Barack Obama’s speech at the commencement of his first presidential term which was thought to have signalled a new approach to the Middle East has degenerated into a baseless soliloquy, and hope has been replaced by a gradual realisation that the empire’s quest for domination has not abated. Under the Obama administration there has been an increase in drone attacks; Guantanamo remains unresolved; Iran continues to be demonised as a threat to the Middle East; and Palestine remains unrecognised as a means of enforcing the geopolitical split between Gaza and the West Bank whilst consolidating an illegal and oppressive state.
Obama’s visit to Israel has so far failed to stimulate any positive transformation. The visit, which Israel has been hailing as a step toward improving strained relations between Obama and Netanyahu, has so far centred upon regional concerns, notably Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear programme. The welcome lavished upon Obama by Israelis has contrasted sharply with Palestinian sentiment. Protests were held in Gaza and the West Bank sending the message that Palestinians were far from enthusiastic about the president’s visit. The reaction was condoned and also condemned on social media; those condemning the protests asserted that Palestinians ought to embrace discussion rather than firmly rejecting any tentative gestures. However, such comments fail to perceive the essence of the Palestinian struggle – a struggle against sanctioned illegality and a struggle for memory.
Palestinians have lived with contradictions which translate into violations for decades. Obama’s intention to tell Palestinians in the West Bank that a Palestinian state is a priority is unlikely to create resonating hope considering that the US voted against the UN bid. The expansion of Israeli borders due to settlement construction has not elicited any compelling statement from Obama. Flying by helicopter to Ramallah and being able to see the Apartheid Wall for himself is unlikely to serve as an incentive for Obama to disrupt relations between Israel and the US. Instead, the focus will centre on Israel’s ‘anxiety’ to obtain assurances proving that the US is committed to aligning itself with Israel. Whatever differences Obama and Netanyahu might have had during Obama’s first presidential term seem to have dissolved as the imperialist and coloniser strive for further dominance in the Middle East, sanctioned by a false definition of democracy.
What Obama has achieved is detrimental to Palestinians. “I will consider this a success if, when I go back on Friday, I am able to say to myself I have a better understanding of what the constraints are”, he said. The ‘constraints’ are unspecified. Netanyahu has expressed gratitude to Obama ‘unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself against any threat’. Israel continues to portray the image of a threatened state and Obama is expected to renew US support for Israel against ‘threats’ from Iran and Syria. Another tangible and constant concern is that of creating victims out of an oppressor whilst the masses are rendered spectators of their helpless fate.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.