By Mazin Qumsiyeh
In a follow-up to the very successful 15 May36(the beginning of the global uprising), activists around the world called for a day of protests Friday (tomorrow). In Bethlehem, we gather after Friday Prayers in front of Omar’s Mosque (the Nativity Square) and march towards the apartheid wall.
President Obama tried in his (Cairo II) speech to again convince a sceptical world that the US promotes democracy and human rights. We have heard all of this orientalist talk before and yet have seen no action/change. The change is coming from the people waving Palestinian and Egyptian flags everywhere. Even Obama’s rhetoric seems hypocritical: why speak of peaceful demonstrations being suppressed in Syria and Libya but not speak about the constant repression of demonstrators by the Israeli apartheid regime? Obama even went further than other US presidents and talked as a typical Zionist: he lectured us, the native people, that we should stop “de-legitimising” Israel and accept it as “a Jewish state”, “for the Jewish people”. Even Reagan who, supporting apartheid South Africa in his first term, did not ask that we stop de-legitimising South Africa and recognise it as a “White state”, “for the white people”. What about International law (not mentioned by Obama) and what about a state of all its citizens (including the refugees who must be allowed to return to their homes and lands)? No, these basic rights are to be removed and the colonisers have a right to security but the colonised must be content to live in a demilitarised ghetto and accept their
Ronald Reagan refused to speak to AIPAC. But Obama agreed. Reagan at least pulled troops out of Lebanon while Obama still keeps his troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan (and uses the verbal trick of “ending combat mission”). Obama will also host war criminals at the White House and Netanyahu (the gang leader) will address the (Israeli-occupied) congress. No mention will be made of Israel’s illegal use of US weaponry in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet, the successes of the popular uprisings in the Arab world, including the new uprising that started on 15 May in Palestine and two scandals that hit the apartheid state this week, add to the cracks in the “Iron Wall” (fortified by the US). In one scandal, Russia charged the Israeli military attaché working at the Israeli Embassy with espionage and expelled him. Russia and Turkey and many other countries previously friendly to the apartheid regime have been changing. Israeli papers also reported that Ron Arad, national security adviser to Netanyahu, did not actually resign voluntarily but was fired because he leaked “sensitive information”. The “sensitive” information was that the United States had given Israel unequivocal guarantees that its “strategic capabilities” in the nuclear field would be preserved and strengthened (according to Haaretz). This put another nail in the coffin of the “change we can believe in” façade and embarrassed Obama.
We should all write to the US media immediately to demand balanced coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the US. Netanyahu and Obama talk about threats from Iran (like he did about Iraqgetting us into a mess) and about Hamas’s refusal to recognise the apartheid state of Israel. It is fine to put their views out there but why not allow the facts of how Israel’s lobby pushed for wars and that Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid or that Netanyahu’s own political party opposes a Palestinian state and rejects international law (settlements are illegal and yet he even refuses to suspend partially colonial activities so that negotiations can resume). The Likud Party platform clearly states: “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of theJordan River.” It also refuses to recognise basic rights in Jerusalem or for the refugees to be returned – see: racist platform or PDF: http://bit.ly/likudplatform. I think the Israeli government must first rid itself of all political parties that refuse to recognise our rights as Palestinians or refuse to shed racist preferences for Jews before we agree to negotiate with it.
The only official in the Obama administration who genuinely wanted Israel to at least suspend its persistent violations of International Law is now out of the way (George Mitchell). Business thus goes on as usual between the two governments supporting apartheid, repression and violation of International Law. Obama will address the AIPAC convention saying the same nonsense about Israeli security (security for a colonialracist regime). Maybe his Zionist aids will not allow him to know that the US public is demonstrating against this lobby. Maybe he thinks most people don’t care that Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, are two known Zionists and yet are leading a US delegation in an annual strategic ‘dialogue’ with Israeli officials (headed by war criminal Danny Ayalon).
The issue really is not about what these people do; they are criminals and professional thugs who profit off of wars and conflict. The issue ishow many people in this land and around the world will join us in the unfolding global uprising (intifada) to change our collective situation towards peace with justice. Corrupt business at the highest level that harms US public and strategic interests will not be changed by a speech from Obama. We, the people of the US and the world, must take matters into our own hands. What Obama does not understand is that the millions who pour into the streets do not buy his fake caring. To prove sincerityhe should start by cutting off aid to Israel until it complies with International Law and basic human rights.
The Zionist project has not succeeded in its stated aim of full ethnic cleansing and transformation of Palestine. While over two-thirds of the native Palestinians in the world became refugees or displaced people, 5.5 million Palestinians remain defiantly here. We faced over 130 years of a relentless assault against our people. The assault was supported byEuropean and other Western Countries and aided and abetted by despotic rulers in the Arab world. Over the past 20 years more and more people around the world have joined the struggle for freedom from oppression and colonisation. Obama failed to revive the charade of a fake “peace process” whose only beneficiaries are profiteers interested in liquidating Palestinian rights.
A monumental transformation in the Arab world is happening and a global intifada is spreading, using tools like media work and boycotts, divestment and sanctions. The Palestine issue remains the torch for thisglobal transformation. More people in the West are shedding illusions about what is really happening here in Palestine and in the rest of the Arab world. As for us, the 400 million Arabs that Obama wants to befriend with words, we will say with our feet and our bodies: the time for talk is done and it is time for revolutions and real change.