Who was better for Palestinians, Trump, Bush or Obama?
Much is made of how President Obama was a “Muslim,” a myth perpetrated by his middle name being Hussein, and how he was a good president for Palestinians and peace. But when you look at the consequences of his term in office, you have to wonder
By Ray Hanania
Barack Obama is considered one of America’s more popular presidents. He was eloquent. He expressed views that progressive embraced. He was African American giving pride to an under privileged racial class of citizens and to other minority citizens in America. And, he was Liberal.
But dids that really make him a “Great” president as many of his admirers insist?
For Palestinians, it is a difficult question to answer. But the facts are very clear. Despite his pro-peace rhetoric, his history of relations with Palestinian activists from Chicago’s South Side, and because of his much publicized rivalry with Israel’s rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama was expected to do much. When you look at the reality of what was achived, however, President Obama was not so good when it came to the interests of Palestinians or Arabs.
Obama’s biggest problem is that he never fulfilled the expectations he fueled through his optimistic and eloquent rhetoric.
No other president understood the Palestinian issue better than Obama, who represented a South Side state legislative district (1997-2004) before his meteoric rise to the U.S. Senate (2005) and to President (2009). It’s very likely that despite his good intentions, and his charismatic personality and oratory skills, Obama lacked the experience needed to make his visions a reality.
For many African Americans, it doesn’t matter whether he achieved much or anything at all. The fact that he broke a racial barrier becoming America’s first African American president is more than enough achievement. They will accept failure as a price for that singular but spectacular goal.
What about the rest of us? We listen as everyone sings Obama’s praises. He was a”good person,” afterall and isn’t it importan tto have a “good person” as a president? That’s the argument made against his successor, President Donald, who isn’t a good person at all, who suffers from “rhetoric vomit” and shoots from his Twitter Hip so often with raw expressions that are unfiltered, unmolded and not-thought-out that he often sounds like a crazy person.
Still, what we ar eleft with is “the end results.”
What are those “end results?”
The economy has continued to improve despite some dips under Trump. His tax reform measures resulted int he largest income tax boon for the Middle Class ever. His tough stand on fighting China is important, considering that China imports so much worthless product into this country that is manufactured by child labor, sweatshops and underpaid workers. More thasn one-third of all the products sold at Walmart are from China. Many of the worst food products come from China — red dyes and worse. And regardless of your politics or if you like or dislike Trump, thefact is that China is a horrible trade partner that impost four times as much as America imports back to China. The Trade Deficient is killing us, although we surely love to pay those low prices for those cheap Chinese products made by slave and underpaid labor — hey the minimum wage is only an American issue to many so-called “progressives.”
Obama’s worth has been elevated by the national polarity and excessive media criticism of Trump. Who wouldn’t look great in that sympathetic, pro-Obama media after-glow?
Well, the truth is, at least for Palestinians, Obama wasn’t so good at all.
Obama delivered the largest aid package Israel has ever received from America during his term in office. Israel expanded its settlements at a frenzied pace that was no differen tthan under other past presidents.
But worse, more Palestinians were killed or seriously injured by Israel under Obama’s watch than under the watch of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, who, granted, all but destroyed Iraq in his quest for vengeance against tyrant Saddam Hussein, who once tried to assassinate his father, the former President George H. W. Bush.
All you have to do is look at the statistics maintained by B’Tselem, the Israeli Human Rights organization that monitors civil rights in Israel.
President Bush (2001-2008)
Palestinians Killed 5,031
Palestinians Wounded 26,510
President Obama (2009-2017)
Palestinians Killed 4,138
Palestinians Wounded 55,009
Click here to view a larger image of the spreadsheet data.
The largest single event of Palestinian deaths and injuries took place while Obama was President in 2014, under Middle East policies set in motion by Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Clinton was succeeded by Senator John Kerry, but Israel was empowered by the support they received from Clinton during the prior four years.
Although more Palestinians were killed by Israel while Bush was president, nearly 800 of the Palestinian deaths attributed to Bush occured after the November 2008 General Election during the final days of December 27-31, 2008, and when Obama was elected, and ending in January 2009 days before Obama was officially sworn into office. Israel was so concerned about Obama becoming president fearing he would be “pro-Palestinian” that they launched a war against Hamas in Gaza on Dec. 27, 2008 that ended on Jan. 18, 2009. Obama was sworn in as President on Jan. 20, 2009.
You would have though that might have helped strengthen Obama’s resolve for Palestinian-Israeli peace but instead, it was thwarted by Clinton, and by his inability to use the powers of his presidency to change AMerica’s lopsided pro-Israel biases.
All three Presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, had said they favored the Two-State Solution that would give Palestinian statehood and civil rights under international law. But in the end, the policies and failures of all three presidents ended up undermining the Two-State Solution.
President Trump is no better, but he is also no worse when it comes to the fate of the Palestinians.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist. He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992, served as National President of the Palestinian American Congress, and todays writes a syndicated column for the Arab News Newspaper. Reach him at his personal website www.Hanania.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)