Franklin Lamb: Obama’s Middle East Speech and Nakba Day 2011
No sooner had President Obama turned from his teleprompter at the State Department on 5/19/11 than the AIPAC founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Robert Satloff, fumed that the President’s insistence that a solution to the Question of Palestine needs to start with the June 4, 1967 armistice line “constitutes a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy and a dire threat to Israel.”
Satloff: “That departure is not for the better. One line sums up Obama’s serious mistake, where he declares that “The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”
Satloff’s colleague, the notorious anti-Arab, extremist Zionist shill Daniel Pipes immediately joined in as dozens others from Congress and the Israel lobby will no doubt over the next few days and complained that “Obama demands that Israel alone” must act boldly.
These are just code words for making concessions to enemies sworn to eliminate the Jewish state. This is not policy; this is folly.” Pipes told Fox TV and MSNBC.
Many backers of Israel are blaming this year’s Nakba Day commemoration for the perceived US policy shift. According to Eliot Abrams, who long ago put Zionist interests before his own country’s needs, writing in the current issue of the anti-Arab and Islamophobic Weekly Standard opined: “This Nakba Day was used by Palestinians to recover the stage and demand attention.
The catastrophe being commemorated was not the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, and a Camp David-type agreement about the West Bank would not reverse it.
The catastrophe was not settlement expansion—and Palestinian demands could not be met by freezing construction… The demand of Nakba Day is that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 be reversed!…When Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah spoke last Sunday in a Gaza speech, he told the cheering crowd that they were demonstrating “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine. And last week Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said, “We will never give up the right of return.” This, Abrams concluded “is the real Nakba or catastrophe for Israel.” Abrams believes that Obama is going to push Israel hard on peace with the Palestinians during the upheaval in the region.
Zionist leaders are right to be concerned. As is made clear by reports from those who participated in Nabka 2011 from Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and countless supporting demonstrations around the planet this year’s game changing event was truly momentous.
Here in Lebanon, for a majority of the more 72,000 arriving to Maroun al Ras, Lebanon’s border with Palestine, on more than 1200 buses and vans, each with the name of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village on the windshield, and many on foot, from all the camps and corners of Lebanon, it was their first siting of their country. Lebanon law has long prevented Palestinians from coming anywhere near the blue line to even look towards their stolen homes and lands or to cross the Litani River north of Tyre. This year, the Lebanese authorities reluctantly decided not to interfere with this human rights project and more and larger “returns” events are being planned.
For the teen-agers on the crowded bus I rode on from Shatila Camp, their parents and grandparents stories and descriptions of Palestine on the Internet was what they talked about.
As we approached Maroun al Ras, some of them were anxious, others silent and reflective, and some, like many teenagers from my generation about to see the Beatles or Elvis were giddy and squealing as the bus rounded a bend in the road south of Aitaroun and we looked to the approaching hills.
“Is that my country Palestine over there?,” Ahmad, a graduate in Engineering who was born in Shatila camp asked. “Nam Habibi!” (“Yes Dear!”) came the reply from the microphone of our “bus mother” gripping her clip board and checking the names to keep track of her flock.
This bus seemed to inflate with delirium as we all smiled and shouted. Some of the passengers had prepared signs that read: “People want to return to Palestine,” inspired perhaps by the slogan made famous in Egypt and Tunisia, “People want the fall of the regime.”
The esprit was reminiscent of a Mississippi freedom ride James Farmer of CORE used to tell us about and I thought of Ben Gurion’s boast from 1948 that the old will die and the young will forget Palestine. The Zionist leader could not have been more mistaken. The old, many still vital and those who departed this life, continue to teach and inspire the young from their still remembered stories, guaranteeing that the dream of every Palestinian shall never die.
It is difficult to exaggerate the camaraderie, emotion and sheer power of Nakba 2011. The refugees came to renew their commitment and send the Obama Administration and the World a message that they are determined to return to their land no matter the sacrifices required. For some coming to see Palestine, including some of those who have been forced out of their homes and off their lands, 63 years ago, it appeared to be almost a sacred and religious act. Whenever the buses would pass one of the signs that read in Arabic and English, for example, “Palestine: 23 km”, our bus would erupt in cheers.
However as the World soon learned, in Lebanon alone, 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers and more than 120 wounded, some critically. None of the demonstrators had weapons. Those murdered were all civilians from the Camps and were shot in cold blood as they nonviolently as placed Palestinian flags at the fence and gave the peace and victory sign. After Israeli troops fired on them, some threw rocks at the soldiers. Fortunately some lives were saved by a field hospital affiliated with the group, the Martyr Salah Ghandour Hospital, from nearby Bint Jbeil.
Zionist occupation forces could be seen by those gathered near the blue line at Maroun Al Ras peering out from behind trees or barriers while others were fully visible. One knowledgeable source informed this observer that unseen Hezbollah resistance fighters at one time had as many as 32 Israelis in the cross-hairs of their unseen weapons as they silently watched what was happening.
Hezbollah decided not to kill them which would have accommodated Israel’s intent behind its deadly provocation—this time.
The Zionist lobby is correct in thinking that this year’s Nakba commemoration was different than those in the past just as they realize that it very likely signified a new broader and internationally supported Intifada and that the Palestinian cause in rapidly gaining adherents.
While not all that it should have been by any means, President Obama’s 5/19/11 speech, which is causing many in the occupied US Congress to claim he “sold out Israel “does appear to recognize the historic shift on the ground in this region that will lead to the Palestinians regaining their dignity, homes and land.
Elliot Abrams, Daniel Pipes, Dennis Ross, Robert Satloff and many others predict perceive an approaching Nakba for the Zionist occupiers of Palestine and that it is just a matter of time.
Zionism’s coming Nakba will mean justice, sixty-three years late, for those who were ethnically cleansed from their country.