Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obama Tap Dances for Israel




The Washington Post reports that:
President Obama arrived in Israel Wednesday for a three-day trip designed to engage a new Israeli government and skeptical public about his second-term foreign policy intentions, after a first term that stirred resentment here about the way he approached the Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.

After disembarking from Air Force One to a lavish greeting ceremony, Obama was quick to articulate the primary goal of his trip, his first overseas since beginning a second term.

“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” he said. “It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.”

In welcoming Obama formally, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the visit, which Obama put off during his first term in the White House, is a demonstration of “the profound relationship between our two nations.”

In welcoming Obama formally, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the visit, which Obama put off during his first term in the White House, is a demonstration of “the profound relationship between our two nations.”

“From the depths of our hearts, from the depths of our history, toda raba — thank you,” Peres said, adding that Israel wants to live in peace with the Palestinians and all Arab nations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama “for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East” and affirming its “unequivocal right” to defend itself, a tacit reference to the growing threat Netanyahu believes is posed by Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.

“The need for our alliance is greater than ever,” Netanyahu said, also adding that “we seek a peace with our Palestinian neighbors.”

Obama is packing much into his visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank over three days. His goal is primarily remedial, fixing his sometimes poor relations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as a precursor, perhaps, to a new U.S.-led push for peace talks. John F. Kerry, his new secretary of state, is accompanying him on the trip.

This story bothers me for a couple of reasons. I hate to see the President pander to AIPAC, especially after Benjamin Netanyahu disrespected him and basically endorsed Mitt Romney for President. Like his predecessors, President Obama unconditionally supports for Israel. Yet, his critics are still not satisfied. Instead of standing up to his critics, Obama decided to tap dance for Israel and shine Netanyahu's shoes.

During the trip, the President will reiterate and emphasize America's unwaivering support of Israel. America has squandered billions of dollars financing Israeli occupation and terrorism. At the same time, America never has enough money for the poor and the elderly at home. America never has enough to rebuild its infrastructure. America never has enough money to improve crumbling urban schools. Yet, America always has plenty of money to build Israel's arsenal of death and destruction.

Even more disturbing, this trip appears to be laying the groundwork for military action against Syria and Iran. 10 years after the Iraq fiasco, the war hawks are essentially pressuring the President to take military action against Iran and Syria. The last thing that the US needs to do is get involved in another armed conflict. It would be horrific and ironic if Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, invades Syria based on the same sketchy rationale used to justify Bush's idiotic invasion of Iraq.

Thousands of US troops and Iraqi civilians were killed because of a lie. Many people are missing limbs because of a lie. Many people are paralyzed because of a lie. America's standing in the world is diminished because of a lie. I sincerely hope that President Obama does not repeat Bush's mistake.

Finally, the trip highlights the fact that the President has done very little to negotiate peace in the Middle East. The American people, the Israeli people and the Palestinian people do not need any more eloquent speeches and photo ops. We need peace.

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