Mr. President, You Confused Me

Mr. President, I very closely followed your trip to Israel this week, and I have to say, you confused me.

You visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, the most famous Palestinian of all time.  The church is a United Nations World Heritage Site, listed in the UN under the “State of Palestine,” a designation you loudly opposed in front of the world.  It must have felt weird to see something that everyone else says exists but you say doesn’t. I can relate.  Every day I tell myself my belly isn’t actually there.

But watching from afar, I was a little confused.

I listened carefully when you gave that monumental speech in Jerusalem.  You started off talking about the strong bond between Israel and America, the perseverance of the Jewish people, and their ingenuity in building a nation.  You then talked about security and the constant threat of destruction that Israel lives under.  You brought up Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, the usual suspects.  You also sang to the Israeli audience:

You are not alone
I am here with you
Though we’re far apart
You’re always in my heart

Ok, you only said the first line, but it reminded me how much I miss Michael Jackson.

Now, you did talk to us earlier in the day in Ramallah.  There you told us we shouldn’t ask Israel to stop building settlements and confiscating land before we return to negotiations about where our state might be one day.  So, Israel gets touchy-feely speeches and we get asked to behave.

I was a little confused.

Then you said, “peace is necessary.”

Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.

Demographics west of the Jordan River?  That means us, I think.  And I think it means we are reproducing quickly.  Well, without a state, we don’t have much else to do.  You can only demonstrate so much in one day.

This sort of sounds like the whole “demographic threat” thing Israeli politicians talk about all the time.  Benjamin Netanyahu must have given Ariel Sharon a high-five when you said this.  Well, not literally a high-five, because Sharon… well, whatever.

Mr. President, we Americans live in a country where our values don’t allow us to use race to build the identity of our citizenry.  But you said, “In Israel, we see values that we share.”

Forgive me if I was a little confused.

Also, I’m not sure if you noticed, but many in the Israeli audience were Palestinians.  I saw a couple of my cousins on CNN.  In fact, one out of every five Israeli citizens is actually a native Palestinian, and not Jewish at all.  How is the whole “Jewish and democratic” thing supposed to work out for them?

Forgive me if I was a little confused.

Then you said, “peace is just.”  After you stated proudly how you opposed any moves by the Palestinians to achieve statehood in the UN, you noted:

The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes… It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

It was very nice to hear about all of our rights. But what good are rights if we have to negotiate for them?  What good are they if we have to wait?  Put yourself in our shoes.  English is technically my second language, but I think they call them “rights” because you don’t have to ask for them.  They’re just always there.

Again, forgive me if I was a little confused.

Then you said “peace is possible” and that “negotiations will be necessary.”  You noted that, “Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn.”  Don’t worry, Israel is taking care of the “drawing borders” things.  No negotiations necessary.

Confusing, right?

There was some reason for optimism.  You reminded us that, “Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people.”  You spoke of freedom, democracy, and economic advancement, to rousing applause and enthusiasm.  That was June 2009.  In January 2011, they overthrew their whole system and moved forward in a new world. I’m glad you finally gave a big speech in Israel. We Palestinians have waited 65 years… what’s another eighteen months?

Finally, before you left, you convinced Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to his Turkish counterpart for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals at the hands of the Israeli Navy in 2010.  Since you’re on a roll, could I ask you to request another apology from Israel?  This one would be for 450 villages, 5 million refugees, and thousands of slain children.

Sadly, you’ll never do that.  And that leaves me the most confused of all.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Brilliant analysis of the absurdity of Obama’s strange and contradictory remarks. I keep wondering why all this talk about thriving as a Jewish state. Obama never says anything about the USA thriving as a Christian state. But then a Christian state would not be putting kosher signs on the food that Christians buy.

  2. Great Article! There’s never going to be a peaceful resolution or logical conversation when one of the “most powerful” nations is saluting and investing all its money, time and support to Israel. America wants a peaceful resolution but at the same time insists it will always support Israel. That hasn’t worked in the pass and it won’t work now.

  3. Obama or should I say O’Bama? I remember when he announced in his first office that he will see to it that a final solution to the problem in teh Middle East will take place before he leaves office, a week later he was visited by Benyamin Netanyahu and soon after he announced at the from lawn the exact opposite of his previous declaration. HE SWALLOWED HIS OWN WORDS, only less than one hour when he met with the Israeli PM. since then I knew that he cannot do, he cannot deliver, and the hopes of us Palestinians to solve the problem and lift the Israeli terrorizing occupation over the Palestinian lands have evaporated, leaving us in disrepair and in confusion. My Dear Ameer Zahr, we are confused since then.
    But again we have to keep believing that Only God is our Aid

  4. An excellent article ,and very well put .But don’t you think that Mr. Obama would have understood it more if it was written in Hebrew ,,,,

  5. The Problem is not Obama… Every US President is a puppet to the AIPAC. Why Can’t we Arabs in the States get to be one STRONG voice and LOBBY… YES We CAN!!

    • No Romana, we are the only nation on earth that we agreed not to agree. and is because every and each one of us is a head and a leader, we think individually not collectively

    • i agree i love obama!! i never vote but last year i had to obama has helped thousands of people idc what anyone says

  6. Your confusion originates from a twisted view on reality.

    Jesus, the most famous Palestinian? Sorry bro, Palestinian identity emerged only in the 1960’s. Jesus was Jewish, and as we know Jews are nowadays not treated very well in Muslim/Arab countries and neither are they in Palestine. Had he lived a couple of centuries later, he might have been given the generous privilege of being a Dhimmi.

    5 million Palestinian refugees? This lie can be repeated a thousand times, it won’t become true. There were about 800 thousand Palestinians expelled from Israel. A similar number of Jews were expelled from Muslim countries during the same time, by the way. One does not become a refugee by heredity. I’m not a holocaust survivor just because my grandparents escaped from Europe during WW2.

    One tip from me. Be confused about the following: Why did “Palestinians” not establish a peaceful state prior to ’67 when Jordan was controlling the full West bank and Egypt held the Gaza strip? Why are Palestinian refugees not integrated into the other Arab countries? Why are they treated like sh** there? Why did Arafat not accept the various proposals for Palestinian state? Why did Palestinian terror punish the Israelis for leaving Gaza? Why does Hamas still insist on destroying Israel?

    • You know pete? that you do not know is not a problem, but you insisting on staying ignorant, that makes me sick. Palestinians emerged only in 1960? is that what the Jews taught you? and you fill in their propaganda and believed them. I suggest that you ask your elderly to know that Palestine and Palestinians existed more than 7000 years ago, actually before Abraham became a Hebrew and came to Palestine, That is if you want to learn. when the people calling them selves Jews decided to have a country of their own, their first choice was Uganda, yes Sir, Uganda in Africa.
      Again I suggest that you do some homework and stop thinking that you are the smartest and the most knowledgeable one. Unless you a Jew and do not want to say it, that would be typical.

      • Yes you are right, Jews typically don’t want to say that they’re Jewish. That’s one of THOSE truths… But whether I’m Jewish or Inuit, it doesn’t change the fact that Palestinian identity emerged in the 60s. What we understand today as Palestinians comes from the 1964 charta of the PLO. Around that time Palestinian arabs began to call themselves Palestinians, and other people began to use this term as well.
        Before, most “Palestinians” identified with their family clans – Husseini, Nashashibi etc. – and they identified wie being Arab. The various mostly nomadic people that lived in Palestine during the millenia are as related to “Palestinians” as they are to other Semitic people in the region.

        • My Friend, you are mixing the emerging of the PLO with the emerging of the Palestinian nation, just think about it, did the PLO plant the seeds of these stray weeds that grew up all of the sudden as people and they decided to call themselves Palestinians? that is the typical arrogance of Golda Meir and her gangs to deny the existence of Palestinians so they can invade the land and proclaim it to themselves. I still have my Fathers’ Palestinian Passport issued in 1914, and I think that 1914 is a little before your 1964. You can blind yourself as much as you can. the rest of the world knows the truth regardless of what you say, thank God that you are a very few people on the surface of this planet. Trust me, I don’t want to kill the Jews as a matter of facts I, personally have so many Jewish friends than you can imagine. all I want is to live together not one on the expense of the other or instead of the other. I know that many of the intelligent and Passionate Jewish people are seeing the truth and calling for coexistence, in a way or another. that will be easier to accomplish once your and your alike’s’ opinions are changed for the good in man.
          one last word, do not deny the existence of others if you want the other to recognize your existence.

          • Read carefully. I’m not denying anyones existence. You want to call yourself Palestinian? Go ahead! Why would you need my permission? Look at my posts above! Do you see any arguments for or against Israeli actions? The facts dont depend on your political views. In 1914 Palestine was still ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Check out the provinces that they had:
            What you call Palestine was divided into sevearl parts. Non of them was called Palestine. People called Palestine generally the region west of the Jordan. However, its inhabtants were usually not called Palestinians (otherwise, I guess also tens of thousands of Jews would have been Palestinians). I’m surprised that your Father had a “Palestinian” passport at that time. If it is true, I’d be curious to see how it differed from the passports they were issuing in Beirut, in Amman, or in Damascus. But in any case, what is written on the passport doesn’t really say anything about your Identity. Many Israeli Arabs don’t identify with being Israeli. East Germans had a different passport than West Germans, but they were the same people. etc

            Anyhow, I’m glad that you don’t want to kill all the Jews, including your numerous Jewish friends. Best, Pete

  7. WE Americans have enough problems!! He came for support…not to solve all your problems! That’s for the people!! What did you expect? He barely came!

    • I expected him to be on the side of peace not to favor one side over the other. and by the way the side he favors is practicing an ongoing genocide against the Palestinians, who has ears, listen and who has eyes, look and see.

  8. Uganda? It was a proposal because the zionist leadership at the time were sure the Otomans would kill the jews trying to create a state. Uganda was a very short lived proposal. do your homework.

  9. Dear Nimrod,
    the Zionist Leadership split over themselves on the decision, and by manor majority after marathons of debating, the occupation of Palestine won. let me teach you something you did not prepare your homework for, the “Jewish immigration started in the late 19th century well inside the Ottoman empire regimen” they were supported by the French influence on the Ottoman Sultan, who, by the way, was NOT Arab or Palestinian

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