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May 23 2011

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That we wonder when

A perspective on Obama’s speech on Thursday, from a Norwegian friend in Beirut…

– Monsieur d’Nalgar

Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2011 4:26 PM
Subject: Re: Obama’s speech

Dear friends,

This comes to you from the noisy-as-ever Beirut. After days of dull, miserably hot weather, with the skies full of the dust of Gaddafi’s desert (occasionally dumped on us as muddy brown raindrops which dry as soon as they hit the ground), today has been perfect. Mid- twenties, blue sky and cooling breeze off the Mediterranean.

It’s two days since the shining-armored knight’s “Remarks on the Middle East and North Africa” and big surprise! I haven’t heard it mentioned by a single soul. No one puts the faintest hope of change in it, no one has the faintest confidence in the man, no one has the faintest interest.

The speech was sandwiched between his attending a reception in Honor of Jewish American Heritage Month on the 17th and his receiving Prime Sinister Netanayhu yesterday. With Bibi’s appropriately petulant remarks about “no return to 1967” today and the otherwise glib regurgitation of everything that has been said before, packaged in what the pundits appear to understand as an “academic lecture”, Israel should be rejoicing at the predictability of White House subservience to the AIPAC lobby’s campaign donors.

The speech had nothing to do with the Middle East and everything to do with demeaning, grovelling, pat-my-back-and-I’ll-pat-yours politics for pay. Whatever was meant by “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” and which could be interpreted in ways only transcended by Sykes-Picotian fantasies, was just so much water off the goose’s back. The increasingly emboldened Israeli right is not however, endowed with such imagination and therefore needed Bibi’s assurances. “Trust me guys, he doesn’t really mean it. It’s only a palliative for the bleeding heart goyim.”

While nothing seems impossible anymore in this world, I find it quite absurd that a Harvard graduate Juris Doctor, cum laude who has dabbled in civil rights litigation, should entertain the apparition of a two-state “solution” as anything else unless afflicted by softening of the brain or campaign pyrexia.

It was certainly no speech for us in this part of the world. We have other, more pressing matters like electricity rationing, the price of just about everything, transportation strikes, water (lack thereof), stratospheric real estate prices, no government, rampant corruption, the perigrinations of Jeffrey Feltman and assorted Iranian envoys not to mention threatening neighbors waxing more unpredictable by the day.

It was a speech for YOU. It would appear that your taxes will be contributing to the adolescent antics of your colony in the east for quite a while yet and Sir Lancelot is not about to do anything about that particular chunk of the deficit any time soon. (“Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”) Israel was mentioned 31 times, Egypt (another chunk of deficit) 13, Syria 6, and Jordan twice. Lebanon, the perennial refuse dump of cluster bombs, bunker busters and home of the perpetually displaced, wasn’t mentioned at all.

Is it a wonder that we wonder when ‘they’ are coming next?

– Børre

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2011/05/23/that-we-wonder-when/

1 comment

  1. Jacques

    From: Børre
    Date: Mon, May 23, 2011 5:12 pm

    Dear Friends,

    A couple of days ago, I took the opportunity to vent some vitriol on behalf of my fellow inhabitants here in Beirut on the occaision of Sir Lancelot’s recent “remarks on The Middle East and North Africa”. Our shining-armored knight (who is at this moment winging it with hot Viking ash at his heals, hoping to eat dinner with that aging Guinevere of the sceptered isle tomorrow, before he too is enveloped in raining mud) saw fit to expand on his remarks at AIPAC’s Policy Conference yesterday, in face of irritated objections from visiting yidden and resident goyim alike.

    Assuming that O’Bama attaches some meaning comensurate with his Dr. Juris beyond that quite serious and earnest goal of political remuneration, what could he ever hope to achieve? (Other than what [Jacques] terms “dripping sarcasm” in return of course.)

    He said that what he meant to say was that “1967 with swaps” is that “… the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.)”

    In other words, “swaps” do not mean that the Israelis will up and move to the dry scrublands they prefer to call Judea and Samaria and the squalid camps of Gaza City and Rafha, “swapping” the fertile lowlands with the Palestinians subsisting on those scraps of parched higher land and most densely populated slums on earth. Nor does it mean the somewhat less magnanimous and drastic evacuation of the illegal settlements all over the West Bank on land grabbed since 1967 and now home to half a million Brooklynites living in prime housing subsidised with your deficit, in exchange for example, for a somewhat wider and more “defensible” coastal strip between Ramat Gan and Umm Fahm. (After all – and it’s now official – the Palestinian Oz will at best be given tin cans for their defence, so no need for that inconvenience.)

    “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”

    It simply means that the ongoing “swaps” (i.e. Israeli “needs”) can continue. It means that the US approves (although the 44th president hopefully might not) of Israel’s continuing annexation of what is left of the tatters of that first blight on my country’s conscience, the Oslo Accords. It also means that Sir Lancelot O’Bama himself is “swapping” a bit of conscience with that second blight on my country, his Nobel Prize for Peace.

    Israel has no intention whatsoever of giving up their Judea and Samaria, just as it has no intention of giving up the Golan. They have made their ambitions for Eretz Yisrael abundantly clear ever since the United Nations voted to create Israel. (Which makes “No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.” ring so venally hollow.) They still believe that their only headache is figuring out how to get rid of their own Palestinians without too much fuss.

    And speaking of venality, “The status quo is unsustainable.” is sadly, just another addition to the compounded insults to my fellow inhabitants here in Lebanon, nevermind the rest of the Middle East. Especially those in Burj al Barajneh, Ain el Helweh, Sabra, Shatila, Mar Elias, El Bas, Rashidiyeh, Baddawi, Burj al-Shamali, Wavell and assorted other Palestinian refugee camps inhabited for more than 6 decades now. (O’Bama stopped at 3 decades, but then he is younger than me, with a somewhat shorter memory. We arrived here to live for 20 years between the camps of Ain el Helweh and Mieh ou Mieh in 1951. They have more than tripled in size since then.)

    The status quo is quite sustainable. As sustainable as the USA’s deficit, which is paying for these people’s abject misery. After all, isn’t Congress going to tell us so, officially?

    Today, Saad Erekat, the Palestinian Robbery’s negotiator-in-thief, said that “he can speak any language he wants, only actions on the ground will show what he means.” Considering that our eastern border is for all practical purposes closed, the two rather nasty adversaries in the south bristling for another fight and yet another ash cloud looming in the west, we certainly don’t want any more action. We are yet again putting our meager hopes in the status quo – much more sustainable I’m afraid.

    – Børre

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