Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Mr. Obama Goes to Ramallah

February 20, 2013 1:10 am 1 comment

Ramallah. Photo: wiki commons.

President Obama’s plans in the Middle East include three and a half hours in Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The president’s hope is to find a mechanism for advancing Israeli-Palestinian “peace.” The appearance of the President of the United States in “Palestine” is calculated to provide Abbas with a tangible benefit in hopes of moderating/modifying his behavior vis a vis Israel and strengthen him vis a vis Hamas. If President Obama succeeds, however, the result will be to strengthen a dictator by betraying his people on behalf of their enemy, Israel.

It won’t be the first time the United States has tried to entice — OK, bribe — dictatorial governments into doing what we want. Bribery didn’t work in Iraq or in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, or Tunisia. It hasn’t moved Iran or North Korea, and it didn’t keep U.S.-armed and trained Malian troops from overthrowing their elected civilian leadership. In none of those cases was Israel a factor. But Ramallah will be more like Egypt, where President Obama did it twice.

First, he continued unquestioning American support for the dictator Hosni Mubarak as a quid pro quo for the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. From the point of view of the Egyptian public, American support for Israel meant American support for their misery. When Mubarak resigned, the administration quickly threw itself behind the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Morsi, winner of the hastily arranged election, was pronounced “democratically elected” despite his post-election power grab. An even more rushed referendum on the “constitution” was also deemed democratic, despite the objections of Egyptian judges and parliamentarians. Both Morsi and the constitution have religious biases that can easily be used for the repression of others, and Copts have already found themselves targeted. Hoping to strengthen Morsi, though, the administration delivered top-of-the-line American planes and tanks even as the opposition was in the streets and the security forces are becoming ever more brutal and lethal.

The administration points to the Peace Treaty as its top priority. Eighty-seven million Egyptians might see it — and us — differently, resenting Israel’s top billing in their drama.

So too on the West Bank. The PA is corrupt, spendthrift, and repressive. A wave of public demonstrations against the government beginning last year and continuing through January has been met with violent repression. Only some of the protests were directed at Abbas’ engagement with Israel. Others focused on police brutality, the cost of living, government-imposed austerity measures, and Abbas himself. Salam Fayyed, the unelected prime minister and favorite of the U.S., has been the focus of popular unhappiness over limited economic prospects. Pro-Abbas gangs have assaulted protesters, according to Palestinian media sources, and journalists have been arrested and beaten.

Senior Palestinian officials, happy to have Western activists supporting their anti-Israel activities, were furious to find them marching with Palestinians against PA corruption. “The involvement of Western nationals in protests against the Palestinian Authority is completely unacceptable,” one official said. “We will be forced to cut off all ties with non-Palestinians who incite against the Palestinian leadership.”

The U.S. should find such heavy-handed behavior against civilians unacceptable.

In an effort to shift popular anger away from the Palestinian Authority, Abbas has encouraged demonstrations against Israel, which have become more intense at precisely the moment Palestinian security cooperation with Israel has declined. In December, the PA authorized post-mosque pro-Hamas rallies near IDF checkpoints. The rallies predictably turned into skirmishes with border guards and injuries ensued. Tensions between the IDF, border guards, and Palestinians continue to escalate.

That should also be unacceptable to the United States.

From the strictly American point of view, the PA is in the midst of negotiations with Hamas — a U.S.-designated terrorist organization — to form a “unity government.” If Abbas does, as he said he would, decree a unity government and announce new elections, how will the U.S. respond? Conversations about “unity” have taken place since 2009, two years after Hamas wrested sole control of Gaza from Fatah in a bloody civil war. Abbas has always said such a government depended on Hamas recognizing Israel, an understanding that lip service to Israel must be paid in order to obtain the financial and political benefits of dealing with the U.S. and the West. Hamas, supported by Iran, has no need even for lip service. Khalid Mashaal announced last week that the new deal would create greater unity simply “in order to be free for confronting the enemy.”

With Fatah under pressure by its own people and Hamas rising, what does it mean for the U.S. to try to strengthen Abbas with a presidential visit? Are unhappy Palestinians going to be pleased with U.S. support for their dictator on behalf of Israel? Will they be encouraged to support Hamas and its rejection of both the U.S. and the Jewish State? Is the president pushing Palestinians in precisely the direction we don’t want them to go?

U.S. policy should first and foremost be to support people in their efforts to achieve consensual government and for governments to pass Natan Sharansky’s “Town Square test,” an expression of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Freedom from Fear.” This will ultimately be a better guarantee of Israel’s security than presidential bribery designed to make dictators pay lip service to the U.S. and Israel while riding roughshod over their citizens.

Three and a half hours in Ramallah isn’t likely to get the Palestinian Authority where it needs to be, but if the president and his entourage use it to discuss individual rights and civil liberties, they would keep faith with the people instead of their dictator.

This article by Shoshana Bryen was originally published by American Thinker.

1 Comment

  • These three and a half hours should not be spent in Ramallah but in East Jerusalem, the city which Palestinians view as their capital and which the international community considers part of the Palestinian territory.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →