Just as well that Obama had no details about Middle East peace
By Nadia Hijab, US Campaign Advisory Board Member
May 19, 2011
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sure to grab the lion’s share of the spotlight with speeches scheduled at a joint session of Congress and at AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and a meeting with President Barack Obama.
But in the world beyond the Beltway, Netanyahu is seen as the main stumbling block to peace, and his expected media blitz won’t help him spin his vision of a greater Israel dominating most of the land and resources between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, with a Palestinian statelet under its control. Nor will the pre-visit announcement that Israel is planning to construct even more illegal settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
The two speeches of Barack Obama
By Josh Ruebner, US Campaign's National Advocacy Director
May 20, 2011
But President Obama’s bifurcated speech—the greater part of which centered on the human rights of people throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the lesser part of which re-trod perfunctorily on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” — points to an additional double standard that the United States must overcome if it is to have a coherent response to the Arab Spring.
The United States cannot continue to decry violent repression by governments against individuals acting to assert their fundamental human rights while continuing to provide Israel with the means—both weapons and diplomatic support — to continue its human rights abuses of Palestinians without mocking the values it claims to support universally.
Obama's changes don't match changes of the Arab Spring
By Phyllis Bennis, US Campaign Steering Committee Member
May 20, 2011
Now that it is the people of the region who are creating those new democracies from below, where peoples' needs and not oil, Israel and U.S. interests are at stake, what is that real policy change?
A transformed U.S. role in the region would have to go beyond soaring words and even additional economic assistance. It would require an entirely different policy based on the interests of the peoples of the Middle East above U.S. interests in oil, Israel and the “global war on terror.”
That would mean real support for popular, bottom-up democracy, while ending the pattern of continuing military and economic alliances with repressive governments while issuing occasional mild scoldings to improve America's image in the region. It would mean accepting Middle Eastern definitions of social and economic justice, and respect for local decision-making – even when reality doesn’t match Washington’s illusions of what the “new Middle East” should look like.