Obama’s AIPAC Speech: A Further Betrayal of the Palestinian People

24 May

            On Sunday, May 22, 2011, President Barack Obama spoke at an AIPAC Conference, three days after giving his decidedly pro-Israeli speech at the State Department on his broader Middle East foreign policy. It was a shockingly partisan speech to the extremist lobbying group that has the entire U.S. Congress in an unprecedented headlock that has become the envy of even the National Rifle Association. Of course, I assume that Obama’s handlers regarded a speech to AIPAC as obligatory given the upcoming presidential election in 2012. The dependence of political candidates for almost any significant elective office in the United States on Jewish electoral and funding support has become an article of secular political faith, and particularly so for a national office like the presidency. Nevertheless, the enactment of this political ritual by Obama seemed excessive even taking full account of the role of Israeli Lobby as to be worth noting and decrying.


            What is worse, the mainstream media typically misconstrued the AIPAC event in a manner that compounds the outrage of the speech itself. For instance, the NY Times headline says it all: “Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices for Peace.” As Obama pointed out himself in his remarks, “there was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.” The supposed hard choices involve Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, only restating the generalized international consensus that has often been articulated by American leaders and in a variety of authoritative settings. This is hardly a hard choice, especially as interpreted by the White House’s former Special Envoy, George Mitchell, as including Israel’s perceived security requirements. That is, the land swaps now seem to embrace not only the unlawful settlement blocs that had been conceded by George W. Bush, but now appear to incorporate Netanyahu over the top demands for strategic depth at the expense of Palestinian land, demanding the appropriation of portions of the Jordan Valley along with the deployment of Israeli troops within a hypothetical demilitarized Palestinian state.


            What is more, the alleged hard choice is never set against the background of the aftermath of the 1948 War that deprived of about half of the territory they had been given according to the UN partition plan embodied in General Assembly Resolution 181. And as is widely known, the Palestinian rejected that partition as being grossly unfair, imposed from without and awarding the Jewish minority population about 56% of historic Palestine. In effect, the willingness of the Palestinians, expressed first by the 1988 session of the Palestinian National Council to live within the 1967 borders meant agreeing to have their Palestinian state on 22% of the British mandate. This was indeed a hard choice! The land swaps involving settlement blocs, and their bypass roads, and further security zones claimed are all encroachments upon that 22%, and the fact that such further Palestinian concession can be proposed is indicative of just how unfair has become the American led approach to the resolution of the underlying conflict. It is further notable that this fundamental territorial redefinition of the two-state consensus is never acknowledged or even mentioned. In effect, what was thought to be two states in 1947 was dramatically diminished by what became the contours of two states after the 1967 War, and has been further diminished in dramatic form ever since by the settlement process and the various unilateral changes introduced by Israel in the course of administering Jerusalem.    


            The speech to AIPAC is significant not for these non-existent ‘hard choices,’ but for the scandalously obsequious pleading tone adopted by an American president that acknowledges with pride everything about the U.S. Government’s relationship to the conflict that should disqualify it from ever again having a shred of diplomatic credibility as a third party intermediary. Starting with the fawning “[w]hat a remarkable, remarkable crowd” to his heartfelt words of sympathy for Israeli victims of violence without even a scintilla of empathy for the far, far greater suffering daily endured by the entire Palestinian people: dispossessed, living under occupation, blockade, in refugee camps and exile, or as persons displaced physically and psychologically.


            The passage on military assistance to a prosperous Israel should have come as a shock to American taxpayers but passes without notice by the Western media.  I quote in full because it so shamelessly overlooks Israeli defiance of international law and its militarist outlook toward the future: “..I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. It’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels. And that includes additional support—beyond regular military aid—for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.” It is not surprising that there was loud applause after each sentence in the paragraph just quoted, but it is surprising that an American president would try to please even an AIPAC audience this abject manner. After all, others are listening! Or should be!


            Obama similarly brushes aside any concern about the unlawfulness of the Israeli occupation or its uses of force against a defenseless population in Gaza in its massive attacks launched at the end of 2008, and carried on for three weeks. Obama brushes aside the Goldstone Report by name, suggesting that its assessment of Israel’s wrongdoing somehow challenges Israel’s right of self-defense when in actuality the Goldstone legal analysis does just the opposite, and far more ardently and unconditionally than appropriate, in my view. There is not a word about the Flotilla Incident of a year ago or the recent excessive use of lethal force at the Israeli borders in response to the ‘right of return’ demonstrations associated with the Palestinian remembrance of the 2011 Nakba.


            Going beyond the negativity of his State Department comments, Obama mimics Netanyahu in condemning the moves toward Palestinian Authority/Hamas reconciliation and unity. He has the temerity to insist that “the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace.” Actually, reasonably considered, the agreement should have been welcomed as an indispensable step toward creating the possibility of peace.


            Not a word of challenge is uttered by Obama in front of this AIPAC audience about settlements, Jerusalem, and refugees. Not a word about the Palestinian ordeal, or diminished horizons of possibility, and no White House plan announced to give a talk before a Palestinian audience. The Obama talk was so outrageously one-sided, so contrary to American strategic interests, that it implicitly suggests that the Palestinians are so weak and passive as to let it slip by in silence. Only a justifiable outburst of Palestinian rage could begin to counter this impression of diplomatic surrender.


            Palestinian prudence would go further that an angry reaction. After such a speech the only responsible response by the Palestinian leadership is to conclude once and for all, however belatedly, that it is no longer possible to look to Washington for guidance in reaching a peaceful, just, and sustainable resolution of the conflict. Indeed, to allow such a Washington framing of peace at this point, in light of this Obama/Netanyahu posturing, would further disclose the incompetence and illegitimacy that have long handicapped the Palestinian struggle for self-determination based on a just and sustainable peace and founded on respect for Palestinian rights under international law. 

36 Responses to “Obama’s AIPAC Speech: A Further Betrayal of the Palestinian People”

  1. janoberg May 24, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Dear Richard
    How sad that it has gone this far. A moral and intellectual disaster – a change we refuse to believe in…How fortunate we all are to have someone like you keeping on pointing out the ongoing gross betrayal…in the face of numb Western mainstream media who seldom, if at all, ask critical questions to their leaders. Thanks…I am proud to have you on board at http://www.transnational.org for over 20 years!
    Yours truly – Jan

    • Richard Falk May 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

      Thanks so much Jan for being so warmly supportive, and as you know, the feelings
      are mutual. I am sorry not to have been a more active in TFF recently, but this will change!
      Warmly, Richard

  2. Ray Joseph Cormier May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    In the Beginning was the WORD. You do have an eloquent way with words Professor Falk.

    The Blog I created February 23 is getting a steeply increasing number of views and Google search terms is mostly responsible for that.

    With your permission, I would like to repost this article and realistic assessment of the situation in my Blog attributing it to you. I concur with your assessment.

    In searching Google images for some kind of graphic representation of how far Israel has expanded beyond the border assigned to it in 1948 I found the following image. I would respect your experience in telling me if it a reasonable resemblance to what has transpired since the recreation of temporal Israel from the Bible?

  3. Stewart Mills (Sydney, Australia) May 25, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    We all owe a debt to your clear and concise analysis and sense of compassion and justice Richard. Thank you. For so long you have made the sacrifice so that others could live a better life. What a sell-out President Obama has been. The writing was on the wall even before he became President with his 2008 speech at AIPAC championing an undivided Jerusalem (with his ‘clarification’ days after the speech). Obama certainly looks and sound better than his immediate predecessor. But qualitatively it is the same gutless pandering to a community that should know better. The plight of Palestinians and Israelis is intimately intertwined. Whilst Palestinians continue to suffer Israel will not find security. When will we have an American President speak honestly about the harm being caused to generation after generation of Palestinians?

  4. Cecile H. Newman May 25, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Yes, of course one accepts Richard Falk’s assessment of President Obama’s speech, one accepts it sadly and with much resignation. I realise it should be anger but I’ve already been there. Been to the place you find excuses too. What’s left? Not much hope even though it supposedly “springs eternal”. So what do you suggest? I protest, I give money, I cry, I pray, I write letters; I do all those things because I can’t stop caring and when people ask me why I continue I answer because I can’t Not continue. I believed in Obama like a lot of people. What happened to the man we voted for? What happened to the values that united us? What happened to the audacity of Hope? and Change we can believe in?

    • Cecile H. Newman May 25, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Is there anyway to get this message to the Man himself?

      • Ray Joseph Cormier May 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

        Cecile, taking the cue from you, I sent this to the White House this morning.

        Mr. President,

        As a Canadian, I am not affected by the bitter partisan rhetoric dividing America.

        I have defended you in The Washington Post and many other discussions in many different Blogs. It seems Americans do not understand you inherited a collapsed economy, and two wars.

        If that was not enough on your plate, you took on the Middle East conflict early in your Administration which other Administrations avoided since the Camp David Accord was signed 33 years ago. It appears there has only been idle talk since then.

        I would hope your advisers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appraise you on Professor Richard Falk’s assessment of your speech to AIPAC.



        Ray Joseph Cormier

        Let’s hope many people write The President with their own heartfelt words.


      • Ray Joseph Cormier May 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

        p.s. The last time I wrote to the President, it took 6 months to get a form reply.

  5. Albert Guillaume May 25, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    What a breath of fresh air you sent through this jungle of misinformation and outright lies the western media indulge in inundating us with,just to please their masters.I am mere months away from finishing up my eighth decade and always hoped to leave this world in a better shape than I found it in.But it more and more seems to be wishful thinking.

  6. William M. Harrison Jr May 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    It is so easy to damn each and every attempt by succesive American Presidents who use their best efforts to come from a neutral corner in repeated attempts to encourage the protagonists to give and take in order to finally, please God, attain the unattainable, a just and sustainable peace with neutral security and mutual protections, and lands, for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is so easy for those who seem to believe he or she is” without sin” ,whether biased, involved, or observing, to “cast the first stone” from their comfy, safe, self-rightous and self serving academic havens in Europe, The United States,or the Middle East. Perhaps it is time for all of us to just give up, abstain from moral resonsibilities, wash our hands, and let them kill each other as they have been doing since 1947.

    • Richard Falk May 26, 2011 at 3:15 am #

      I do not believe that these one-sided efforts should be considered approvingly. Remember that after the 1967 war the Palestinians were left with only 22% of historic Palestine, and that Israeli occupation has encroached upon that remnant by as much as 40%. A minimal Palestinian state requires that Israel withdraw, including the dismantling of the settlements.

  7. Vlad Socaciu May 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Dear Prof. Falk,

    This was an excellent article.

    Congratulations, not only for the irrefutable lucidity, profound moral sense and in-depth understanding of the facts, but also for their intelligent and beautiful presentation, strictly from a literary viewpoint. For instance:

    “The speech to AIPAC is significant not for these non-existent ‘hard choices,’ but for the scandalously obsequious pleading tone adopted by an American president that acknowledges with pride everything about the U.S. Government’s relationship to the conflict that should disqualify it from ever again having a shred of diplomatic credibility as a third party intermediary”.

    The AIPAC stage show reminded me of the former Communist Party Congresses in my country. Netanyahu’s callous vociferous hypocrisy resembled that of our former communist dictator, and the standing ovations of the American puppet legislators illustrate a level of servility similar to that of the ranking communist party members. Missing were only the chants: “Netanyahu, Israel!…, Netanyahu, Israel”!

    Now, for whoever understands the prevailing Jewish nature, dominated by greed, selfishness, arrogance and disdain for the other, the mentality of a Netanyahu, Peres, and the like should not come as a surprise. More amazing would be to discover someone like Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss or the beautiful young lady Anna Baltzer.

    I am happy to find out that there are Americans like you who have the intellectual and moral stature to stand against the wave and utter the truth. Even if it is just a “voice in the wilderness”, one has a moral obligation to make it heard.

    Please, receive my best regards.

    Vlad Socaciu
    Sunnyvale, CA

    • Richard Falk May 26, 2011 at 3:12 am #

      Thanks for this encouragement. I also appreciate the comparison with Soviet realities.

    • Ray Joseph Cormier May 26, 2011 at 5:01 am #


      You write so beautifully for those of us who have come to admire and respect Professor Falk and his beautiful mind.

      “Congratulations, not only for the irrefutable lucidity, profound moral sense and in-depth understanding of the facts, but also for their intelligent and beautiful presentation, strictly from a literary viewpoint.”

    • YM May 31, 2011 at 11:16 am #

      “prevailing Jewish nature, dominated by greed, selfishness, arrogance and disdain for the other”
      Richard, this is the mentality you associate with…you should look at some of the websites that linked to your post. It is hard to believe that the UN keeps you — you prove beyond a doubt that the UN is biased against Israel

      • Richard Falk May 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

        I cannot take responsibility for what others on the Internet do with my texts. I try my best
        to be honest and accurate, as well as to express my own views. I seek a sustainable and just peace for both peoples, nothing more, nothing less.

  8. Elias Harb May 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you Prof. Falk for having the courage to speak out with honesty and forthrightness. Great Article.

    Elias Harb
    Intifada Palestine

  9. Aisha Silkani May 26, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Bravo! The courage of your truths continues to inspire. As a young Muslim woman studying human rights and international relations, you have been a beacon of light helping me to understand this often chaotic and unjust world. It is your fearless pursuit of truth and justice — whatever the cost — that has made you my hero.

    I must tell you that I once had such hopes for President Barack Obama. Now they are dashed. It’s not only his appeasement of the Israeli Lobby.

    I am shocked by his Bush-like handling of the entire Usama bin Laden narrative, which was celebrated at AIPAC as elsehwhere in recent days. No one is speaking out to respond to this.

    The serious questions about who really was behind the events of 9/11 are being blurred. The courageous truths of Daniel Ray Griffin, in his book New Pearl Harbor, are being crushed.

    Professor Falk, what is your advice to me about how to understand what really happened in Abottabad, Pakistan? Is the whole event a Hollywood studio fiction? Or did they really extrajudicially assassinate Mr. Bin Laden despite all the evidence that he was not responsible for 9/11?

    May the Spirit of Justice, Truth and Poetry continue to bless your work, and inspire us further to continue our own struggle for a better world tomorrow.

    Yours truly,

    • pamela May 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      “AIPAC DOODLE-DANDIES” (Satirical Karaoke-Lyrics by P. Miller)

      Click above link for background-music to launch & play in separate tab(same browser). Lyrics sung to a melodic mix of “Yankee Doodle” and “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”.

      –Lyrics sung by a Concerned U.S. Citizen’s Choir >>

      AIPAC lobbyists came to town,
      A-riding on their money,
      With contributions in the mail
      To buy more Vote-Baloney.

      AIPAC lobbyists, keep it up,
      AIPAC lobby-dandies!
      Make our Congress into schleps;
      “Patriot” namby-pambies!

      AIPAC held a Zi’nist-camp,
      Had our Congress singing:
      “We promise Israel Army toys,
      As thick as hasty pudding!”

      AIPAC lobbyists, keep it up,
      AIPAC lobbyist-dandies!
      Make our Congress into schleps
      And hand them AIPAC hankies.

      There was Hil’ry Clinton
      Upon her slapping stallion;
      A-giving orders to her men:
      “Israel needs another Billion!”

      AIPAC lobbyists, keep it up,
      AIPAC lobbyist-dandies!
      Makin’ Congress Israel’s schleps,

      –Lyrics sung by majority of U.S. Congress >>

      We’re all Zi’nist-Doodle dandies;
      Israel-dandies do or die!
      We’re real live sons of our Uncle Sam!
      We love the Fourth of July!

      Israel’s lobby is our sweetheart,
      They’re our “Anti-Islam Boys”.
      Israel’s ‘yahu came to D.C.
      (We’re not really phonies,
      Just ‘cuz we’re Netanyahu’s boys).

      Got their State in ‘forty-eight’;
      Oh how we love their country!
      Free trips to Jerusalem,
      Our Land of Milk and Honey!

      Israel doesn’t need no spies;
      We’re their Zion-dandies.
      We mind their music right in step,
      Obama comes in handy!

    • norm depalma May 29, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      Aisha’s questions above echo comments I made previously– how is it possible that the whole world including UN’s chief Ban-Ki Moon accepts and even applauds an illegal murder? What about due process?!!
      Does this whole episode not reek of a cover-up? And why has the mainstream media stopped asking questions??!!!
      And the world just moves on to something else, today Libya, tomorrow Yemen?

      And what of the rumors that the US is about to ‘take out’ Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in a complete breach of international law on sovereignty and in a de jure declaration of war?! Just to appease India?!!!

  10. Mark May 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    No surprise that you continue on your anti-Zionist tirades. You are but a well-spoken group of anti-semites.

    In our great country, citizens have the right and the obligation to present their views, their beliefs and their convictions to those they would elect or have elected to office.

    Certainly Arab and Muslim groups have done the same, supported by the immense oil wealth of their mid-east Arab countries. If they fail to have any effect, it is surely because of their message: a message which fails to resonate with Americans, with American beliefs and with American values.

    • Ann June 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      It seems that Mr. Falk is willing to fight to the last Palestinian. This is really a shame. With friends like this, the Palestinians don’t need a lot more enemies.

  11. Ray Joseph Cormier June 7, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Professor Falk,

    Michael Harris, Author, Newspaper columnist and Host of a daily Radio Talk show has devoted all 5 days of this week from 1pm to 3pm on CFRA radio in Ottawa to solicit opinions from ordinary people on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. God knows there has been 32 years of idle talk since the signing of the Camp David Accord in 1979 by the politicians and Diplomats.

    He is planning a panel of experts to discuss the ascertained facts on Thursday or Friday and he asked his listeners to recommend experts to be on this panel. I sent him an email recommending his Producers attempt to reach you, and I hope you will participate.

    You can listen to the program here,


    Being in the National Capital District of Canada with a Conservative government that mirrors the Netanyahu line, I expect you would open a lot of minds to the realities of the situation if you phoned in with your thoughts.

    The main radio station No. is 613-789-2486

    The Studio line is free even from California, and if you phoned in and said who you are, I’m sure they’ll put you on air immediately.


    I hope to hear your voice this week.


    • Richard Falk June 8, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      I will do my best to participate if invited. Thanks for your continuing support.

      • Ray Joseph Cormier June 22, 2011 at 8:26 am #


        I just received this from Michael Harris of CFRA on the Peace Project.

        “Dear Ray

        Kindly resend the profs numbers. A mistake has been made here. I want him. Michael

        Sent from my iPhone

        I don’t know how to reach you except through this Blog. If you make a comment in any one of the 25 articles in my Blog, it will reveal your email address as my 1st comment in your Blog revealed mine to you. I would forward it to Michael Harris, or you can reach the Station by the numbers posted above, or you can email him directly @ michael.harris@chumradio.com


      • Ray Joseph Cormier June 27, 2011 at 7:40 am #

        It is good you are now including images in your articles. People search for images, and it is this search for images that bring more and more people to my Blog daily. Sadly, not many comments.

        I have been adding more video to highlight the substance in my articles and these 3 have new video in articles that are related to your concerns.




        You more than most know how important support and encouragement is, and it will be appreciated if you would grace any one of those articles with your excellent knowledge words by making a comment.

      • Richard Falk June 27, 2011 at 10:38 am #

        Ray: I will do my best! You have been such a consistent supporter..


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