President Obama has done this before - connected the struggle of African Americans to realize equality with the cause of the Palestinians. The metaphor is weak, even if you accept the legitimacy of Palestinian claims such as the right of return and borders.
But at bottom, it is an obscenity. Part of that cause that President Obama so blithely and ignorantly joins with civil rights is the undeniable fact that the Palestinians want to eliminate the Jewish state. Hence, he is linking the noble struggle for freedom for American blacks with genocide.
On his stops in the Holy Land Thursday, President Barack Obama turned again and again to a subject not obviously connected to the current troubles in the mideast: the struggles of African Americans in the United States.
One of the parallels the president drew-comparing the plight of Palestinians to that of blacks in the U.S.-has drawn criticism in the past when he raised it in this region.
During a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama said young people he'd met on the trip made him think of his own children.
"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 at the Palestinian headquarters compound in Ramallah. "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."
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.
But at stops in Jerusalem later on Thursday, Obama invoked the history of African-Americans in the U.S. in ways far more pleasing to Israelis and Jews generally.
During his main speech to the Israeli people, Obama noted how the bible story of the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt and the drive to reach the promised land animated African Americans in the U.S. for ages. He also drew a personal connection to his own life.
Does he believe that by linking both sides in the war between Arabs and Jews with the struggle for equality that this somehow mitigates his implied legitimizing of Palestinian terror and genocide? It is a false equivalency game the president is playing and he should be criticized heavily for trying it.
The president is tone deaf if he really believes there is symmetry between civil rights and the Palestinian cause. How he can ignore the obvious while promoting the peace process is beyond understanding.