Friday, April 23, 2010

Obama and Israel

In March, Vice President Biden was 'humiliated' by Israel announcements of new colonies. Now George Mitchell has gone to Israel. As he arrived, Netanyahu made a point of asserting that Israel categorically rejecting Obama's call for a curb on colonies in east Jerusalem. No hullabaloo about 'snubs' this time. Obama has been whipped into line. (Of course, the only real objection in March was to the timing, not to the colonies themselves.)

Some thoughts:

1. It’s an election year, and Obama the Opportunist is going to do what he does best (which, in the past year, is not saying much) — court voters. The pro-Israel zealots have vastly more voting clout, and more dollars to donate, in the US than the pro-Palestinian advocates. This remains true despite shifting attitudes in the US and volumes of bad press on Israeli atrocities (which have trickled through to the US public despite major efforts by the US press and the Israel lobby to prevent it).

2. My view on Obama for a while has been that he is the worst kind of politician, one who knows and believes in what is right (in this case, full rights and statehood for Palestinians), but sacrifices that for what is politically expedient. Bush, by contrast, was a delusional idiot, a true believer in stupid religiosity. Above all, Bush was a hard-core racist, which (I believe) Obama is not, though the Big O has surrounded himself with plenty of racists, like Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross.

3. Things are changing in Israel and Palestine. I think that for many years, Israel thought it could just win the war by attrition. Steadily force Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. Make life so utterly miserable for Palestinians that birth rates would be suppressed — a move expressly endorsed recently by Harvard luminary Martin Kramer, but one which I think Israel has been implementing for decades. Now, however, it has becoming clear (has been for some time) to the delusional racists in Israel’s government that the Palestinian ‘population problem’ isn’t going away. And, sadly for the likes of Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Dennis Potter, the rest of the world is too alert in this internet age. It is for this reason that the Israelis are so determined that the Palestinians endorse categorically the status of Israel as “The Jewish State”.

4. We shouldn’t kid ourselves (if any on this site might be inclined to do so) that either the Israeli or the US governments are moved by moral considerations. Obama has refused to prosecute, or even investigate, Bush war crimes. He has effectively endorsed Bush I, Clinton and Bush W policies in Iraq that killed well over one million civilians. He has embarked on a similar, albeit smaller, campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Similarly and very sadly, most Israelis seem to feel no moral qualms at all about the atrocities in Gaza or, earlier, in Lebanon. (Obama endorsed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead during his campaign.) Israel has demonstrated just as much resistance to honesty about its brutality as any Western war state — Britain, France and above all the United States. If Israel can hit on a strategy for mass ‘ethnic cleansing’ (or worse) that will actually fly under the radar of the world community, it would implement it, and the US would raise nothing but token objections.

Dennis Ross is just an indicator of the patterns of force in the Obama administration. The hope for change comes in the accelerated decline of American power. The catch is that countries like the US (and on a much smaller scale, Israel) are prone to irrational outbursts — desperate lashing out to protect ‘Old Glory.'

One last thing: Can we now dump the "Obama hasn't had enough time yet" defense?