It was so sad. To see a grown tower of a man come to his knees. Just like everyone before him, the presumptive Democratic nominee followed the suit of all US political leaders before him and bowed down at the footsteps of the pro Israel lobby. What happened to the anti lobby nominee?
On the day his nomination had been sealed, at a time when his chances of being elected had been all but ensured, Barack Obama failed the test. What happened to the nominee who was going to change the way Washington was run? What happened to the promise of "I will tell you what you have to hear, not what you love to hear?"
Speaking at the pro Israel lobby, the first black presidential nominee, who is being seen world wide as a potentially global president, turned on every promise he made during the run up to the nomination.
It wasn't as if he needed the Jewish money or votes. This has been the first presidential run which succeeded in circumventing large donors and prided itself with the million donors who gave less than $100 was suddenly kowtowing to a sector of America whose major source of power has been their ability to raise large funds. On the day that he succeeded in getting the Democratic National Committee to announce that they will not accept lobbyist money, he was pandering to the most powerful of all lobbies. How can we believe that lobbyists will not run Obama's administration.
Content wise, Barack Obama contradicted himself and every foreign policy rule he has been espousing. Gone was the need to favor diplomacy over militarisms, as Obama promised to give Israel $30 billion in military funding. Gone was the need to talk to Iran, and instead the saber rattling was repeated in the form of declaring that the military option in defense of Israel. Gone was the need to talk to our enemies and replaced by the repetition of claims of Bush claim of Iran's nuclear military program a claim that have been disproved by 16 American intelligence agencies.
The pandering to Israel at the AIPAC conference even produced criticism from the Daily Show's John Stewart. An unashamedly Jewish comedian tore apart Obama's twin flag (Israel and US) pin, made fun of the gushing attempts to woe the pro Israeli audience and the lack of a single word of criticism by all three speakers. The pro Israeli love fest was so sad that Obama needed Hillary Clinton who had yet to concede the nomination, felt it necessary to vouch for the young Illinois senator's pro Israel credentials.
During the campaign, and while speaking to a group of American Jewish leaders in Cleveland Obama noted that he was impressed with how the debate inside Israel was more vigorous than in the US. He also was honest enough to tell them that his policies will not be similar to that of Israel's right wing Likud party. I read and re read the speech and couldn't find anything in it that the current Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu would find problematic.
During the '03 Democratic convention, Obama excited Americans of all backgrounds by his unity speech. I remember the pride I and many others felt when he legitimized Arab Americans by including them in the new America he was advocating. The term Arab American has since disappeared in Obama's stump speech. Obama repeated verbatim Bush's position regarding the two state solution, calling Israel a Jewish state, the need to stop new settlements and even his prejudging the results of negotiations by his support for Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem. His call on the illegal Israeli occupiers to ease travel restrictions was conditioned with the caveat "consistent with its security." Unlike Bush, Obama promises us that he will begin efforts for peace from the beginning of his term and not in its waning days. Why should we believe this particular promise when all previous ones have been reversed?
America's black nominee who would have supported divestment on racist south Africa blasted international divestment calls on Israel, and libeled Arab oil producing countries by saying that "petrodollars are responsible for the killing of American soldiers and Israeli citizens." How pathetic.
If there was a time that a presidential candidate should have had courage to change course on the way Washington is run this was the time. If there was a group that deserved a more honest speech it was this. Obama failed in both tests. This is a shame.
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