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Friday, January 23, 2009


More on Obama on Gaza

A few short comments to add to what I wrote yesterday on Obama's comments on Gaza. First:
"For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people."
Leaving aside the specious and acontextual nature of that statement, one has to ask: "No democracy?" Does that mean that kingdoms and dictatorships could tolerate that danger? It's ok to fire rockets at Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Why "democracy" and not just "country"? Don't all countries have the same rights under international law?


"As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating."
Some people (including me!) have written that "Obama called for the crossings to be opened." Not true. Obama called for the crossings to be opened as part of a lasting cease-fire, something which Israel has already ruled out. So despite his talk about the "substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza" (something which of course has been going on for years without Obama commenting publicly on it), and despite his claim that "our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care," that heartfelt concern for those immediate needs doesn't produce a call for an unconditional and immediate opening of the crossings, but rather some uncertain future opening, dependent on events which are unlikely to happen.

And finally:

"The United States will fully support an international donor's conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority."
Obama well knows that the Palestinian Authority has no presence in Gaza, and that funneling not just long-term reconstruction but even short-term humanitarian assistance through the PA pretty much guarantees that it isn't going to happen in the short-term.

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