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Obama on Mideast — Chomsky: More Deceptive Rhetoric?
WASHINGTON - May 18 - The Huffington Post reports of Obama’s speech tomorrow: “Obama will outline ‘a single standard’ to apply to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties that seek to engage with the United States, the official said.
“‘He will say we are happy to engage with any group that renounces violence as a tool for political change,’ the official said. The key factor will be whether a group can work in a ‘more concerted and constructive way’ that commits it to the ideals of equal rights for women and minorities, pluralism and tolerance.”
Noam Chomsky noted to the Institute for Public Accuracy: “According to the report, Obama will say that we are happy to engage with any group that renounces violence as a tool for political change (or, if he is serious, to resist political change) and is committed to equal rights for women and minorities. It follows that the U.S. will no longer engage with Israel which has long relied on violence to impose its will and has highly discriminatory laws and practices targeting the Palestinian minority in Israel, of course much more extreme in the occupied territories. And the U.S. will not engage with itself, given its longstanding commitment to violence to impose the domestic arrangements of its choice, including political change. Since Obama doesn’t mean that, the ‘single standard’ is just more of the familiar deceptive rhetoric.”
TOBY C. JONES, email@example.com, @tobycraigjones
Jones is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book “Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia.” He said today: “Obama’s principled rhetoric is exactly what U.S. Policy should be. The problem is that it is not true. Peaceful Bahrainis, Yemenis, Syrians and Palestinians have received no support from the Obama administration. American silence and support for the political status quo in much of the Middle East has crippled pro-democracy movements rather than strengthened them. The most obvious gap in U.S. policy is Saudi Arabia, where Obama’s administration has not only condoned, but supported the forces of counterrevolution, anti-Shiism, and gender apartheid.”
ALI ABUNIMAH, ali at abunimah.org, @avinunu
Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and author of the book “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.” He said today: “Regardless of what finely-tuned words Obama utters, there is no sign and no chance that Obama is willing to confront Israel’s intransigence — especially over settlements — in practical and effective ways that would actually advance the chances of a just peace. Let’s recall that in his famous Cairo speech, Obama called on Palestinians to use nonviolence. Yet when they did that by marching peacefully for the right of return to Palestine, Israel gunned them down. What was the White House response? Full support for Israel once again. Each one of Obama’s big set piece speeches has less and less impact because when it comes down to action, there is nothing there.”
HUSAIN ABDULLA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abdulla is director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. He said today: “President Obama needs to clarify in his speech that his administration supports the people of Bahrain’s right to protest peacefully and change their government as long as violence is not the means. Such a declaration will make it clear to the people of Bahrain especially, and the region in general, that the U.S. does have a double standard when it comes to dealing with the uprisings in the region. Failing to do that will send a negative message to the people in the Middle East. This is the time for the Obama administration to be on the side of the people not the despots.”