Although Democrats have lost control of the Senate, it’s predictable and gives Barack Obama a free hand to impose his own policies to help push peace in the Middle East using his powers as President
By Ray Hanania
Although President Barack Obama has faced tough pushback on his efforts to achieve a Middle East peace from Congress and Israel’s powerful anti-Peace lobby, AIPAC, he still has the power to make a difference.
Many are viewing Obama as being weakened by the recent national elections, especially in view of the Republicans not only continuing their majority hold on the U.S. House of Representatives but their surge takeover of the U.S. Senate.
But in reality, the midterm congressional elections in the second term of a two-term president like Obama have always seen the House and Senate switch to the president’s political opposition.
It happened to Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush during the midterm elections of his second term. Bush won office in November 2000 and in 2004, but in the November 2006 midterm elections, Bush and the Republican Party lost control of the Senate to Democrats.
Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Harry Reid flipped positions with Reid becoming Senate Majority leader and McConnell becoming Minority leader. Today, in a similar backlash, McConnell took back control of the Senate and Reid became the Senate Minority Leader.
Yet even with Republican control of the House and the Senate, Obama still has powers that could dramatically change the dynamics of America’s one-sided and destructively biased pro-Israel foreign policy. Although it is a foreign country, Israel has more control over American foreign policy in the Middle East than American voters.
Obama could recognize Jerusalem an International City ending years of Israeli violence and policies to expel Christians and Muslims.
Obama could also open an official U.S. embassy in Ramallah, giving Palestinian victims of Israel brutality more protections. Currently, American lawmakers protected Israelis who also have American citizenship but deny the same protection to Palestinians who also have American citizenship.
Obama could also direct more funding to the Palestinians and withhold hundreds of millions and even billions of funding to Israel. Every year, American taxpayers are forced to give billions to Israel to offset the costs of maintaining its brutal military occupation that enslaves 4.5 million Christians and Muslims in the occupied West Bank and the open air Gaza Strip prison.
Much of Israel’s attacks against Obama are driven by racism that views Palestinians and African-Americans as being inferior.
There is growing recognition by African-Americans of the similarities between anti-Black racism and anti-Arab persecution by Israel.
To many African-Americans, Israel’s racist policies are unquestionably reflective of the same racist principles that forged Apartheid in South Africa before its liberation in 1994.
And they view the vicious attacks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as being driven by the same racist policies that dominated the United States through the first half of the 20th century.
Obama has the power to officially receive ambassadors from other countries. Even if Congress, which is in a relentless Israeli-controlled political headlock, refuses to recognize Palestine as a state, President Obama can recognize full diplomatic relations with Palestine and receive an official ambassador whose powers would go beyond being merely an observer at the powerless United Nations.
And Obama can grant pardons to individuals convicted of crimes. No one deserves a pardon more than Rasmea Odeh, who was falsely accused of engaging in terrorism. Odeh was tortured to confess to terrorism by Israel’s brutal Shin Bet during a rigged Israeli trial that denied her rights and was roundly criticized as political.
After the Israelis released her from a decade of prison, as a part of a prisoner exchange, Odeh immigrated to America in 1995. At age 67, Odeh was granted citizenship in 2004. But pro-Israel activists have continued to persecute Odeh and recently forced the U.S. Justice Department to re-prosecute Odeh on the false charges that she intentionally withheld information concerning her “terrorism conviction” in Israel during her immigration application.
Last week, a biased jury in a biased courtroom, where Odeh was denied her civil rights, ruled that Odeh was guilty of hiding her conviction. The biased jury ruled Odeh should be stripped of her American citizenship and expelled from the United States. It was a court hearing that rivaled only those perpetrated by the former Soviet Union in its Gulag archipelago.
Odeh’s lawyers have vowed to appeal the politically motivated conviction, but Obama can grant Odeh an immediate pardon to allow her to continue to live her life as a law-abiding American citizen as she deserves.
The first judge assigned to the case was closely tied to Israel and was forced to recuse himself when his background activism for Israel was exposed. But the successor, a close colleague of the pro-Israel judge originally assigned the case, directed the new trial that wrongly convicted Odeh.
Over the past six years, President Obama has been forced to suffer the humiliating indignities heaped upon him by Netanyahu and the right-wing Israeli media owned and controlled by fanatic gambling industry robber baron Sheldon Adelson, the owner of Israel’s largest rag-sheet newspaper, Israel Hayom.
Now it’s Obama’s turn to flip the tables on Israel and bring justice to the Palestinians.
There is no doubt that the pro-Israel movement in America will dedicate its resources to slandering: libeling and disgracing Obama at every chance during his remaining two years in office and for the remainder of the future.
Obama has the power to fight back. But does he have the courage to take a principled stand?
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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