so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestine National
Authority raise a number of interesting and, in some respects,
provocative questions. One concerns whether the Israeli
government has any interest in a just peace. The second
is whether the Netanyahu group (in power) wishes to bring
down President Obama.
terms of the first question, that is, of the Israeli government's
interest in a just peace, there is, unfortunately, no evidence
to believe that such an interest exists.
regard to the question of President Obama, there is an interesting
trail of events. Since Obama's election the attitude
of the Israeli political establishment towards him has been
less than enthusiastic. In fact, it has been nothing
short of insulting. The first responses to the Obama
presidency were largely cautious, though in the background
there was fear and anger. Racist remarks began to
emerge regarding Obama, with the Israeli right-wing transferring
some of its anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia onto
their attitude towards President Obama.
the context of President Obama's speech to the Muslim world,
the Israeli political establishment was outraged. At
that moment they decided to test--"chump" would
probably be a better word--the Obama administration. While
President Obama called for a cessation of new settlements
on Palestinian territories, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu,
et. al., simply said "no."
the Obama administration did nothing.
not quite nothing. They backed down, ultimately applauding
Israel for Netanyahu's disingenuous and false concessions,
making it appear that the Israeli government was truly committed
that time Netanyahu has done nothing to appease, let alone
meet President Obama half way. Why should he? After
all, the Republicans and most Democrats in Congress fall
all over themselves to prove their uncritical loyalty to
Israel. Added to that is the constituency known as
"Christian Zionists," represented by views such
as those articulated by Sarah Palin, who believe that Israel
serves a role in Christian prophecy. This latter group
has become an important ally for Israel despite their own
ambiguous views of Jews.
effect, Netayahu's contemptuous attitude toward the Obama
administration, with numerous examples including the insulting
announcement of new settlements on the day that Vice President
Joe Biden arrived in Israel, appears to be aimed at demonstrating
the impotence of the administration when it comes toward
Middle East policy. Holding off Obama, and not giving
an inch, weakens Obama with his other foreign policy objectives,
as well as his domestic platform.
current negotiations between the Netanyahu government and
Abbas's Palestine National Authority is reminiscent of a
shadow play. There is little substance; nothing in
evidence concerning the plight of the millions of Palestinians
living in exile; and little reason for the Israeli government
to make any concessions. There is certainly little
international government pressure on the Israelis. Actually,
the rising threat to the Israeli position is coming not
from governments but from a people's movement called "Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions,"
which, like the efforts that had been aimed at South African
apartheid decades ago, seeks to use non-violent pressure
on the oppressor group to compel the adoption of a new position
favorable to the oppressed.
up in the Bronx we used to talk about someone "selling
woof tickets." [as in "woof-woof"] Someone
could offer all sorts of forceful and, often, threatening
language and humiliating taunts at an opponent but if called
upon to follow through and they could not deliver, they
were not only vulnerable to the person that they threatened,
but, indeed, they became vulnerable to all who had been
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar
with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president ofTransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis
of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.