Friday, January 23, 2009


How to get through to Obama on Israel

by Larry Geller

While in Hawaii, Barack Obama studiously avoided making eye contact with pro-Palestinian demonstrators lined up along his limousine's escape route in Kailua. It was a message he clearly didn’t want to be seen considering, yet it was an important one, and one that increasing numbers of Americans support. Back in Washington, he involved himself in several key issues, but as to the Israeli massacre of over 1,300 innocent Palestinians, Obama replied when asked, "There is only one president at a time." 

The websites set up to bring supporters’ messages to Obama are probably part of a new kind of PR machine. Certainly, he didn’t heed the popular concerns over his choice of advisors, transition team or cabinet. He also ignored popular anger over US support of the Israeli massacre. So how to get through to him?

I’m pretty sure that he got the message sent yesterday from Saudi Arabia. It was an op-ed printed in the Financial Times by a person who speaks for those who control the oil spigot. Also: “Prince Turki is chairman, King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh. He has been director of Saudi intelligence, ambassador to the UK and Ireland and ambassador to the US”.

Prince Turki al-Faisal can match Obama for eloquence any day, and he knew exactly how to get his message across. Obama, unlike his predecessor, can read the Financial Times and understand what the words mean.

Snipping from this excellent article, Saudi patience is running out, is unfair, but I’ll give you a couple of paragraphs, and as usual, suggest that you click on over and read the original. There’s plenty of analysis available for the googling. I doubt this op-ed is carried in many daily papers, but maybe one day open criticism of Israel will be possible. So, to the article:

In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”

But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,000 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospect of peace itself. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.

America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region – from the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to the humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib – but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

…When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action.

Prince Turki then calls on Obama to take action to resolve the crisis.

I don’t know if a threat is implied, but the region produces enough of our oil that I think this op-ed will get some attention at the White House. The Saudis may not have been willing to stick it to their good buddy Bush, but Obama may not only be vulnerable, he’s shown himself to be very pliable.

Stay tuned.


An anonymous poster sent a long comment, a petition entitled, AMERICAN JEWS OPPOSE ISRAELI POLICY IN GAZA. I squished it, it was very long, with a long list of signatures.

What would be more useful, and please try again, would be a link to the petition. Anyone who is part of some action related to the post, please feel free to describe it here, but it's better to send readers to the information so they can decide if they want to participate or not.

I also squish "link spam", that is, a comment which is just a link to get someone to a website. Those websites might contain malware, and it's better to "just say no" and not even post link spam.

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Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

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