance. In fact, it would be an insult to language to call such a deformed brat a state.


More to the point, Netanyahu is likely to invoke the mantra of “two states for two peoples”.


It suggests that the Zionist state would have the right — at a certain point in the future — to expel its 1.6 million strong Palestinian citizens to the future Palestinian entity on the ground that Israel is an exclusively Jewish state where only Jews could enjoy equal rights as citizens.


Ignoring International Law


Obama spoke laconically of Jerusalem becoming a home for the three monotheistic religions.

Interestingly, Obama made no mention whatsoever of the rule of international law and its relevance to the Palestinian plight.


This fact alone generates a lot of suspicions and misgivings about the credibility of the president”s commitment to pursuing a just and durable resolution of the conflict in Palestine.


According to international law, every centimeter of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem is an occupied territory.


This principle was reasserted in 2004 by the International Court of Justice in the Hague in its famous ruling on the Apartheid Wall which Israel erected in the West Bank, as well as by numerous UN resolutions.


Moreover, Obama spoke laconically of Jerusalem becoming a home for the three monotheistic religions. However, he did not say if he was alluding to East Jerusalem or West Jerusalem or both.


If indeed he meant East Jerusalem, then this would be utterly unacceptable to the Palestinian people and their Arab and Muslim brethren all over the world, because Al-Quds Al-Sharif is an occupied territory.


In fact, even the United States itself does not recognize the Israeli annexation of Al-Quds, and has repeatedly refused to transfer its embassy to the Holy City due to its status.


Besides, what about West Jerusalem? Does not Obama realize that Palestinian refugees own more than 90 percent of land in West Jerusalem?


So, one is prompted to ask if Mr. Obama believes that a theft becomes legal and lawful after the passage of 60 years?


Moreover, does Obama really think it is fair to allow Jews to possess property and real estate in East Jerusalem while Palestinians are denied the same right to reclaim their own property, including homes and lands in such West Jerusalem neighborhoods as Al-Malha, Ein Karem, Lifta, Dir Yasin, Beit Mahsir, Deir Aban, and the like?


One of the subjects conspicuously absent from Obama”s Cairo speech was the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees who were brutally uprooted from their ancestral homeland when Israel was created in Palestine in 1948.


Needless to say, the right of return is the soul and heart of the Palestinian issue, and without addressing it justly and sincerely, no possible peace deal can last long and withstand the tests of time.


Condoning Israeli Atrocities


Does or does not the usurped victim have the right, even the duty, to resist her/his attacker?

This is why Obama”s failure to even mention this fundamental element of the Israeli-Palestinian strife does not augur well for the future and for peace.


Furthermore, Obama called on the Palestinians to abandon violence, saying that “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” Well, should not Mr. Obama have also called on Israel to abandon violence against the Palestinians?


Does not he realize that Palestinian “violence” is in the final analysis a mere “effect” or inevitable reaction to an overwhelming “cause” which is the enduring Israeli occupation?


After all, the occupation itself is the ultimate form of violence and oppression since it deprives its victims of their human rights, freedoms, and dignity. Indeed, the occupation is an act of usurpation.


So, I would most candidly want to ask Mr. Obama the following question: Does or does not the usurped victim have the right, even the duty, to resist her/his attacker?


Finally, in his speech, Obama spoke elaborately of Jewish suffering at the hands of the Europeans.


Well, as human beings and as Muslims, we do sympathize with Jewish and non-Jewish suffering.


However, showing sympathy and understanding is one thing, but being demanded that we pay the price for this undeniably legitimate suffering is quite another.


It is unfair, unjust, and immoral to demand that the longest-suffering people in modern history, the Palestinians, who have inhabited and toiled the land of Palestine since time immemorial, to be coerced to pay the price for the Nazi atrocities of European Jewry seven decades ago.


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