Is Obama Too Afraid of being in Indonesia This Month?

News on the postponement of US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Indonesia from June to November 2010 was no surprise to some Indonesians. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told Reuters in an email that Obama postponed the trip again in order to deal with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and other important issues.

In Jakarta, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal confirmed the postponement, saying "President Yudhoyono and his US counterpart agreed to set right date for the visit either in November or before that." Patti Djalal said , adding the two presidents spoke about it on the phone on Friday morning.

It was the second time in a little more than two months that Obama canceled a trip to Indonesia and Australia. He previously was due to have come to Jakarta in March but later decided to stay at home to give a final push to his healthcare overhaul plan in Congress. He later rescheduled his trip for mid-June but he had again informed Jakarta he could not make it.

Although it was not mentioned by the White House spokesman, some political observers had earlier predicted that besides the oil spill disaster, the shootings by Israeli military of humanitarian activists aboard the Freedom Flotialla’s MV Mari Marmara last May 31, would add pressure on Obama if he continued his plan to visit Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority country, this month,

Since the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid-carrying ship where 19 activists were killed and tens of others were wounded including two Indonesians, demonstrations have been staged in Indonesia’s capital city and regions daily, to condemn not only the Zionist country, but also Uncle Sam as the Jewish state’s closest ally and protector, for doing nothing to stop the violence. One day after the Israeli assault in international waters, some 1,000 Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) members staged a rally outside the US embassy in Jakarta, on June 1, to condemn Israel’s attack and reject US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Indonesia.

The protesters unfurled a number of banners which among others read "Wipe Out Israel," "Reject Obama," and "Send Troops to Palestine,". HTI orator Salman Al Farisi said Obama was Israel’s ally and therefore, he did not deserve to visit Indonesia, a staunch supporter of Palestinians’ struggle for an independent state. He also called on the Indonesian government not to be cheated by various policies issued by the superpower country.

In a rally held in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Friday, the local HTI members also voiced their objection to the visit of President Obama for letting human right violations by Israel go unpunished. House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I member I Al Muzzammil Yusuf Muzamil who is also coordinator of the Indonesian Parliamentary Caucus for Palestine said in Jakarta, last Monday that the Freedom Flotilla’s incident was also a test case for US President Barack Obama.

Obama’s efforts to reach out to the Islamic world could be considered to have failed if his government did not defend humanitarian and human rights after Israel’s arrogant attack. Another legislator believed that the Indonesian government should urge the United Nations to lobby the United States to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

"The United Nations must lobby the United States to end the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt for dispatching of humanitarian aid such as food and medicines," Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Body (BKSAP) of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) Hidayat Nur Wahid said in a rally participated in by thousands of members of the Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS) in Jakarta, Thursday (June 3).

If the UN fails to lobby the US, the international body should be dissolved, he said. Indeed, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had earlier intended to take up the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla early at his meeting with President Barack Obama in Jakarta later this month.

Presidential spokesman for international affairs Dino Patti Djalal said at a press conference at the presidential office in Jakarta on Tuesday (June 1), President Yudhoyono wished to raise the issue in the meeting with US President Obama because he was very concerned about the prospects of the peace process in the Middle East which was now being revived through the proximity talks involving western countries.

"The problem will be one of the issues to be discussed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Obama," he said.

Dino said the Israeli attack on the convoy of ships bringing humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza with activists from 50 countries on board would be a factual issue for discussion with President Obama because in a meeting with Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas in Jakarta last week President Yudhoyono had discussed the US position in the peace process to be undertaken.

Planned talks in Indonesia between Yudhoyono and Obama have to wait until November (God Willing!), but for sure, for those opposing the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists, Obama, as the head of state of the United States of America, which has been giving strong financial and political supports to Israel, is unavoidably also responsible for human rights violations committed by the Jewish country.