Hot off the Arab press 385734

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

Barack Obama greets Cuban President Raul Castro at the funeral of South African president Nelson Mandela (photo credit: REUTERS)
Barack Obama greets Cuban President Raul Castro at the funeral of South African president Nelson Mandela
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Obama and Cuba – Palestine and ISIS?
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, December 19
In the remainder of his second term, after many failed diplomatic moves, US President Barack Obama is trying to achieve some victories. Yesterday, he announced that the United States would normalize its relations with Cuba, explaining that the American policy toward Cuba is outdated and unhelpful, and that “a policy that repeatedly failed for over five decades will not yield different results.” Is this realization not also applicable toward the Palestinian case? The United States, for almost seven decades, has been pursuing the exact same policy in the Middle East, with no positive outcome. For decades, it has blindly stood behind Israel in its quest to cancel the rights of the Palestinian people, despite the American commitment to promote the two-state solution. Sadly, in the face of a strong Republican Congress, Obama is not willing to implement his Cuba policy in the Middle East as well.
Instead, he is following the exact same policies that yield the exact same results: The Palestinians are deprived of their basic rights, and new breeding grounds for terrorism are created. Even in the case of Iran, Obama’s administration takes into account Israel’s interests over those of the Arab countries that are considered an ally of America. Here, too, Washington contributed to the spread of terrorism and violence, as it supports despotic regimes and overlooks the interests of the average people. From Palestine to ISIS, Obama will not “dare” implement his Cuba principles in the Middle East. And the region, as always, will continue to be shaped by one factor only: Israel’s own security concerns. – Walid Shakeer
Jerusalem and the American support for Israel
As-Safir, Lebanon, December 19
In 1967, Moshe Dayan entered the West Bank and declared Israel’s “divine victory.” Since then, the city of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas are undergoing a continuous plan of division, displacement and settlement – from hangings to burnings and murders – in order to empty the land of its people. The Holy City has been split into ghettos, with lands being confiscated from their righteous owners and turned Jewish.
The Zionists have continued what they had started in 1948, and created facts on the ground in order to force their presence on the land. In the United States, the Israel lobby dictates America’s foreign policy in favor of the Zionist project. In their book titled The Jewish Lobby, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer – two prominent professors from Harvard University and the University of Chicago – speak bitterly of the Jewish lobby’s influence on American policy in the Middle East, and explain that “Israel had become a burden that America must get rid of.” Sadly conclusions like theirs are more often than not dismissed under the pretext of anti-Semitism. Instead of being confronted and dealt with, they are ignored. The Arabs and Muslims of Jerusalem are left alone in this struggle against Israel, but they will not give up. For centuries, Muslims have been serving Jerusalem with steadfastness and strong belief. This will not end now. – Hani Sliman
Assad’s friends in a moment of madness
Asharq al-Awsat, London, December 20
With the continued decline in oil prices, a clear case of paranoia affected both Iran and Russia, the two classic allies of Bashar Assad. Both Moscow and Tehran issued statements condemning the decline of oil prices, describing it as an “international conspiracy” against them. Iranian President [Hassan] Rouhani suggested that “a political conspiracy has led to the decline in oil prices,” while Russia’s Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov claimed that “Washington is trying to destabilize the regime in Moscow.” What does all of this mean politically? Interestingly the two traditional allies of Assad have now abandoned him to focus on their own domestic problems. The two powers that provided Assad with fighters, weapons and money are now struggling on their own. To what extent can Iran continue to finance its absurd adventures in the region, and Russia its adventurous campaign in Ukraine? And perhaps more importantly: If new American sanctions seem to weaken the Russian economy and threaten its well-being, why is Obama not doing the same with Iran, the source of all instability and war in our region – from Iraq, to Syria and Lebanon. – Tarek Al-Hameid
Israel as a Jewish nation state
Al Jazeera, Qatar, December 20
By defining itself as a nation state for the Jewish people, Israel is attempting to erase the Palestinian national identity and force its own version of history on the others. Its insistence on being recognized as the Jewish homeland carries several political implications. First, it reinforces the idea that, historically, Palestine – from the River to the Sea – is the Jewish homeland, and therefore limits negotiations and territorial concessions.
Second, it imposes the conviction that historic Palestine is the exclusive property of the Jews and not the subject of contention between two peoples. Third, [there is] the refusal of the Jewish State to bear any responsibility for the “Nakba” – the plight of Palestinians – and therefore its refusal to solve the refugee problem within its own territory. Fourth, Israel can extort and pressure Arabs by threatening the 1948 Palestinians living within its territory and in Jerusalem. New legislation may turn these citizens into individuals that have no joint association or political rights. Remarkably the Israeli arrogance refuses to acknowledge all of this. The same state which boasts itself as a supposed “oasis of democracy, modernity and secularism” is producing a state that lives under historical and religious myths, and promotes a caste system wherein some citizens are worth more than others. – Majed Kayali
Netanyahu tries to convince the world on the occupation
Al-Dostour, Jordan, December 15
The audacity of the Israeli officials in their dealing with the Palestinian issue is reaching new extremes.
While the Palestinians are looking for a peaceful resolution within the United Nations Security Council, which will ensure an Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his team dismiss each and every peace initiative. This confirms the understanding that there is a permanent change in the colonial policy of Israel, which seeks to kill Palestinians in cold blood. Netanyahu’s recent statements, in light of the upcoming Israeli elections, are the best proof of his refusal to end the occupation. By doing so, he admits to his racist policy and hawkish stances, and while the world closely works to reach a solution within the UN, Israel relies on yet another American veto to protect its policies. The negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians failed for over a quarter of a century. This situation has become unbearable and unacceptable. If new negotiations were to be launched, they must be in accordance with an internationally agreed schedule, which will ensure the formation of an independent Palestinian state and prevent Israeli deception. – Aida Al-Najar