Thursday, September 22, 2011

Battle at the UN and the Reaction So Far

By Barry Rubin

I think I understand the world but it is much harder to understand the world's reaction to the world's events. President Barack Obama, who has for months said he would veto the Palestinian bid to obtain UN recognition of unilateral independence, has now made a speech saying he stronly opposes it. This is portrayed as some great defeat for the Palestinians. But they've known this was going to happen for around three months. The point was--and probably still is--that they will have overwhelming support in the General Assembly. This seems likely to lead to some new concessions to them, increasing international support, and either recognition or higher status in their treatment by other countries.   So why should this be some kind of shocking development? What really makes this interesting now is how Obama's action--and especially his veto--will be dealt with in the Arab and Muslim majority world. Also so far the Palestinian demonstrations have fizzled. Exhaustion? Indifference to a purely symbolic issue? Or will reaction be delayed? We should remember that this mess was all unnecessary since if Obama had told the Palestinian leadership this nine months ago the whole thing never would have happened. Finally, does this speech prove that Obama is passionately pro-Israel? No, but it proves he isn't hysterically anti-Israel.

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