In his trip to Washington, Israel's premier acted more like the US president than his host, Barack Obama, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Obama meets with Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
The hypocrisy was highlighted when Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, on Israeli President Shimon Peres.
But Peres is a war criminal. In 1996, as prime minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, he ordered the Israeli army to bombard a UN peacekeeping force headquarters in Southern Lebanon where hundreds of Lebanese civilians had sought refuge from Israel's bombing of their villages. The bombardment, which according to the UN was carried out deliberately and with forethought, killed over 100 civilians, mostly children and women.
Despite Barack Obama's desperate efforts to retain a semblance of American national dignity in the face of encroaching Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it seems that the latter succeeded in getting most if not all of what he wanted from a visibly insecure president who appears convinced that it will be hard for him to stay in the White House without grovelling at Israel's feet.
Netanyahu went to Washington in a pugnacious, even insolent mood, to achieve two main goals: first, to cajole and if necessary bully the Obama administration to take more proactive measures against Iran; second, to see to it that the Palestinian issue is put on the back burner for many months, if not years, to come.
As expected, Netanyahu praised the wide-ranging sanctions imposed so far on Iran. However, he told his host that Israel was her own master. His unspoken meaning was, "If you don't bomb Iran, we will."
Obama invoked all the sacrosanct mantras fit for the occasion. Speaking before the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention, he reiterated his ironclad commitment to Israel's security and maintaining its qualitative edge over the entire Arab world combined.
On Iran, he denied any suggestion that the US would settle for a policy of containment in case Iran succeeded in manufacturing a nuclear weapon. Obama said the US would not allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons, period.
Not even an allusion or a distant hint was made to Israel's formidable nuclear arsenal, which according to reliable sources amounts to 250-300 nuclear weapons, with their delivery systems.
Obama did say his administration was still committed to the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But it was clear that Obama's words in this regard were meant for public relations consumption, especially abroad, and had more to do with portraying his administration as maintaining some independence from Israel than with any genuine commitment to force Israel to pay the price for peace, including Israel's withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967.
The American president went far, even to the degree of sycophancy in heaping praise on Israel and its leaders. The hypocrisy was highlighted when Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, on Israeli President Shimon Peres.
But Peres is a war criminal. In 1996, as prime minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, he ordered the Israeli army to bombard a UN peacekeeping force headquarters in Southern Lebanon where hundreds of Lebanese civilians had sought refuge from Israel's bombing of their villages. The bombardment, which according to the UN was carried out deliberately and with forethought, killed over 100 civilians, mostly children and women. Gruesome images of decapitated children were shown all over the world.
Not a fleeting apology or mea culpa was issued by Peres. So much for America's moral commitment to Israel's security.
In addition to securing American commitment to attack Iran if all else fails to change Tehran's stance, Netanyahu seems to have marginalised the Palestinian issue in Washington's eyes, at least for the remainder of Obama's current term in the White House.
Netanyahu's invocation of Auschwitz and his brazen comparisons between the situation facing Israel now and that faced by European Jewry during the Nazi era will guarantee that the US president refrains from exerting meaningful pressure on Israel over the Palestinian issue.
The logic of the matter is like this. If Obama is reluctant to raise secondary issues like settlement expansion in the West Bank or arresting thousands of Palestinian activists for years without charge or trial, it is improbable to imagine he will force an increasingly Talmudic-minded Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, especially East Jerusalem, and allow for the establishment of a true, viable Palestinian state.
In truth, Obama, even if he knows in the bottom of his heart that Netanyahu is a pathological liar, he wouldn't dare challenge the Israeli premier's mendacity. This cowardice is what makes Netanyahu believe that his words are accepted by listeners, including those who know well that his words are lies.
Netanyahu claimed in his speech before AIPAC that Arabs only have equality and freedom in Israel and that the latter is the only place Christians can worship freely in the Middle East.
In the words of one British observer, Netanyahu's speech was a glided threat to Congress members in the audience (50 per cent of them) whilst a "war for Dummies presentation to the Zionists".
"I honestly don't have the skilled vocabulary to explain his lies and snide insults to anyone capable of independent thought," remarked the British author and intellectual.
It is uncertain what impact an American-Israeli war on Iran would have on the Palestinian problem. However, it is probably safe to assume that any war would kill whatever meagre prospects remain for salvaging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, even though Hamas, an erstwhile ally of Iran, said it would take no part in any possible war between Iran and Israel.
A few years ago, it was rumoured that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Shimon Peres during a cabinet session: "Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America and the stupid Americans know it."
A few days ago, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid wrote that in his speech before AIPAC, Netanyahu sounded as if he, not Obama, was the real president of the United States.
Doesn't this underscore the futility of counting on America to achieve peace and justice for the Palestinians?
This entry was posted on Mar 11, 2012 at 12:04:21 pm and is filed under PALESTINE, Israel, American Zionism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed, or leave a response (below) , or trackback from your own site .
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