From Chicago to Turtle Bay – journey of a pro-Palestinian

As the dust begins to settle from the furore created by UNSC Resolution 2334, and as legal, less emotionally involved minds begin to look at the ramifications of the resolution, I print below, Elena Chachko’s take on the impact of 2334 on Israel.

After that, I will go back a little and show how Obama December 23, 2016 was but the culmination of Obama as lecturer at University of Chicago, his friendship with Rashid Khalidi and how, back in 2008, Martin Kramer predicted then exactly what Obama would do on finishing his term as President in 2016-17.


UNSC 2334 is the first Security Council resolution since 1980 (resolution 465) that focuses on settlements. It also demands an immediate cessation of all settlement activity.
However, the resolution does not invoke Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which governs the Security Council’s authority to take enforcement measures in response to a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace or acts of aggression.”
Its operative paragraphs do not include binding language, for the most part using the non-binding “calls upon” formulation.
Resolution 2334 therefore does not have immediate and direct implications in the form of sanctions or other measures with practical significance.
This means that while 2334 does not provide, say, ICJ prosecutor Bensouda with new legal arguments, it could affect her decision-making if ever there was a full investigation into “Israeli war crimes”.
In sum, in and of itself, Resolution 2334’s immediate practical significance is limited.

But what of Obama himself? How did long-time adviser Power’s explanation gell with the Obama we don’t talk much about?

In December 2016, Stanley Kurtz statesd that despite arguments to and fro regarding Obama’s pro-Muslim/Palestinian proclivities and how “moderate” Obama was as President, Obama’s long-held pro-Palestinian sentiments were sincere, while his post-2004 pro-Israel stance was dictated by political necessity.

He added that Obama’s abstention on the December 23, 2016 U.N. resolution condemning Israel could have had no practical political motive. The only plausible remaining explanations were “accumulated frustration” over Israel’s settlement policy, pure personal pique at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for past differences.

Thus, Obama’s decision to abstain from yesterday’s U.N. condemnation of Israel was increasingly problematic for advocates of the “moderate Obama” hypothesis and was something that would taint any legacy he might leave behind.

To support this view, Kurtz identifies Obama’s long and still poorly-known history of support for the most radical and committed Palestinian activists in the United States. Years of committed activism, personal friendship and study courses under Edward Said were always going to be lot tougher to fake than the pro-Israel policy positioning Obama adopted after his breakthrough at the 2004 Democratic Convention gave him a shot at the presidency.

Back in May 26, 2011 Kurtz wrote:

“The continuing influence of Obama’s pro-Palestinian sentiments is the best way to make sense of the president’s recent tilt away from Israel. This is why supporters of Israel should fear Obama’s reelection. In 2013, with his political vulnerability a thing of the past, Obama’s pro-Palestinian sympathies would be released from hibernation, leaving Israel without support from its indispensable American defender.

“Obama’s heritage, his largely hidden history of leftist radicalism, and his close friendship with Rashid Khalidi, all bespeak sincerity, as Obama’s other Palestinian associates agree. This is not to mention Reverend Wright — whose rabidly anti-Israel sentiments…Obama had to know about — or Obama’s longtime foreign-policy adviser Samantha Power, who once apparently recommended imposing a two-state solution on Israel through American military action. Decades of intimate alliances in a hard-Left world are a great deal harder to fake than a few years of speeches at AIPAC conferences. The real Obama is the first Obama, and depending on how the next presidential election turns out, we’re going to meet him again in 2013.”

Prescient? Perhaps. But not as prescient as Martin Kramer’s address to the Shalem Center’s Manhattan Seminar on October 28, 2008.

I excerpt relevant selections below:

Regarding Iran:

The ultimate question isn’t whether Obama will unlearn what he learned at Columbia, Harvard, and Chicago. Should he actually initiate unconditional talks with Iran, it will dawn on him at some point that this was a mistake—that it legitimated the Iranian regime without receiving any concession in return, especially regarding Iranian conduct in Iraq and Lebanon; that it undermined the already fragile coalition of Arab states build so painstakingly by the Bush administration to contain Iran; and that it gave Iran an opportunity to continue its nuclear program under the cover of negotiations, perhaps buying enough time to bring it to completion.”
When Obama realizes this, he will face the very same narrow choice of options he wishes now to avoid: that is, either acquiescence in a nuclear Iran, or a military strike. Of course, when “engagement” fails, there will still be a sizable body of Muslim, European, and American opinion which will hold the United States to blame, for not going the extra mile. And even though Obama will have gone the extra mile, he’ll be criticized for not going yet another.
This is the relentless logic of appeasement.
But when “engagement” finally fails, Iran’s programs will be still further advanced, making the military option even less appealing than it is today. So “engagement” is not so much a third alternative between a nuclear Iran and a military strike, as it is a likely prelude to American acquiescence in a nuclear Iran. This would constitute one of the greatest failures of American foreign policy ever.”

Regarding Arab-Israeli conflict Kramer identifies Obama’s radicalization at Columbia through courses taken as a student and thru friendships forged at the University of Chicago in the early 90s, once he started to build a base in preparation for his 2008 election:

“But the University of Chicago is another story. His stay there, as a lecturer and senior lecturer, coincided with the meteoric rise of Rashid Khalidi. It’s here that Obama appeared in 1991, and for the first time we can link him to the Edward Said-Rashid Khalidi nexus. It would appear that Obama received his first primer on the Middle East from Rashid Khalidi.
…One can only hope that Obama realizes sooner rather than later that he too will not be able to draw the sword from the stone and bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace in our time. But lots of time and energy will be wasted in this learning process, it will put tremendous strain on the triangular relationship among the United States, Israel, and America’s Arab allies, and it will distract everyone from what has to be done to address the other pressing problems in the Middle East, all of which will be neglected on the erroneous assumption that America can’t do anything productive until it creates some sort of Palestine.”

As December 23 2016 shows, Barak Hussein Obama never unlearned his first Middle East primer.

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