Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama's Middle East speech: the sound of one hand clapping

While pausing frequently after what he thought would be applause lines, waiting for applause that never came, especially the long pause after mentioning once again that Bin Laden had been killed and getting no response, President Obama made his much touted speech on the Middle East and the reaction, both in and out of the room and around the world was not the applause he was looking for but the sound of one hand clapping.

For those who feel that Obama deserved getting the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing it must have been a thrilling moment. For the career diplomats, state department professionals, middle east analysts and both the Israelis and the Palestinians it amounted to nothing.

Obama outlined an approach to peace and for a Palestinian state that is based on the 1967 borders. It was immediately rejected by Netanyahu as being indefensible. Netanyahu even went so far as to say Obama didnt understand reality.  Obama also said that peace would require Hamas to recognize the right of Israel to exist and to disarm and renounce violence. Hamas rejected that too. The proposal itself was nothing new, just warmed over Obama nonsense and  a restatement of the same positions that have been held by both sides for decades.

A CNN Egyptian analyst was also less than enthused saying about the same thing, that there was really nothing new in Obama's speech, that everything in it were things everyone, especially those in Europe and the Middle East have known for 60 years.

Obama's speech was typical Obama and as empty and vacuous as his "major speech on race" that he gave when his political back was to the wall after being caught lying about what he knew about Jeremiah Wright.

 He spent most of the beginning giving us a history lesson on the middle east no one needed or wanted and gave facts that most everyone familiar with the region has known for decades,then proceeded to offer no solutions or offer anything new about anything . There was mention of forgiving Egypt's debt to allow a new government to get on its feet, and providing additional loans to other middle eastern countries where people are fighting for a democratic government. But as for the thorniest issue -- Israeli-Palestinian peace,  Obama had nothing new to say,  nothing new to add, no ideas, just another in a speech that could be filed under " Would you buy a used speech from this man?" And one has to remember Obama has zero crediblity with both the Israelis and the Palestinians dating back to a speech Obama made when he was running for president, a speech he made in front of 7,000 Jews in Miami when he needed to win Florida to win the presidency. In that speech he said he supported a single unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. He received then the predictable standing ovation he didnt get yesterday. But when the Palestinians learned of his statement they went ballistic and blasted Obama. In true Obama fashion, the next day he backed off and reversed himsef, telling people everyone misunderstood him and that what he meant by a unified Jerusalem was a Jerusalem with no barbed wire. It was a laughable attempt to get his foot out of his mouth since there hadnt been barbed wire in Jerusalem for 40 years but ever since, all he accomplished was uniting the Israelis and Palestinians in their contempt and distrust of him.

Not that there aren't real solutions out there to implemented to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there is one that has been staring everyone right in the face for ten years.. And it has nothing to do with Obama but it is Bill Clinton's peace plan, the plan that he arm twisted Ehoud Barak to accept, a plan that included partioning part of East Jerusalem as a capitol for a Palestinian state, a plan that made the biggest concessions any Israeli prime minister ever made or probably ever is going to make, a plan that Arafat rejected in 2000 choosing instead to launch the Infitada and a plan that Arafat on his death bed said he regretted not accepting. And why not? Had Arafat accepted, the Palestinians would now be in the 10th year of their state.

If anyone -- the Israelis, the Palestinians or Obama, came out for the Clinton plan of 2000, rejecting it would put both Netanyahu and the Palestinians in an unsustainable position regarding peace. They would either have to accept it, or acknowledge that there is no peace process and never will be. Its something Obama should put back on the table instead of vacuous history lessons that no one needs, no one wants, or facts that most people already know.

Then maybe Obama will hear what he wants to hear at the end of a speech -- the sound of more than one hand clapping.

1 comment:

sue said...

I didn't watch the speech because I can't stand to listen to him but I did read it, which was painfully long. I wondered if he gets paid by the word or perhaps he thought he could slip in backstabbing Israel at the end and no one would notice because they would be bored to tears.
I am not convinced Clinton's plan would work however as long as Hamas is in the mix, and that was just his typical lip service- his reference to Hamas.
A big nothing would have been better than yesterday's speech and I don't believe Obama has the tenacity nor the passion to aide in the restoration of peace in the middle east.