Thursday, March 21, 2013

News and notes around President Obama's visit

There will be lots of news out of President Obama's trip to Israel and Palestine. Here are a few articles published just before and during the visit.

This link takes you to President Obama's speech in Ramallah, from Maan News.

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Here is a link to the text of the president's speech in Jerusalem from the Wall Street Journal.

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From the Washington Post, In West Bank, faint hopes for Obama's visit.
"Previous American presidents have come and gone, people say, and nothing has changed. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has deepened, its settlements have expanded, and there is no sign on the horizon of a political solution that will bring Palestinians independence."

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In The Daily Beast, Mr. President, Don't Forget the Nakba
"At Yad Vashem, President Obama will be told to “never forget” while conveniently ignoring the ghost of the Nakba just outside. A peaceful solution can never be achieved while ignoring the rights of Palestinians prevented from living in their homeland by the state of Israel. If President Obama wants to be honest with Israelis, he should tell them that explicitly and take a moment to recognize the victims of Deir Yassin while he is there."

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In the New York Times Magazine, a fine, lengthy piece, Is This Where the Next Intifada will Start?
“`This is the worst time for us,' Bassem confided to me last summer. He meant not just that the villagers have less to show for their sacrifices each week, but that things felt grim outside the village too. Everyone I spoke with who was old enough to remember agreed that conditions for Palestinians are far worse now than they were before the first intifada. The checkpoints, the raids, the permit system, add up to more daily humiliation than Palestinians have ever faced. The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has more than tripled since the Oslo Accords. Assaults on Palestinians by settlers are so common that they rarely made the news. The resistance, though, remained limited to a few scattered villages like Nabi Saleh and a small urban youth movement."

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Mohammed El Kurd, 14, hero of the vibrant documentary, My Neighbourhood, addressed Obama in the article, ‘Mr President, I’m sure you know everything’ — a Palestinian boy expelled from half his home urges US action, published by Mondoweiss.  Click this link for the article.

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For general information, the Center for American Progress has issued recent findings from discussions in the Middle East.  Read the full report here.
"President Obama will arrive in the region at a time when many voices are questioning the ability and willingness of the United States to lead. Budget battles in Washington combined with the rebalance to Asia and the complexity of the challenges in the Middle East cause many in the region to doubt the United States. President Obama’s visit offers an important opportunity for the United States to assume a leadership role in dealing with security threats such as Iran and Syria, political challenges such as the historic changes sweeping many countries in the Middle East, and diplomatic challenges like the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The window for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is closing. Many Israelis and Palestinians told us that if no progress toward a two-state solution is made during President Obama’s second term in office, it may never happen. The Palestinian Authority is facing a severe political and financial crisis, and its collapse would create even more problems in a region of turmoil."

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