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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Is a child going to be better off?

The sound is very low. There is a tapescript provided in a link below. The above is part one. Part two can be found on Youtube.

The fact that Obama's first television interview since becoming President was with Al Aribiya is a strong indication of a shift in the U.S.'s foreign affairs approach to the Mid-East. Though, as the summary of the interview states:

...his continuing silence on the enormous amount of civilian casualties during the Israeli offensive and accusations by the U.N. and humanitarian organizations that Israel committed war crimes ... spoke volumes to an audience that has waited for America to take a more balanced approach to the conflict.

However, he is asked many questions about Israel and Palestine and his answers are not glib.

And, look, I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves? And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and security? And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real progress.

One might say he is discounting the conflicts and tragedies of the past, in the above statement, but he is also acknowledging that they exist and have existed. So, even though it might read as trying to approach the situation by stripping it of all history, the opposite might be true. He is right, within the interview, to talk about acting quickly, but words take time to transform into actions, and in the meantime, will the settlements expand, and will there be more incursions, and will the sanctions still exist? Keep in mind the following:

...The period between November 4 and December 19 ...was characterized by growing escalation by both sides, including an unprecedented tightening of the blockade by Israel and Egypt. Poverty levels climbed further into the stratosphere, malnutrition skyrocketed and essential supplies of every sort ran out. Even before the latest emergency spurred UN agencies and the Red Cross to warn of imminent collapse, former UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson had on a November 4 visit denounced international indifference to the “shocking violation of so many human rights” of Gaza’s population as “almost unbelievable.” “Their whole civilization has been destroyed,” she concluded. “I’m not exaggerating.” (Birth Pangs of a New Palestine, Mouin Rabbani, January 7, 2009).

And now?

It seems that lifting the sanctions is one thing that, in theory, could happen very quickly. It seems that the Israelis are not going to elect a progressive government in the upcoming elections, even if this U.S. government seems to be more liberal than those in the past. And though things need to be done quickly, everything of course, takes time, and is eight years enough to even get the ball rolling?

In addition, everyone needs to come, and to be invited to the negotiation table. That means the recalcitrant Israelis, too, as detailed in *just a few* articles below.

An unnecessary war

"Problem is refusal of US, Israel to meet Hamas"

Birth pangs of a new Palestine

History did not begin with the Qassams

On the wrong side

Obama's Gaza Opportunity

Five questions for George Mitchell

It makes one wonder if Kevin Rudd might be thinking that he was a little too hasty to not even murmur slight concern over the way Israel conducted itself with the war on Gaza. Was there any government in the world that agreed with Bush and Israel so completely? And was there any press in the world more insipid? Maybe this article from early in 2008 goes some way to explaining why. Or maybe he is banking on a 4 year only Obama term, while his own could, in theory, continue in perpetuity.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr