Sep 30 2012

The sad truth about US attitudes to Palestinians

Published by at 11:57 am under Articles,US-Middle East

By Daoud Kuttab
For the second time in less than three months a leader of a major US party stereotypes Palestinians in racists and anti peace terms. The revelation of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy attitudes towards Palestinians sheds light on the gap between declared policies and the truth. In Jerusalem this summer Romney described to his fat cat funders that Palestinian culture is the reason that they are so much inferior to Israelis/Jews because the latter’s per capita is much bigger than that of Palestinians. No indication was made that Palestinians live under a four decade old military occupation.
A similar stereotypical attitude was expressed last May when Romney addressed his funders in the US. A secretly taped conversation at a fundraiser with the Republican nominee shows a total rejection by Romney to his party’s and the general US and world policy in support of a two state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In his frank talk to the $50,000 a plate dinner, the former governor of Massachusetts declares without hesitation that Palestinians don’t want peace.  “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.” On the record Romney (just like Netanyahu) has stated his support for a two state solution between Israel and Palestinians.
Ignoring the existence of a military occupation, denying the Arab peace plan and the support of the Abbas leadership for a nonviolent approach to the conflict with Israel, Romney, apparently parroting his right wing American-Israeli and American Jewish advisors lumps the moderate Palestinian Authority with extremists Palestinian elements as well as Iranian Shiites and declares all Palestinians to be ‘committed’ to the destruction of Israel.
This repetition of anti Palestinian attitudes sounds like a carbon copy of what right wing Israeli try to peddle around the world to justify their lust to permanently control the Palestinian territories with the hope that somewhere down the line a situation will arise that will allow Israelis to push the Palestinians out of the West Bank thus allowing for the creation of a majority Jewish state in the land between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. Of course, Romney not remembering all the details of what his right wing Israeli buddies have been spinning confuses the geography. He has Syria bordering the potential Palestinian state and he has Iranian extremists somehow erasing Iraqi and Jordanian territory to establish rocket launchers in the prospective Palestinian state.
While Mr. Romney’s racists and stereotypical attitudes are alarming one should not infer that they represent only this particular candidate or even his party. No doubt that such attitudes are being regularly created as a result of a relentless Likudnik policies of the pro Israeli lobby in the US that has totally distorted the political reality to fit a right wing mindset that only sees the right wing Israeli point of view. Ironically, most Israeli leaders and politicians would be laughed at if the made the same statements made by  Romney.
While it is clear that the Romney statements reflect the spin of his aides and his friendships with the right wing establishment in Israel, it is clear from public opinion polls that this is not necessarily the attitude of most Americans. However any Palestinian strategist that is trying to figure out a practical and successful approach towards Palestinian statehood must not ignore what these statements represent in as far as the attitudes of the American body politic.
Radical Palestinians will no doubt jump all over these statements as proof that the peace process is a total sham and that it is nothing more than a morphine injection aimed simply at pacifying Palestinians and in Romney’s words kick the ball downfield until something happens.
In his analysis to his donors of the prospects of peace in the Middle East, Romney does make one revelation. Somehow a former US Secretary of State seems to have broken through the circles of pro Israel advisors and confided with the Republican nominee that in fact peace is possible and that following Palestinian elections (not clear which elections) a “prospect of peace is possible.” Romney says that he didn’t delve much into this piece of advice but we are led to believe that the trusted pro Israeli advisors clearly have the upper hand in directing their nominee.
Palestinians, Arabs and supporters for peace and justice in the Middle East can’t afford to ignore this revealing video of the attitudes of a major US presidential candidate. If there was a reason for a total reassessment of Palestinian strategies and approaches to peace making, this certainly would be the time to do so. The PA will most probably not do anything until after the US elections. But regardless of who will be president in the US in the coming years, let us hope that Palestinian leaders will not allow them selves to be duped any more with the sweet talk that has no basis on the ground.

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