Jun 6, 2008

Obama and AIPAC/Israel

There's a lot of excitement around Obama right now. Some of the folks who have been waving his flag for more than 2 years are feeling pretty good about themselves. Even some of the folks who have been on the fence at least since Edwards left the race (but likely far longer than even that) are slowly coming around and supporting him too. And it's easy to point at HRC's mistakes and flubs and get kind of comfortable in thinking that Obama represents something different, something new, some kind of change. In other words, a lot of people are starting to buy the hype. Persuasive marketing, done long and hard enough, works.

Even I got caught a little, though not directly. A few days ago, I posted this angry response to Clinton's address at the AIPAC convention. I didn't get a hold or an earful of Obama's speech, but just felt compelled to write something after hearing her live on C-SPAN. But now I've read/heard Obama's comments. And he's not much better, and I would argue, possibly worse than HRC on the whole issue of Israel/Palestine.

Check out some of his comments here. Of course he's not going to be wholly critical of Israel with this audience, but there's not a single word in here and Israeli restraint, curtailing the settlements, or anything else of its kind. It's as if the issue has only one side: that of the Israeli lobby and the hard right government folks there (not the general public, IMHO). It's scary how easy it is for him to just dismiss Palestinian rights the way that he has been doing - and so publicly.

It leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth, and I really hope that people who seem to be losing all perspective start to remember that the way he deals with this question and issue may reflect how he'll deal with a slew of things domestically: the most powerful, well-funded group, or at least that which he fears the most, will pull the strings. It is for this reason, specifically, that I cannot support him.

Just thinking more about the plight of the Palestinian people - they are a people displaced and now vilified for their displacement. It's really kind of crazy. And you know - the rhetoric has made all Palestinians into threats or "terrorists" - women, children, and men. Kind of reminds me of how Jewish people were so discriminated against around Europe (Germany's particular legacy makes it easy for Spain, France, and all the rest to hide from their own shameful histories). After WWII and Hitler, guilt set in a bit and there were some steps to try to ameliorate the harm of the earlier animus.

But nowadays in this age of permanent news cycles that magnify small or isolated incidents into mass conspiracies, where this "war on terror" is never-ending and forever pitted against the eternal enemy, with an olive complexion and Muslim name, I don't know if there's any "redemption" in sight for the besieged and embattled common Palestinian people, at least in the U.S. and Britain.  Who in the world community will champion their cause and relieve them from their precarious position: caught between a small minority set on severe violence, and one of the most deadly state military presences in the world?

There is little hope that that champion will be the next American President. And the only former President who makes much sense on their future is a peanut farmer from Georgia who is part of an old guard, at least generation preceding Prez Clinton.

It's all pretty depressing, really. So please don't tell me to get on the Obama bandwagon, unless the driver shows me he isn't driving off the cliff on this issue.


Rage said...

Here's a DC Indymedia post about Obama endorsing apartheid in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Feel you, Rage, Obama's willingness to bow down to AIPAC so enthusiastically is really alarming. Check out Uri Avnery's artical "Obama, Israil and AIPAC" on counterpunch.org for some further insight (for some reason I can't link to it).


Rage said...

Thanks Kori - will definitely check out that piece. It's a hard conversation to have sometimes - because people jump four steps and assume I'm anti-Jewish, which I'm not. Kind of like getting hated on as anti-black for saying BET sucks. Wait - no one minds that one.