Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting can be read, analyzed, and interpreted in many ways. Anyone can see in it whatever one wishes; including hard-line Palestinians and Israelis. For a quick reference, check Aljazeera’s report at:
Regardless of the many conflicting interpretations – of Obama’s speech at the United Nations – that will for sure follow in the coming days, two facts seem to illustrate obvious meanings that would indicate a strong probability of what will follow the speech in the near future:
First: United States’ position on Israeli settlement expansion:
On the issue of the moratorium on expanding Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Obama said: “Our position on this issue is well-known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended.” This refers to extending the moratorium to allow the negotiations to continue, for negotiations would be meaningless – or even much worse – if they were to continue while Jewish-only settlements are expanding. This is the President of the United States talking; not some other powerless, unknown president, king, sultan, prime minister, or emir, urging others to do something. Nevertheless, Obama’s tone was unmistakably one that urges others to support his proposition; not that he would do anything if Israel does not comply. Due to past experiences, the probability of the likelihood that Obama is just being polite and diplomatic is heavily discounted.
Second: Absence of the Israeli delegation during Obama’s speech:
It was almost shocking to learn that the entire Israeli delegation was absent while Obama was addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Aljazeera reported that: “the Israeli mission at the UN told Aljazeera that the delegation was absent due to a Jewish holiday.” Just in case you missed it, read this piece of news one more time: The Israeli delegation did not attend the UN session during which the president of the United States of America was addressing the United Nations General Assembly. We all know that the Israeli delegation would be absent when the President of Iran addresses the United Nations, but to display such disregard and disrespect to the president of the United States is certainly telling, to put extremely mildly.
It seems obvious that the state of Israel does not intend to heed the American President’s advice; they were not there to hear it, in the first place! And it seems also obvious that the American president would do nothing about the Israeli rejection of his advice.
In implying a description of his determination for the success of the efforts led by the United States to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Obama urged the assembled leaders of the world to make sure that: “this time is different.” In the near past Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, all but gave Obama the finger in reaction to any American request, initiative, or advice that was not 100% compliant with Netanyahu’s publicly declared positions. Subsequently, Obama welcomed Netanyahu to the White House as if the latter were Royalty.
Will Netanyahu behave?
Will Israeli leaders listen?
Will the Israeli public react favouring Obama’s advice?
Will Israeli existential dependence on the United States mean anything?
Will Obama prevail in a very minor, symbolic way?
Will this time be different?
Answers to these questions will be known on September 27, 2010; the day after the moratorium on expanding Israeli settlements expires. Let us wait those few days and see what happens.
Hope is the stuff from which life is made!