US President Barack Obama at the Israel lobby group AIPAC’s conference in 2011.(AIPAC)
If US President Barack Obama wanted to move the Palestine/Israel issue along, he would need to demand that Israel free thousands of political prisoners it holds in violation of international law, end its violations of Palestinian human rights, lift the siege on Gaza or at the very least end the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians.
However, because the fear that retribution by Israel’s lobby will be swift and painful, none of these things will be said — much less demanded — even though they are well-documented and widely known. And so, President Obama’s planned trip to Israel will not offer any solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue is, politically, a toxic wasteland that no US president in his right mind would want to clean up. It has become a vicious cycle of deceit and double standards, and it will contaminate any US politician who tries to clean it up. One may trust that President Obama, being fully aware of this, will avoid getting involved with this issue in his second term, just as he did in his first term.
Even if he does visit the West Bank city of Ramallah during his planned visit, there can be little doubt that Barack Obama will continue to stand behind Israel and place his real efforts elsewhere. It’s the cost of doing business.
The official US stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is that it needs to be resolved within the framework of a two-state solution but without the US pressuring the parties to reach a resolution. The pressures placed upon politicians in the US by the Israel lobby have created a reality in which criticizing Israel constitutes political suicide.
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, the Torquemada of the Israel lobby, stated recently on the satirical television program The Colbert Report that: “there are not many issues for which there is bipartisan support, the support for Israel is a true bipartisan issue” (“Obama’s Israel trip - Michael Oren,” 5 March 2013).
“Support for Israel” means a blank check. Understandably, Oren takes pride in this because it is an accomplishment for which his inquisition-style lobby has worked tirelessly. So much so, that the only vote on this issue that is acceptable in Washington is a vote that is aligned with Israel.
Reckless and destructive
The price of doing business in US politics is to applaud, encourage and pay for Israel to do whatever it wants, regardless how reckless and destructive it may be, and to ignore the plight of the Palestinians. This was true before the last Israeli elections, and now with the results of the Israeli elections clearly showing that Israelis have no interest in resolving the Palestinian issue, the president would have to go against Israeli electorate as well as the Israel lobby in the US, and all this to accomplish something no American president would even dare to articulate: peace and justice for Palestinians.
The naïve hope that Obama’s second term in office will be different than his first on this issue is just that, naïve. A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question will not come from an American president, nor will it come from an Israeli prime minister. The resolution of the conflict will come as a result of the fall of the Zionist state, not unlike the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
No substance at all
As student groups, churches, trade unions, civil society organizations and the movement calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel increase their pressure, Western governments who are now complicit in Israel’s crimes will inevitably be forced to halt their support for Israel.
This, along with the ongoing pressure from popular Palestinian resistance, disobedience and defiance of the laws that allow the Zionist occupation of Palestine to function, will bring about a democracy in Palestine, in place of the Zionist state.
But this will not come about of its own accord. People who care about Palestinians and Israelis and who care about justice and peace need to act vigorously and demand a democracy with full equal rights in Palestine/Israel. As for the president’s planned visit, we may expect, and we will surely see no substance at all.
Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.