Occupation: the elephant in the room
And so its done; the curtain has been draw. After months, and by some estimate, a couple of years, of careful preparation, laying the groundwork, massaging public opinion, crafting a Gulf of Tonkin; immaculate timing; hasbara campaign: its a wrap folks! Just in time to make way for an Historic American inauguration, we are reminded again and again.
Intent on proving his critics wrong, Obama wasted no time in reminding them of America's resolve and tenacity: We will defeat you.
But noticeably missing from the talk was any mention of Israel or Palestine.
Fair enough, it was a big moment on its own, no need to weigh it down with a bloody and distant conflict that you will spend the next 4-8 years getting mired down in anyway -or miring down further.
And so as we are told, Obama hit the ground running. The next day, the newly minted President in his first speech talked about the need to open Gaza's crossings-because as any casual observer might have gleamed from this recent "cycle of violence" it is that in order to have a "lasting ceasefire" we must give Israel security, and open Gaza's crossing (in case you aren't sensing it, I'm being sarcastic here).
But the devil is so often in the detail-not in what was said, but what was not. Notably missing from the call was a need to open the crossing to people as opposed to merely humanitarian aid and commerce, as though the Gaza problem can be vanished by tons of food.
It was this very clause that was negotiated to inclusion in the Agreement on Movement and Access brokered by none other than Condie rice herself shortly after Disengagement: the need to provide Access and Movement for goods AND people, and keep the crossings operating on a continuous basis. Of course, this never materialized: neither in percentage of trucks allowed in or out, nor the promised Palestinian control over Rafah within one year. OCHA keeps a good record of weekly violations of the AMA as a reference.
Obama also said the US "will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime so that Hamas cannot rearm". See this had me a little confused- because I thought it was Israel with the Merkava tanks, F 15 and F 16s, white phosphorus, DIME, and nukes.
Regardless, none of this will matter. If Palestinians are not granted their most basic human right of freedom of movemen, the tunnels will continue to thrive.
So I'm going to throw something out here that might sound a bit out there- hold your breathe everyone: how about we actually try ending the occupation instead of coming up with a million and one excuses why we shouldn't?
Notice the pattern vis a vis any Palestinian group-whether it was Fateh and the PLo before, or Hamas now: they are and always will be terrorists (the PLO is still on the US terrorist list); once you negotiate, its only a process meant to serve as a cover for continuing settlement expansion and consolidation of the Occupation; if that doesn't work, cry foul and say you have no partner for peace- then bomb their security infrastructure and say they have to have better security before they become a partner. If the people elect someone else, start over.
For real change, why start by saying things like they are: if Israel has the right to defend itself, don't Palestinians have not only the right, but the obligation to both defend themselves and resist against an illegal occupation?