When Obama speaks (and says nothing)

There’s no other way to understand what Obama said in his interview with Channel 2 on the eve of his visit here.


by Gideon Levy



Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levi interviewing U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 12. Photo by Facebook page of U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

Barack Obama has decided to punish the Israelis: He is talking to them as if they were ignoramuses. The U.S. president has also decided to punish himself: He is betraying his principles, those that have won him international acclaim and the Nobel Peace Prize.

There’s no other way to understand what he said in his interview with Channel 2 on the eve of his visit here. The flattery he heaped on Israel’s leader considerably exceeded diplomatic protocol and even phony American manners. His denial of his values deviated even from the opportunism one might expect from a politician. Obama said he wants to “connect to the Israeli people.” This he actually did well; he told Israelis what they wanted to hear.

But from Obama we could have expected a lot more. When Obama said he admires Israel’s “core values,” which values was he talking about? The dehumanization of the Palestinians? The attitude toward African migrants? The arrogance, racism and nationalism? Is this what he admires? Don’t separate buses for Palestinians remind him of something? Doesn’t two communities living on the same land, one with full rights and the other with no rights, “ring a bell,” as they say in America?

To admire “core values” while knowing we’re talking about one of the most racist countries there is, with a separation wall and apartheid-like policies, means betraying the core values of the American civil rights movement that made the Obama miracle possible. Too bad he can’t fulfill his fantasy of wearing a fake mustache and wandering around to have conversations with Israelis; he would hear how they talk about blacks like him. Too bad he can’t sit in a cafe and “just hang out,” as he’d like. He’d hear which “core values” really move Israelis.

Obama wants to lower expectations of his visit. Well, they can’t get any lower. During his first term they said we’d have to wait until his second. So now it’s here, and he says he’s only coming “to listen.” But his job isn’t to listen; everybody has listened far more than enough. Now it’s time for action, and it’s still being delayed.

But more than that, we must pay attention to his words. He always calls the prime minister “Bibi,” while the Palestinian leaders are Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas ) and Salam Fayyad. He always “tells” Abu Mazen but “suggests” to Bibi.

This time around, he referred to “Bibi” many times, but he didn’t mention the occupation even once. He spoke about “autonomy” for the Palestinians as if we’d gone back decades, but he didn’t say a word about justice, which should be an issue for any person of conscience because of the Israeli occupation. He also spoke about security, which will forever be an Israeli issue, never of concern to the Palestinians, who live in far greater danger.

So it’s one of two things: Either we’ve grossly misjudged him or he’s trying to deceive us, though it isn’t clear for what. What good is flattering Israel if he isn’t making any demands of it? What good is his desire to speak to Israelis if he doesn’t plan to say anything to them except hollow, saccharine flattery? What good is this visit if no one seems to want concrete results from it?

Has Obama, who knows a thing or two about rights, deprivation, dispossession, discrimination and occupation, who at the start of his presidency heard plenty about the Palestinian plight from his friend, Prof. Rashid Khalidi, forgotten everything? Can everything about international politics be totally ignored, even by Barack Obama, its most amazing and exciting superstar?

Of course, once again some will say – wait, wait. An interview is just an interview. Then will come the speech at the Jerusalem convention center, and that will be just a speech. The years are passing, the settlements are growing and the occupation is becoming entrenched. Soon, Mr. President, it will be too late – maybe it already is. The core values you so admire are drowning, and there’s no one to rescue them.

Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board.

Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper.

Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996.

His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London and New York.

Editor’s note: Take time to read the following facts and verify the truth.

Also see:

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes previews the President’s trip to Israel, The West Bank and Jordan. It is important to note the one-sided nature of the itinerary:


Short URL:

The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VNN or any other VNN authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners and technicians. Notices

Apply for your VA Home Loan Now
Apply for your VA Home Loan Now
Get Your Loan Now
Get Your Loan Now
Apply for Jobs on Now
Apply for Jobs on Now
Austins School of Spa Technology
ME Online
slow aging
What Price Gold

Posted by on Mar 17 2013, With 0 Reads, Filed under Editors' Picks, Expert Opinions ME, Middle East Conflicts, News From the Region, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


To post a comment, you must login using Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail in the box below.
Don't have a social network account? Register and Login direct with our site and post your comment.
Before you post, read our Comment Policy - Legal Notice

Comments Closed

1 Comment for “When Obama speaks (and says nothing)”

  1. A most relevant statement from Mr. Levy….

    .”When Obama said he admires Israel’s “core values,” which values was he talking about? The dehumanization of the Palestinians? The attitude toward African migrants? The arrogance, racism and nationalism? Is this what he admires? Don’t separate buses for Palestinians remind him of something? Doesn’t two communities living on the same land, one with full rights and the other with no rights, “ring a bell,” as they say in America?”

    Could he have put it any clearer? And he is Jewish and he lives in Israel but a voice of reason.

    One should not assume that this is just an other visit. This one is a game-changer

    He and the credibility of America as any sort of force for peace (and justice) is on the line. Credibility is easily lost and seldom able to be recovered.. If he sits there with the world’s #1 terrorist and mouths off rhetorical nonsense, all we have seen for four + years, inane comments, sycophantic drivel, he and US credibility will be dead, forever.

    Even if the likes of Gideon Levy, representing as he appears to the rational thinking of what I would like to imagine as at least 40% + of Israelis, sees Obama as floundering instread of being a strong statesman and identifies this in his publication for all to see, it will be the coupe de grace for just more American President and the end of israel in the eyes of the world. Yes, the Palestinians will be the short term losers but Israel also will never recover in the eyes of the world. They should know what that feels like.

    It will happen again, eventually. On their heads be it

Comments are closed


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Join Our Daily Newsletter
  View Newsletter ARCHIVE


  1. Memorial park to honor veterans, help protect lagoon
  2. Dental care for veterans
  3. The Special Interest Problem
  4. The Pentagon and Big Oil: Militarism and Capital Accumulation
  5. Re-elected Dilma wins in a Brazil broken in two
  6. Boyd Sets Up Treatment Court for Veterans
  7. State Plan Aimed at Helping Alabama Veterans
  8. Israel-First NeoCons Equal Anti-American Turncoats
  9. Thanks for Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan
  10. US lawlessness fuels global insecurity
  11. Treating Putin Like a Lunatic when He makes Sense
  12. ‘The Moving Wall’ honoring Vietnam veterans returns to Covina
  13. Group to Make 54 Apartments Available to Homeless Veterans
  14. U.S. publicly humiliates Israeli defense minister
  15. Russell Brand exposes 9/11 in must watch BBC interview
  16. Staged ‘terror’ in Ottawa pretext for police state
  18. Calling all NC veterans to get out and vote
  19. Veterans Honored in Various Events for Their Day
  20. Suspicious Death of Journalist Serena Shim: Hypocritical Western Media Remains Silent
  1. Old Jules: Nothing to be frightened of Rufus. I’m a 71 year old veteran reading and commenting here. You...
  2. Rufus Peterson: Yeah, you’d give it a pass Jules but you’d read Brand’s book? I’ve read...
  3. Rufus Peterson: I tend to agree Debbie, the more the merrier, and the more voices, the more people tend to listen....
  4. Debbie Menon: @Rufus. We need more people like Brand to come out of their comfort zone and amplify the issues. The...
  5. Rufus Peterson: Brand’s “class clown” act is both his blessing, and curse. He can get away with...

Apply for VA Home Loan Now!

Military Veterans Radio