Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Palestinians' New Enemy: US and Obama

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
22 February '11


The Palestinian Authority, which over the past two decades has received millions of dollars in aid from the US, is now waging a fierce campaign against the US Administration and President Barack Obama.

The anti-US campaign began immediately after the US vetoed last week a Palestinian-initiated resolution condemning construction in Jewish settlements.

Since then, the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank has been urging Palestinians to take to the streets to denounce the US and Obama. It has also called for a "day of rage" against the US, which is being accused of being "biased" in favor of Israel.

Since the vote at the UN Security Council, Palestinians, many of them supporters of the ruling Fatah faction, have burned US flags and chanted slogans condemning Obama as a "despicable" man.

One of the slogans chanted by the anti-US protesters states: "O despicable Obama, we want self-determination!"

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, who until recently had refrained from publicly criticizing the US and Obama, are now using rhetoric that sounds as if it is coming from Hamas and Iran.

Even the most "moderate" leaders, such as Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have begun using harsh language to denounce Obama and the US.

Because of the growing anti-US sentiments, the US has reportedly instructed its diplomats to stay away from some Palestinian Authority-controlled cities in the West Bank.

This is the same US Administration that has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars on reconstructing the Palestinian security forces that are loyal to Mahmoud Abbas and Fayyad and boosting the economy in the West Bank.

They are hoping to pressure the US into "compensating" them for vetoing the resolution. The anti-US demonstrations can be seen as an attempt to blackmail the Americans into increasing financial aid or exerting pressure on Israel to make concessions. But by inciting their people against the US and Obama, Abbas and Fayyad are shooting themselves in the foot:

First, those who are demonstrating against the Americans could easily turn against the two Palestinian leaders who are seen by many Palestinians as puppets in the hands of the US.

Second, by inciting against the US, Abbas and Fayyad are driving many Palestinians into the open arms of radicals such as Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad – groups that consider the US as the number one enemy of Muslims.

Third, the anti-US demonstrations that the Palestinian Authority has been organizing could spark similar protests throughout the Arab and Islamic world, posing a serious threat to US interests and prompting Al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups to launch new terror attacks against American targets.

It now remains to be seen whether Obama will succumb to the pressure and threats and demand that Israel make concessions to appease Abbas and Fayyad.

The Palestinian Authority has every right to be upset with US policies in the region. But it should also be careful about its words and actions, especially when they further radicalize Palestinians and whip up anti-American sentiments not only in the West Bank, but in many Arab and Islamic countries as well.

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