“The Fundamental Rights of All People”

The other night, during the State of the Union address, President Obama said something quite remarkable — entirely by omission. In the course of his boilerplate foreign policy remarks, filled with the usual tension between hard-headed realism and mushy idealism, the great orator uttered the following…

[W]e can — and will — insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people. We’ll keep pressure on a Syrian regime [note that Assad is not mentioned by name] that has murdered its own people [or, as Damascus would put it, defended itself from terrorists] and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian [presumably ruling out the Nusra faction, which the State Dept. has recently designated a terrorist organization].

From that point, which as you can see has been peppered with my annotations in brackets, Obama added, as if he were stepping over the Golan Heights, “And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.” The transcript from the Washington Post dutifully notes that applause breaks out at this point.

“Likewise, the Palestinian people, most of whom want security and peace as well, deserve our support,” the president did not go on to say, because that’s crazy. He has come a long way since declaring that Palestinians are “suffering” without equal in the world — an exaggeration, for sure, but mostly accurate. But saying so was too much and he was forced to retract his gaffe. Now it’s in the distant past.

And, after four years of hearing the moronic incantation that he has somehow “thrown Israel under the bus,” the president has spared no rhetorical expense to demonstrate that, though he may have some brittleness with Bibi, he is the most “pro-Israel” American leader in history. That just keeps to his words.

Even the reactionary Jerusalem Post could not help but notice that only one half of the most vexing issue in the Middle East could be spoken about. President Obama “has actually never uttered the word ‘Palestinian’ in his annual address to Congress,” the article pointed out.

As a matter of fact, the last time an American president even said the word “Palestine” was in 2003, when President Bush declared: “In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.” Imagine for a moment if the current occupant of the White House dared to mimic that. What a terrible comment that he could not.

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