President Barack Obama is the unlikely star of a new Palestinian media campaign.
Part of a speech Obama gave in 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly is featured in an ad aimed to rally support for the Palestinians upcoming bid for statehood at the United Nations on Sept. 20, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that can lead to a new member of the United Nations, an independent, sovereign state of Palestine living in peace with Israel,” Obama said in the 2010 speech in the clip that is played in the radio ad.
The Palestinians use of the remarks is at odds with the Obama administration’s current all-out push to stop the Palestinians from pursuing their statehood bid. U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East David Hale is set to hold talks Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to urge him to reconsider the statehood effort and instead return to direct negotiations with Israel.
During the 36-second radio spot starring Obama, Abbas tells listeners “If he said it, he must have meant it.”
Although U.S. officials described Obama’s statement in the 2010 speech simply as an expression of hope, Abbas has called the statement the “Obama promise,” Reuters wrote.
Both the U.S. and Israel have said they strongly oppose the planned Palestinian bid, and the U.S. has said it would veto the bid at the U.N. Security Council. If the U.S. uses its veto, Palestinian officials have said they plan to apply for an upgrade in status to a nonmember U.N. state.
In addition to Obama’s remarks, the ad campaign features excerpts from speeches by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and verses from the late national poet Mahmoud Darwish.
“It’s time for Palestine.”
That’s the title of a recent article featured in the newsletter of the General Board of Church and Society, the advocacy wing of the United Methodist Church. And as the title insinuates, the article is very anti-Israel.
For example, just two paragraphs in, author Rev. John Calhoun talks about the recent wave of democracy sweeping the Middle East. “Unfortunately,” he writes, “one state’s undemocratic, militaristic rule over millions of civilians suffering under its administration looks likely to continue unchallenged. That state is Israel, and those living under its illegitimate control are the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” [Emphasis added]
He continues: “As the world applauds heroic freedom fighters standing up to dictators and fraudulent presidents across the Middle East, widespread support for the Palestinian people’s aspirations to live free from Israeli occupation is faint.”
Read more here.
By Martha O’Connor
The Free Gaza Movement advertises itself on its website as “a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years.” Most media outlets continue to portray the group as a benevolent and even constructive organization committed to advancing the cause of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider the letter (below) that was sent by the Hamas Minister of Youth and Sport, Dr. Bassem Naim, dated November 1, 2007 and written on official stationery, inviting Dr. Paul Larudee and the Free Gaza Movement “to help lift the siege of Gaza.”
The invitation was no mere gesture, because Dr. Larudee and the other participants in the first Gaza flotilla actually ran through the Israeli blockade on August 24, 2008 and met with the leadership of Hamas, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The photos below show members of the Free Gaza Movement in Gaza City proudly receiving medals from Haniyeh himself before a large poster of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem! In the first two photos, Dr. Larudee is seated second from left, and Haniyeh is seated at center in a pale blue shirt, surrounded by more than a dozen “activists” interspersed with Hamas killer goons.
After their top-level meeting with one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, whose charter explicitly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and jihad and against the Jewish people, Dr. Larudee and his friends returned to the their homes and happily announced to the world that they successfully broke through the Israeli blockade. Yet they made every effort to conceal their meeting with Hamas, the climax and true aim of their mission. In fact, the meeting (more like a summit) is absent from the FGM website and from virtually all reportage on the Free Gaza Movement — that is, until now.
One local Bay Area news channel exhibited (for about a second) one of the photos above and for the first time revealed the Free Gaza-Hamas connection to the general public. When questioned by a reporter about the meeting with Hamas, Dr. Larudee visibly swallowed hard and acknowledged the event, unapologetically. He had been unmasked, and soon the world would know of his connections to Palestinian terrorism.
Let us be clear. The Free Gaza Movement from its beginnings has enjoyed intimate ties with the leadership of Hamas and, through its acceptance of Prime Minister Haniyeh’s hospitality and his medals of recognition, has given its sanction to the terrorist group’s nefarious strategic objectives. Dr. Larudee and his “peace activist” friends are much worse than frauds, or even useful idiots. They are philo-terrorist extremists who, as is clear from their behavior during the last ill-fated flotilla sailing, are prepared to give their lives in support of the Islamist cause.
Let us hope that their 501c3 status will be revoked and that their California-based leaders will be prosecuted by the government of the United States of America for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act, among other serious crimes.
By Eileen F. Toplansky
Is she merely uninformed or interminably stupid? Anti-Semitism from every corner of the world is deafening and yet Rosie O’Donnell cannot seem to understand the negative connotations of Helen Thomas’ latest retort about sending Jews back to Europe. This is the Europe that permitted the Nuremberg Laws and gave Jews second class citizenship status at best. This is the Europe that 70 years ago was comfortable in looking the other way while Jews were rounded up, endured the whip of slavery and then burned in gas ovens.
Surely glib Ms. O’Donnell, cannot be that ignorant of these recent historical events. Author Jan Gross in his book entitled Fear writes about the brutal Nazi occupation of Poland during the Second World War. Close to five million Polish citizens lost their lives as a result. More than half of these were Polish Jews. Thus, the second largest Jewish community in the world ~ three and a half million Polish Jews were wiped out. And, Ms. O’Donnell, when the remaining survivors returned to their hometowns in Poland, they experienced widespread hostility, including murder at the hands of their “neighbors.” The bloodiest peacetime pogrom in 20th century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce one year after the war ended, on July 4, 1946.
Of course, it did not take too long for O’Donnell to show her true colors when, right on cue, she uses the deliberately false notion so causally bandied about by the know-nothings of this world, that Israel is an occupier of the land. So once again, the history lesson must be repeated. Jews have been in Israel since time immemorial. There are archaeological remains that attest to this fact. The holy books of the Jews and the Arabs also confirm this. So Jews don’t have to go back home ~ they are already home. The Jews in Europe, Asia, and America are in the Diaspora because they were summarily expelled from countries throughout the ages. The term “wandering Jew” comes from the historical facts that Jews were expelled from England in 1290; from France in 1393; from Berne, Switzerland in 1427; and from Spain in 1492, to name only a few places.
In her book From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine, author Joan Peters, proves with historical data and other archival information that Jews did not displace Arabs in Palestine-just the reverse: Arabs displaced Jews. In fact, the blurb of this 1984 book relates that:
A hidden but major Arab migration and immigration took place into areas settled by Jews in pre-Israel Palestine; that a substantial number of the Arab refugees called Palestinians in reality had foreign roots; that for every Arab refugee who left Israel in 1948; there was a Jewish refugee who fled or was expelled from his Arab birthplace at the same time. . . .
Recently, filmmaker Pierre Rehov created the film entitled “The Silent Exodus” about these Jews who were kicked out of their Middle Eastern homes. Between 1946 and 1974, there were a million of forgotten Jewish fugitives expelled from the Arab world. These Jews had been living in Arab lands for thousands of years but their homes were stolen from them; they literally had nothing but the clothes on their backs when they fled. They were received in Israel. They did not remain refugees; they had no special United Nations agency to assist them. Israel welcomed them and they rebuilt their lives.
Of course, we have come to expect from these ignorant “pundits” like O’Donnell that the next charge to be leveled at Israel is that it is an apartheid country. While she did not state this outright, it usually accompanies the same dreary anti-Israel tirade of these people.
Alan Dershowitz speaks about the alleged apartheid as does Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh in his articles entitled “What About the Arab Apartheid? He wonders why no one speaks about the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians have been massacred in Lebanon over the past four decades. He notes that Lebanese law bars Palestinians from working. In addition, Palestinians cannot obtain Egyptian, Moroccan or Kuwaiti citizenship. He writes:
Can somebody imagine the outcry of the international community if Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a law today prohibiting Arabs from working in certain professions or receiving medical treatment? Ironically, the Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more rights in the Jewish state than their Palestinians brothers do in any Arab country.
The same applies to Palestinians living in most of the Arab countries. While Israel has never stripped its Arab citizens of their citizenship, Jordan has begun revoking the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of its citizens who are of Palestinian descent . . . .
Is it not absurd that Jordan and Egypt have been arresting Palestinians who demonstrate in support of their brothers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip or collect donations for them while Israeli citizens hold almost daily protests inside Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians?
And is it not ironic that the government of Binyamin Netanyahu is doing more to boost the Palestinian economy in the West Bank than any Arab country?
In fact, the mistreatment of the Palestinians must stop. So Ms. O’Donnell, why not tell Egyptian leaders who will not give loans to Palestinians or to Lebanese rulers where 390,000 Palestinians have no legal status or to Kuwait and Libya and to Syria who also do not bestow citizenship rights on Palestinians that they should change their ways?
Of course, O’Donnell and her fellow dolts will still hold true to their misinformation about Israel and her land holdings. Let’s set that record straight as well.
By George Friedman
On Sunday, Israeli naval forces intercepted the ships of a Turkish nongovernmental organization (NGO) delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel had demanded that the vessels not go directly to Gaza but instead dock in Israeli ports, where the supplies would be offloaded and delivered to Gaza. The Turkish NGO refused, insisting on going directly to Gaza. Gunfire ensued when Israeli naval personnel boarded one of the vessels, and a significant number of the passengers and crew on the ship were killed or wounded.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged that the mission was simply an attempt to provoke the Israelis. That was certainly the case. The mission was designed to demonstrate that the Israelis were unreasonable and brutal. The hope was that Israel would be provoked to extreme action, further alienating Israel from the global community and possibly driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The operation’s planners also hoped this would trigger a political crisis in Israel.
A logical Israeli response would have been avoiding falling into the provocation trap and suffering the political repercussions the Turkish NGO was trying to trigger. Instead, the Israelis decided to make a show of force. The Israelis appear to have reasoned that backing down would demonstrate weakness and encourage further flotillas to Gaza, unraveling the Israeli position vis-à-vis Hamas. In this thinking, a violent interception was a superior strategy to accommodation regardless of political consequences. Thus, the Israelis accepted the bait and were provoked.
The ‘Exodus’ Scenario
In the 1950s, an author named Leon Uris published a book called “Exodus.” Later made into a major motion picture, Exodus told the story of a Zionist provocation against the British. In the wake of World War II, the British – who controlled Palestine, as it was then known – maintained limits on Jewish immigration there. Would-be immigrants captured trying to run the blockade were detained in camps in Cyprus. In the book and movie, Zionists planned a propaganda exercise involving a breakout of Jews – mostly children – from the camp, who would then board a ship renamed the Exodus. When the Royal Navy intercepted the ship, the passengers would mount a hunger strike. The goal was to portray the British as brutes finishing the work of the Nazis. The image of children potentially dying of hunger would force the British to permit the ship to go to Palestine, to reconsider British policy on immigration, and ultimately to decide to abandon Palestine and turn the matter over to the United Nations.
There was in fact a ship called Exodus, but the affair did not play out precisely as portrayed by Uris, who used an amalgam of incidents to display the propaganda war waged by the Jews. Those carrying out this war had two goals. The first was to create sympathy in Britain and throughout the world for Jews who, just a couple of years after German concentration camps, were now being held in British camps. Second, they sought to portray their struggle as being against the British. The British were portrayed as continuing Nazi policies toward the Jews in order to maintain their empire. The Jews were portrayed as anti-imperialists, fighting the British much as the Americans had.
It was a brilliant strategy. By focusing on Jewish victimhood and on the British, the Zionists defined the battle as being against the British, with the Arabs playing the role of people trying to create the second phase of the Holocaust. The British were portrayed as pro-Arab for economic and imperial reasons, indifferent at best to the survivors of the Holocaust. Rather than restraining the Arabs, the British were arming them. The goal was not to vilify the Arabs but the British, and to position the Jews with other nationalist groups whether in India or Egypt rising against the British.
The precise truth or falsehood of this portrayal didn’t particularly matter. For most of the world, the Palestine issue was poorly understood and not a matter of immediate concern. The Zionists intended to shape the perceptions of a global public with limited interest in or understanding of the issues, filling in the blanks with their own narrative. And they succeeded.
The success was rooted in a political reality. Where knowledge is limited, and the desire to learn the complex reality doesn’t exist, public opinion can be shaped by whoever generates the most powerful symbols. And on a matter of only tangential interest, governments tend to follow their publics’ wishes, however they originate. There is little to be gained for governments in resisting public opinion and much to be gained by giving in. By shaping the battlefield of public perception, it is thus possible to get governments to change positions.
In this way, the Zionists’ ability to shape global public perceptions of what was happening in Palestine – to demonize the British and turn the question of Palestine into a Jewish-British issue – shaped the political decisions of a range of governments. It was not the truth or falsehood of the narrative that mattered. What mattered was the ability to identify the victim and victimizer such that global opinion caused both London and governments not directly involved in the issue to adopt political stances advantageous to the Zionists. It is in this context that we need to view the Turkish flotilla.
The Turkish Flotilla to Gaza
The Palestinians have long argued that they are the victims of Israel, an invention of British and American imperialism. Since 1967, they have focused not so much on the existence of the state of Israel (at least in messages geared toward the West) as on the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Since the split between Hamas and Fatah and the Gaza War, the focus has been on the plight of the citizens of Gaza, who have been portrayed as the dispossessed victims of Israeli violence.
The bid to shape global perceptions by portraying the Palestinians as victims of Israel was the first prong of a longtime two-part campaign. The second part of this campaign involved armed resistance against the Israelis. The way this resistance was carried out, from airplane hijackings to stone-throwing children to suicide bombers, interfered with the first part of the campaign, however. The Israelis could point to suicide bombings or the use of children against soldiers as symbols of Palestinian inhumanity. This in turn was used to justify conditions in Gaza. While the Palestinians had made significant inroads in placing Israel on the defensive in global public opinion, they thus consistently gave the Israelis the opportunity to turn the tables. And this is where the flotilla comes in.
The Turkish flotilla aimed to replicate the Exodus story or, more precisely, to define the global image of Israel in the same way the Zionists defined the image that they wanted to project. As with the Zionist portrayal of the situation in 1947, the Gaza situation is far more complicated than as portrayed by the Palestinians. The moral question is also far more ambiguous. But as in 1947, when the Zionist portrayal was not intended to be a scholarly analysis of the situation but a political weapon designed to define perceptions, the Turkish flotilla was not designed to carry out a moral inquest.
Instead, the flotilla was designed to achieve two ends. The first is to divide Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. The second is to create a political crisis inside Israel between those who feel that Israel’s increasing isolation over the Gaza issue is dangerous versus those who think any weakening of resolve is dangerous.
The Geopolitical Fallout for Israel
It is vital that the Israelis succeed in portraying the flotilla as an extremist plot. Whether extremist or not, the plot has generated an image of Israel quite damaging to Israeli political interests. Israel is increasingly isolated internationally, with heavy pressure on its relationship with Europe and the United States.
In all of these countries, politicians are extremely sensitive to public opinion. It is difficult to imagine circumstances under which public opinion will see Israel as the victim. The general response in the Western public is likely to be that the Israelis probably should have allowed the ships to go to Gaza and offload rather than to precipitate bloodshed. Israel’s enemies will fan these flames by arguing that the Israelis prefer bloodshed to reasonable accommodation. And as Western public opinion shifts against Israel, Western political leaders will track with this shift.
The incident also wrecks Israeli relations with Turkey, historically an Israeli ally in the Muslim world with longstanding military cooperation with Israel. The Turkish government undoubtedly has wanted to move away from this relationship, but it faced resistance within the Turkish military and among secularists. The new Israeli action makes a break with Israel easy, and indeed almost necessary for Ankara.
With roughly the population of Houston, Texas, Israel is just not large enough to withstand extended isolation, meaning this event has profound geopolitical implications.
Public opinion matters where issues are not of fundamental interest to a nation. Israel is not a fundamental interest to other nations. The ability to generate public antipathy to Israel can therefore reshape Israeli relations with countries critical to Israel. For example, a redefinition of U.S.-Israeli relations will have much less effect on the United States than on Israel. The Obama administration, already irritated by the Israelis, might now see a shift in U.S. public opinion that will open the way to a new U.S.-Israeli relationship disadvantageous to Israel.
The Israelis will argue that this is all unfair, as they were provoked. Like the British, they seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard? As with a tank battle or an airstrike, this sort of warfare has nothing to do with fairness. It has to do with controlling public perception and using that public perception to shape foreign policy around the world. In this case, the issue will be whether the deaths were necessary. The Israeli argument of provocation will have limited traction.
Internationally, there is little doubt that the incident will generate a firestorm. Certainly, Turkey will break cooperation with Israel. Opinion in Europe will likely harden. And public opinion in the United States – by far the most important in the equation – might shift to a “plague-on-both-your-houses” position.
While the international reaction is predictable, the interesting question is whether this evolution will cause a political crisis in Israel. Those in Israel who feel that international isolation is preferable to accommodation with the Palestinians are in control now. Many in the opposition see Israel’s isolation as a strategic threat. Economically and militarily, they argue, Israel cannot survive in isolation. The current regime will respond that there will be no isolation. The flotilla aimed to generate what the government has said would not happen.
The tougher Israel is, the more the flotilla’s narrative takes hold. As the Zionists knew in 1947 and the Palestinians are learning, controlling public opinion requires subtlety, a selective narrative and cynicism. As they also knew, losing the battle can be catastrophic. It cost Britain the Mandate and allowed Israel to survive. Israel’s enemies are now turning the tables. This maneuver was far more effective than suicide bombings or the Intifada in challenging Israel’s public perception and therefore its geopolitical position (though if the Palestinians return to some of their more distasteful tactics like suicide bombing, the Turkish strategy of portraying Israel as the instigator of violence will be undermined).
Israel is now in uncharted waters. It does not know how to respond. It is not clear that the Palestinians know how to take full advantage of the situation, either. But even so, this places the battle on a new field, far more fluid and uncontrollable than what went before. The next steps will involve calls for sanctions against Israel. The Israeli threats against Iran will be seen in a different context, and Israeli portrayal of Iran will hold less sway over the world.
And this will cause a political crisis in Israel. If this government survives, then Israel is locked into a course that gives it freedom of action but international isolation. If the government falls, then Israel enters a period of domestic uncertainty. In either case, the flotilla achieved its strategic mission. It got Israel to take violent action against it. In doing so, Israel ran into its own fist.
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
US President Barak Obama postpones Oval Office meeting with the prime minister, presses for IDF flotilla-raid details, expresses “deep regret at loss of life.”
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday after the latter cancelled a planned Oval Office meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
During their 15-minute conversation, Obama conveyed his understanding for Netanyahu’s decision to return immediately to Israel from Canada and not stop in Washington following the deadly clash between the IDF and activists trying to break the Gaza blockade earlier in the day.
The two leaders also agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity. “The president expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today’s incident, and concern for the wounded, many of whom are being treated in Israeli hospitals,” a statement put out by the White House read. “The president also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning’s tragic events as soon as possible.”
The visit had been expected to reaffirm the strong US-Israel relationship after weeks of tension and provide a public welcome to Netanyahu after his nighttime White House visit in March was conducted under a total media blackout. It was to come in the midst of nascent proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians as the US sought to build momentum to move to direct negotiations and ahead of a high-profile visit of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House next Tuesday.
“It shows how hard it is to purposefully change the momentum” in Middle East peace-making, Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted. “Even when you try to build small steps to change things, the waves come crashing down.”
He also assessed that in contrast to the Europeans, who already were using the incident Monday to reinforce calls for an end to the Gaza blockade, the Americans would want to have a fuller grasp of the situation before reviewing Gaza policy.
“On the American side there’s going to be a real desire to understand what happened,” he said.