Foreign Policy

Israeli Settlements, Racism and President Obama

| by MPAC

permeates on many levels, such as in matters of race and religion,
especially in the on-going case of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
Neither side can claim innocence and objectivity in this matter, but
both sides can be blamed for hindering the peace process to a certain
degree. These forms of extremism have become more evident with the
Obama administration's recent efforts to initiate and further a
two-state solution and peace process between both sides.

President's differing approach from his predecessor, George W. Bush,
towards Muslim communities at large and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, has opened a new and prolific door to relations with the
Muslim world, but simultaneously has begun to impede relations between
the new administration and the current Israeli government. This latest
rift between the U.S. and Israel is cast as a "marital spat" and an
"identity crisis" by columnist Thomas Friedman. The refined spin by
Friedman conceals a larger crisis in America--silence over a new form
of racism.

In a recent New York Times article, 'West Bank Settlers Send Obama a Defiant Message,'
Ethan Bronner reports on how a certain group of religiously zealous
Israelis were protesting the visit of U.S. special envoy to the Middle
East, George J. Mitchell, by inaugurating an unauthorized outpost on
land owned by Palestinian families.

another disturbing part of the news item was a reference to a racial
slur attributed to President Barack Obama by Rabbi Yigael Shandorfi,
leader of a neighboring religious academy. According to Bronner, the
slur included "an insulting Hebrew slang for a black man," which was
not published by the New York Times. In a blog run by Richard
Silverstein, Tikun Olam--Make the World a Better Place, the
rabbi reportedly called President Obama a "nigger." The Israeli
settlers did not object, but instead reinforced this ideology by
calling President Obama, "Saddam Hussein Obama."

sentiment echoes the defensive as well as elusively defiant angle that
the current Israeli government has adopted towards the Obama
administration. Inflammatory rhetoric and coercive behavior such as the
ones spouted by the Israeli settlers are only an amplification of
extremism ranging from race to religion. As this behavior cannot be
tolerated from Muslim extremists; it cannot be tolerated from Jewish
ones as well, whether common citizen or state official. Ideologies
simulating hate remain one of the major obstacles to Middle East peace.

Americans our responsibility is to break down barriers and set an
example as leaders of reform, such as in the issues of racism and
equality. Tolerating racial attacks against a head of state at best and
concealing it at worst negates that responsibility. Remarks and
behavior such as these cannot be recognized and then evaded, especially
in an era when Americans like President Barack Obama break the race
barrier and fulfill the American dream.