In his speech to the UN General Assembly on 23 September, U.S. President Barack Obama had a throwaway line typical of folksy American campaign speeches to justify why "this time" the so-called "peace process" would be different:
This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.
When he uttered those words, this was the image that came to my mind. It is of the body of a young girl from the al-Daya family dug out of the rubble after her family's home was destroyed by an Israeli bombing on 6 January 2009.
This young girl and all the other hundreds of children slaughtered by Israel in cold blood with American-supplied weapons. Of course if Mr. Obama did care about the children of Gaza, he would have stood at the UN podium and demanded that the war crimes and crimes against humanity that the Goldstone Report alleges Israel committed be fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice. What he would not do is what he did -- stand there and utter cheap words, even having the chutzpah to tell people not to "tear Israel down" as if those who demand justice and accountability were simply schoolyard bullies picking on a blameless but unpopular student.
Obama, who often uses his own daughters to score political points and pander, once inserted them in a speech to the Israel lobby AIPAC. He recalled a January 2006 visit to the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona near the border with Lebanon that resembled an ordinary American suburb where he could imagine the sounds of Israeli children at "joyful play just like my own daughters." It was in that particular speech that he justified Israel's 2006 bombing of Lebanon as "self-defense" just as he justifies every Israeli massacre of civilians as "self-defense."
He has never -- as far as we know -- imagined his daughters as Palestinian or Lebanese children (or Iraqi, or Afghan, or Somali, or Pakistani) victimized by the weapons his administration supplies to Israel and other rogue states or drops from the sky. Quite naturally, no parent, anywhere in the world, would want to imagine their daughter or son going through what children in Gaza suffer and have suffered as a result of Israel's illegal blockade -- itself a crime against humanity -- let alone its regular massacres of civilians whose only crime is that they don't belong to the privileged group under Israel's system of apartheid and racialism.
Indeed, Obama never thinks about Palestinian lives at all. In his UN speech he lectured the Palestinians that, "The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance -- it's injustice." But does the President not know -- with all the vast "intelligence" agencies at his disposal -- that since January 1, 2008 Israel has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians -- the vast majority of them innocent civilians, and in the same period 60 Israelis have been killed -- many of them occupation soldiers? When last month, four settlers were killed in the occupied West Bank, Obama forcefully denounced the "senseless slaughter" and the United States offered condolences to the settlers' families. When yesterday Samir Sarhan -- a father of five -- was shot and killed by an Israeli settler in Silwan -- an area of occupied Jerusalem under constant attack by Israel which explicitly plans to ethnically cleanse its residents and build a Jewish-themed park there -- Obama remained silent.
Obama's speech came as well just a day after the United Nations Human Rights Council found that there was evidence -- sufficient for prosecutions -- consistent with Israeli soldiers carrying out summary executions and torture of passengers aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last May.
Every death is one too many but we can only understand by his cold and studious silences that the slaughter of Palestinians -- and those in solidarity with them -- is in his eyes some form of justice.