Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama's Support For Israel is Damaging His Image As Israel Moves Further to the Right

UPDATE: Feb. 11, 2009 11:19 AM

Israeli election- more extremists in the government ?
Or maintaining the status quo of empty rhetoric and more broken promises and more dead Palestinians ?
Obama loses support among Arabs and Muslims because of his Unconditional support of Israel especially due to the Israeli invasion of Gaza !!!
Is Obama paying too much heed to AIPAC and the American Evangelical -Christian Zionists ?
Is this irrational Pro-Israeli policy part of some mental disorder on the part of Americans and their leaders or is it rooted in some sort of Magical thinking or Fanatical Religious Views ?

In his press conference on Monday when asked by the venerable journalist Helen Thomas about whether any Middle Eastern country had nuclear weapons Obama refused to answer even though everybody knows that Israel is the only nation in the Middle East with Nuclear weapons.This may have seemed a good move on his part for pragmatic reasons but to the Arab world it was just another cop-out and a betrayal as once again he kept to the Pro-Israel Pro-Zionist Party line. So Obama rhetoric about change does not apply so far to America's unwavering unconditional and toadying support of Israel. In his answer or non-answer Obama is signalling the Israelis that he will abide by their "Talking Points" ," Spin" and "Propaganda " as in Israel's Big Lie that they claim to not have nuclear weapons . In this little but important episode we see Obama forced into a corner by Helen Thomas who is known for asking tough questions. She also makes the point of using the terminology of " So Called Terrorists " thereby questioning the War on Terror and making a distinction between Real Terrorists and those people in these areas who are in fact justified in defending their own lands and countries from what they see as foreign invaders ie the US and NATO forces.

Obama does not give a direct answer to Helen Thomas on Israel's Nuclear Arms
Helen Thomas Questioning Obama at Press Conference

Why Did Obama Diss Helen Thomas?MJ Rosenberg Director of Policy for the Israel Policy Forum at Huffington Post February 10, 2009

Ms. Thomas' moment came when she asked the president about nuclear proliferation. Her question ended with the query: does he know of any Middle Eastern state with nukes?

Why did she ask that? She asked it to see if Obama would refuse to respond as previous presidents have. The answer is Israel, of course. And everyone knows it. In fact, the State Department has published reams of material about JFK's concern about the Israeli bomb. Israeli politicians talk about it. Every Arab in the world knows about it. And Israel's nukes are its number one deterrent against attack by Iran -- and everyone knows that too.

But Israel has a policy of not talking about its nukes in any official capacity because acknowledging them might lead to Israel having to sign the NPT and opening itself up to nuclear inspection.

So Israeli Prime Ministers try (not always successfully) not to acknowledge that Israel has a nuclear arsenal while ensuring that everyone knows it does.

That may be a sensible policy...for Israel.

But why is it our policy? Why is the American president forbidden from being honest on such a critical subject. Answer: there is no reason, unless we are to believe that Israeli policy guidelines, by definition, apply here as well.

So why did Obama refuse to answer? Simple. Because if he did, the media would have reported it as a gaffe. Reporters either know nothing about the Middle East or, for the most part, have adopted Israel's perspective.

also see on Obama's Press conference "Obama and the press play wiffle ball while Americans strike out? " by Phil Bronstein at Bornstein at Large Blog Feb. 10, 2009

As I have discussed on other occasions there is a significant number of Americans who believe that Israel must be supported unconditionally. Any President who dares go against this policy of supporting Israel can expect to be attacked not just by various pro-Israeli groups but the Mass Media in America will also go on the attack . These attacks would be so vocal and vicious and continuous that it is believed that the president and his administration would be undermined and possibly brought to a stand-still.

There are various rationales which are argued to defend this extreme policy towards Israel. To be critical of Israel is seen as tantamount to being anti-Israel and further of being anti-Semitic.The American policies concerning Israel are not based in a realistic view of Israel or Israel's policies towards Arabs and Palestinians. It appears to be based upon some sort of proposition of faith.

The American Christian Zionists are a significant and influential group of mainly Protestant Evangelical Christians who demand that the US government support Israel unconditionally. They proclaim their love for Israel and for the Jewish People. But it is not as simple as that. These Evangelical Christians believing that they must support Israel because Israel and the Jewish People are at the focal point of God's plans as described in the Bible. These Evangelical Christians argue that the Israelites or the Jewish People are God's chosen people and God favors those who favor the Israelites and God will destroy those who do not support the Jewish People and Israel. So they believe that Israel should be permitted to do whatever is necessary to defend itself and do so with America's moral support and financial and military support. Israel is unlike any other country because it is the land given to the Jewish People not by the actions or laws of men but by God's Will and His promise to the Jewish People.Therefore , they argue that whatever Israel does is ordained by God and is a fulfillment of Providence. For instance Israel's recent invasion of Gaza was part of God's Will otherwise it would not have occurred. Because Israel is God's chosen nation it is not bound by the laws of man but is only answerable to God.

At this time I won't get into the whole end-times eschatology and the role Israel and the Jewish People play in the arrival of the Messiah according to Judaism or in Christian Evangelical terms the Second Coming of the Messiah or Jesus.Israel in either scenario plays a pivotal role. So Israel needs to exist in order to fulfill this role. But both Christian Zionists and Extremist Jewish Zionists believe that the original Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt and ritual sacrifices made in the ancient tradition and that the borders of Israel must be expanded to those of the original Israel or Judea ( Eretz Israel) as described in detail in the Bible and that all non-Jews must be expelled from the land of Israel. This would mean expanding Israel into Saudi Arabia , Jordan Lebanon etc.depending on which sources one refers to .

So those in Israel who hold to these views to a greater or lesser extent believe that Israel has the right to expel all Arabs from their land or that Arabs and others are to accept their role as second class citizens . They further believe that the Arabs and others who occupy the land which is part of Eretz Israel have no right to that land and are therefore illegally occupying that land against God's Will. Therefore driving these people off of these lands is justifiable and is part of God's command . So the Israelis are merely taking back land that was rightfully their but which was stolen from them over the past 2,000 or so years.

So let's look at what these various Evangelical Christian Zionist proclaim and how extreme their views are. So lets begin by looking at Pastor John Hagee as a representative of these Christian Zionists. In the clip below he argues that Israel has the right and possibly the duty to pre-emptively attack any country that might be a threat to Israel . So Pastor Hagee proclaims Israel should use nuclear weapons on Iran and possibly other countries in the Middle East to prevent any possible attacks on Israel.

This seems in some ways odd as Israel is depicted as weak and defenseless when in fact Israel has a formidable military one of the best equipped in the world.Israel also has some 150 or more nuclear war heads . No other country in the Middle East has nuclear weapons. Given Israel's nuclear capability and the fear that a more radical group might at some point be elected as the government of Israel who might think that a pre-emptive military or nuclear attack would be justifiable . Is it any wonder that Iran or some other country in the Middle East in its own attempt at self-defense may consider developing its own nuclear program.

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Christian Zionism | PBS-Oct. 3, 2007

also see at YOUTUBE (Embedding disabled) featuring John Hagee, John McCain and Newt Gingrich
Christian Zionists - USA Journeyman Pictures Sept. 17, 2007

There are those in the Israeli government who are sympathetic to the more extremist groups such as the Kahanist and "the ultra-right, anti-Arab nationalist and West Bank settler Avigdor Lieberman of the racist Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) Party"

Kahane v, Ehud Olmert

For more on the extremist Meir Kahane who wants all Arabs expelled from Israel. He was assassinated in 1999 but now it appears that there more amd more Israeli politicians who aresympathetic to Kahane's views.

And in this video we are shown what it is believed to be the extent of Israel's borders as promised to the Israelites by Yahweh.

Exposed: Eretz Israel Land occupied by Muslims

The election being held in Israel will not bring about any substantive change or at least not in the direction of a peaceful solution. The issues involved are further complicated by the religious aspects which are at the root of the entire situation. These religious notions also get tied into various forms of racism .The Jewish People are the chosen of God and the Arabs are not. Gideon Levy of Haaretz argues maybe it would be better if the more extremists individuals and parties took control since their blatant racist anti-Arab anti-peace positions would be more clearly stated and then the world would see these extremists as the unreasonable bigots that they are. This is a rather cynical view of Israeli politics though it might be closer to the reality of Israel's situation and its politics.

" Let Netanyahu Win " By Gideon Levy Haaretz Feb. 09, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be Israel's next prime minister. There is, however, something encouraging about that fact. Netanyahu's election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation's true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.

Netanyahu's election is likely to bring the curtain down on the great fraud - the best show in town - the lie of "negotiations" and the injustice of the "peace process." Israel consistently claimed these acts proved the nation was focused on peace and the end of the occupation. All the while, it did everything it could to further entrench the occupation and distance any chance of a potential agreement.

...For 16 years, we have been enamored with the peace process. We talk and talk, babble and prattle, and generally feel great about ourselves; meanwhile the settlements expand endlessly and Israel turns to the use of force at every possible opportunity, aside from a unilateral disengagement which did nothing to advance the cause of peace.

He argues that if Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak are elected they will not really offer any change and will continue with the status quo which means more phony Public Relations photo-ops and bold but empty rhetoric followed by more conflict and more dead Palestinians. On the other hand if Netanyahu wins the world will see the true face of the extremists who are in control of Israel.

Netanyahu would offer something else. First, he is a faithful representative of an authentic "Israeli" view - an almost complete distrust of Arabs and the chance of reaching peace with them, mixed with condescension and dehumanization. Second, he will finally arouse the world's rage towards us, including that of the new U.S. administration. Sadly, this may be the only chance for the kind of dramatic change that is needed.

And Glenn Greenwald of argues that Israel is about to become even more aggressive towards Gaza and the West Bank and less amenible to its Arab neighbors.

" Israel's Elections and US Policy " by Glenn Greenwald at, feb. 9, 2009

Israel is holding its national elections tomorrow. Not only is it virtually certain that the right-wing militarist Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party will become the new Prime Minister, but it is highly likely that the ultra-right, anti-Arab nationalist and West Bank settler Avigdor Lieberman of the racist Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) Party will perform scandalously well. Polls show Lieberman's party winning between 15 to 20 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, perhaps even surpassing Israel's Labour Party for third place and even an outside change for second place. Lieberman's party will form a vital component of Netanyahu's ruling coalition and will secure a key Cabinet post for Lieberman himself.

So extreme and repugnant is Lieberman that even Marty Peretz's New Republic this week called his party "an extremist right-wing party" and said that Lieberman "has focused much of his campaign inciting public anger against Israel's Arab minority." In that article -- headlined: "The alarming rise of radical nationalism in Israel" -- former IDF soldier Arik Ben-Zvi described just some of the disgraceful lowlights:

Under the catchy slogan "No citizenship without loyalty" ... Yisrael Beiteinu is pushing for a new law requiring all citizens to swear an "oath of loyalty" to the state. Israeli-Arab citizens or others who refuse could have their citizenship stripped from them. . . .

He accuses Israeli-Arab lawmakers of harboring Hamas sympathies, and has called for the parties to be banned from running in the election. His campaign ads show Israeli-Arab students demonstrating against the Gaza war as a narrator ominously intones, "We won't forget that, during the Gaza conflict, there were those among us who stood with Hamas." As for the Gaza operation itself, Lieberman has denounced the cease-fire as a sell-out of the military. His preferred strategy is total war against the Gazan population: "We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II." The message is clearly finding its audience. Of particular concern is evidence suggesting Lieberman's appeal is growing among young voters.

and further as he points out it appears that Israel is viewed unfavorably by most countries except for the US and Russia :

A new BBC poll of worldwide opinion ... conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), surveyed 21 countries from six continents and asked whether the influence exerted by various nations in the world was positive or negative. The three countries most viewed as having a negative influence in the world -- essentially tied with one another -- were Iran, Pakistan and Israel, all of whom finished just behind North Korea -- and this poll was conducted before Israel's attack on Gaza. Even before the war on Gaza, Israel was viewed overwhelmingly negatively in every country except two -- the U.S., where citizens view Israel favorably by a not very large 13-point margin (47-34%), and Russia, where public opinion is split. In every other country, the view of Israel's influence on the world is significantly negative -- in most cases, overwhelmingly so.

U.S. support for Israel has been particularly costly over the last several years, as Israel bombed Lebanon and demolished chunks of Gaza (using American weapons to do so), and continued its policy of settlement expansion in the West Bank - all with various means of American support playing a critical role. Yet now Israel appears poised to install as Prime Minister someone whose criticisms have been that Israel hasn't gone far enough and who vows even more severe aggression. Worse still, the Israeli Government is likely to have as a prominent component a political party that is blatantly racist, anti-democratic and bloodthirsty.

If, as it appears, the face Israel is now choosing for itself is that of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, then the cost to the United States of ongoing, one-sided support for Israel is going to skyrocket, and the need for serious change in U.S. policy towards Israel will be even more acute. It's worth recalling that Barack Obama, when still seeking the Democratic nomination in February, 2008, said:

"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."

and he concludes :

But the statement Israel is making to the world about what it wants to be and how it perceives itself will be unmistakably clear. This is a country that has waged two brutal wars against largely defenseless neighbors in the past three years, that just banned certain Arab political parties from existing (a ban reversed by its Supreme Court), and that continues expansions on land that does not belong to it despite those expansions being universally condemned and declared illegal in numerous international tribunals. And now, it is turning to political leaders who believe that these measures have been insufficiently aggressive and who vow far more aggression and, in the case of Lieberman, even more internal repression of its own ethnic and religious minorities.

Israel, like all countries, has the right to choose what leaders it wants. But as is also always true, other countries have the right -- and, in the case of the U.S. as the enabler of virtually everything Israel does, the responsibility -- to react appropriately. It's bad enough that we have tied ourselves so blindly and inextricably to Israel as it has existed over the past several years. But an Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman produces whole new responsibilities for the U.S. not to continue on this path of uncritical support for a government like that.

also see:

Israeli Elections: Is Avigdor Lieberman Satan?Julian Kossoff at, Feb 10, 2009

The emergence of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party on the Israeli political landscape has been the most distinctive and disturbing feature of the recent general election campaign.

His ultra-nationalistic politics and his controversial policy of demand that everyone in Israel takes a loyalty oath has cast him as anti-Arab, and a first step in the outright persecution of the one million strong Israeli-Arab minority as a "fifth column".

Whether Jews in the Diaspora, particularly the all-important US community, will be able to stomach his rabble-rousing with its fascistic undertones and start to question their rock solid Israel loyalism is about to be tested.

and :

" The man who would be kingmaker " by PATRICK MARTIN Globe and Mail Feb. 9, 2009

And "Yvette" Lieberman, as he's popularly known, certainly has his share of enemies. There are Arab Israelis who resent his labelling them as a fifth column in Israel. There are ultraorthodox Jews who strongly oppose his push for more secular policies. There are many on the left who worry about a man who's antagonized both Egypt and Syria being allowed too close to the Ministry of Defence. And there are those Israelis who simply worry that if this election ends up making this man a power broker in the next government it will confirm the view of anti-Semites everywhere, and turn the world against Israel.

And from Al Jazeera on the Israeli election results:

Israel moves to the right
By Alex Sehmer , Al Jazeera, Feb. 11, 2009

It was the right-wing bloc that won the most seats and Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, made the biggest gains though not as big as had been expected.

Despite Livni's projected win, supporters in the election headquarters of the opposition Likud party erupted into cheers of "Bibi! Bibi!" believing that their leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, will be the next prime minister.

Under the Israeli electoral system, once the results are in, Shimon Peres, the president, will ask the person deemed most likely to be able to cobble together a coalition, to form a government.

That could be Netanyahu.

"Lieberman, Shas and the religious parties, with them we've got the makings of a coalition," Danny Danon, a Likud Knesset candidate, told Al Jazeera.

...In terms of peace, Livni has said she wants to continue with the struggling Annapolis talks, initiated by the former US administration under George Bush.

Netanyahu's Likud party, on the other hand, has portrayed itself as deeply concerned about Israel's security and unwilling to concede more land to the Palestinians for peace.

But this election was never really fought on the issue of peace, it was fought on the issue of security, an issue brought into sharp focus by Israel's 22-day war on Gaza, in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed.

"Even before the war, the elections, the candidates weren't talking about healthcare, economic or social issues. I think that's the case with Israeli elections," Gill Hoffman, the chief correspondent for the Jerusalem Post newspaper, told Al Jazeera.

"The fact is Israelis vote on war and peace."

How Obama's Support for Israel Is Hurting him in the Arab Street and I believe justifiably so unless he decides to stand up to Israel but this will be even more difficult as Israel in the election moves further to the right:

As Alaa Al Aswany an Egyptian writes that many people in Arab and Islamic countries were very hopeful and exited when Obama won the election in November believing he would be more even handed in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians and the situation in the Middle East in general. But their attitude changed as Obama remained silent during Israel's military invasion of Gaza and when he finally spoke out he like former President Bush expressed his support for Israel and said little about the War Crimes committed by Israel during that invasion which killed over 1300 Palestinians.

" Why the Muslim World Can’t Hear Obama " By ALAA AL ASWANY The New York Times Feb. 7, 2009

We saw Mr. Obama as a symbol of this justice. We welcomed him with almost total enthusiasm until he underwent his first real test: Gaza. Even before he officially took office, we expected him to take a stand against Israel’s war on Gaza. We still hope that he will condemn, if only with simple words, this massacre that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians. (I don’t know what you call it in other languages, but in Egypt we call this a massacre.) We expected him to address the reports that the Israeli military illegally used white phosphorus against the people of Gaza. We also wanted Mr. Obama, who studied law and political science at the greatest American universities, to recognize what we see as a simple, essential truth: the right of people in an occupied territory to resist military occupation.

But Mr. Obama has been silent. So his brilliantly written Inaugural Speech did not leave a big impression on Egyptians. We had already begun to tune out. We were beginning to recognize how far the distance is between the great American values that Mr. Obama embodies, and what can actually be accomplished in a country where support for Israel seems to transcend human rights and international law.

Mr. Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya on Jan. 27 was an event that was widely portrayed in the Western news media as an olive branch to the Muslim world. But while most of my Egyptian friends knew about the interview, by then they were so frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence that they weren’t particularly interested in watching it. I didn’t see it myself, but I went back and read the transcript. Again, his elegant words did not challenge America’s support of Israel, right or wrong, or its alliances with Arab dictators in the interest of pragmatism.

and so it goes,

No comments: