Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: The Other Shoe Drops — Obama Lays Out Goals for Middle East Peace at the UN

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Amjad Atallah directs the New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force.
For the last 24 hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was basking in the glow of patriotic support by his most ardent right wing supporters for standing up to the United States at yesterday’s trilateral meeting. Prior to his meeting with President Obama and President Abbas, Netanyahu’s aides were bragging that he would tell both leaders to their face that he had no intention of implementing a settlement freeze.
Minutes ago, the glow ended.
President Obama just gave his speech before the world at the United Nations General Assembly and he made at least four things clear as far as Middle East peace is concerned.

1. The United States joins the rest of the world in rejecting Israeli settlement activity.
2. The United States will insist on the re-launching of permanent status negotiations, without preconditions, on security for both Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees, and Jerusalem in order to end the occupation that began in 1967 and create a Palestinian state.
3. The United States seeks peace on ALL fronts and will conduct bilateral negotiations side by side with multi-lateral negotiations.
4. The United States views Israeli and Palestinian state rights in the same light, and views Israeli and Palestinian lives on the same moral plane.

Second-guessing in Israel will begin now, but it is too late. The President has just articulated United States’ goals to the world — goals consistent with those of almost every other nation — within the context of a speech reintroducing the United States as a global leader.
Time for the Israelis and Palestinians to begin dusting off all their permanent status plans that have been gathering dust for more than a decade.
Judge for yourself, I’ve pasted the excerpt here:

I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. Yesterday, I had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We have made some progress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts by both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
The time has come to re-launch negotiations – without preconditions – that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.
I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip-service. To break the old patterns – to break the cycle of insecurity and despair – all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks over a constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and its right to exist in peace and security.
We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why – even though there will be setbacks, and false starts, and tough days – I will not waiver in my pursuit of peace.

— Amjad Atallah

Comments

53 comments on “Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: The Other Shoe Drops — Obama Lays Out Goals for Middle East Peace at the UN

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “No, Obama’s America is completely unexceptional and has no right to tell any other country what to do, like stop killing peaceful political protestors for example”
    Gee, you actually want him to confront Israel? Thats a switch.

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  2. nadine says:

    “Obama is 100% *for* America, Nadine. What he appears to be against is a series of stupid, misfiring, or in some cases un-American policies that he has now changed or is in the process of changing.”
    A remarkable statement of faith. He is remarkably silent about the ways he is for America, at least as presently constituted. Maybe he will be for America after he gets done “fundamentally transforming” it. What’s clear from his UN speech is that the America that leads the free world is not an America that he’s for. No, Obama’s America is completely unexceptional and has no right to tell any other country what to do, like stop killing peaceful political protestors for example. Have you noticed that advocacy for democracy or human rights has vanished utterly?
    Let me paraphrase Obama: “I am not for America the great power or advocate of democracy, and I have taken many steps to take America out of the great power business. Dictators of the world, rejoice!”

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  3. Outraged American says:

    No wonder you’re brain dead, I mean, politically aware, now. That
    was for POA not Steve.
    Although far from being the mover and shaker he pretends to be
    Steve is in fact a Korean manicurist in Van Nuys. Maybe Japanese –
    — he does show a suspicious grasp of the language.
    Hey POA, wrong thread on this one but I am encouraging other
    media outlets to cover Sibel’s testimony.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Horse” is heroin in urban USA, too. Or, at least, it used to be.
    Speaking of roos, did you know Murray and Caroline??? They had a bunch of rental property in Beverly Hills??? (I am not putting their last name out there on purpose.) Weirdest people I’ve ever known. In fact, so weird, I rarely tell some of the experiences I had renting an Agoura property from them in the seventies. Caroline was supposedly “the world’s foremost expert on marsupial sexual behaviour”, and she lived on the Marcus compound in Agoura, in a house surrounded by chain link fencing, shared with a large number of wallaroos. We are talkin’ Fellini bizzarre in real life here.
    Stinking rich, Murray and their “hired hand”, (who eventually went to jail for abusing his girlfriend, a bay mare quarter horse), had a daily run, where they went dumpster diving behind super markets in the San Fernando Valley, which is how they fed not only thier menagerie of animals, but also themselves.
    Their one redeeming factor, in my opinion back then, was the bizarro hired hand had a sister who worked in the UCLA medical center’s pharmacy unit. And in addition, the hired hand also had a very green thumb, both factors which assisted me in maintaining the level of oblivion I prefered at that time of my life.

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  5. Outraged American says:

    LOL POA. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Land Down
    Under -which is where it should be, pinned by some big, sweaty
    Samoan or what the Ozzies call, noses up their asses, “Pacific
    Islanders” — but they have “roo-bars” on the cars.
    When I actually went to the “outback” I was looking for
    monstereous roos that would require bars of this size — the
    roo bars are half the size of the car, and all I saw were little tiny
    things, about the size of my Shibu Inu mix, hoping around
    innocuously.
    One thing you need to know about Australians, when we
    inevitably are drawn into an Israeli attack on Iran, and then the
    Queen or that Brown fellow draws the Commonwealth in, is that
    they’re incredibly lazy and speak their own lazy language. We’ll
    need translators as evidenced by kotzabasis wonderful grasp of
    the American language.
    Mosquitos are “mozzies”, swim suits are “cozzies,” Aboriginees
    are “abos” and kangaroos are “roos.”
    I’m having flashbacks to Australia now and have to go take a
    xanax or score some horse. Paul, “horse” is heroin in Hindi.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, whoever sent Kotz a dictionary oughta be shot. This world was far better off when he was just roaming the outback looking for roos to goose.

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  7. kotzabasis says:

    The silence of the running lamb Kervick separating it by a hair’s breadth from his own post and the one above it from his true nature, speaks volumes of his spiritual-moral decrepitude and timorousness.

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  8. Dan Kervick says:

    Obama is 100% *for* America, Nadine. What he appears to be against is a series of stupid, misfiring, or in some cases un-American policies that he has now changed or is in the process of changing. He and the Americans who voted for him are quite pleased to be changing these policies. They think most of the rest of the world will be pleased too, and are delighted to tell the others about the changes. We think this is one way to “win friends and influence people”.
    Our only regret is that so far Obama has not gone as far as he promised. He has not delivered everything we voted for.
    Have you ever been part of a company that came under new management after string of failures and reverses? I have. The new management delights in sending out internal memos and external press releases explaining all of the changes they have made to the policies of the old management. These communications boost morale among the company’s employees, and restore the confidence of customers and investors outside the company.
    Bush and Cheney were managerial bunglers. They hurt America. As a result their party was decisively sacked.
    Obama obviously recognizes that nations act to pursue their own interests. He also recognizes that nations can and do cooperate when they realize that some important national interests cannot be achieved by acting alone. He said:
    “Like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 – more than at any point in human history – the interests of nations and peoples are shared.”
    The’ right’s grousing is just sour grapes. The right-wing is mad because when Obama went through that list of changed policies, they fully realized that several beloved components of their old, crude agenda have been tossed. This has nothing to do with Obama failing to defend “America” or failing to advocate for “America”. It’s that Obama is not defending and advocating for *George Bush and Dick Cheney*. The right still don’t grasp the extent to which defending American interests in 2009 requires the public repudiation of those two criminal buffoons.
    But Obama does, and he openly ran on “restoring America’s reputation and prestige” in the world. And giving speeches like yesterday is part of what the majority who voted for him understand to be involved in that restorative process.

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  9. kotzabasis says:

    Kervick has such a pitiful mental scan that is not on a par with the finesse of his pen. Obama’s Cairo Speech had such a cascade of apologies celebrating the burial of the rotten bones of America’s sins that any mention of any more in his UN Speech would be anti-climactic.
    Kervick becoming more and more aware that his verbal eloquence is too effete to defend the content of his arguments resorts to the violence of his praetorian guard, abuse, to eliminate his opponents, alas, “psychopathic brownshirt wingnut element—like you, Bolton and Kotz.” Conscious that intellectually he is in short breath he attempts to palliate his incurable deficiency with choleric, ranting, maddening abuse. With such intellectual and moral poverty and ill-temperament his two adorable philosophers, David Hume and Bertrand Russel, would have never allowed him to enter their respective Academies.

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  10. arthurdecco says:

    “Actually, the hubris and arrogance currently displayed by the Israeli leadership is
    strikingly similar to the attitude of the US leadership during it`s “unipolar moment” at
    the beginning of this decade. Even the extreme paranoia in Washington after 9.11 finds
    it`s echo in Israel.” Paul Norheim
    The “echo” is in the United States, Paul. The “hubris and arrogance” originated in the minds of those working for Israel directly and indirectly. (See: PNAC)

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  11. nadine says:

    Paul, is that the best you have? How lame. I guess hurling invective “sand niggers” is code for “I’m losing the argument.”

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  12. nadine says:

    Dan, touche on the quote. But I’m sure you do realize that the context was a protest of the Soviet Union successfully imposing their own system on Eastern Europe in the form of the Warsaw Pact. So Mrs. Roosevelt forgot about Germany, which as the defeated country wasn’t quite the same anyway as Poland or Hungary.
    “The President is not the nation’s lawyer. His job is not to defend all past actions of the United States and its government, come hell or high water.”
    No, Dan, the President is supposed to be America’s advocate and defender. While he is defending the Constitution he is also supposed to defend the republic that is governed by that Constitution. If the President of the United States is not for America, who will be? Yet Obama seems to regard himself as the mediator between America and the world, leaving the position of advocate unfilled.
    While the President is not required to “defend all past government actions, no matter how corrupt, malignant or daft,” neither is he required to list, unasked, a bunch of America’s supposed sins, ascribe them all to the previous administration, declare that he himself has corrected them in a mere nine months in office, and promise the General Assembly of the UN that America is now harmless.
    That is certainly a novel theory of international relations, not to mention breath-takingly naive.
    If the purpose was to be popular at the UN then it was a great success. But if the purpose was to get international cooperation on anything (like sanctions on Iran) then it will be a resounding failure. Apparently Obama literally does not realize that nations act on their interests. He thinks that if the US stops acting on its own interests, turns over a new leaf, others will reciprocate. Ha! It doesn’t work that way. It never has and never will.

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    Well,
    you love the Saudis etc for boycotting Obama`s efforts, Nadine, so if I wrote a rant on
    that issue, it would only create an opportunity for you to further ridicule your President,
    the naive and weak fool, the traitor, the whose-side-is-he-on-anyway guy, the pro sand
    niggers, pro holocaust-deniers, crypto-terrorist President of yours who doesn`t understand
    that he has to invade some not-yet-bombed Middle East country as soon as possible to be
    respected -right?
    Certainly, one never needs to wonder whose side you are on.

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  14. nadine says:

    Paul, what Israeli hubris and arrogance? Israel is giving Obama’s stupid preremptory order partial compliance; but the Egyptians, Saudis and Palestinians all told Obama to sod off when he asked for mere gestures from them, not even any real concessions.
    And heck, when we are talking about monetary support, the $2B per year we give to Egypt, the $100s of millions we give the Palestinians, and the petrodollars and protection we give to the Saudis (that royal family would be in exile except for us) ain’t chicken feed. The money is far more necessary to the Egyptian and Palestinian economies than to Israel’s. Yet they told Obama to go jump in the lake. The Egyptians gave him a lecture and King Abduallah raged at him.
    So where are your complaints about Arab hubris and arrogance? How come they can refuse to make even the smallest gesture for peace despite getting billions of US taxpayer dollars, but you only complain about Israel?

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  15. Paul Norheim says:

    “I’ve noted that the expressed views from Israeli government sources on this entire
    subject have taken on a discouragingly contemptuous tone, lacking both in respect for the
    American President and gratitude for the important support the United States still
    provides to Israel.” (Zathras)
    Actually, the hubris and arrogance currently displayed by the Israeli leadership is
    strikingly similar to the attitude of the US leadership during it`s “unipolar moment” at
    the beginning of this decade. Even the extreme paranoia in Washington after 9.11 finds
    it`s echo in Israel. After the invasion and bombardment of Gaza, almost all of the actions
    and statements from Tel Aviv have sounded as if they`re inspired by the infamous words of
    the Bush advisor (to Suskind): “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own
    reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act
    again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will
    sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study
    what we do.”
    The delusions of the Bush government were short lived and led to huge miscalculations. I`d
    be surprised if the current Israeli sentiment, this toxic mix of paranoia and hubris, will
    last much longer either.

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  16. ... says:

    dan, the right-wing obsession with never admitting mistakes has to do with never “”APPEARING”” weak…it is all about “”IMAGE”” and very little if anything about substance…
    bottom line, those who can’t admit mistakes always “”APPEAR”” weak to me…

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  17. Dan Kervick says:

    “Most Americans think that they hired Barack Obama to be their President – their advocate. How would you feel if the lawyer you hired to represent you stood up in open court and began listing not his sins, but yours? You’d say, hey, this is not what I hired you for. You want to confess sins, go to church and confess yours. Leave mine alone. Your candor will come at MY high expense.”
    The President is not the nation’s lawyer. His job is not to defend all past actions of the United States and its government, come hell or high water. His oath is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and to discharge the executive functions of government under Article Two. Those functions are generally interpreted to include broad responsibility for diplomacy with other nations. But effective diplomacy certainly goes beyond mere defense or lawyerly advocacy of past US actions. The President’s job is to determine which kinds of communications with other peoples and governments best serve the nation’s interests, and best work to preserve and strengthen the Constitution.
    It is evident that strengthening the United States Constitution and advancing the US position in the world is not accomplished by adhering stubbornly to a uniform policy of defending all past government actions, no matter how corrupt, malignant or daft. If you think the modest level of candor displayed by Obama does actually come at your expense, you can take it up with him at the ballot box. But a lot of the rest of us voted for him because we think that a president who adopts a more modest tone in the world, and even admits past national errors, helps make us *better off*.
    Is this how you conduct your own relations with other people, Nadine, by never admitting past errors and being a stubborn and self-extolling pain in the ass? And if that’s not what you do, why can’t you accept that what is good policy for a person can also sometimes be good policy for a nation? What is it with the right-wing obsession with never admitting mistakes?

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  18. Zathras says:

    I thought we passed a rather prominent milestone on the path of American apologizing with President Bush’s statement in (I believe) 2002 to the effect that the lack of democracy in Arab countries was America’s fault. This sentiment, frequently expressed by Bush’s devoted acolyte Ms. Rice and fervently believed by any number of people who ought to know better, was rather more objectionable than anything President Obama has said to this point in his Presidency.
    But that’s an American perspective. I’ve noted that the expressed views from Israeli government sources on this entire subject have taken on a discouragingly contemptuous tone, lacking both in respect for the American President and gratitude for the important support the United States still provides to Israel. Even the current Israeli government’s most devoted supporters in Congress seem to be regarded less as friends than as servants, delivering no more to the Netanyahu government than is its due. The commenters here who tend to adhere most closely to the Israeli government’s view appear to have taken on that attitude as well. I do not know how long Obama’s memory is, but as a matter of record governments that take American friendship for granted eventually pay a price for doing so.

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  19. Dan Kervick says:

    “Do you think Eleanor Roosevelt could have said,
    “Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect.” ”
    Yes:
    “We, in the democracies, believe in a kind of international respect and action which is reciprocal. We do not think others should treat us differently from the way they wish to be treated. It is interference in other countries that especially stirs up antagonism against the Soviet Government. If it wishes to feel secure in developing its economic and political theories within its territory, then it should grant to others that same security. We believe in the freedom of people to make their own mistakes. We do not interfere with them and they should not interfere with others.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Paris
    9/28/1948

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  20. nadine says:

    “Most Americans were raised in religious traditions that teach them that human beings are naturally sinful. It is second nature for them to believe that they themselves, their relatives, their friends, their associates, their peoples and their countries do bad things from time, even monstrously bad things. It would never occur to them that a leader who honestly apologizes for wrongdoings honestly recognized is thereby “not on their side”.”
    Most Americans think that they hired Barack Obama to be their President – their advocate. How would you feel if the lawyer you hired to represent you stood up in open court and began listing not his sins, but yours? You’d say, hey, this is not what I hired you for. You want to confess sins, go to church and confess yours. Leave mine alone. Your candor will come at MY high expense.
    The UN General Assembly is not a church. Nor is it a court, though it may be pretend to be. It is a dictators’ club, a very rough neighborhood. Confessing your sins there is like driving your Lexus to the worst neighborhood in town and leaving it unlocked with a flourish, declaring you are unworthy of such a nice car. No one with any experience would doubt what would happen next.

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  21. nadine says:

    Do you think Eleanor Roosevelt could have said,
    “In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.”
    or
    “Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect.”
    This would have been seen for the nonsense it is in the wake of WWII. How did Germany become a democracy? It was imposed from outside. Did the balance of power among nations hold during the Cold War? For about 50 years.
    For the Nazis, power was a zero-sum game, and thus it became a zero-sum for those who opposed the Nazis. If the Nazis win, you lose. Just as it is today with Iran and those who oppose Iran. If Iran wins, America and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Israel lose. Somebody will control the Straights of Hormuz. Us or them. Right now it’s us. I’d prefer it to stay that way.
    What the General Assembly heard was: America is getting out of the great power business. We have no right to interfere with any other country – except Israel and Honduras. Them, we can boss around. America has done bad things. We have bossed other countries where he had no right, and we have polluted the world. Bad us. (The apology is implicit in the list of things which Obama declares are illegitimate for any country to do, all of which we have done.)
    Small wonder that Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro praised the speech, and Qaddafi expressed the wish that Obama remain president forever. Seriously. Every tinpot dictator with dreams of zero-sum regional hegemony is celebrating tonight. Obama has declared that being America’s adversary is cost-free, but being America’s ally has high costs and dubious benefits. Everybody is recalculating their chances accordingly.

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Perfect Omnipotent Soothsayer.
    Ooooohhhhhhm…..ooooooooohhhhhhmmmmm……

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  23. Dan Kervick says:

    POS = Pupil of Steve

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  24. JohnH says:

    “And it is VERY clear that is Congress sees “peace as being a vital strategic interest of the United States”, they do not share Obama’s vision on how to achieve that peace, or they would not work so diligently to undermine him.”
    Oh well, Republicans want to bring on the rapture, and Democrats are willing to be bought as the price for letting Israel shoot itself in the foot. What to do when lunacy reaches the point that people are determined to act like lemmings going into the sea? Sell tickets? Just hope the Star Wars missile shield protects the US!

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  25. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, you and John Bolton seem miffed about something that is undetectable by my radar. I missed all those abject “apologies”. Where are they?
    Obama trumpets some welcome changes in US policy, changes that are pleasing not just to most members of the international community, but to the majority of Americans who voted for those changes. He never actually brings himself to apologize for the previous policies, although I suppose you can say that any time a president changes any policies of any kind, he is tacitly admitting the previous policies were at least a mistake, if not apology-worthy.
    I really wish Obama *had* apologized for something or other. Apology is good for us. I apologize for things I’ve screwed up all the time – usually several times a day. You should try it some time. Obama couldn’t even apologize for the mass-murdering Iraq war: you remember, that war where we marched into Iraq and slaughtered thousands of people to eliminate a threat of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. I’d personally love for some president to say “sorry” on our behalf. I guess we’ll have to wait for some congressional resolution on the subject in 2075.
    Unfortunately, political leaders usually have to avoid such apologies, for fear of offending the delicate sensibilities of the short-fuse, psychopathic brownshirt wingnut element – like you, Bolton and Kotz – people who would probably scream until their eyeballs explode, hang themselves or go on a shooting rampage, or all three, if their countries started confessing their errant ways. Obama is their president too, so I guess it’s his responsibility to watch out for their mental health.
    I can’t really believe you honestly endorse the extreme outlook on life you pretend to embrace. Most Americans were raised in religious traditions that teach them that human beings are naturally sinful. It is second nature for them to believe that they themselves, their relatives, their friends, their associates, their peoples and their countries do bad things from time, even monstrously bad things. It would never occur to them that a leader who honestly apologizes for wrongdoings honestly recognized is thereby “not on their side”. But maybe you were raised in some Nietzschean cult that teaches its followers prideful insolence.
    This speech could have been given by Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, JFK and every other internationalist American leader. You don’t like them sour grapes? Then hit the political trails and convince Americans to vote the unapologetic, torturing, murderous Huns back in office. Until then, read it and weep.

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  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “To the extent that American audiences are paying attention, they will begin to ask themselves, just whose side is Obama on, anyway?’
    Well, thats certainly not a question we’ll ask of you, questions, or Wig-wag, Nadine.
    Why don’t you just immigrate, join up, kill a few of them nasty Palestinian heathens before the IDF wipes ’em all out and robs you of the thrill?

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  27. nadine says:

    Dan, I am not surprised at all that you liked Obama’s latest effort in his Apologize for America tour. This declaration of Rodney King foreign policy (“Can’t we all just get along?”) is just the ticket for any internationalist who wants to see America weaker and some unaccountable transnational entities stronger.
    To the extent that American audiences are paying attention, they will begin to ask themselves, just whose side is Obama on, anyway?

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  28. downtown says:

    “And to POA and the other hard-left POS’s on this thread:”
    POS = Participant Of Substance?

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  29. Dan Kervick says:

    The speech was excellent from a thematic point of view, at least for a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist like me. And the “four pillars” are useful to give some coherence to the big picture of the administration’s foreign policy. But Obama didn’t develop any specifics. I guess the idea is to follow-up in more focused venues – the G-20 meeting, the meetings with Iran next month, the upcoming Climate Change convention, the April non-proliferation summit, the renewed I/P negotiations, etc. – to fill in the aspirational themes with action and initiatives.
    The Israeli-Palestinian part of the speech didn’t break any new ground, so far as I can tell, and was uninspired. Just the usual lofty generalities.
    Overall, I would say that to the extent global audiences are paying attention to the speech at all, Obama wants them to focus on the whole picture, and was trying to avoid making news by saying anything exciting or attention-grabbing in any one part of the speech.

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  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If you want to know what they really mean, you must listen to what they say in Arabic”
    Thats comical coming fromn someone that keeps shittin’ on the debate by giving us MEMRI translations.

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  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama, nattering on, implying that for the Israelis, its a matter of life and death, but for the Palestinians, its a matter of dirty water.
    “We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own………..etc”
    I can’t believe that, on the heels of Operation Cast Lead, and the Goldstone Report, that Obama would use such lopsided examples of injustice. Do you people really think the Arab world fails to notice such nuanced prejudice? Do you think the families that lost loved ones in a rain of white phosphorous consider dirty water the major injustice in their lives? Who, in the face of the past actions of Israel, has just cause to fear for their lives?
    Settlements????? How about we ask the Israelis to stop slaughtering, imprisoning, and starving an entire people before we worry about the land the Israelis are stealing?
    But don’t ask too loud, for if you don’t watch it, you might get a tear gas canister lobbed at your head.

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  32. nadine says:

    Hi Wigwag, a pullback to 1967 lines and a redivision of Jerusalem would involve 500,000 Israelis. Not going to happen.
    And to POA and the other hard-left POS’s on this thread: Yes, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, because that is what it is. Israel, in turn, has no problem recognizing any Arab state as an Arab, Muslim state, because that is what they are.
    Hamas will never recognize Israel because their Islamist ideology forbids it. No infidel rule of Palestine can be legitimate. Allah told them so. This remains true even if they learn to tell lies about possible moderation in English. If you want to know what they really mean, you must listen to what they say in Arabic.

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  33. WigWag says:

    “He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions.” (Hillary Clinton, May, 2009)
    “The U.S. had never made an Israeli settlement freeze a precondition for negotiations. Our objective from the beginning is the relaunch of negotiations…The actions we asked parties to take are not ends in themselves; they are means to the end…We do not believe in preconditions. We do not impose them…” (George Mitchell, September, 2009)
    Can anyone say keystone cops?
    Maybe Mr. Atallah can tell us how if Obama can’t induce the Israelis to stop building a few hundred apartments in the West Bank, he’s going to get them to actually remove tens of thousands of settlers from the West Bank against their will.

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  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Netanyahu: Israel Will Never Make Peace With Hamas
    In an interview with FOX News, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Gaza can’t be part of a peace deal with Hamas in control.
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would never make peace with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, a stand that could undermine peace negotiations in the region.
    In an interview with FOX News, Netanyahu said Gaza can’t be part of a peace deal while Hamas is in control.
    “We can work with the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas,” he said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “We cannot accept Hamas as a negotiating partner.”
    continues……..
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/22/obama-lays-groundwork-peace-israel-palestinians/
    So hows that for a “precondition”???
    Lets see;
    The Palestinians MUST accept Israel as a JEWISH state.
    Any Palestinian state MUST be disarmed and defenseless.
    And the democratically elected leaders of the Palestinian people MUST NOT be recognized.
    But other than that, yeah, the Israelis will “negotiate”. What a deal.
    The debate would be well served to pay less attention to what squeaks and mutterings issue forth from Obama, and pay careful attention to what Netanyahu has to say. No need to listen to Congress, because if you know what Netanyahu has said, you know what Congress will be saying.

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  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And it’s pretty clear that this administration sees peace as being a vital strategic interest of the United States, something that’s been missing until now”
    No, that IS NOT clear. It is clear that OBAMA “sees peace as being a vital strategic interest of the United States”
    But it is not at all clear that those around him see things the same way.
    And it is VERY clear that is Congress sees “peace as being a vital strategic interest of the United States”, the do not share Obama’s vision on how to achieve that peace, or they would not work so diligently to undermine him.

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  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’m chuckling.
    Netanyahu knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has more allies in the United States’ Congress than Obama does. Obama’s speech was impressive, but, unfortunately, it was not made from a position of power. Who can doubt that, as we laud the “tone” of Obama’s speech, there are many in Congress who are working to take the teeth out of any actual bargaining power Obama may have to force concessions from Netanyahu.
    And too, one must remember that on an almost daily basis, Israel is killing Palestinians. Farmers are shot because they venture into the “buffer zone” while tending their orchards. People are denied life saving medical care and medications.
    How much of a “hardline” is being pursued when our State Department and White House spokespeople are seeking to discredit the Goldstone Report?
    I posted the other day that Israel will lie about giving concessions, and Obama will lie about getting some. And, I will add, the Palestinian’s accurate lamentations about getting nothing will be ignored. I see no reason to change that prediction, considering the utter lack of support Obama has in the Democratic Party for his efforts to play hardball will Israel. Guaranteed Reid will screw him, and so too will a number of other powerful people from both sides of the aisle. Any “progress” will be a fabricatiion of the media.
    Too, its important to remember, if history tells us anything, that if the negotiations become close to achieving any sort of fair outcome for the Palestinians, Israel will coincidentally be attacked by the Palestinians just at an important juncture in the talks. Never mind that it will defy logic that the Palestinians would attack in that time window. Its simply the way Israel operates, and has operated for decades. False flag attacks and provications are part of their tool chest, as history attests to.
    Israel does not want peace, nor does it want Palestinanb citizens or neighbors. How many decades of Israeli war crimes, land theft, and human rights abuses must pass before the global community sees Israel for the expansionist racist state that he has proven itself to be? Yesterday, on a number of cable news networks, Netanyahu spoke, and one of his DEMANDS is that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a JEWISH state. AND, further, he will only allow a DISARMED Palestinian state. Now, if you were a Palestinian living next door to Israel, would you feel comfortable knowning your leaders have no means to defend your nation?
    Much has been made out of what the US wants from Israel in regards to the settlements. But who is talking about what Israel wants from the Palestinians?
    This is a non starter. Until Washington DC gets off its knees in regards to Israel, it doesn’t matter what squeaks and groans emanate from the White House.
    Israel knows, no matter what, the checks in the mail.

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  37. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Predictably, I was underwhelmed…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed the US stating lofty goals and supporting vaious positions on seriouys issues only to leave it at lipservice with no follow-up actions or worse, working behind the scenes to obstruct what they profees they support….
    I’m with Dan Kervick…where are the consequences to Israel if their defiance continues? Why announce before the three-headed tete a tete that the US considers The Goldstone Report unfair to Israel? Obummer’s reception at the UNGA was tepid because they aren’t fools and they know the difference between words and deeds and have seen the US say one thing and do another….he got very little applause and no standing ovations…
    I give him C minus.

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  38. WigWag says:

    Dan Kervick and Paul Norheim ask if the Obama Administration ever made a settlement freeze a precondition for negotiations. The answer is simple; technically they did not.
    But the Israelis and Palestinians were negotiating before Obama announced his insistence on a complete settlement freeze with no exceptions including Jerusalem.
    The Obama Administration surely knew that once they announced this position, Abbas and company were likely to insist on a settlement freeze as a precondition to further discussions. How could they not? Abbas couldn’t be expected to take less of a hard line on settlements than the American Administration.
    But for Obama’s ill conceived strategy of throwing a spot light on settlements, peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would have been going on for the past seven months. Now it’s unclear when and if they will restart although Netanyahu has said all along that he would be willing to negotiate with Abbas without preconditions.
    The importance of those wasted seven months should not be underestimated; as the mid term electrons in the United States get closer and then the presidential race, every sophisticated observer understands that Obama’s leverage will decrease. Just look at how much less leverage Obama has on a whole range of issues now than he did shortly after his inauguration.
    The Obama/Emanuel/Mitchell strategy has failed so far. Martin Indyk (who recently got a promotion at Brookings) and Dennis Ross would have moved things further along by now than the Obama team has. Even Eliot Abrams would have moved things further along than the Obama team.
    It’s the difference between knowing what you’re doing and being an inexperienced hack.
    What would be interesting to get from Atallah and from Steve’s vacation companion, Daniel Levy, is some trenchant analysis on strategies that might actually result in progress. We don’t need any lectures about fostering Palestinian reconciliation or bringing Hamas into the process. Nor do we need any screeds on how the Administration needs to pressure or threaten the Israelis. It’s obvious at this point that none of those things are going to happen.
    How about the experts (if that’s what they really are) telling us what approaches Obama should adopt recognizing the constraints that he’s operating under?
    The folks over at the Saban Center have suggested the possibility of a “borders first” strategy. That may or may not be a good idea. But discussing that, would be a lot more edifying than posts about how Obama thinks Palestinians are just as human as Israelis and Americans or posts that suggest an Israeli Prime Minister who has cleaned Obama’s clock every step of the way needs to start worrying.

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  39. DonS says:

    Spin it as a win for the ‘I’ team; what else would we expect Bibi to do? If the best Bibi can do is express satisfaction with the same old canards that have been around for decades, well I guess he’s not finding anything to really say.
    Spin it as a loss for the Obama aura; that’s a convenient distraction. Predict that it will fall off Obama’s radar screen soon (or should I say hope that it will . . .). Wouldn’t really want to even hope for a fair and just settlement. Just predict disaster. A lot more humanist that, eh?

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  40. JohnH says:

    Nadine, you must have a death wish for your beloved country. Rocket power and accuracy is constantly increasing. And so Israel’s neighbors have deterrence, which will only increase over time. On the current trajectory, there will be another cataclysm in the Middle East soon. Until now the consequences have been inflicted only on Israel’s neighbors. Soon they will be felt by Israel.
    Opposing the peace process is simply inviting disaster. Until now, Israel has lived by the sword, and it has worked. But now things are changing. You should be hoping and praying that the peace process works.
    You keep your head buried in the sand at your own peril.

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  41. nadine says:

    JohnH, Yes, Obama made ME peace a priority. This was foolish as he has now run into an entirely predictable wall. When politicians find a subject they expected to be simple is instead messy and complicated and unyielding, they tend to go away and do something else. So we can expect taht ME peace won’t be a priority for the Obama administration much longer.
    Bibi has expressed great satisfaction with Obama’s speech, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post:
    “I found many things that were very good for us. Firstly, he said, ‘Let’s return to peace talks without preconditions,” and that’s what I’ve been saying for the last six months,” he said. “I was happy that just like yesterday [in the tripartite meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], that was the central message.”
    Netanyahu also said that in the General Assembly speech, the US president had “expressed his resolute support for a Jewish state, [for Israel] as the country for Jewish people.”
    “I think that’s the core of the conflict, or better, the core of the solution to the conflict. I was happy to hear this in front of the world, the Arab world and the Palestinian people,” he said.
    Netanyahu stressed that he would never pull back to the 1967 lines and that Obama had not demanded such a withdrawal. He said the US president had merely endorsed the Road Map which was also supported by previous Israeli governments “who did not intend to pull back to the 1967 lines, and all the more so, I don’t intend to do so.”

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  42. JohnH says:

    The factor that has changed here is that Obama has made ME peace a priority. And it’s pretty clear that this administration sees peace as being a vital strategic interest of the United States, something that’s been missing until now.
    The key to making peace and therefore to advancing American national interests is to give Palestinians a fair deal. Oh, the Israelis will do everything they can to “peace wash” the status quo. The corrupt Arab despots will try to “peace wash” any bone the Israelis may begrudgingly throw the Palestinians. But my guess is that neither will be enough to create the perception of a fair deal. Israel will be forced to grant significant concessions if US strategic goals are to be met, calming the rage festering throughout the Muslim world.
    This is certainly raising alarm bells for all who live and die by the sword. But it should be a moment of hope for thoughtful Israelis, those who realize that their country can no longer fight wars without suffering substantial losses, human and material. They have Hezbollah to thank for bringing that reality home.

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  43. nadine says:

    “It’s no wonder Obama is annoyed. He expects his eloquence and his aura to be all that’s needed to set a decades long dispute on the way towards a solution. Of course, Obama’s discovering that it will take more than clever words for the United States to advance the peace process; it will take a clever strategy. So far, there’s none in sight.
    With Obama’s popularity in Israel approaching George W. Bush’s popularity in the Arab world, and with Israel’s supporters in the United States scrutinizing every move the President makes, if I was Atallah, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much.
    And if Atallah thinks Obama’s speech is going to wipe the scowl off Bibi’s face; he couldn’t be more wrong. A few short months ago the question was whether defying Obama would cause Bib’s government to fall; the better question now is whether defying Bibi will cost the Democrats in 2010 or Obama himself in 2012.”
    What you said, Wigwag. Meanwhile, as Obama nurses his self-inflicted wounds, Bibi will continue to work on his current conflict management plan, which is to do everything in his power to make the West Bank prosperous (they just opened a movie theatre in Jenin the other day) and keep down the Hamas guys there; and to keep up the joint Israeli-Egyptian effort to blockade Hamas in Gaza. So far Operation Cast Lead has produced levels of quiet that are far quieter than the so-called ‘truce’ of last year.
    As for Bibi being worried, you’re right again, he should send Obama a thank-you card for uniting the Israeli public behind him. Whoever it is the White House who thinks he understands Israeli politics should be fired, but I suspect this policy came from Obama himself.

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  44. Paul Norheim says:

    Correction: August 28 2009…

    Reply

  45. Paul Norheim says:

    August 25 – from France24:
    “AFP – The United States indicated Friday that its calls on Israel to freeze settlements were
    not a precondition for restarting Middle East peace talks, as the Jewish state held firm in its
    refusal.
    President Barack Obama’s administration insisted it was not changing its stance, which has
    caused friction with the close US ally, that Israel halt all settlements in the occupied West
    Bank and in East Jerusalem.
    But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the main US goal was to relaunch talks between
    Israel and the Palestinians, who will decide for themselves on the contours of a peace deal.
    “The United States position on settlements, we’ve said it many times, we haven’t changed it,”
    Crowley said.
    But he added: “The key here is getting to the negotiations.”
    “Remember what we are trying to achieve here,” he said. “We are hoping to get to a formal
    negotiation through which we can reach a resolution between the Israelis and the Palestinians as
    part of our ambition to see comprehensive peace in the Middle East.”
    A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged Israel’s right-
    leaning prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has resisted the settlement demands.
    The United States is waiting to see whether the Palestinians and other Arabs support holding
    peace talks nonetheless, the official said.
    “We’ve set a high bar and the objective here is how close to that bar can you get,” the official
    said.
    “We have our very strong views which we have enunciated about what we think it necessary. But if
    you get close to that and the parties themselves say this is okay,” then Washington will not
    complain, the official said.”
    http://www.france24.com/en/20090828-usa-israel-settlement-freeze-not-precondition-peace-talks-
    jerusalem-crowley

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  46. ... says:

    good question dan… that is the way the critics of obama have painted it.. perhaps these same critics can give citations of obama stating specifically settlement freeze was a precondition to talks…

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  47. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m confused about one thing here. The Obama administration called strongly on the Israelis to stop all settlement activity. Unfortunately, they were unprepared to back up their call with sanctions in the case of defiance.
    But did Obama ever declare a settlement freeze to be a “precondition” for talks? I know the Palestinians declared it to be such a precondition. But was that ever administration policy? Not getting one before moving forward was an embarrassment. But is it a reversal?

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  48. ... says:

    dons – i think wigwag likes the thought of netanyahu gloating.. anything to do with peace is very far from his mind…
    as for this speech, i like some of it very much..
    “I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip-service.”… we’ll see whether it is lip service or not fairly soon..
    “The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks over a constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and its right to exist in peace and security.” nice words…
    i am especially impressed with this statement below.. for anyone NOT TO SEE AND THINK OF THIS, especially these same politicians, or posters gloating over certain words and actions who appear to have lost touch with what this is really all about.. they need to read these words very carefully and keep them at the top of their mind when thinking about the i/p issue if they have a shred of decency to themselves…
    “We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why – even though there will be setbacks, and false starts, and tough days – I will not waiver in my pursuit of peace.”

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  49. DonS says:

    Let’s remember, the goal is to move toward a change in the status quo in the ME,not whether Obama comes out smelling like a rose or if the bloom is off the rose.
    Picking apart Obama, as Wigwag does above, is easy enough and, yes, has certain consequences in the substantive realm. But, if the goal really is to move the US into step with the rest of the world, and to move Israel off it’s catbird’s perch, then nitpicking Obama is a distraction tactic. What a surprise.
    Obama’s ‘retreat’ and ‘inconsistencies’ may be real enough when viewed piecemeal. My impression is that Obama is thinking like a lawyer, building a case, accumulating evidence. As I’ve said before, the closer, the denouement if you will, is almost certain to involve taking on important aspects of the Israel lobby something that hasn’t been successfully tried in the past.
    As readers here are well aware, taking on the lobby isn’t so much a matter of building a case — there is an embarrassment of rich factual and anecdotal evidence, most convincingly related to US security issues — it’s a matter of having the will to do it and follow through.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    I am sure that Amjad Atallah is a very fine and highly intelligent person, but this post of his is as dimwitted as it is naive. Atallah’s desperation to find something to cheer about in Obama’s remarks is pitiful.
    Atallah is delighted that Obama insisted on “the re-launching of permanent status negotiations, without preconditions…” but as Atallah surely knows it was Obama himself who introduced the “preconditions” in the first place. Abbas and Olmert met many times during the last years of the Bush Presidency. Netanyahu and Abbas would have been meeting for the past seven months if Obama hadn’t introduced his insistence on a complete settlement freeze with no exceptions and including Jerusalem, into the equation.
    Netanyahu has stated over and over again since his election that he was willing to meet with Abbas and start negotiations with no preconditions. The preconditions came first from Obama and were then adopted by Abbas.
    Now that a settlement freeze, if it becomes operant at all, will be a highly diluted version of what Obama once said he would insist on, Obama has decided to pretend that he wanted negotiations without preconditions all along. Anyone who doesn’t see this for what it is can’t be very astute.
    Atallah is ecstatic that the “United States views Israeli and Palestinian state rights in the same light, and views Israeli and Palestinian lives on the same moral plane.”
    Of course that has been the policy ever since George W. Bush articulated his support for a two state solution. I don’t recall any President or for that matter anyone in the United States Congress suggesting that Palestinian lives aren’t on the same “moral plane” than Israeli lives or American lives. Of course what matters are not words but actions; I have no doubt that Atallah and his fellow travelers will be bemoaning American indifference to the lives of Palestinians numerous times in the near future.
    Atallah is thrilled with his belief that the “United States joins the rest of the world in rejecting Israeli settlement activity.” Obama has rejected Israel’s “settlement policy” numerous times since he took office, but the only logical assumption is that he must not hold this belief too strongly. After all, he’s done nothing but express his belief rhetorically; he’s done nothing to back it up with action. Atallah knows why that’s the case as well as I do. Obama can’t back it up; he has neither the guts nor the political support.
    Atallah’s desperate hope that Obama’s language in his General Assembly speech represents something positive is, in its, own way, as laughable as the annoyance Obama clearly feels towards all sides in the conflict.
    It’s no wonder Obama is annoyed. He expects his eloquence and his aura to be all that’s needed to set a decades long dispute on the way towards a solution. Of course, Obama’s discovering that it will take more than clever words for the United States to advance the peace process; it will take a clever strategy. So far, there’s none in sight.
    With Obama’s popularity in Israel approaching George W. Bush’s popularity in the Arab world, and with Israel’s supporters in the United States scrutinizing every move the President makes, if I was Atallah, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much.
    And if Atallah thinks Obama’s speech is going to wipe the scowl off Bibi’s face; he couldn’t be more wrong. A few short months ago the question was whether defying Obama would cause Bib’s government to fall; the better question now is whether defying Bibi will cost the Democrats in 2010 or Obama himself in 2012.
    Why shouldn’t Netanyahu gloat; he’s defied Obama every step of the way; he’s stymied Obama every step of the way and he’s watched his popularity go up while Obama’s goes down.
    If I were Bibi, I think I’d gloat too.

    Reply

  51. b says:

    So Obama has retreated.
    First he demanded a stop of all new settlement building as a condition for negotiations.
    Now he talks of negotiations without precondition.
    That’s a 180 degree turn to the worse side.
    Netanjahu will laugh and have lots of champagne on his flight back home.

    Reply

  52. Zathras says:

    I approve of this statement’s tone. It’s much better than the one President Obama gave the other day.
    Substantively, there appears to be a contradiction here. Perhaps it is a contradiction resolved by the complete statement, which I regret not having time to read at the moment. Not accepting the legitimacy of “continued Israeli settlements” that the Palestinian side is insisting must be frozen as a precondition for final status negotiations is hard to reconcile with a call for final status negotiations without preconditions. For negotiations to start, either Palestinians must drop their precondition or the Israeli government must freeze settlements. If time passes without either side changing its position, on whom is pressure likely to increase? On the Palestinians, on the Israelis, or on Obama?

    Reply

  53. downtown says:

    It’ll probably take less than 2 days before the Israel sympathizers/supporters/infiltrators in both houses will launch the torpedoes.

    Reply

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