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Obama’s Presidency Through Palestinian Eyes

November 13th, 2012

By Dr. Elias Akleh

People worldwide were very interested and following the 2012 American election believing that their future would, somehow, be affected by the foreign policies of the new American President. Only the Palestinian people were totally apathetic to the election. They believe that the American stance toward the Palestinian cause, specifically, and towards the Middle East, generally, would not change no matter who becomes the American president; whether a democrat or a republican.

Many people, including large percentage of the American people, are under the illusion that the President really has the power to change things. It appears that a president may have the power to take his country to war, to create jobs, to improvise and improve medical care plans, or to change tax laws or any other law, in that matter. Such matters are determined by a power elite representing the very rich and very influential 1% of the population, who owns, controls and manipulates the economic, political, industrial, and social structures of the country. The President is just an employee, who is appointed in a theatrical game of fake democratic election, in order to carry the plans of this power elite.

A thorough analytical study of American policies and regulations shows that the long succession of the American Presidents, democrats as well as republicans, had abused and manipulated the majority of Americans to serve the interests of the rich 1% to acquire and control the natural richness of the US and other countries around the world. The American people have been in uninterrupted continuous state of wars of aggression against other countries since the establishment of the federation for the control of natural resources locally and around the world. The real war has always been a class war, where the rich abuse and manipulate the poor.

The Palestinian people understand very well that such self-acclaimed righteous American presidents, who call for justice, freedom and democracy to all, would not help them achieve these noble goals. Successive American administrations had always armed Israel, supported the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and covered the Israeli war crimes, terrorism and violations of international laws and humanitarian rights of Palestinians and other Arab citizens. President Obama had done that during his first four years, and he will continue to do the same during his next four years.

When Obama was first elected a president in 2008 with the slogans of “change” and “yes we can” addressing the Muslim and Arab world in his June 2009 speech in Cairo university, many Arabs and Palestinians had the illusion that Obama; coming from a black African and Muslim background, may be more sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause than any other American President. Unfortunately Obama turns out to be a more aggressive president towards the Muslim world and worst to the Palestinian cause.

His previous four years of presidency show that Obama cared about Israeli citizens more than he cared even about his own American citizens. During the last four years many Americans had lost their jobs, their businesses, and their homes. American jobs and businesses were exported to other countries, where labor is cheaper and environmental regulations are laxed. Some states and major cities had filed for bankruptcy. Public schools were devastated by budget cuts and overcrowded, and university tuitions were raised out of proportion. Budget cuts had devastated many Americans including military veterans, who served their country but don’t get social re-habilitation leading many of them to crimes of family violence and many are homeless. Necessary social services were severely decreased. Many Americans lack medical coverage and the suffering and misery of many others are numerous to mention. The American wars and failed economical policies had raised the national dept to staggering amount of $16 trillion.

There is a dire need for Americans to spend their tax money internally to solve their own problems. Yet, during the past three years the Obama administration, instead, had contributed American tax money to Israeli military budget more than the contribution of the Israelis themselves according to Israeli military commander Gabi Ashkinazi. The US had given nearly $3.1 Billion to Israel this year alone. The US has also spent about $2.5 Billion bribing countries such as Egypt and Jordan to silence them against Israeli human crimes and violations of international laws and to prevent them from supporting the human rights of Palestinians. After the so-called Egyptian revolution and ousting of the pro-American/pro-Israeli President Mubarak the new Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, is still maintaining the illegal and inhumane Israeli siege of Gaza Strip despite all his rhetoric about helping his Palestinian brothers.

This Tuesday, November the 13th, the Congress will meet with the President to pass and enact into law the 2013 fiscal budget. It is expected that the new budget will allocate as much as $4 Billion to Israel; $3.1 billion in regular military aid plus up to $950 million more in anti-missile projects, at the expense of the devastated American taxpayers. These amounts would be given to Israel in a lump sum amount rather than in monthly installments similar to other financial aids to other countries. This means that, in order to pay Israel, the administration will take out a loan of this amount and will eventually pay interest on the loan that may amount to hundreds of millions of Dollars. On the other hand Israel will deposit this amount in banks and earn interest on it. Such unconditional annual military gift to Israel comes in total disregard to a historic letter signed by 15 American Christian leaders and endorsed by once-president Jimmy Carter calling on the Congress to hold Israel accountable for the misuse of American weapons, in violation of US law, to commit war crimes and human rights abuses of Palestinians.

On top of all this money the US provides Israel with free military technologies and help fund and build Israeli missile weapon systems. The American military, also, conduct war games in cooperation with the Israeli army, in the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf to intimidate the surrounding Arab countries and Iran. The latest war game dubbed “Operation Austere Challenge” had started last month and is still going in full operation today. It includes 3500 American troops and surface to air missile (SAM) equipment to train Israeli military and to test the effectiveness of the Israeli “Iron Dome” system that suppose to protect Israel from any in-coming hostile missiles such as those launched from Gaza Strip and to down any future anticipated Iranian missiles. To test the Iron Dome System in real action the Israeli air forces are conducting air raids against Gaza to provoke them to launch their missiles. According to the Israeli paper “Yediot Aharanot” the Iron Dome System has intercepted only two missiles out of 48. Each SAM missile Israel launches in this aggression costs between $35 - $50 thousand; of course all this expense is paid by the American tax payers.

Just last week while Americans were re-electing President Obama, the Israeli terrorist army were very busy demolishing more Palestinian homes and water wells in the villages of al-Deirat and Jawaya in the south Hebron Hills area in the occupied West Bank. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel had demolished 484 Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 2012. Israel had also announced plans to demolish about 22,500 more Palestinian homes in Al-Quds (Jerusalem). The lives of many Palestinian families had been savagely disrupted by such Israeli illegal actions that are supported and protected by American policies and funded with American tax dollars. Officials in the Obama administration aggressively call for the support and protection of Syrian citizens from the oppression of al-Asad regime. Yet their lips are sealed tight when it comes to Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by demolishing their homes, theft of their land to build illegal settlements, the continuing occupation of Palestine, the construction of the apartheid wall, the adoption of racist and discriminatory policies, and the criminal choking siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Successive American administrations keep repeating their absurd mantra that “Israel is our only democratic ally in the Middle East”. The truth is that Israel is far from being a real democratic country. Arab Israeli citizens don’t have the same rights as Jewish citizens. The Arab citizens are not allowed to nominate themselves to any governmental position, and definitely not to the position of the Prime Minister. The Israeli Prime Ministers are chosen in rigged elections and many had been exposed as corrupt serving the interests of foreign business typhoons and corporations. A democratic state respects and adopts the international laws. Israel, on the other hand, has violated many international laws and had committed many war crimes in contradiction to these laws. Last July an official Israeli-government appointed commission had concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian West Bank, East Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip, because, in its twisted extreme religious logic, Israel is not actually engaged in a military occupation because Palestine is Israel’s God’s promised land to the Jews, and therefore the convention’s prohibition against colonizing occupied territory does not apply.

On the other hand, if the American administration really respects democracy it would have stopped supporting and arming oppressive dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and would have accepted and recognized the democratically elected Hamas government, who won in the most democratic election according to international monitors headed by President Jimmy Carter. Instead the Bush administration had plotted to topple this government.

The Obama administration claims to support oppressed people to get rid of their dictators, to acquire freedom, and to become an active member of the international community. This is the justification given for American interference in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and lately Syria. Yet when it comes to Palestine all American administrations make themselves the major stumbling block against Palestinians acquiring freedom, independence and recognition as a member in the international community. The State Department had vehemently opposed all Palestinian attempts to acquire recognition as a member, or even as a non-member state permanent observer at the UN General Assembly.

In October 2011 UNESCO voted overwhelmingly to admit Palestine as a full member. This membership had automatically triggered American sanctions against UNESCO per the American Foreign Relations Authorization Acts that prohibit any US funding to any UN agency that gives the PLO the same standing as member states. Prior to this vote the US contributed nearly one quarter of UNESCO’s annual budget. Now, the US had stopped funding UNESCO resulting in a big blow to the organization.

In September 2011 the Palestinian Authority had submitted an application for full membership in the UN to the Security Council. But due to the American threat to veto the application the Security Council was unable to make any recommendation in this regard to the Security Council. Today, November 12th, Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO Chair and President of the Palestinian Authority, has declared in an exceptional meeting for Arab ministers in Cairo that the PA will go to the UN again in November 29th to ask for a vote on a resolution at the UN General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member state permanent observer. If approved Palestinians could gain some important additional powers that would allow them to protect their citizens from some of the Israeli oppressive policies. Palestine could become a signatory to the Rome Statues of the International Criminal Court. This would potentially enable Palestinians to hold Israeli military and political officials accountable for their crimes through this international judicial venue. Since the US does not have a veto power in the General Assembly the Palestinian application is expected to pass by an overwhelming majority. This has prompted President Obama, himself, to call Abbas directly in an attempt to pressure him not to submit such an application.

Some think that being re-elected for a second term a president becomes free from pressures of any special interest group since he knows that he is not allowed to nominate himself for a third term. On the contrary, the pressure becomes harder, for the President would be looking for a future lucrative employment and future-to-collect bribes in the forms of perks and paid fees after leaving the office. President Clinton was “paid” hundreds of thousands of dollars for one hour meaningless speech and had occupied some prestigious political positions. Obama is looking for similar positions after his second term.

Palestinians understand very well that the American strategic interests do not change with every new president. They stay the same regardless whether a republican or a democrat holds the office of presidency. President Obama is just another façade and a subservient to the greedy American power elite. Thus Palestinians don’t expect any change in the American policies towards Palestine and the Middle East, but more of the same.

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By Dr. Elias Akleh

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