Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

Time to ditch the ‘great men of history’ view

The problem with even the best coverage of Israel-Palestine is that it has to overlook – or feign ignorance of – realpolitik. Here we have Gideon Levy in fine form castigating Obama for an obsequious interview he gave on Israel’s Channel 2 TV on the eve of his visit to the region.


When Obama said he admires Israel’s ‘core values,’ which values was he talking about? The dehumanization of the Palestinians? The attitude toward African migrants? The arrogance, racism and nationalism? …

To admire ‘core values’ while knowing we’re talking about one of the most racist countries there is, with a separation wall and apartheid-like policies, means betraying the core values of the American civil rights movement that made the Obama miracle possible. …

Obama wants to lower expectations of his visit. Well, they can’t get any lower. During his first term they said we’d have to wait until his second. So now it’s here, and he says he’s only coming ‘to listen.’ But his job isn’t to listen; everybody has listened far more than enough. Now it’s time for action, and it’s still being delayed.

This is all great stuff, but then Levy goes on to suggest Obama has forgotten the lessons he learnt from his friend, Palestinian-American scholar Rashid Khalidi – as though, Obama’s just been listening to the wrong people since he became president, and all he need do is get a new set of advisers to put him right.

But Obama hasn’t forgotten. I have no doubt he understands full well what’s going on in Israel-Palestine. The problem is the US political system has its own military-industrial imperatives and people like Obama either bend to them or are consumed by them. The advisers around him are there to remind him of those imperatives and that he is only a spokesman for them, not their master.

Destroying the illusion that “great men” like Obama can save us from the faceless psychopaths who run our societies and wage our wars-for-profit should be the first task of journalism. Much as I admire Levy, he’s doing us no favours perpetuating the myth that the system is reformable. It is rotten to the core and needs to be discarded.

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