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Big elephant in the room

April 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

“Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted.”

“I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please, choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.”

“It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.”

All of the above quotations are taken from President Barack Obama’s speech in Oslo yesterday (10th December) when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. The whole speech was full of noble ideals such as those above but they are all meaningless rhetoric unless someone like Obama, who has the power to make real change and put ideas and ideals into practice in ways that ordinary mortals cannot, actually does just that. And while he could argue that he is putting his army where his mouth is in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, wouldn’t it be great to have the chance to ask him where his idealism is when it comes to his country’s support for the state of Israel and its illegal, immoral and brutal occupation of Palestine? He couldn’t even mention the word “Palestinians” in his speech, preferring instead the words “Arabs” and their conflict with “the Jews”. This is erroneous; Obama is not a Jew and neither are many other supporters of Israel, but they are all Zionists; conversely, as the example of courageous Israelis who oppose their government’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories illustrates, not all Jews are Zionists. So the elephant in the corner that nobody dares talk about – political Zionism – and its pernicious effects can continue to do its worst without censure, secure in the knowledge that the leader of its greatest patron, the USA, is himself too weak to do or say anything about it. When next we contemplate Barack Obama’s undoubted and considerable achievement in reaching the presidency, let this glaring weakness be uppermost in our minds. Those of us who thought that Obama would bring positive changes in his country’s policy towards Israel and Palestine should think again: there may have been a change of manager, but the owners remains the same.