Saturday, July 11, 2020

Obama‘s visit to Palestine tainted with hypocrisy

By John Space - March 28, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Opinion]
Tags: [US President Barack Obama] [settlements]

US President Barack Obama made headlines around the world for his trip to Israel and Palestine, with many praising him for his pro-peace rhetoric during a speech to Israeli university students. But behind his verbal opposition to the settlements, Obama has done more to promote settlement construction than perhaps any other US president, and his list of non-settlement-related crimes is too long to be mentioned in one single go.

The settlement question and other hypocrisies

In his speech in Jerusalem, Obama said "Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace." These words, widely interpreted by international media as a genuine call for justice in Palestine, actually serve little purpose except exposing the hypocrisy of a man who built his campaign on a promise of change.

One of the defining features of Obama's presidency is his failure to keep the promises he made on the campaign trail, promises that led millions of Americans to believe he truly represented hope for a better future not just for Americans, but for all those around the world whose lives have been destroyed by the extreme violence commonly referred to as "US foreign policy." For example, Obama promised to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay his first day in office. More than four years later, detainees continue to be held at Guantánamo in the most inhuman conditions imaginable. 

There is, however, one significant campaign promise that Obama did keep: the promise to provide Israel with $30 billion of military aid over the course of a decade. This money is primarily used to oppress, imprison and indiscriminately murder the Palestinian public. Thanks to this military aid, Obama arguably bears as much responsibility as any Israeli politician for the 158 murders committed by the Israeli military in Gaza during November's war of aggression known as Operation Pillar of Defense. Obama's haughty proclamation during his Jerusalem speech that "Peace is necessary. But peace is also just" is exposed for the hypocrisy it is when viewed in the light of his support for the continual war waged by Israel against the Palestinian public.

Now that Obama is in charge, he has not only given tacit approval for the construction of 3,000 new housing units in the E1 area, but his administration actually blamed the Palestinians for the decision to construct the new settlement units

The case of Guantánamo provides another stark example of Obama's hypocrisy. As of this writing, dozens of inmates in Guantánamo Bay have joined a mass hunger strike. This tactic was practiced by Palestinian prisoners to great effect last year, and several Palestinian prisoners remain on hunger strike today in protest of Israel's frequent long-term detention of Palestinians without charge or trial. Obama obviously has no moral authority to speak of peace in Palestine while ordering American forces to carry out the same illegal indefinite-detention practice used by Israel.

But his statement on settlements is perhaps the most egregious hypocrisy of all. Under pressure from the Bush administration, all construction in the E1 settlement area was halted in 2007. But now that Obama is in charge, he has not only given tacit approval for the construction of 3,000 new housing units in the E1 area, but his administration actually blamed the Palestinians for the decision to construct the new settlement units.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a press conference that the Palestinians 'provoked' Israel into approving the settlement construction. Referring to the UN vote in New York granting statehood to Palestine, Nuland said, "In the context of the move in New York, you had a risk of action causing reaction," essentially stating that the Palestinian demand to be recognized as a state is the real reason for the approval of construction in E1.

Worse than Bush

Obama's call for peace is deceptive on a still deeper level, given that he has done more than any modern political leader to bring death and destruction to Muslims around the world. Under Obama, the United States has murdered Muslims in at least seven countries: Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, a US drone strike killed four in Pakistan on the very same day Obama delivered his Jerusalem speech. 

Obama is the only US president in history to claim the right to murder anyone, anywhere in the world, based solely on secret evidence assessed by a panel made up of the President and his closest advisors. As constitutional-lawyer-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald points out, this is the most extreme power a tyrant can seize. 

Obama himself oversees the so-called 'kill list,' making the final decision on who will be killed and when. Once a week, the president meets with his closest advisors to discuss which names will be added to the kill list, a ritual the Obama Administration refers to as "Terror Tuesdays."

In 2011, he ordered the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a US citizen murdered by drone strike in Yemen while looking for his father, another US citizen who had been assassinated under orders from Obama just weeks earlier. Even the much-reviled George W. Bush was never credibly accused of personally ordering the murder of a 16-year-old. 

In fact, Obama will almost certainly leave a bloodier legacy than Bush. In 2001, Bush started the US' War on Terror, which most Americans expected would cease when he left office. But Obama has made the War on Terror permanent by ensuring that it is now supported by Democrats as well as Republicans. He has worked diligently to destroy the opposition to the illegal policies of the US in the Middle East. 

This is what Obama will leave behind when he leaves office: a permanently entrenched system of drone strikes, indefinite detentions and illegal wars. He is currently in the middle of negotiating an aid package of an additional $40 billion to Israel from 2017-2027, meaning that, thanks to Obama, US support for the Israeli occupation of sovereign Palestinian land will continue for at least another 14 years. 

In his Jerusalem speech, Obama used the word "peace" 29 times, or roughly once for every ten drone strikes he's ordered in Pakistan alone. As he returns to the US this week to continue carrying out mass murder, each bomb dropped on civilians gives further proof of his hypocrisy. 

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