Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

Obama, be a truer friend

Last update - Sunday, May 15, 2011, 16:25 By Metro Éireann

Barack Obama, I supported you when you ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and when you ran against John McCain for president, not merely because it was refreshing to have an African American president, but also because you struck me as bright, progressive, and intent on making the US and the world a better place.

I was impressed with your promises to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and end American involvement in Iraq, and with your apparent determination to bring about a solution to the question of Palestine.
But then came the bombing of Afghanistan, the ongoing chaos in Iraq, the failure to close Guantanamo, and your reluctance or inability to stop Israeli aggression. During the Gaza war, as president elect, you kept silent.
I suppose the penny finally dropped with the extra-judicial assassination of Osama bin Laden. You and the Americans – and even our Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore (who once listed ‘socialism’ as one of his passions) – kept speaking about the travesty of 9/11. But why are you willing to bomb, destroy and assassinate as revenge?
Like so many others who were impressed with you during your election campaign and after, I was expecting that ‘we’, the enlightened west, wouldn’t stoop to killing without trial, in the mistaken hope that killing the leader would end his followers’ terror. Like many others, I was expecting you to understand that state terrorism is more brutal than non-state violence, and that you cannot kill an idea.
But let me return to Palestine. When US-backed Israeli forced attacked helpless Gazans in December 2008 you were still not president, so playing golf was, I suppose, a legitimate use of your free time. That the attack was meticulously planned for six months (according to the Israeli press), that it left 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands homeless, and that a large number of children were killed seems sadly to have made no difference to your ongoing financial and military support for Israel, even as your own citizens are struggling with one of the worse recessions in recent times.
In one of his trenchant columns, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy asked you not to be a friend to an Israel that continues to dehumanise the Palestinians, to disregard their democratically elected representatives, to build the separation wall which increasingly closes off West Bank Palestinians from their land, their relatives, even basic services. Levy asked that you become a different, truer sort of friend, one who realises that Israel needs critics, not blind supporters.
You seem to share your predecessor’s ‘vision’ of a two-state solution but without saying what you mean by the term ‘Palestinian state’. Even though you’ve said you do not recognise the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, when it came to the crunch you did not stop them. And most recently, when the Palestinians finally decided to unite Fatah and Hamas – to Israel’s great chagrin – you fumbled, even though your response to the Palestinian unity deal will be a major test of your administration’s handling of the ‘Arab Spring’ and the moribund peace process.

I would like to ask you again – please do not be Israel’s uncritical friend, and please suspend US financial support to the Israeli military.
In the wake of the Arab uprising and the Bin Laden assassination, let me end by quoting Noam Chomsky: “There should be little difficulty in understanding why those whose eyes are not closed tight shut by rigid doctrine dismiss [your] yearning for human rights and democracy as a joke in bad taste.”

Dr Ronit Lentin is head of the MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict at the Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. Her column appears fortnightly in Metro Éireann.

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links