Obama, Israel And AIPAC
After months of a tough and bitter race, a merciless struggle, Barack Obama has defeated his formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has wrought a miracle: for the first time in history a black person has become a credible candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world.
And what was the first thing he did after his astounding victory? He ran to the conference of the
That is shocking enough. Even more shocking is the fact that nobody was shocked.
IT WAS a triumphalist conference. Even this powerful organization had never seen anything like it. 7000 Jewish functionaries from all over the
The Washington of AIPAC is like the
The world looked on and was filled with wonderment. The Israeli media were ecstatic. In all the world's capitals the events were followed closely and conclusions were drawn. All the Arab media reported on them extensively. Aljazeera devoted an hour to a discussion of the phenomenon.
The most extreme conclusions of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were confirmed in their entirety. On the eve of their visit to
WHY, ACTUALLY? Why do the candidates for the American presidency believe that the
The Jewish votes are important, of course, especially in several swing states which may decide the outcome. But African-Americans have more votes, and so do the Hispanics. Obama has brought to the political scene millions of new young voters. Numerically, the Arab-Muslim community in the
Some say that Jewish money speaks. The Jews are rich. Perhaps they donate more than others for political causes. But the myth about all-powerful Jewish money has an anti-Semitic ring. After all, other lobbies, and most decidedly the huge multinational corporations, have given considerable sums of money to Obama (as well as to his opponents). And Obama himself has proudly announced that hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens have sent him small donations, which have amounted to tens of millions.
True, it has been proven that the Jewish lobby can almost always block the election of a senator or a member of Congress who does not dance - and do so with fervor - to the Israeli tune. In some exemplary cases (which were indeed meant to be seen as examples) the lobby has defeated popular politicians by lending its political and financial clout to the election campaign of a practically unknown rival.
But in a presidential race?
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THE TRANSPARENT fawning of Obama on the
Why? Because his dizzying success in the primaries was entirely due to his promise to bring about a change, to put an end to the rotten practices of
And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles. And how!
The outstanding thing that distinguishes him from both Hillary Clinton and John McCain is his uncompromising opposition to the war in
And here comes Obama to crawl in the dust at the feet of AIPAC and go out of his way to justify a policy that completely negates his own ideas.
OK he promises to safeguard
But his declaration about
NO PALESTINIAN, no Arab, no Muslim will make peace with
On that very issue, the Camp David conference of 2000 broke up, even though the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, was willing to divide
Along comes Obama and retrieves from the junkyard the outworn slogan "Undivided Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel for all Eternity". Since
Obama went much further. Quite possibly, this was only lip service and he was telling himself: OK, I must say this in order to get elected. After that, God is great.
But even so the fact cannot be ignored: the fear of AIPAC is so terrible, that even this candidate, who promises change in all matters, does not dare. In this matter he accepts the worst old-style
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SIXTY FIVE years ago, American Jewry stood by helplessly while Nazi Germany exterminated their brothers and sisters in
What has caused the dizzying ascent to power of the American Jewish establishment? Organizational talent? Money? Climbing the social ladder? Shame for their lack of zeal during the Holocaust?
The more I think about this wondrous phenomenon, the stronger becomes my conviction (about which I have already written in the past) that what really matters is the similarity between the American enterprise and the Zionist one, both in the spiritual and the practical sphere.
The Mayflower passengers, much as the Zionists of the first and second aliya (immigration wave), fled from
Both suffered a great deal in their new country. Both saw themselves as "pioneers", who make the wilderness bloom, a "people without land in a land without people". Both completely ignored the rights of the indigenous people, whom they considered sub-human savages and murderers. Both saw the natural resistance of the local peoples as evidence of their innate murderous character, which justified even the worst atrocities. Both expelled the natives and took possession of their land as the most natural thing to do, settling on every hill and under every tree, with one hand on the plow and the Bible in the other.
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HOW IS it that a man like Obama, the son of an African father, identifies so completely with the actions of former generations of American whites? It shows again the power of a myth to become rooted in the consciousness of a person, so that he identifies 100% with the imagined national narrative. To this may be added the unconscious urge to belong to the victors, if possible.
Therefore, I do not accept without reservation the speculation: "Well, he must talk like this in order to get elected. Once in the White House, he will return to himself."
I am not so sure about that. It may well turn out that these things have a surprisingly strong hold on his mental world.
Of one thing I am certain: Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for
If he sticks to them, once elected, he will be obliged to say, as far as peace between the two peoples of this country is concerned: "No, I can't!"
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.