On the contradictions of War, Peace and Freedom
It was a herculean task the President undertook when he addressed the United Nations this morning. He had come to celebrate the virtues of human freedom and the unique role the UN must play in promoting the freedom and welfare of all peoples. His central challenge was to craft a speech that would sound convincing to a room full of seasoned and somewhat cynical diplomats; all of whom were aware that he has vowed to veto the Palestinian people’s petition for national recognition before that same august body on Friday.
Yet there is no one who deserves the intervention of the United Nations more than the long suffering Palestinians. Since everybody present knew that the Israeli’s would collapse without the agency of the United States, President Obama was viewed as a shameless hypocrite by many of the delegates in the hall before he ever opened his mouth. As much as I believe in the power of great oratory, and Barack is a verbal virtuoso of the first order, I couldn’t imagine how he could possibly pull it off.
I was saved from despair only because I had already witnessed him weave irresolvable contradictions into a convincing polemic when he defended war in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Barack has a brilliant mind that can grasp the complexities of things, and the eloquence to explain them in poetic language. These gifts were never more finely displayed than on this occasion, especially in his impressive grasp of the great issues that define the human condition at the beginning of the 21st century.
The Speech was a celebration of cherished American ideals designed to appeal to reasonable people everywhere. But most Arabs are in no mood to be reasonable: especially the Palestinians. Alas, they have been more than reasonable for decades now to no avail.
The President was at his best recounting the march of freedom in the world since his last speech before them, and the role the UN played in facilitating that march with full US support. Unfortunately, the narrative of the Israeli/Arab conflict offered up by the President was a burlesque on serious historical analysis. To listen to him tell it one would think that it was the Palestinians who came from Europe and invaded Jewish lands, dispossessed them of their country by brute force and now seeks to deny their national identity after 60 years of struggle – forcing them to live in wretched refugee camps abroad and under military occupation on their native soil.
Barack’s message to the Palestinians was not to petition for UN recognition because the US will veto it; their only option is to return to the negotiating table with Bebe Netanyahu, the arrogant Israeli leader who has all but told the American President to fuck off! Although he heaped praises upon his head after he dissed the Palestinians in his UN speech. Dr. Ziebniew Brzezinski, a former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and one of America’s most able foreign policy analysts, recently called Netanyahu’s hard line position on the Palestinians “Suicidal!” And this is a man who was an architect of the Israeli / Egyptian peace accord, which is the most important diplomatic achievement in the region since the 1948 UN resolution that created the state of Israel.
Hence despite the president’s soaring eloquence and impressive intellect, his proposal was ludicrous. Stuff like that might play well in Washington, Tel Aviv and the 9th Congressional District of New York; but judging by the immediate rejection of the President’s proposal by Palestinian representatives, it appears his recommendation will go over like a lead balloon in the Arab World.
The only hope of averting a diplomatic disaster of historic proportions is for President Obama to work out a deal with the Israelis and Palestinians before President Abbas speaks to the UN General Assembly on Friday. Should he fail to cut a deal, and the US vetoes the Palestinian petition, I suspect the armed insurgents of the “Arab Spring” will greet his decision as a callous betrayal; Al Qaeda will welcome it as a gift from Allah, and the Iranians will reference it as irrefutable evidence of their charge that US presidents are slaves to the Israel lobby!
What the future Holds for the Mid-East
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 21, 2011