Monday, November 26, 2012

An Open Letter To Dore Gold

An Open Letter to Dore Gold and Other Columnists of His Ilk, Who Propagate the Myth That The US and Israel Share Common Values.

On November 9, 2012, I was surfing the Internet for the latest news about the abominable Israel-Palestine conflict, when I came across a column written by Dore Gold in the Algemeiner website (, titled, “On Middle East peace, Obama will be more realistic in second term.” In it he wrote that the US and Israel shared values. Just a few minutes before, I had seen on YouTube three videos of the IDF soldiers demolishing Palestinians’ houses in the West Bank. In one particularly heart-wrenching video, the Israelis were using heavy drills made by the Caterpillar company, the name clearly visible on the yellow behemoth, to demolish a well built stone house, while three Palestinian women were wailing, their arms raised up towards the sky, and terrified children gripping their mothers’ black garbs. Nearly one hundred Palestinian men, women and children, and a few reporters with video cameras, watched in silence. And then I read the gross, biased column by Dore Gold about Israel and its high moral values. Immensely disturbed, I immediately wrote a comment and submitted it to the website. Did the editor publish my comment? Well, make a guess. He censored my comment, of course, but published four comments, all supporting Israel, of course. I was distressed, but only for a few minutes. After all, I have my own website where I could publish that comment if I wished. One thing admirable about the Internet is that once an article appears on a website, it stays in the Ether World for a very long time, indeed. And so here it is:

Dear Mr. Dore Gold,
You are perpetuating the myth that U.S. and Israel share common values. You have written, “But at the end of the day, the U.S.-Israeli relationship is based on common interests and shared values and those will continue to form the fabric of the ties between the two countries in the years ahead.” I wish to ask you: What shared values? US values, as proclaimed by our Presidents and political leaders of both parties, are that America stands for freedom, liberty, equality, and the unshakable belief that all people have an inalienable right to live in a free, democratic nation of their own. The new Israel, especially the Israel of the last twenty years, does not think that Palestinians deserve a nation of their own, and so has systematically confiscated, using military force even, Palestinians’ ancestral lands, destroying their ancient olive orchards in the process. Israel bulldozes Palestinians’ homes not only in the West Bank, but also in East Jerusalem, evicting the residents and pushing them to pavements as TV cameras from around the world witness and record the abominable acts of IDF. America does not believe that people can be thrown out of their houses and their land taken over without due process and compensation. Even Israel’s strong allies – Britain, France and Germany have not only pleaded with Israel to stop the demolition of Palestinians’ houses and stop the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements, but also condemned Israel’s devouring of Palestinian lands and approval of the ever increasing number of settlements.

Destroying Palestinians’ water cisterns, taking over Palestinians’ water reservoirs, burning down their olive trees, killing their goats, shooting and killing unarmed peaceful protesters at the illegal separation wall: These actions do not conform at all to American values. So please stop saying that US and Israel share common values, because we simply don’t. 

I hope, for the sake of Israel, that sanity will prevail, and that Israelis will finally decide to halt their march towards firmly establishing an old-South Africa style apartheid state. I am distressed to see that in many aspects, for example: Two sets of laws applying to Palestinians and Jews, separate roads, some roads forbidden to Palestinians, arrest and detention of Palestinians – even teenagers and young boys - without charging and trying them in a court of law, etc., Israel is already an apartheid state. I wonder what happened to the Israel dreamed about and established by men like David Ben-Gurion?

Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally some real action against six American rogues

Several books have been written, and many articles have been published in august international legal journals, and long winded lectures have been delivered at prestigious universities, international organizations, and hallowed halls around the world by international experts in criminal law; but only a few have taken any meaningful action against the perpetrators of some of the most brutal acts and despicable crimes on our planet: the kidnapping and transportation of men to some dark dungeons in secret prisons in foreign lands, in a process euphemistically called “Extraordinary rendition”.

“Extraordinary rendition” is an extra-judicial act of abduction and transportation of people to secret prisons scattered around the world, without obtaining a legal order issued from a court of law. It is an abominable act perpetrated often with the cooperation and connivance of nations not averse to practicing such barbarity.

Some of the nations that facilitated such shocking, and blatantly illegal acts are none other than our friendly, permanent allies such as Britain, France, Germany, and Italy; and allies of mutual convenience such as Australia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan; and, in a class by itself, Syria. Poland and Romania are also suspected of lending the USA a helping hand. The BBC has reported that, according to a report from Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, fourteen European states colluded with the CIA in secret US flights for terror suspects. The report states that Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Germany and Cyprus provided "staging posts" for rendition operations, while the UK, Portugal, Ireland and Greece were "stop-off points", and that Italy, Sweden, Macedonia and Bosnia allowed the abduction of residents from their soil.

The criminal policy of Extraordinary Rendition meets the definition of War Crimes as enunciated in the Rome Statute that constitutes the foundation of the International Criminal Court in Hague, in the Netherlands. It has been established that under the pretense of waging a “War on Terror”, nearly 100 people have been subjected to this barbarous act. They have been tortured using techniques such as water boarding, banging on the head, sleep and food deprivation, and forcing them to sleep in the nude on cold floors.

Now comes the news that, a courageous man of unimpeachable character, moral fortitude, and a strong conviction that the perpetrators of these despicable war crimes and crimes against humanity must face justice at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Mr. Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Illinois, USA, has filed a complaint against American citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales, whom he refers to as the “Accused”. He has petitioned the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to obtain international arrest warrants against George Bush and his co-accused.

Even though the United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, because the Accused had ordered that these men be subjected to extraordinary rendition - the kidnapping and subsequent torture - they have committed acts considered as crimes under the ICC statute, within the territories of many ICC member states. And so the ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute the Accused for their ICC statutory crimes. He has also requested the prosecutor to formally submit to the “Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” of the Accused under Rome Statute Article 15(3).

I have been waiting to hear this good news for over two years now. And I am happy and terribly relieved that Professor Francis A. Boyle has persevered, against heavy odds, to complete the task. I hope Professor Francis A. Boyle will follow this complaint, soon, by filing an additional complaint against George Bush and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for committing War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity by bombing and invading a disarmed Iraq without any provocation. The destruction of the city of Fallujah, and the infrastructure of Iraq, its roads, bridges, electricity generating plants, and water treatment centers, and the slaughter of more than a million Iraqis, and the displacement of 4 million more as refugees, in my opinion, constituted even graver War Crimes than the “Extraordinary Rendition” implemented by them.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Evident Decline of the USA in the Last Decade, and the Inevitable Rise of China

Much has been written about the rapid rise of China in the last decade as a major world power. On its front page, The New York Times, for example, last year published several articles describing China’s modern super-high-rises, its gleaming towers, and wide super highways that connect its major cities, and ultra modern stadiums, and clean parks. At a time when America’s economy is stagnating, China’s economy is booming.

Unemployment rate is well over 10% in the United States, with cities such as Detroit registering unemployment of 30% or more. Officially, the unemployment rate in Detroit is around 30%, but according to the Detroit News, the actual figure is closer to an almost unimaginable 50%. The number of the homeless throughout our nation is at a bewildering level, with more than three million houses repossessed in the last two years alone, and with three million more houses awaiting their turn to be repossessed this year. At a time when the number of families that are unable to feed their children is rising to shameful levels here, with reports that one out of four children in America goes to bed hungry, China’s booming economy is incomprehensible to the average American who does not read news papers or international magazines.

I have read that tourists who were dazed by what they saw in Beijing and Shanghai were shocked even more when they returned to New York, Detroit, or Los Angelus, and saw our dirty subways and crumbling infra-structure, and graffiti scrawled walls needing a coat of paint, and dirty floors needing a thorough scrubbing, and trash on the curbs, and desperation in the eyes and anxiety in the faces of the millions of the unemployed and the newly homeless. Judging from readers’ comments in national newspapers and magazines, there is increasing evidence that people have finally begun asking in earnest the question: What happened to America?

What happened is quite simple, actually. There is no mystery to it. Americans’ priorities changed in the last decade. We became war-obsessed. Even now I shudder when I recall vividly how some newscasters in the USA cheered loudly as bombs fell on the sleeping civilians in Iraq, during the abominable “Shock and Awe” carnage broadcast live on several TV stations worldwide; and here in New York, on a major network, two anchormen pounded their fists on the table, laughed, and roared, and showed a video clip again and again of a bridge in Iraq being bombed with precision missiles, and a truck on the road speeding and falling down the bridge and tumbling into the river.

While we continued to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, year after year, on needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chinese continued to spend about 45 to 50 billion dollars per city in both Beijing and Shanghai in the last two years, building soaring high-rises and sparkling towers and new museums, widening and repaving the roads, clearing all the trash, and improving their infra-structure. As a result, Shanghai has replaced Paris as the Queen of the cities at night time. With its economy booming, last year more cars were sold in China than in the USA, for the first time in over six decades. And China also built the fastest train on earth, the new magnetic levitation train, Maglev, that runs at an astonishing 430 KPH(Kilometers per hour, or about 267 miles per hour).

The rise of China and the decline of the USA will continue so long as the war-obsessed America continues the two wars initiated by us, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the one war in Palestine fed by us - by supplying tanks, bombs, missiles, and phosphorus bombs, and 2.9 billion dollars to Israel each year. We financed the wars using trillion dollars borrowed mostly from China and Japan.

It’s quite obvious to all but the close-minded, that our priorities had changed in the last decade. Our decline was inevitable. It will get much worse here in the USA for the poor and middle class people in the next four years. The rich, of course, will continue to prosper, and get excellent health coverage. Unburdened by the expenditures of needless wars, the Chinese will continue to spend billions of dollars to improve their infra-structure, agriculture, and health care.

As grave as our economic decline has been, our moral decline has been even more startling and precipitous. There is no doubt now that the detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons were indeed tortured, as revealed by the classified “torture memos” that were released by the Justice department, to comply with a court order that the ACLU obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. Also, the world is aghast that hundreds of detainees were held in captivity for more than seven years without being charged of any criminal activity, and that several prisoners were even tortured to death.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

Monday, January 4, 2010

For the first time in his political career, Mahmoud Abbas stands resolute.

From the time Mahmoud Abbas was elected as President of the Palestinian National Authority on January 15, 2005, even though he had sworn to serve the Palestinian people and to advance, protect, and defend their interests, he had acted as if he were a secret Israeli agent striving to preserve and protect Israel’s interests. It appeared as if he listened attentively to the wishes and directives from Israel, and awaited orders from the White House, and in each instance complied faithfully, and without complaints. He could be summoned by American Presidents, as President Obama in fact did in September 2009, and came to the Plaza hotel in New York obsequiously, looking quite sullen, to shake hands with Netanyahu, at the “tripartite summit”.

When Israel started the Gaza War, assaulting helpless civilians, bombing houses, schools, mosques and hospitals, and dropped white phosphorus bombs on fleeing civilians, and as world-wide condemnations of Israel poured in, Mr. Abbas shut his mouth and did not criticize Israel for several days. Even the BBC took note of his behavior. In its report on Thursday, 5 November 2009, it commented: “Mr. Abbas has walked a delicate line between appeasing Israeli and US demands that he improve security and participate in peace negotiations, and popular Palestinian pressure for genuine political and economic progress. And he has, in the past year, undermined his already fragile poll ratings with misjudged comments and actions. Even Fatah supporters were angered when Mr. Abbas was slow to condemn the punishing military assault that Israel launched on Gaza in December 2008, and criticized the Hamas rocket fire Israel said it was trying to end.”

On many occasions, and several times during the Gaza War, Mr. Abbas’ words and actions prompted me to stop and think and wonder: Is he the President of the Palestinian people, or is he an agent of the Israeli government, doing its bidding, but paid for his efforts by the United States, in dollars borrowed from China?

But in October, 2009, something strange, startling, and least expected happened to the Middle East peace process restarted by President Obama. In June President Obama had assured Mr. Abbas privately that he would insist that Israel cease from its settlements expansion in the occupied land, and publicly President Obama had even demanded that Israel freeze all its settlement activities as called for by the Road Map to Peace. However, as Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton stood by Netanyahu in Jerusalem in a joint press conference and praised him effusively for agreeing to slow down – but not freeze - Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, and described Netanyahu’s decision as “unprecedented” and worthy of praise, Mr. Abbas, shocked in Ramallah, opened his eyes and realized that the Obama administration was brazenly taking Israel’s side in the conflict. He felt humiliated and outraged that he had been made to appear like a fool, again. The fact that Mrs. Clinton’s news conference happened only weeks after the tripartite hand shake fiasco at the Plaza hotel on September 22, 2009, only made his anger and pain worse. Then came the White House directed and orchestrated fiasco of the handling of Geneva based U N Human Rights Council’s Goldstone Report on the Gaza War. President Obama put enormous pressure on Abbas to write to the UNHRC asking for a delay in endorsing the report. President Obama’s intention was obviously to shield Israel from the bad publicity and the damage to its image engendered as a result of the vote. But the plan backfired, and Mr. Abbas faced the scorn of almost the entire Muslim world. Mr. Abbas realized that he was duped again with Israel’s and Washington’s connivance.

Embarrassed, shocked, and deeply pained, Mr. Abbas resolved that he can not let either Israel or the White House push him around any more, and that he had to take a firm stand. He announced that he will not participate in peace negotiations until Israel freezes all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well. He knows that the settlements are illegal, and that the UN resolutions regarding the settlements support him, and that the International Laws regarding occupied lands favor him, and so he has resolved to not budge. It was as if he had decided to take a firm, unwavering stand. And for the first time in his political career, Mahmoud Abbas has stood resolute.

He has even announced, repeatedly, that he will not seek reelection. I guess he has had enough of being pushed around, and pulled with strings like a puppet. I am not surprised at his resolve, and that he is fighting back. After all, even normally docile rats put up a ferocious fight when cornered, don’t they?

But I am astonished that Mr. Abbas did not stand on a stage in Ramallah and say loudly, “Et tu Obama? Then retire Abbas!” I half expected to hear the words gushing from his lips.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

President Obama’s Third Mantra

Those who habitually read newspapers or listen to broadcast news know that President Obama had until now two mantras in his mind. His first mantra: “Our support of Israel to live in security is unshakable”, has been heard around the world, loudly and clearly, dozens of times.

His second mantra: “The bond between Israel and USA is unbreakable”, also has been heard around the world on many occasions. He chanted it even at the Cairo University in Egypt. “America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable.” These two mantras and some minor variants of the mantras have been chanted just like mantras, repeatedly, by Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton, and Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell every time they found an opportunity to chant them.

To those who are dismayed and bored with President Obama’s two mantras, I have some good news. Rejoice! President Obama has found a new mantra, his third, and has added it to his list. The new mantra is: “We are dismayed that Israelis are expanding the settlements”.

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian Authority “strongly condemns” the decision to build 900 housing units in Gilo, in East Jerusalem. In contrast, the Obama administration issued a statement that the administration was “dismayed” and asked both parties to avoid unilateral actions that could “pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations.” I think his administration is sleeping; doesn’t it know that the peace process is dead and gone?

I am dismayed that The New York Times wrote that: “The news that the building plans had moved closer to approval drew a sharp response from the White House, which has declared reviving the talks to be a major policy goal.” And what was White House’s sharp response? The statement – Obama’s third mantra – that “We are dismayed that Israelis are expanding the settlements”. Here is a country that defies international laws, a country that it supports unconditionally with financial and military aid, and a country that it protects from international condemnations at the UN Security Council, and all that the Obama administration can do is express its “dismay” at Israel’s disregard for international laws?

These settlements are not only illegal per international laws, and against UN resolutions, they are opposed by almost the entire world except the USA. Yes, Obama’s administration has in the past stated that “We do not recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories”; but these are hollow words, not backed up with actions, actions such as ending economic and military aid to an aggressor and oppressor, and an international bully. President Obama has continued to send blank checks to Israel, and on time. It’s high time that the Nobel Peace committee stopped deluding itself that President Obama is a man of peace. I am aware that it is quite unlikely that the committee would withdraw the Nobel Peace Prize already given; but it is never too late to issue a statement expressing its regrets.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Declare Independence of Palestine Now

It is now abundantly clear that the stalled negotiation for peace in the Middle East is now dead.

During Secretary of State Clinton’s recent short sojourn through the region, in her joint press conference with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, she effusively praised Netanyahu’s intransigence regarding Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank. The peace process died when she bizarrely described as “unprecedented” Mr. Netanyahu’s paltry concession to slow down the feverish tempo of building illegal housing units in the occupied territories. Even though she hastily tried to back-track, the damage to the peace process had been done. It was as if she had given the peace process a death blow. The Palestinian negotiators were deeply shocked. Did not President Obama, and even Mrs. Clinton herself, say only a month ago that the Israeli settlements in the occupied land were illegitimate? It dawned on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the peace process was dead, and so he announced that he will be resigning from his position soon. He had threatened to resign a couple of times on previous occasions, of course, but this time it seems that he means to carry out his threat.

At the White House President Obama has been mostly silent regarding the peace process, except for declaring at regular and frequent intervals his commitment for the security of Israel and announcing that the bond between Israel and the USA is “unshakable”. After impressing the entire world with his commitment for peace, and inspiring the world with his soaring speech and dazzling oratory from the august hall of Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, when he said, “America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable…..On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own," he seems to have changed. He seems to have had second thoughts regarding Palestinians’ suffering, and has been tilting slowly, but perceptibly, towards the Israeli side. And the world has noticed this tilt. He has clearly softened his opposition to the ever expanding Israeli settlements in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And perhaps even more shocking: he remained silent as the Israeli government evicted Palestinian and Arab families from their homes in East Jerusalem, and bulldozed two houses.

There are credible reports that Palestinian Prime Minister Mr. Salam Fayyad is seriously exploring his own plan for peace in the Middle East that he first proposed in August 2009 in a 54-page booklet: To unilaterally declare the independence of Palestine bounded by the internationally recognized June 4, 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. For forty years the pursuit of peace has been through endless negotiations; Fayyad would like to seek peace through a declaration. The game of Negotiation versus Declaration should be most fascinating to watch. There are reports also that the plan has earned the broad backing of the UN, the Quartet, and a few European leaders, as well as the Obama administration.

This is not really a novel or new idea as Mr. Fayyad very well knows, because this plan has precedents. For example, on 17 February 2008, Kosovo had issued its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia, and the United States and most European Union countries, with which this declaration was coordinated, had rushed to extend diplomatic recognition to this “new country”. So, wouldn’t the USA and the same EU countries now find it awkward to oppose any such unilateral declarations of independence for Palestine? I am afraid they will not find it awkward, because in any matter that pertains to Israel, having a double standard is the norm, not the exception. Consider nuclear weapons, for example. Even though Israel possesses more than 200 nuclear weapons, all the noise one hears coming from Washington and the capitals of the EU countries is regarding the probability of Iran’s acquiring nuclear capability in two or three years. Rockets fired by the Hamas in Gaza into its occupying and blockading neighbor, Israel, is considered terrorism; but the precision missiles fired at Palestinians’ houses, schools, hospitals, mosques, sewage treatment plants, water reservoirs, and police stations, and the phosphorus bombs dropped by Israel on Palestinian civilians is considered self-defense, even though per international law, an occupying power can not claim self defense in justifying its atrocities.

Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper has reported that in secret meetings with leaders of a few EU nations, Mr. Fayyad has secured support for his grand plan. There are reports that he has discussed his plan with both President Obama and Mrs. Clinton also. Netanyahu, obviously, does not like the plan at all, and he has asked Obama to veto the plan in the UN Security Council should the proposal arrive at the Security Council.

Mr. Salam Fayyad knows that forty years of negotiations with successive Israeli governments have resulted in only three significant things that matter: Increase in numbers of the ever expanding, illegal settlements; and encroachment of vast areas of Palestinian ancestral lands; and loss of even more land for the creation of security “buffer areas”. Even though nothing will be built in these buffer areas, the Palestinians will be forbidden from entering these areas, nevertheless.

Israel now has 121 Jewish-only settlements and 106 out-posts, all of them illegal, on confiscated Palestinian land. Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem.

Per Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” I am certain that President Obama knows this. And yet he has decided to go along with Mr. Netanyahu’s plan of expanding the illegal settlements as the world watches in bewildered silence.

If the Palestinians truly wish to establish their independent state, they need to do only a simple thing. After suffering all the terrors of the 41 year occupation and horrors of the Gaza War, and the daily humiliations at the roadside checkpoints, the time has come to take a bold step and do the right and necessary thing: Unilaterally declare independence from Israel, just as the people of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, in February 2008.

Let there be peace on earth.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

President Obama’s Peace Mask Has Cracked

On the political stage, a short period of five months might as well be an eternity. As the world turns on its axis, events least expected can and often do happen, and spin out of control; and carefully laid out plans go awry.

On Thursday June 4, 2009, President Obama spoke to the world from the august Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. Appropriately titled "A New Beginning", the speech was grand and impressive. He described Palestinians' statelessness as "intolerable", and recognized their aspirations for statehood and dignity as legitimate, just as legitimate as Israel's desire for a Jewish homeland. And, of course, he reaffirmed, as he had done several times before, America's alliance with Israel, calling their mutual bond "unbreakable". He was wearing his peace mask. That was only five months ago, and already it seems so very long ago.

Now, consider this scenario: Imagine an experienced ballerina on a well-lit stage, waiting to dance a beautifully choreographed "Swan Lake". But instead of playing the well-rehearsed and famous Tchaikovsky score, the orchestra suddenly decides to play rap music, and as the startled ballerina tries to take it into stride and begins to improvise, an immense hydraulic pump beneath the stage begins to slowly raise the back of the stage, and as a consequence the ballerina slides and falls on fer face. Now imagine that Secretary of State Clinton was this ballerina. That is what happened to her in Jerusalem last week. This is the sequence of a series of events that started in Washington and culminated in Morocco in a fiasco:

Last week President Obama sent Secretary of State Clinton for a short sojourn through Pakistan to assure Pakistanis of USA's long term committment to Pakistan. From Pakistan Clinton flew to Abu Dhabi, to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and to urge him to rejoin the stalled peace process. He firmly declined that invitation saying that unless Israel froze all settlement activities he will not negotiate. From Abu Dhabi Mrs. Clinton flew to Jerusalem to meet Netanyahu. She emerged from a closed door meeting with Netanyahu and, in a joint press meeting made this befuddled statement: "What the prime minister has offered... a restraint on the policy of settlements, which he has just described, no new starts, for example, is unprecedented in the context of prior negotiations." In other words, Netanyahu would build the recently approved (with Obama's blessimgs) 3000 new housing units on land already confiscated from Palestinians, but he would build them at a slower pace. He will not start new settlements, but will only extend existing illegal settlements. She priased Netanyahu's offer effusively.

This statement caused a great furor in the Arab world. Mahmoud Abbas said Mr. Netanyahu's proposal was a "non-starter," in the words of his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. And Erekat said that halting settlement construction was the "only way to ensure the revival of the peace process." The secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said Mrs. Clinton's remarks in Jerusalem "mean that we are once again in the same vicious circle we were in the 1990s". The Arabs saw a clear US tilt towards Israel. The Saudis were upset with Mrs. Clinton; Jordan's King Abdullah was livid. It soon dawned on President Obama that Mrs. Clinton had to tone down, and retune and fine-tune what she was saying. So here in Washington Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley clarified for The Jerusalem Post that the United States is still demanding that Israel freeze all settlement activity, but that it should not be a precondition for talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

And in Morocco, before meeting with the Arab foreign ministers, Mrs. Clinton moderated her praise for Israel's offer to restrain building settlements in Palestinian areas. Regarding Netanyahu's offer she said, "It is not what we want; it is nowhere near enough. But I think when you keep your eye on what we want to achieve, it is a better place to be than the alternative. And therefore, I think we should be trying to keep moving the parties." She insisted that Washington still considered settlement activity in West Bank "illegitimate" and that Obama wanted a freeze.

Even though Mrs. Clinton's "slip" occured in Jerusalem, the crack in Obama's peace mask occured in Washington. That is the nature of political occurences, sometimes. An event occurs in one place, but the consequence can be seen in a distant place, far removed from the place of occurence.

George Mitchell met again with Mr. Abbas, this time in Jordan, on Monday, and also with King Abdullah. In Marrakesh, Morocco, Mrs. Clinton tried to persuade skeptical Arab foreign ministers of the value of Israel's proposal. She even met Libyan foreign minister, Musa Kusa. Wow!

From Marrakesh Mrs. Clinton flew to Cairo to confer with Hosni Mubarak, and to mollify Muslims angry at her remarks at the weekend praising Israel's offer to slow down - but not freeze - settlement construction in the West Bank. Netanyahu would continue to build in East Jerusalem, however.

Be that as it may, I believe that the reason the peace process has not succeeded even after forty years' negotiations is that America loves Israel blindly. Call it motherly love. The USA feels motherly love for Israel, but it has a step-motherly attitude towards Palestinians. That is the very kernel of the problem. Until the step-motherly attitude towards the Palestinians changes, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

It is becoming abundantly clear that President Obama is not unbiased regarding Israel-Palestine conflict. His Middle East policy now has a clear, discernible tilt towards Israel. The peace mask that he wore so successfully for nine months as an unbiased arbiter for peace has cracked.

A new peace mask for Obama is on order, I suppose.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ