Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Tempest in the Dust Storm

or Tempest in a Teapot Dome

Moderates, neo-cons and right-wingers all are wringing their hands over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "Fuck You!" to President Obama and Vice Toad Biden. There was Biden making all nice nice at the feet of Bibi and the Big B takes a well-beshat shoe to Biden's forehead. Now everyone's in a tizzy. The right-wing zealots who cum every time IDF forces obliterate Palestinians are the most put-out. Obama and Biden have actually used something resembling harsh language. That's something of a shift from the normally obsequious American grovelling.

Frankly, I don't think there's much in this. Obama will do some saber-rattling, try to save face, but he's proved pretty well that he has no spine. And if, as all past American action suggests, the US has no real objection to Israeli settlement construction (except to call it "not helpful"), then what does it matter that the Israelis announce today or tomorrow? Even if the Israelis were working to heed US 'language', Obama's a master of the mixed message. One minute, he and Biden sound like they're green-lighting Israeli construction, next minute they having a fit. If you think the colonization of the West Bank is okay (I don't), then second-guessing the Americans comes second.

But, for reasons I don't really understand, this tempest has blown up into a storm. Politicians certainly have egos. Obama has a massive one, with a tiny bit of justification. Biden has an even more massive one, with no justification at all. And my guess is that this is also related in the minds of the Israel-idolaters to the Goldstone Report. The Israel Lobby has been attacking the report on all fronts. Now comes another blow to their facade of moral superiority.

John Podhoretz has raised the spectre of a Jewish revolt in Democratic ranks. I think Podhoretz is a little behind the times. Most Americans are ill-informed, maybe most American Jews . . . who knows? (It would be interesting to do a thorough study comparing how people self-identify, how they stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how well-informed they actually are.)

One way or another, fewer than normal can have entirely missed Israel's blitzkrieg in Gaza last year and not wondered what the hell the Israelis were doing and why — and that despite the "Go for it!" from Obama, The New York Times and most American 'leaders'.

Moreover, Americans have a habit of proving themselves wise to the Great Leaders' bullshit. We may be short on the facts, thanks to the 'reporting' of CNN, The New York Times and NPR, but we see the big picture better than our Masters would like. We saw what was really happening with the bailout and now with health care reform. As Marx would have said, we feel the sense of alienation — dissatisfaction, anger, rage — without being fully able to identify the cause. In a nation conditioned for fanatical adoration of Capitalism or Religion, many misidentify the cause.

But when thousands of Israeli troops, aircraft and artillery rain hell upon 1.5 million people, caus and effect are fairly obvious. It's pretty easy to see that it's Israeli fighter-bombers, tanks and heavy artillery leveling Palestinian villages — not the other way round, despite the best propaganda efforts of the Israel government and the US news media and politicians. (New York's Mayor Bloomberg just happened to pick the month of Operation Cast Lead to head over to Israel.)

Nevertheless, Podhoretz might have some kind of point. I'm just not sure what point.
It’s no secret that a wildly disproportionate part of the Democratic donor base is Jewish. While Jews are almost certain to continue to vote lopsidedly for Democrats, that doesn’t mean Jewish donors are going to open their checkbooks as widely as they have in the past three election cycles. A diminution in Jewish enthusiasm for Obama and the Democrats is a problem for them. This is not a good moment to be picking fights on an issue of major emotional concern to a key Democratic constituency, even if you know that many of its members are not disposed to support the building program.

Is Podhoretz saying that a disproportionate number of donors to Democrats is Jewish or a disproportionate percentage of donors is Jewish? Those are two different claims. Or is Podhoretz saying that a disproportionately large percentage of the dollars donated are donated by Jews? That’s still another claim.

The largest donors in lump dollar amounts were institutions like Goldman Sachs, Harvard, etc. But as some point out, a huge percentage of donors and donor dollars to Obama were little folks, like us, here. And Obama has done squat to appease us. No public option, kowtowing to health insurers and big pharma, a huge bailout to billionaires at our expense, huge sums to the military at our expense, a thorough “fuck you” to labor, . . .

So if the Big O is concerned about donors bailing on him, he’d be trying some new tactics to appeal to US. But he ain’t. He’s waving his hands behind the curtain, get the Great and Powerful O to try to convince us he’s comin’ down hard on Big Health, Big Pharma, Big Banks. But we don’t even need little Toto to pull that curtain aside. We are Wise to the Ruse, Oh Mighty O. Worry about us and US.

If hardcore pro-Israel wingnuts want to bail for the Republicans, let ‘em go. The GOP will drive us and Israel into the ground so deep, even the best IDF bulldozer won’t be able to dig us out.

Rational people, however clueless on the nitty gritty details, aren't blind. Israel has overplayed its hand, and to mix metaphors, bitten the hand that feeds it.

No comments: