Saturday, February 2, 2008

Obama feels the sting

Being the candidate with the most diversity on background (as well as havnig a name that is eerily too familiar to a most-wanted terrorist), Barack Obama's advantage to his (potential) minority constituency is also his most vulnerable. A son of a black man and borne from a Kenyan woman, Obama's pedigree is unmatched by any past presidential candidates: a field dominated by privileged white men. (Ironically, this year's campaign sees a privileged black man running against a privileged white woman.) And it is this cultural heritage that Obama has in his arsenal that makes him more progressive than most, believing in egalitarianism disregarding race, religion, or any denomination. Having such an outlook on politics made him state that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinians." However, that poses a problem when you apply it to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and one that is really getting Obama in a bind planning his next step to appease the Jewish vote; or as Michael Lerner put it:

"Apply that to the Middle East and you get policy inclinations very different from those which have been insisted upon by the Israel Lobby, supported by most of the establishment Jewish institutions, and through the power of their organized pressure, have become the dominant policy supported by both parties in rare unanimity.

Obama’s problem is that his spiritual progressive worldview is in conflict with the demands of the older generation of Jews who control the Jewish institutions and define what it is to be pro-Jewish..."

Although his position has softened to be molded into a President that is befitting of past ones (ie supportive of a bellicose Israel), he can't seem to shake off the vultures pecking at his background. Being the candidate with the lowest Israel Factor rating left alive in the race (in actuality, his rating has steadily increased in the last couple of months from a proud 3 to a moderate 5), Israel's best friends want to take him down so as to level the playing field, making the few candidates available to be the best for Israel (ie McCain and Clinton). It is no secret that most hawks of the Israeli-kind prefers Hillary over Barack, and they feel the need to take him down a peg for fear of losing their hold on what could be billions of dollars lost in aid (which is a dumbfounded fear since Obama would still need to pass it through Congress, and it remains to be seen whether Obama is genuine about his recent sycophancy or not). Why despite being an overt Christian, Obama is being accused of the worst of all religions: Muslim!

"Such rumors, he [Obama] said, are absolutely false. I have never practiced Islam; I was raised by my secular mother. I have been a member of the Christian religion and have been an active Christian. I was sworn in with my hand on my family Bible, and have been pledging allegiance since I was three years old...

When Doug Bloomfield, a columnist for Jewish newspapers and popular lecturer on the pro-Israel circuit, spoke in south Florida last week, he was astonished by what he encountered.

Anonymous e-mails and not-so-anonymous charges by some Jewish leaders about Sen. Barack Obama’s alleged Muslim past have started gaining real traction in the increasingly furious battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, he said."

It is saying alot of today's politics that a smear against a Presidential candidate is to call him a Muslim. Wow. Yes, it's important for Obama to clear the air on his religion; well, on second thoughts, is it really THAT important? I thought the US was meant to be a secular state? Why would Obama's religion matter, even if the accusation, as demeaning as that was, really, it was a real low-blow there, were true? I would find it very compelling news if they accused Clinton of being Jewish because of her very pro-Israel stance, and how that would be a real aberration on her ability to govern (we all know it isn't, as she seems to be doing a good job of being terrible just on her campaign route alone). Since there has been only one President that was Catholic, and none from the Islamic faith, Jew, or Native tribe, maybe a different God might really instill fear amongst the Americans.

What the real shame here is not only the pathetic Israeli nuts who aim to smear anyone whom they believe threatens their hold on the Presidency and Congress, but on Obama himself for not capitalising on such a preposterous vile act by the Israel Lobby functionaries. This is what has become of Presidential candidates? Spineless yellowbellies that have no decency to stand up for, not only themselves, but by those who may follow in their footsteps, just to slip into the good part of the Oval Office, and for what? Are they going to change policy? Are they going to make a historic peace? Or are they just going to stagnate like so many before them? Aren't they sick and tired of being bullied by a bunch of "ideological zealouts and bigots"? M.J. Rosenberg does not stop there, as he nails the paramount failure of today's candidates:

"Candidates are not dumb... They understand that you can’t promote change in the Middle East while parroting organizational talking points...

Candidates need to realize that the political insiders who are demanding that they stick to tried and failed formulas are not so much concerned with Israel as they are determined that their standing as would-be influence peddlers not be challenged...

Meanwhile, of course, Israel’s travails continue. The very policies pushed on public officials and candidates by supposedly pro-Israel advocacy groups have produced disaster for Israel. They ensured that U.S. assistance to Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority would be so stingy that Hamas would beat Fatah in the Palestinian elections. They supported only Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza but not a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians that would have gotten Israel out of Gaza without transforming it into a terror launching pad. They pressured the Bush administration not to insist on the immediate dismantling of the illegal outposts and checkpoints not needed for Israeli security even though such actions would have boosted Abbas and harmed Hamas. They encouraged neither prisoner exchanges nor cease-fires, nor a permanent settlements freeze, oblivious to how they were strengthening Hamas. In short, these status quo positions—which candidates are pressured to endorse—have done nothing for Israel, other than to perpetuate the misery typified by the words Gaza and Sderot."

You know why they do nothing, I know why they do nothing, WE ALL seem to know why they do nothing (as pointed out by Walt and Mearsheimer and the bubble that is being burst slowly), and yet we're still stuck at where we were back in Truman days. We got brief respites by Eisenhower and Carter (until he caved), and then Bush senior (and then they made him lose), but the rest has been bad news for Palestinians. When are we going to demand that enough is enough for these talking robots?

How I wished Obama had a different response to such an attack against his religion. I figure Obama could have gotten an upper hand by being more direct at who was attacking him, and questioning the rationale for the targeting of his religious beliefs. He really dropped the ball here for ever gaining some kind of cosmetic support from myself. I do hope that he is more than geniune in his concern about the Palestinian plight, but then again, even Condoleezza Rice has expressed despair at the conditions of the West Bank, and she let Lebanon burn back in 2006 as part of the "birthpangs of a new Middle East".

He is in such a tizzy about being cast as pro-Israel that he is selling out something that must have been instilled in him by his minority parents. Why didn't he stand up and be accounted for? He left a whole bunch of Muslims out to dry and made himself look like a weasel that was trying to slither back into the race. This is the lengths it takes to get into the good books of the Israel Lobby, going from statements by Obama that was cited in the first paragraph to signing letters that gives Israel the right to impose punishment on the Gaza Strip. Well, if nobody is suffering more than them EXCEPT for the residents of Sderot so it's okay for Israel to make them suffer more. It's easy as pie.

Being supportive of Israel is getting too convuluted. Gershom Gorenberg put it plainly:

"Being pro-Israel does not require backing the most bellicose possible Israeli position, anymore than being "pro-American" requires backing the war in Iraq. To be "pro" means to support, to want a country to survive and flourish...

For an American administration to be pro-Israel does not mean adopting the apocalyptic foreign policy of John Hagee's Christians United for Israel. (Mike Huckabee gave his pre-Christmas sermon at Hagee's San Antonio church). It does not mean outdoing Bush in finding neo-con advisers (see again: Giuliani). It does mean a considerably different policy than what the Democratic candidates have yet advocated. Maybe if we can define "pro" more sensibly, the policy next January will also be productive."

But it all seems to be missing from the dialect here. They all talk about domestic policy; Social Security, Healthcare, Border controls, and even foreign policy by Kyoto and Iraq, and they debate about them, but never Israel. The support is overwhelming that they have one another stepping over each other trying to get in the frontlines of being who's more Pro-Israel. Isn't it time for a change? Has the Gaza exodus counted for nothing? Has the call for Israel's settlements to stop immediately been removed from negotiations? Why bother with all the Annapolis bullshit even if you aren't going to bolster your own satrap to be viewed as a saviour of Palestinians? He can't even match the success of an isolated political party that has no aid aside from Syria and Iran. Syria and Iran? We're talking about the US and Israel, one the empire of the world, the other the hegemon of the Middle East, and Abbas cannot defeat a Hamas that has small solidarity from Syria and Iran?

Perhaps Obama should ask himself why he didn't take more of a hard line against his detractors. We all know it was out of line to do such a thing against him and he should have aimed for the jugular and taken off the head of the snakes. A more fitting response would have been,

"No I am not Muslim, as I have stated it in numerous occasions that I am a Christian. As a son of a Muslim though, I find these accusations quite destatable, especially in the context of the impending nominations. What do these 'critics' of mine hope to achieve by such a slander, if you could even define it as one? Do they want to depict that Muslims are unfit for the seat of the Presidency? Are they insinuating that, if I were a Muslim, that I am not a decent candidate to vote for to run our country, who prides itself on pluralism, egalitarianism, secularism and democracy? Would they believe that I could not respect the words of our forefathers who gave birth to our most glorious of nations, that a Muslim only knows authoritarianism, violence and the word of the Koran practised in day-to-day lives?

Let me ask you this: would it make a difference if I were a Muslim, if I prayed to a different God, if I worshipped a different book, would that change your vote, America? I was taught to believe that we, as a people of the greatest democracy on earth, saw every being as equals, whether they be black, white, Asian, Native, woman, man, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or atheist, and that any one of us could be a leader of this great nation. Would it make a difference if any of the former were among today's candidates today?

How much does it say about our leaders that no one has come to excoriate the authors of such a defamation against me? How much does it say about our society of 'pluralism' that accusing myself of being Muslim would somehow be of consequence in certain matters of governance? How much does it say about those 'critics' and their intentions on who they want to demonise, and who they want you to fear most, and who they want you to view as the ones who does not have your best interests at heart? How much does it say about those 'critics' true nature about their politics that they want you to view me as a vote for 'Muslims', meaning, a vote for extremism, anti-Americanism, and hatred?

And how much does it say about you if you believe any of their charges against me?

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