Click here to go to the Home Page Obama’s Foreign Policy, Israel’s Indefensible Stand - A View from the Battlefield - By Jamala Rogers - Editorial Board

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As President Obama was presenting the comprehensive vision of his Middle East policy, a contingent of St. Louis activists were landing in Tel-Aviv. The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) is composed of Jewish-Americans, Palestinian-Americans and other concerned Americans focused on bringing peace to the peoples of both countries. BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?For the last several months, northern African and the Middle East have been the place of uprisings by its people and bloody suppressions by despotic dictators. The region is literally crying out for a new and different political and economic reality.

The Presidentís recommendation for Israel to negotiate, based upon 1967 borders has the mainstream media and GOP conservatives all a-flitter. Thereís absolutely no reason for President Obama to be the target of these attacks except that heís the first black president. Two other U.S. presidents - Clinton and Baby Bush - advanced the same policy without so much a whimper from the same echo chambers that are bashing President Obama. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defiantly called the proposal ďindefensible.Ē What is indefensible is the vanishing lands of the Palestinian people and the Israeli occupation of the land thatís left.

In his usual manner, centrist Obama has managed to navigate through the age-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict by not satisfying either of the stakeholders. Israel feels abandoned and Palestine feels betrayed. Israel has a powerful lobby group, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that will take up its interests; Palestine does not. AIPACís influence on U.S. policy is indisputable: Israel is the only country in the world to which U.S. citizensí donations are tax-deductible and depending on whom you ask, Israel receives from $3-5 billion in aid from the U.S. annually, about one-fifth of Americaís entire foreign aid budget. Like I said, thatís a powerful lobby group.

One PSC member on the current trip to Gaza is Anna Baltzer. The young activist was detained for hours when the group first arrived in Israel, and some of her personal belongings were temporarily confiscated. Anna is one of many concerned Jewish people who have made peace their lifeís work. Her documentary, Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos, gave me new insights into the occupation situation when I viewed it a few years ago. Anna is part of a long and growing support base for advocating a fair and humane approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hedy Epstein has long been a part of that struggle as well. The 86-year-old Holocaust survivor has been unrelenting in her efforts to bring peace to the region. The diminutive human rights activist has been roughed up on more than one occasion for her stance.

More activists from across the U.S. will sail to Gaza in late June aboard The Audacity of Hope as part of the International Freedom Flotilla II. They will be delivering thousands of letters of solidarity to the Palestinian people. The last flotilla was not exactly welcomed with open arms by the Israeli government. The six ships bringing humanitarian aid and construction materials and carrying over 600 people were attacked by Israeli naval commandos. Several flotilla participants were killed and many injured. The incident immediately and rightly received international condemnation. So, you can see that going to the Gaza Strip is no vacation; one is actually putting their life on the line.

President Obama may be trying to tell Israel that it is a new day and to get with the program. The country is surrounded by Lebanon, Jordan Syria, Saudi, Egypt and the winds of change are blowing in the region. Those of us in the U.S. should be putting pressure on the Obama Administration to pursue a policy that respects the land and self-determination of the peoples in Israel and Palestine, and not be swayed by leaders who have a different agenda than the people.

I encourage you to follow the PSC trip through its blog at www.pscinpalestine.blogspot and to join the letter-writing campaign to the Palestinian people. For more information on how to get involved, visit Editorial Board member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical Congress National Organizer. Click here to contact Ms. Rogers.

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May 26, 2011 - Issue 428
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble
BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?
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