Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is Obama Throwing the Palestinians under the Bus?

The incisive, perceptive Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy has long been one of my favorite commentators - and this most recent column is an example of why.
Obama's America is not delivering the goods - Haaretz - Israel News

And although this has nothing to do with my opinion of him, one of the points he makes re-affirms something I wrote about months ago: that Netanyahu would surely have it in him to bully Obama, or at least to out-maneuver him. Levy makes a strong case that Netanyahu is doing exactly that. Perhaps Obama has put way too much on his plate, especially with the global economic woes and the need to reform health care in the US, along the black hole that is Afghanistan, dominating the menu lately. There's no way that he can give the Palestinians' concerns the highly focused attention they need. Indeed, with congressmen from his own party (whose votes he surely needs on health care and other issues) starting to defy him on the issue of the "settlement freeze" in the West Bank, it's not unlikely that Obama will opt to throw that issue into the back seat (if not completely under the bus). (For one thing, if Netanyahu refuses to play ball on the settlements issue, there may be less pressure on him to accommodate Netanyahu on his demand for a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.)

It's truly sad. And Levy notes it. Obama was the great new hope - and maybe the last hope - to forge some real progress on the Israel-Palestinian issue. It hasn't happened, and very likely it won't happen. The impact on the US's standing across the globe will not be positive. Potentially, in fact, it could sink to a new low. With Obama's ascent to the presidency and his words of outreach to Muslims across the globe, thousands were willing to renew their hope in the image of the US as fair-minded and a force for peace, after the debacle of the Bush regime. But an Obama failure to use US clout to provide some modicum of justice for the Palestinians just might produce an even deeper disillusionment with the US, and more angry young men and women hoping for an opportunity to strike personally against it.

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