President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

*The overwhelmingly pro-Israel American media reports on the conflict in the Middle east in a manner which has led most Americans to believe that the core of the conflict is Palestinian terrorism. We are constantly given the “evil man theory of history.” In other words, we are led to believe that the Palestinians are just bad people who, for some never explained reason, simply do not want the Israelis to live in peace.

However, any clear-headed and objective observer of the ongoing Middle East crisis knows that the root of the never-ending conflict has historically been and remains Israel’s continual seizing of Palestinian lands and the building of Jewish-only settlements on the land. Palestinian terrorism is simply a weak man’s expression of outrage at the injustice, land stealing and oppression being forced upon him by far superior, conventional Israeli military power.

While definitely not using the words above, President Obama and key players in his administration recognize that it is Israeli actions which keep the Middle East fire buring. Like previous administrations, Obama has told Israeli leaders if they truly want peace the building of Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land must end.

Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently performed a diplomatic “spit in the face” of President Obama. The U.S. had finally gotten the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to “indirect” peace talks. (Abbas had refused direct peace talks until Israel stopped stealing Palestinian lands.) But when U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel to begin the peace process, Israeli blazenly announces that it was seizing more Palestinian land in East Jeruselum and building 1,600 homes for Jewish settlers.

This announcement was a double insult. Not only were more lands being taken but East Jeruselum is where the Palestinians expect to build their capitol city if they can ever remove Israeli domination and achieve a nation-state of their own. This is the so-called “two state solution” to the Middle East crisis.

But unlike previous Israeli outrages, the Obama administration put its diplomatic foot down. Both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the new Israeli settlement move in very strong terms. Then President Obama met with Netanyahu at the White House last week but refused to allow the press to take pictures. Insiders say the meeting was “candid, cold and nothing was resolved.”

This was a necessary move. Israel must understand that simply because billions of U.S. dollars have made it the strongest military power in the Middle East, it does not have the right to do whatever it pleases.
It is unclear how the current U.S-Israeli spat will be resolved. So far, no more than words have been exchanged. Plus, the powerful Jewish lobby group AIPAC met in Washington last week to display its political and financial muscle just in case Obama tries to take strong actions against an Israel gone wild.

Obama may still yet cave in to the Israeli state and the powerful American Jewish lobby. But it was a good thing last week to finally see a U.S. administration put its foot down and tell Israel there will never be peace in the Middle east if it continues the practice of seizing Palestinian land and building Jewish-only settlements on it. Current Israeli practices toward the Palestinians are colonialistic, imperialistic, brutal and racist. They must stop!

[Robert Taylor welcomes responses to his commentaries. Share your views at his website or leave a brief message at 202-657-8872.]