Short answer – both are grovellers (definition in a moment). The president of the United States of America grovels to the Zionist lobby and its neo-con and Christian fundamentalist allies. The Palestinian “president” grovels to Obama as well as Israel’s leaders more often than not. Obama and Abbas are, one could say, grovelling twins, but if there was the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for grovelling, it would have to be awarded to Obama. (If when he leaves office Israel is still able to impose its will on the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, I think he should hand back the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded).
The idea for this article was inspired by Daud Abdullah in a piece he wrote for the Middle East Monitor. His main point was that the Palestinian national reconciliation talks have become a “process” and that like the peace process “they are without progress and an apparent end… As long as Abbas continues to grovel to the Americans and Israelis, it (a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and unity) will remain an illusion.”
The Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1843-1881) had one of his characters say that the choice was “either to be a hero or grovel in the mud – there was nothing in between.”
I’ll get to my suggestion about what Abbas could do to become a hero in a moment but first let’s explore the terminology.
The notion of grovelling apparently comes from the Old Norse language – a grufu meaning face down. (The Norsemen were early Scandinavians and during the Mediaeval period some of them travelled to the British Isles to trade, raid and settle. In the final decade of the 8th century, Norse raiders attacked a series of Christian monasteries located in the British Isles).
In the most literal sense grovellers are face down, lying or crawling on the ground in abject humility or fear.
As perceived by people today who use the terminology, a groveller is one who behaves in a demeaning and servile (slave-to-master) way, often apologizing when no apology is needed. Put another way, when an American says, “Kiss my arse” (which is more or less what the Zionist lobby says to Obama from time to time), the groveller is one who responds positively and says, “I’ll do whatever you want.”
So to the question: What could Abbas do to end his grovelling and become a hero?
In the coming days, and the sooner the better, he could say, in the most polite and gentle way possible, something like the following.
“If President Obama is coming here without a concrete plan to get a real peace process going, I regret to say there will be no point in me meeting with him.”
I would also have Abbas say in his statement that a concrete plan to get a real peace process started would not be enough on its own. And I would have him explain why as follows.
To give a concrete plan real meaning Obama would have to indicate when he presented it that if Israel remained committed to defying international law and UN Security Council resolutions, the U.S. would have no choice but to use the leverage it has to cause (or try to cause) Israel to be serious about peace on terms that would provide justice for the Palestinians and security for all.
Such an approach would require Obama to say in public what President Kennedy said to Golda Meir in a private conversation with her in Florida two days before his last Christmas. Kennedy defined what he called the “limitations” of America’s relationship with Israel, a relationship, he said, that was “a two-way street.” (The story of JFK’s secret conversation with Golda, much of what was said is still classified, is contained in Turning Point – The Assassination of President Kennedy, Chapter 11 of Volume Two of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, which is sub-titled David Becomes Goliath. If Kennedy had been allowed to live, he was intending in a second term to require Israel to be serious about peace. After his assassination America’s relationship with Israel became what it still is – a one-way street).
In my view Abbas as hero would go much further than saying there will be no point in meeting with Obama if he is not coming with a concrete plan to get a real peace process going and a commitment to do whatever is necessary to make it work.
Abbas would also say that if the coming days proved that there’s nothing of real substance to negotiate about because Israel’s leaders are not interested in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept, and can’t be stopped from continuing the colonization of the occupied West bank (on-going ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth), there would be no point in the continued existence of the Palestine National Authority, and it will be dissolved, handing full responsibility and accountability for the occupation back to Israel.
There is no reason to believe that Abbas will end his grovelling to Obama. (In Daud Abdullah’s account of why the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and unity talks are going nowhere, there was a secret meeting in Ramallah between the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, and Abbas and other PLO leaders, Shapiro requested that they “freeze the reconciliation talks until after President Obama’s visit to the region.” Abbas, Daud Abdullah noted, “dutifully complied”).
But what if Abbas did end his grovelling by putting Obama on notice that there would be no point in the two of them meeting if the president was not coming with the commitment to get a real peace process going, AND that a continuation of the status quo would result in the dissolution of the PNA – would that be enough to cause Obama to think seriously about ending his grovelling to the Zionist lobby and its neo-con and Christian fundamentalist allies…?
In my view that’s an interesting question. While I think about possible answers to it, I find myself wondering if Abbas would be assassinated if he ended his grovelling to America, and if President Obama would suffer the same fate as JFK if he ended his grovelling to the Zionist lobby and its allies.
Could somebody solve a New York Times mystery for me?
The electronic edition of this newspaper still arrives in my in-box every day and I can view the menu of its content, but for the last few days I have been unable to open/access any of its reports, op-ed pieces and editorials.
As my regular readers know, I quite often quote the NYT in articles I write. (I also tweet them). In the two or three weeks before it became impossible for me to open/access the paper’s content, I quoted several pieces including an editorial that were to some degree critical of Israel.
Am I being denied access, blocked? And if so – by whom?
I can’t open/access the NYT’s given e-mail contact to put that question directly to the paper myself.