Sunday, May 22, 2011

Affronting Obama

Those at the pinnacle of power and prestige do not take kindly to being lectured. A personality already well endowed with a robust sense of entitlement and confidence who now occupies the unique position of presenting as executive head of state of the most powerful, influential and wealthy country in the world is not a humble person, willing to be publicly rebuked. Political, elected peers may disagree with one another, but rarely is that disagreement discharged in public.

Particularly when one is highly dependent upon the discharge of goodwill from the powerful other. Knowing that ruffling the highly esteemed psychological feathers of the power elite might very well redound in a manner that would leave the weaker of the two whose position is really that of a political supplicant - to limp home with his mission a complete failure. But when it comes to the very existence of a country against the plans of hostile neighbours, desperate people make desperate decisions.

It is one thing for a country whose borders - though contested in its early formative years, are now writ in stone - to recommend to another, more recently-developed country, that its borders should be altered to suit the demands of an aggressively militant population aspiring to nationhood. One country has represented as a nation for hundreds of years, the other just over a half-century. No one would suggest to the United States that they are a usurper nation, other than native Americans.

Who have had to live through generations of occupation as original claimants of land that European settlers demanded be surrendered to them in recognition of their superior ethnic origin, wealth and social and technical advancement. Native Americans live in their distinct enclaves, still suffering discrimination - memories of government militias slaughtering them in their own struggle for recognition as original inhabitants - with residual resentment, but no longer claiming their rights of possession.

This is an ancient story, as old as humankind itself; a powerful tribe seeking the expansion of its territory and embarking on the adventure of conquest. Conquest-empowering clans seeking enlarged territories. Eventually, the conquered populations melded into that of the conquerors, each taking from their combined populations those attributes that enhanced the whole of society. And, traditionally, the last of the conquerors held the right of ownership of the land taken and control of the people absorbed.

Those who fled became migrants and were eventually absorbed by other, neighbouring countries. Like the ancient Israelites who saw their original and then second Temple of Solomon destroyed, memory of the homeland never faded, and the people returned, time and again to the geographic source of their original heritage. The Palestinians who were displaced, some willingly thinking it a temporary situation while Arab armies advanced to destroy the new State of Israel, were treated differently by history.

No Arab state was willing to absorb them, to give them the status of citizens, to take the recently-vacated place of Jews who had been summarily ousted from the Arab countries they had long lived within, their goods and chattels looted by the expelling states. They were to remain outcast from their land, a festering sore of aggravated resentment. The United Nations, suffering pangs of compassion, engineered into existence a first-and-only permanent refugee administration to service the needs of Palestinian refugees, in perpetuity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in responding to U.S. President Barack Obama's decision that Israel must withdraw to its pre-1967 borders has decreed an imposition he had no moral or practical right to decide, imperilling the future of the State of Israel. The borders that the Palestinian Authority, the Arab world and the American president envisage as needful to arrive at a solution to the historical impasse, is the very one that left Israel a sitting duck when the assembled armies of the Arab world converged to destroy it, time and again.

In vigorously and compellingly defending itself, Israel took possession of the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza. The latter two represented territory that the Palestinians refused to accept as mandated by the United Nations through Partition, while Israel jubilantly celebrated its portion. After continued spirals of violence and interregnums of resentful peace, the Palestinians now have decided to make a nation of their allotted geography, only it has now been altered in size.

And this alteration is not deemed suitable for the Palestinians, who demand not only that Israel vacate the less than 6% of that geography they occupy with settlements by right of actively protective response to attacks, but also welcome the return of the multitude of descendants of the original 'refugees' who fled the land. The ancient capital of Jerusalem must also be surrendered in part - that part most vital to the people of Israel - to the aspirations of the Palestinians.

For refusing outright President Obama's dictate to sacrifice the future of Israel to the aspirations of the Palestinians, Prime Minister Netanyahu has defended his country, his people, his integrity, dignity and role as leader of an embattled Jewish state. All of this has displeased President Barack Obama greatly. But not nearly as much as it has horrified Israelis that he has abandoned their right of existence. And not quite so displeased as the White House staff who have seen their man impudently dishonoured.

He is, after all, American president, President Barack Obama, one who has attained the heights of socio-political accomplishment. Nobel Laureate.

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