They arrest you for having an opinion – any that isn’t theirs. They arrest you for demanding elections; the last thing they want is to know you want different leadership. They arrest you for having a Facebook page that is out of step, or you don’t have Facebook at all. Demanding accountability, transparency, clean government is certainly grounds for arrest. Reading the wrong books. Talking to the wrong people. Propaganda passing for news, often anti-American. They sponsor terrorism, provide intelligence for terrorism, condone and approve of terrorism. They have a heavy fist.
And yet they are the darlings of Europe and America. They are invited to sit in the halls of democratic institutions. The internal vileness of the regime is overlooked to provide a good photo op, a backhand at an opponent, an increase in the number of countries in good standing in the world.
Cuba or Palestine? Does it matter? No.
The return of Alan Gross to the U.S. is a blessing for him and for his family. But President Obama said it was unrelated to any change in U.S. government policy. Let’s take him at his word. Then the choices and the changes are his and his alone.
In his remarks, the president waited until paragraph 20 of 27 to point out, “The United States believes that no Cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they’re exercising a universal right to have their voices heard.” Which could equally be said of the Palestinian people, but if he said it to them, it hasn’t been noted.
There is a whole paragraph devoted to U.S.-Cuban “shared interests.”
Where we can advance shared interests, we will–on issues like health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response. Indeed, we’ve seen the benefits of cooperation between our countries before. It was a Cuban, Carlos Finlay, who discovered that mosquitoes carry yellow fever; his work helped Walter Reed fight it. Cuba has sent hundreds of health care workers to Africa to fight Ebola, and I believe American and Cuban health care workers should work side by side to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
Note to readers: Finlay died in 1915. More pertinent, when the president refers to “shared interests” in counterterrorism, is he referring to Cuba’s support for the government of Venezuela – not only a miserable, vile government to its people, but the South American connection for Iran and Syria, state sponsors of terrorism in spades?
So if we’re talking about terrorism and a “universal right to have their voices heard,” let’s turn to the president’s other great love, Palestine, or The State of Palestine, as it is referred to in Europe and the U.N., and increasingly in the U.S.
The terrorism part is well-known and well-documented. Even the EU hustled to tell Israel that Hamas would not actually come off the list of terrorism-sponsoring entities, and indeed, it has already been restored. But the PA under Mahmoud Abbas, darling of the West and “unity government” partner of Hamas, also fosters in his people a hatred of Jews, a love of violence, and the erasure of the State of Israel. Its violent relationship with Hamas is over power, money, and the means of Israel’s demise, not the principle.
As external nastiness gets a pass, so does the internal nastiness. The brave and intrepid Khalid Abu Toameh documents some of the repressive tactics and behaviors of the Palestinian Authority against its own people, including the fact that it has a Parliament that hasn’t functioned in seven years.
How do European parliamentarians agree that these are behaviors they should condone as they prepare a statement recognizing Palestine? As a clue, the Europeans never joined the U.S. boycott of Cuba, so their view of a human rights dimension, or any other dimension of civil decency as a prerequisite for relations, is clear.
How does the president of the United States condone the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian citizens by their government? Or Cubans by theirs?
One might conclude that the Europeans are just so tired of Israel, or so detest its prime minister, or are in fact anti-Semitic, that they’re ignoring what they really know about the governing systems of both Israel in the positive and Palestine in the negative, to make a different point. President Obama wouldn’t be out of step with that thinking. One might also conclude that the President is so committed to erasing the stigma that communism rightly confers that he’s happy to bring Cuba into the civilized camp along with Palestine.
Or one can look to the president’s own statement on Cuba for one of his quixotic and ultimately dangerous fantasies. “We can never erase the history between us, but we believe that you should be empowered to live with dignity and self-determination.” That principle, said in the presence of the then-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, helped fan the increasingly armed and dangerous instability of the Arab world and Iran. You’d think Obama would have retired it.
Self-determination would be a happy result of a free media, free elections, a free press, and free association. The president rushes to embrace two dictatorial regimes offering none of these to their people and unlikely ever to do so.
Someone said recently of the idea of Americans accepting less than ethical behavior as a national standard, “That is not who we are.”
Well, it is apparently who President Obama is.