Obama’s Israel visit leaves Arabs upset

Media across the Muslim world report on pessimistic reactions to US president’s warm words in Jerusalem for the Jewish state.

By
March 22, 2013 02:14
3 minute read.
US President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, March 20, 2013.

Obama and Netanyahu pose together 390. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

 
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The warm and friendly visit of US President Barack Obama to Israel was bound to lead to criticism from the Muslim world, which has long accused the US of favoring Israel.

Arabs see the visit as a reversal of Obama’s initial attitude upon beginning his first term in 2009 and his famous outreach to the Muslim world, symbolized by his speech in Cairo that same year. Arabs held out hope that the president would rebalance American foreign policy, long seen as slanted and detrimental to the Palestinian position.

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Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel

The Obama visit to Israel has so far been filled with effusive rhetoric, small talk in English between the president and Israeli leaders and other acts of closeness between the two countries, leading to a reaffirmation of the Arab world’s perception of US policy as being biased toward Israel.

The editorial in Thursday’s London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi stated that Obama did not come with a plan to solve the conflict and that in any case the peace process is dead.

“The peace process led by the United States over the past twenty years died,” the piece declared, going on to say that he came “to refute accusations that he is against Israel” and that the focus of the visit would be the Iran and Syria issues.

Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds stated in its editorial on Thursday that it is not yet known what Obama will say to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but “the sounds and images of the visiting president certainly removed all doubt.”

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The article went on to mention that Obama’s words gave into Israel’s narrative and positions, and in particular, his statements regarding Iran effectively gave a green light for an Israeli attack. But the piece added that it was not such a disappointment for the Palestinians because nothing was expected from the visit in any case.

An editorial in the Lebanese Daily Star on Thursday echoed the pessimistic view of Obama’s visit, saying that the result will bring Palestinian anger to a whole new level.

The editorial stated that Obama gave “his country’s full support for the Israelis on several fronts,” adding that “the Palestinians will treat their guest with the sounds of dance, while Israeli bulldozers continue to illegally claim even more Palestinian land for settlements.”

Though Obama will be sure to reassure Palestinians, “Wednesday’s salvo of support for Israel has already drowned out such rhetoric, rendering it pointless.” Hence, the visit “is managing to take despair and outrage by Palestinians and Arabs to an entirely new level.”

Some of the regional media focused on how Obama’s trip and words were meant to be a message to Iran, thus seeming to reinforce his past rhetoric that “all options are on the table,” a message that was not entirely believed by many in the region.

As if to respond to Obama’s visit, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa if Israel attacked Iran.

The Iranian Mehr News website reported Obama’s comment that “all options are on the table,” stating, “The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing noncivilian objectives in its nuclear energy program and have used the unfounded accusation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions on the Islamic Republic and to call for an attack on the country.”

The Israeli Arab paper Kul al-Arab summed up the general Arab opinion in an article on Wednesday stating that US policy is known to be “completely biased,” and does not do anything to stop Israeli settlement expansion.

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