Let’s assume that it was not President Obama’s intention for the final section of his big Mideast speech, in which he took up the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to entirely overwhelm everything he had just said in support of democratization and the “universal rights” of those living in the region.
Of course, that’s exactly what happened when the fateful words “1967 lines” passed his lips. Nor is it inconceivable that Obama—after taking a large (if unacknowledged) step in the direction of the “freedom agenda” of George W. Bush in the rest of the speech—wanted to end on a somewhat emphatic note of vive la différence.
But the more likely explanation is simply that Obama sees the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the context of the full panoply of repression in the Middle East—that is, as contrary to “the broader aspirations of ordinary people” throughout the region. In this light, one can’t really talk about what has been happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere without also mentioning the plight of the Palestinians, who have been “suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own.”