Back in 2008, I heard about a young Palestinian named Ibrahim Abu Jayyab, who made campaign calls to the U.S. urging Americans to vote for Obama, who he thought would help the Palestinian cause if he became president. When I interviewed Obama in Indianapolis that year, I told him about Ibrahim, and asked him how, if elected, he might repay youth like Ibrahim who advocated on his behalf and who sought his help.
Not prepared to answer such a specific question, especially one calling into question the U.S.’s long-standing policy of blind support for Israel, Obama responded vaguely, talking about how the U.S. needs to be a beacon of hope for young people all around the world.
Four years later, Obama is vowing to veto the Palestinians’ bid for membership in the United Nations, a move that will no doubt please the Israelis but be received by the Palestinians (and much of the Arab world, for that matter) as a slap in the face. (Here’s a great article that summarizes the issue.)
The president has not lived up to his own goals and many people’s expectations in regard to the Palestinian plight. He’s backtracked on moderate statements, let Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu drive the discussion, and refused to stand up to the Israel lobby in America.
Though Obama didn’t respond to my question three years ago, his planned veto provides a clear answer. If I’m disappointed by Obama’s response, I can only imagine how dissatisfied Ibrahim must be.