Analysis | Iqbal Jassat | 25 March 2013
Did America’s first citizen and leader of the “free world” – whatever it may mean to oppressed people – President Barack Hussein Obama, travel to Israel to give Netanyahu a lifeline to peace and security?
Not a damn!
He offered an unconditional lifeline to war and perpetual conflict.
How did he achieve this? Simply by avoiding human rights and International Law!
These are the missing ingredients that for 65 years have precluded a peaceful resolution, according to Palestinian academic Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh.
Teaching at Birzeit University and renowned amongst international solidarity volunteers within the ecumenical movement for his courageous defiance of Israel’s repressive occupation forces, Qumsiyeh views Obama’s trip devoid of real substance.
“Hard to describe level of frustration that I had watching theatre of media frenzy”, said Qumsiyeh who in addition to being a Palestinian (Christian) from Bethlehem area also holds an American passport.
The paradox is that unlike American Jews who can get automatic citizenship and live on stolen Palestinian land, their counterparts cannot. As Qumsiyeh explains, his US passport doesn’t allow him to enter Jerusalem and worse is that the American government “will not protect this right” or other rights he has including family reunification.
This is the sad and tragic tale of Palestinians that’s usually obscured from public scrutiny!
South Africa’s public broadcaster, the SABC, realised perhaps too late about how it was setup to unwittingly function as a censor for Israel during the recent Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) when Qumsiyeh’s scheduled interview on SAFM Radio’s Vuyo Mbuli morning show was axed.
While pro-Israel pressure groups may have celebrated their false victory, the subsequent outrage expressed via social media did compel SABC to reschedule. Of course Qumsiyeh’s voice was not heard due to his return flight, but a very able defender of Palestinian rights, Terry Crawford-Browne filled his shoes.
This little episode illustrates how and to what extent Israel and its band of unconditional supporters including the leader of the “free world”, regularly attempt to snuff out dissenting voices.
The purpose is to prevent any meaningful challenge to the dominant (at least in American circles) pro-Israel narrative which dissects the conflict as Jewish democracy versus Arab terrorism. Its a naïve one-dimensional view that disregards its genesis being the forced uprooting and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
It is the same twisted logic that according to Qumsiyeh’s interpretation of Obama’s rationale says the insecurity of a thief must be the only thing to be dealt with. It says this can and must be achieved by ensuring victims first recognise legitimacy of theft as well as legitimacy of need for the thief to first have full security and immunity from accountability for theft before victim is put in a room with thief so that they can work something out.
Its a formula known in many instances to have been disastrous and has kept apartheid and colonialism going!
Qumsiyeh correctly points out that as long as Israel receives unconditional aid, military funding and knows it enjoys a guaranteed veto, it has no incentive to allow a sovereign Palestinian state let alone redress injustices e.g. refugees.
It certainly sounds outrageous for Obama to define what Palestinians want whilst contemptuously ignoring their fundamental demands: Return to their homes, lands and freedom from racism and apartheid.
Until this happens, striving for freedom and dignity will entail resistance.
Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, an advocacy group based in South Afr