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Obama Weaves Web of Deceit on Gaza War

At a press conference, the president painted a picture that Israelis are the victims.

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Instead, he put all the blame on Palestinians and made it sound beyond question that the Israelis are the victims: “We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles. … We will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.

This is the old myth of Israel’s insecurity: poor little Israel, just trying to defend itself against ferocious neighbors who constantly imperil its very existence. The story has been told so often now that most Americans really can’t see the conflict any other way.

Perhaps Obama is equally blind to the true facts and speaks out of naïve ignorance. Or perhaps he knows the truth and is intentionally trying to deceive us. Either way, the result is to perpetuate the suffering -- suffering that he could stop.

It was one final mendacious note when Obama pretended, at his press conference, that he could only sit around and wait to see how things work out: “We are actively working with all the parties in the region. … We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours.”

In fact “it is clear who is boss,” as the highly respected Israeli foreign policy analyst Anshel Pfeffer recently wrote. Israelis know perfectly well that if Washington says “no” and really means it, the government in Jerusalem must stop. But “so far,” Pfeffer notes, “there is a clear American green light for Israel's operation.”

The American public lets their president give Israel that green light because the public swallows the story told by the president and the press.

Obama did say one true thing: If peace can come “without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable, that's not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it's also preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded." Both sides suffer from this Israeli-initiated violence, though the people of Gaza suffer by far the most.

Israel’s biggest newspaper reports that peace is possible. Hamas asks only for an end to Israel’s illegal blockade and attacks on Gaza. But Israel is demanding that Hamas must promise to prevent all rocket fire from Gaza (even by the groups beyond Hamas’ control), while Israel retains the right to continue the economic blockade indefinitely.

That’s not change any reasonable person can believe in. Nor is the president’s portrayal of the conflict a picture that any reasonable person should believe in.

Ira Chernus is a professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of “MythicAmerica: Essays.” He blogs at

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