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Reactions to Obama’s Middle East Speech

By Taylor Marvin

Interesting media reactions to Obama’s Middle East speech:

Yossi Klein Halevi:

“I listened in disbelief as he stated that, while there are those who believe that the regional instability of recent months makes a solution impossible for now, he believes the opposite is true. On what basis, Mr. President? From where I’m sitting in Jerusalem—watching Turkey turn Islamist and pro-Iranian, Lebanon being devoured by Hezbollah, Hamas legitimized by Fatah, the Muslim Brotherhood rising in Egypt, and Iran’s nuclear program proceeding apace—I would say that this is just about the worst time to try to entice an ambivalent Israeli into empowering his dovish side. At a time when Egyptian-Israeli relations—our only successful land for peace agreement—could be unraveling, Israelis are hardly likely to risk another withdrawal, this time from our most sensitive border, and without even the pretense of a peace agreement.

So: Yes to the vision. But no, we can’t implement it anytime soon. In other words: Yes, we can’t.”

Jeffrey Goldberg:

“And so I was similarly taken aback when I read a statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday that he ‘expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.’

So Netanyahu ‘expects’ to hear this from the President of the United States? And if President Obama doesn’t walk back the speech, what will Netanyahu do? Will he cut off Israeli military aid to the U.S.? Will he cease to fight for the U.S. in the United Nations, and in the many  international forums that treat Israel as a pariah?”

Issandr El Amrani:

“Why pick up the Israeli talking point on “Israel’s right to exit” when Israel opposes Palestine’s right to exist? The lack of acknowledgment that the peace process has failed showed the predicament the US finds itself in: stuck with a peace process that is going nowhere. An “unrealistic” as this will seem to many, I’d just like some honesty on this.

Finally, one can only note what this speech is not: it is not an acknowledgement that the imperialist US posture in the Middle East must change, or that the amount of insane spending on deploying in the region and supplying arms to its dictators ($20bn to Saudi Arabia, the elephant in the room today). But that is probably many speeches and many presidents away. What this pretty but often ambiguous and vapid speech (which like most presidential speeches is first and foremost a speech to Washington) shows is thatwe have entered the interregnum between the American moment in the Middle East (1956-2011) and what is to come next, whatever that is.”

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. The Elders of Zion #

    That quote from El Amrani is moronic on a factual level. Israel supports the Palestine’s existence (really, I should put “Palestine” in quotes, since a free and independent Palestine never existed). In fact, a two-state solution to the conflict (an independent and secure Palestine next to an independent and secure Israel) has been the operating position of every Israeli government for the past two decades. The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, stands by charters that explicitly call for the destruction of Israel.

    May 21, 2011

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