Like the comedian Don Rickles, President Barack Obama managed to offend pretty much everyone on his trip to the Middle East. The difference is that Rickles was well aware of the fact that he was insulting — that was the point of his schtick. Obama, however, didn’t seem to have a clue.
At a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama compared the “plight” of the Palestinians to that of blacks during the darkest days in American history. He began by telling the crowd that the young people he’d met in Palestine reminded him of his own daughters.
“Whenever I meet these young people, whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli, I’m reminded of my own daughters, and I know what hopes and aspirations I have for them,” Obama said. “And those of us in the United States understand that change takes time but it is also possible, because there was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunities in their own country as somebody else’s daughters.”
Politico’s Josh Gerstein noted:
Obama’s comments—which invoked life under Jim Crow in the U.S. or perhaps even under slavery—seemed to give support to Palestinian narratives that describe Arabs and Palestinians as second-class citizens in Israel. That line of criticism deeply angers many Israelis. Some critics of Israel go so far as to use the word apartheid, a word that angers Israelis further.
The press conference was held at the Palestinian headquarters compound in Ramallah, and the backdrop was adorned with a huge likeness of Yasser Arafat, something that didn’t set well with Americans back home.
Arafat was referred to by the National Review as “the father of modern terrorism,” and for good reason. He had the blood of many Americans on his hands, most notably that of a U.S. Ambassador.
Upon Arafat’s orders, U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel, his deputy chief of mission, George Moore, and Belgian charge d’affaires Guy Eid, were murdered during a terrorist hostage-taking in Khartoum in March 1973.
Four years ago, the president’s advance team ordered a depiction of Jesus Christ to be covered at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, when Obama spoke there.
Given the bloody history the late Palestinian leader had with U.S. citizens, the advance team should have made the same demands of the Arafat depiction.
On a final note, during Obama’s press conference with the Israeli prime minister, demonstrators in Gaza ripped and burned the American flag. I guess he insulted them also. In fact, USA Today noted in a column on Wednesday that the U.S.’s popularity has actually sunk in the Middle East since the end of the Bush administration.