President Obama’s opportunity to speak truth to power: Part 1

Informed and honest analysis suggests that no American president will ever be able to break the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress on matters to do with Israel/Palestine unless and until a majority of Jewish Americans, in order to protect their own best interests and those of all their fellow Americans, indicate that they wish him to do so, or that they will not object if he tries.

In the context of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, what those best interests are can be summarised in two sentences. America, on account of its unconditional support for the Zionist state and its contempt for international law, has made enemies of many if not most of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims. A change of American policy that required Israel to behave in accordance with international law would convert almost all Arabs and most other Muslims into friends and allies of America. (I agree that America’s unconditional support for Israel right-or-wrong is not the only cause of the hurt, humiliation and anger that drives Arab and other Muslim anti-Americanism, but the Palestine problem is the cancer at the heart of international affairs, and a cure for it would make many other problems more manageable).

From the perspective summarised above, it can be said that Jewish Americans, all of them not just the 25% or thereabouts who are cannon fodder for the Zionist lobby in its various manifestations, have real political power, actually more democratic power if those choose to exercise it than AIPAC can mobilize by playing the fear card. On 9 November, when he addresses the General Assembly of The United Jewish Communities (UJC), to be known from then on as The Jewish Federations of North America, President Obama has the opportunity to speak truth to that power (or at least a very significant number of its representatives).

If I was writing Obama’s speech for that occasion I would have him say this:

To make peace in the Middle East on terms that provide security for Israel and an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians, I need two irrevocable, good faith commitments of intent – one from the Arab and wider Muslim world, the other from Israel.

In headline terms, the irrevocable commitment I need from the Arab and wider Muslim world comes down to this. In return for an end to Israeli occupation of all Arab land captured in 1967, it will make a full and final peace with Israel and establish normal state-to-state relations.

The irrevocable commitment I need from Israel comes down to this. In return for the Arab and wider Muslim world’s commitment of intent, Israel commits to withdrawing its military forces and settlers to the borders as they were on 4 June 1967, to make the space, on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

Of course the headlines don’t tell the whole story. It includes the fact that there is a Saudi-inspired peace plan that’s been on the table since its adoption by an Arab summit in Beirut in 2002. It comes close to the irrevocable commitment I am seeking from the Arab and wider Muslim world, but Barack Obama the honest broker has to say this about it. Under two headings, that peace plan requires some clarification and amendment if it is to be transformed into the commitment I need.

The Arab peace plan calls for “the achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” That resolution, passed on 11 December 1948, declares that all Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbours “should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date“. It also declares that “compensation should be paid for the property of those not wishing to return“.

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