Husam Itani
Dar Al-Hayat
September 23, 2011 - 12:00am

President Barack Obama is deepening the Arab disgruntlement, as the wound inflicted by the announcement of his intention to use the veto right against the Palestinian state project was accompanied by an insult carried by his adoption of the worst that is featured in the Israeli tale.

The wound which Obama is insisting on widening by opposing the recognition of the Palestinian state at the United Nations, the Security Council then the National Assembly, is clearly revealing that the American interests in the Arab region are still linked to the old and known formula, i.e. Israel’s security firstly, then the oil. And despite the terms being repeated by Obama and his spokespersons about the backing of the Arab revolutions and despite his useless and unimportant initiative in May in support of the Arab Spring, his strong opposition of the Palestinian suggestion practically conveys hostility toward the new Arab action.

What the American administration is saying by insisting on limiting the Palestinians’ demands to their rights in the negotiations (that are nearing their twentieth anniversary since their beginning in Madrid and whose results are clearly meager), can be summarized by the fact that the Palestinians must forever succumb to the fait accompli. They must accept the humiliation of the occupation and the daily violation of their collective and individual freedoms. Why? Because Israel contains a small population surrounded by hostile countries that “repeatedly waged wars on it” as it was recalled by the American president.

One does not require exceptional intelligence to find the similarities between the status of the Palestinians whose land is occupied and who are subjected to the arbitrary and arrogant measures of the Israeli army and its settlers, and the status of the Arab citizens who rebelled against tyrannical governments in the Arab Levant and Maghreb. Naturally, Obama is refusing to see these similarities and is concealing his refusal with valueless talk about the Palestinians’ entitlement to an independent state. As for the way to reach this state, he says it is through negotiations.

It is clear that Obama cannot offer any new proposals, neither at the level of the Arab-Israeli conflict nor at the level of any other issue, and that nothing is exceeding his confusion in terms of foreign affairs from Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria except the continuous failure of all his plans to revive the American economy.

What is important here is that the Arab populations are structurally starting to differ from those who - in the fifties and sixties - used to await the speeches of the inspired leader on the radio to decide how to act (at this level, one could refer to the writings of French researcher Emmanuel Todd about Arab demographic change and its role in the current revolutions in Der Spiegel and Liberacion). This difference is the result of a deeper awareness of the national interests in the Arab countries and Palestine, and a wider ability to detect the American hypocrisy in the verbal support of the Palestinian rights.

Consequently, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the American position at the United Nations might strengthen the Arab revolutions and increase their hostility vis-à-vis the American policies in the region. It would also not be an exaggeration to think that what the Arabs used to be accused of doing, i.e. “not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” now applies to the United States which has been wasting consecutive opportunities – since the victory of the Tunisian revolution – to reassess and redraft its policies in the region, so that they would go in line with the major events it is witnessing.

Still, one should indicate out of integrity that the “Bahraini exception” featured in Obama’s speech does not fit the outline of the Arab revolutions. However, this exception does not exit the missed and delayed context of the realization of the historical moment being made by the Arab population. The United States knows its interests, but one must say that the Arabs are growing closer – by the hour – to taking control of their own interests and abstaining from listening to those who are continuing to wound and insult them.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017