In naming George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East, President Obama unfortunately made statements indicating no departure from the failing policies of previous administrations.
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D
Online Journal Contributing Writer
In particular, Obama emphasized Israel’s right to “defend itself,” never once mentioned things like the occupation or international law, attacked Hamas (a duly elected movement that represents a significant portion of the Palestinian people), supported the strangulation of Gaza, demanded no resistance from an occupied people, and supported the Israeli occupiers in their violence that most recently killed over 400 children.
George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama’s newly named Special Envoy to the Middle East, stands after the announcement at the State Department in Washington, DC. Obama vowed Thursday to aggressively pursue Middle East peace as for the first time since taking office he laid out his vision for ending the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.(AFP/Saul Loeb)
This logic has been tried before, including under the “aggressive diplomacy” of Bill Clinton and has yielded only a strengthening of Hamas, weakening of Fatah, continued Israeli colonization on Palestinian lands, and setting the stage for future conflicts. Further, such an approach is even more untenable now after the setback of the June 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon and the current war on Gaza.
As articulated well by President Jimmy Carter, it is wrong to frame this conflict simply as “democratic Israel” facing “terrorist groups like Hamas” and it is wrong to continue to fund Israeli wars while claiming to be an “honest broker.” It is analogous to describing the struggles in South Africa in the 1980s as “democratic South Africa” facing off against “terrorist groups like the ANC” (actually that was President Reagan’s framing in his first term in office as he supported Apartheid). Yes, some members of the ANC did use terror (including “necklacing” or burning their rivals alive) but that was miniscule compared to the state terrorism and apartheid they faced. The US cannot be an honest broker so long as the US government continues to….
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