No Springtime for Palestinians

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Reprinted from Jewish Ideas Daily.

In his May 19 speech celebrating the Arab Spring, President Obama expressed enthusiasm for the “movements for change” that have been unseating tyrants previously supported or tolerated by the United States. In language echoing that of his despised rival George W. Bush, he adopted as his own the idea of promoting democracy in the Middle East, not only as a bedrock principle of American foreign policy but as an approach that will actually increase the chances for peace and stability.

In outlining his new vision, an abrupt if unacknowledged departure from his earlier policy, the President propounded six “principles” that will henceforth guide the American response to the region: opposition to repressive government combined with support for the rights of free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, equality of men and women under the law, and “the right to choose your own leaders.” It “will be the policy of the United States,” he summed up, “to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.”

Among those commentators otherwise gratified by the President’s turnabout, some focused on conspicuous omissions from his list of regional problem areas, notably Saudi Arabia. Many more focused on the last third of his speech, where he illogically and unhelpfully pivoted from the issue of democracy to the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations. Less noticed but even more striking is that in doing so, he tossed overboard his own major theme: the transformative power of Arab democracy.

Do not the Palestinians themselves, at least as much as any of the other peoples of the Middle East, need a new beginning of consensual government? And might not a springtime of freedom among them blossom into a force for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land? Either the thought never occurred to the President or his advisers—a sign of criminal negligence—or it occurred and was, correctly, dismissed as fatal to their misbegotten plans for a rapid “solution” of the conflict with Israel.

Consider Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians suffer under a regime so repressive that Mubarak’s Egypt seems like a bastion of liberty by comparison. How did this regime come about? In August 2005, the Israeli government led by Ariel Sharon went beyond what the President is now pressuring Benjamin Netanyahu to do: namely, accept as a negotiating principle the return to the pre-June 1967 lines with “land swaps.”

Six years ago in Gaza, Israel voluntarily withdrew its forces all the way back to the pre-1967 lines, without even asking for land swaps that would have preserved the Jewish settlements there. Not only did the withdrawal from Gaza make possible the birth of a Palestinian mini-state, but, in an added bonus, Israel turned over to the Palestinians a thriving flower industry to help jumpstart the local economy. Their response: first they destroyed the donated greenhouses, then they systematically destroyed any semblance of democracy or civil rights in their “liberated” territory.

Following the practice of the Muslim Brotherhood, itself consciously modeled on the practice of 20th-century European fascism, the Hamas terrorist organization participated in one election, one time. In its lightning coup, leaders of the rival Fatah party were murdered in their offices and thrown from the roof of the parliament building.

Hamas’s official 1988 charter calls explicitly for the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian Islamic state. Through its indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli towns, Gaza’s ruling party has made clear that it means what it says. For Hamas, the 1967 line is of little interest; the struggle has always been, and remains, over the 1947 lines, set by the UN in the partition plan calling for a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian Arab one. To ensure that all Palestinians remain steadfast in that armed struggle, Hamas rapidly stamped out the last vestiges of freedom of speech, press, and religion, and consolidated its control over independent civic institutions.

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  • Dispozovdaburka

    If the Muslim countries were truly concerned about the Palestinians they would help them.
    They have plenty of money.
    So much for taking care of their muslim brothers.
    It's all about draining our economy so we can't support Israel.

    • Guest

      Shut up you tool. Maybe we should stop hemorrhaging money into debt for Israel. I don't care of the Palestinians or the Egyptians kill them! One less thing WE have to pay for!

    • guest

      That's like paying attention to a pinhole in a bucket full of water and ignoring the giant gaping hole on the other end…

      Federal Banks keep us in dept, ALL OF US, every citizen of every country!

  • StephenD

    They should have a two state program granted to them. One part "Palestinian" ~ if they want to maintain this lie, and the other part Jordan from whence they came and are still 70% of the population. Why isn't the world harping on Jordan to resolve this issue? Why is it that only Israel doesn't have them as refugees but as citizens? I am so sick of the B.S. surrounding this “make believe” problem the Arab Middle East has created out of whole cloth. This is Jordan's problem and NOT Israel.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Obama's opposition to represive government, just who do we think he is talking
    about, he is supporting Hamas, supporting their founding Muslim Brotherhood
    and is against Israel. It sounds nice but it will be directed against Israel.
    Obama can not be trusted as he is and has been Islam's guy in DC.

    There is no potential no matter what anyone says for peace with Palestinians.
    Look at the picture, think "seig heil", as it is said a picture is worth a thousand
    words. The best actions that can be taken is to send financial support to every
    support organization in Israel, if our government will not do the will of the people
    we must act over it and change it to do our will and helping Israel win the
    coming war is crucial in fighting world and Islamist totalitarianism………………..

  • tanstaafl

    Oh Palestine was having trouble
    Such a sad, sad story
    Needed a new leader to build phony glory
    Where o where was he?
    We looked around and then we found
    The man for you and me

    And now its
    Springtime for Hamas and Mahoud
    Palestine is happy and gay
    We're marching to a faster pace
    Say hello to that master race!
    Springtime for Hamas and Mahoud
    Islam Land's a fine land once more!
    Springtime for Hamas and Mahoud
    Look out Israel!
    We're going on tour!

  • Guest

    These Israeli's piss me off. Our forefathers had to die to save there asses in WW2 and now were expected to give them all our money and DIE fighting the Arabs, Palestinians, Persians and whoever the hell else!??? Screw Israel! I don't care HOW Anti-Semitic it makes me!!

  • ben

    Israel gave democracy to the Gazans. They freely voted for Hamas, and everything they represent. When given democracy, the Arabs vote for tyranny and terrorism. Same thing in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be enjoying the support of the majority. The problem is not the lack of democracy in the Middle East, it is the existence of Islam which instructs adherents to subjugate the world. While there may be numerous examples throughout history of moderate Islam that could coexist with different religions, this was always a fleeting aberration. Any belief system based on the Koran can never tolerate other religions for long. From the Muslim Yugoslavians that butchered Serbs and Jews during WWII, to the Muslim Philippinos that are now massacring Christians to establish a minority Muslim state, wherever there are Muslims there is no peace and no freedom.