Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Update on my Opinion Piece on Obama Peace Overtures to Israel and Arab World

Since I wrote my piece titled "Obama Strategy on the Israeli-Palestinian Front: How can this work?" I read an update on the issue written by my old friend Douglas Bloomfield (we don't always agree) who used to be a lobbyist for a pro-Israel organiztion. He is also a journalist. In his article, he points to the fact that "Bibi (affectionate nickname for) "Netanyahu is in a precarious situation vis a vis Obama and his own supporters and the general public in Israel. His suporters want settlements to stay as is or expand; however, most Israelis are hopeful about Obama's desire for peace and want Israel to work with Obama and many Jewish American pro Israeli folks over here would like Bibi to do the same. This means Bibi Netanyahu's can't afford to alienate Obama or he might be recalled. So now I see the hook Obama has with him. Meanwhile Bloomfield says the Arab world can just wait and watch what happens between the interested parties without making any big commitments one way or the other. The ball seems to be in Israel's court. If Israel doesn't come up with a major concession or offer than Israel will look as though it really doesn't want peace or help from its best ally.

SRaphael, Long Beach, Ca.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Obama Strategy on Israeli-Palestinian Front: How can this work?

In his recent speech in Cairo, Obama expressed his views on the Israeli- Palestinian problems speaking about his hopes for an independent Palestine, the first time an American President used the term Palestine rather than a state for the Palestinian people. He put down people i.e Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran who is a holocaust denier. He also talked about the wrongness of oppressed people to try to solve their problems through violence directed at innocents. He said the only approach was to continue to directly voice ones opinions and continue on squarely confronting those who are seen as the enemy of freedom. These are my words not his but they are paraphrasing his thoughts. If one uses the analogy which Obama did of African Americans under slavery, I would have to disagree with this peaceful premise. The slave revolts were a good thing in my view. Of course, I am not sure we have an equivalent situation in Palestine and I think the fact that Israel has offered land for peace at various time shows that if both sides really compromised, peace could be at hand.

Obama expects both sides to come to the negotiating table but I wonder who is Israel supposed to deal with in these encounters. Hamas, the political party Israel abhors, seems to be in charge of the Palestinian government along with Abbas the President of Palestine who has little power to make a lasting peace. Hamas, the government entity and the party in power in Palestine would have to accept that Israel is a sovereign state and would have to stop the violent wing of its own party from wartime activities it directs against Israel i.e. suicide bombings, killings, and agitation of its young followers against Israel. It seems a bit naive on Obama's part to act as though there are two clearly equal parties that could make any kind of peace deals. Short of the U.S.A. going in with the help of Israel, and some Arab countries, which is far fetched to say the least to build a nation state in their own images and then saying look what we built for you, now move in and shut up and make nice with Israel. See! Israel has helped to make a nice place for you but you can't have any guns or gunpowder so to speak or an army that can defend itself. The other possibiity is getting Hamas and the PLO and other groups in Palestine to really want to make an all out effort to build a Palestine with some land from Israel instead of eyeing what is mostly now Israel as their only Palestine. That (overthrowing Israel) is out of the question so what is left to do except those possibilities. It is hard to see how either side can agree to anything that realistically leads to a real peace. I hope Obama has something better than what I have proposed in mind.

Sharon Raphael, Long Beach

P.S. I don't claim to be an expert on any level concerning Middle East concerns. I am voicing my fears and concerns as an interested party who is a Peace Now kind of person living in USA.

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Challenge on "don't ask, don't tell"

CBS/Fox 12 News

Supreme Court Turns Down 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Challenge
June 8, 2009 at 1:19pm

in national news:The Supreme Court has turned down a challenge to the pentagon policy forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, granting a request by the Obama administration.The court said Monday it will not hear an appeal from a former army captain, who was dismissed under the military's ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy.

This leaves it up to Obama to make a decision on "Don't Ask, don't Tell". Let's hope he comes up with a positive decision for us soon. It appears Obama wants the Pentagon to come up with a report on the standing policy before he makes his decision. I have no trust that the Pentagon will change its mind though there are some top officials and former top officials who seem to be leaning in our direction i.e. General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State who said no to Clinton when Clinton tried to change course and ended up with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which meant anyone who "came out' could be thrown out and many have been from the military. I have my doubts and worry there will be another compromise in the making. If Obama doesn't come up with a sweeping decision pro Gay Rights in the military, I will lose more faith in him. HIs fan appeal among Gays is diminishing day by day because he looks weak on our issues.

The problem is there is no alternative and the Republicans are worse on this issue. Obama in general looks weak on liberal issues. He seems entrenched in fighting both Wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and now is expanding his reach into border areas in Pakistan which may or may not be the right thing to do. I have my doubts there too. He claims he is pulling out of Iraq gradually but the progress seems too slow. I know this is not a Gay issue but many LGBT folks are anti-war so it all seems a big package and hard to bear.