Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trick or Threat:
The US and Israel's Visions of Lebensraum

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
- UN Charter (Article 2.4)

Yes, you read that right. Even the threat of force is condemned by the United Nations and is inconsistent with the most basic tenets of international law. But do the United States and Israel care about mere trifles like laws, treaties, and charters? Of course not.

In the most recent act of blatant war-baiting, the New York Times reported Friday that "Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities." The maneuvers, conducted over the Mediterranean Sea and within Greece's airspace in early June, were carried out by more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as helicopters and refueling tankers. American officials confirmed that the aircraft "flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz" and that the exercise "appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program."

Although Israeli officials refused to comment on these alarming military maneuvers, an unidentified "senior Pentagon official who has been briefed on the exercise" has stated that the exercise serves multiple purposes for Israel, including the most obvious goal of practicing aggressive and illegal aerial assault tactics, refueling, and other assorted contingencies of a potential strike on Iran's perfectly legal nuclear, military, and administrative sites. Another purpose, the Pentagon insider revealed, was "to send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter," concluding, "They rehearse it, rehearse it and rehearse it, so if they actually have to do it, they’re ready. They’re not taking any options off the table."

This preparation and threat of force is no small deal. A few weeks ago, Israeli deputy prime minister Shaul Mofaz let this choice warning slip in an interview with Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest daily newspaper:

"If Iran continues its program to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it...The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program."
This "unavoidable" action, as stated by a former defense minister and current Israeli Cabinet member, is no idle threat. The London Times reported on Saturday, once the story of this practice mission broke, that "an Israeli political official familiar with the drill, held early this month, said that the Iranians should 'read the writing on the wall...This was a dress rehearsal, and the Iranians should read the script before they continue with their programme for nuclear weapons. If diplomacy does not yield results, Israel will take military steps to halt Tehran’s production of bomb-grade uranium.'"

Additionally, any military threat from Israel should be taken very seriously, considering the state's ideological obsession with aggressive confrontation from before its violent conception sixty years ago. Not only does Israel engage in constant acts of aggression, willful murder, collective punishment, extra-judicial killings, assassinations, and wrongful imprisonment of an occupied native population, but over the past three decades, Israel has launched two unilateral, pre-emptive, and illegal attacks on "suspected" nuclear sites in sovereign Middle East countries, the first at Osirak in Iraq in 1981 and more recently last September in Syria. While the US purportedly protested the 1981 strike, it gave tacit (or perhaps even thunderous) approval to the Syria mission - an act of aggression that demonstrates the Israeli contempt for international law and the territorial integrity of foreign nations. Whereas the US has claimed that the Syrian site bombed by Israeli planes was a North Korean-built reactor, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim and the purpose of the act is widely seen as an Israeli warning message to Iran. In addition, while Israel is the only nuclear power in the entire Middle East, with stockpiles of hundreds of nuclear weapons, it has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, Iran, Syria, and Iraq (along with 186 other countries) have all been signatories for nearly forty years.

Two weeks ago, Counterpunch contributor Jeremy R. Hammond described a CIA intelligence assessment of the Israeli attack within Syrian borders that said it "could be a watershed event in the Middle East." The report continues to state that
"Rather than drawing [Arab leaders] into a negotiating process, Israel's demonstrated process will only speed the arms race. Tel Aviv has made the point that it will not allow an Arab state to develop a nuclear weapons capability. In the absence of US restraint on Israel, Arab leaders will intensify their search for alternative ways to boost their security and protect their interests...Arab anger will be directed at the United States for being responsible for Israel's ascendancy.... Arab leaders will claim even more forcefully than before that Israeli aggression and frustrated Palestinian aspirations are the central issues causing instability and that the United States holds the key to both."
In a televised interview with Al-Arabiya on Saturday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamad ElBaradei stated clearly that "I don’t believe that what I see in Iran today is a current, grave and urgent danger," adding that he would resign from his position as IAEA Director General "if a military strike is carried out against Iran at this time." ElBaradei continued, "A military strike, in my opinion, would be worse than anything possible. It would turn the region into a fireball."

While the United States continues the bogus claim that it is committed to diplomacy regarding Iran's nuclear program (even floating rumors of opening a new "diplomatic outpost" in the Islamic Republic amidst fear-mongering claims about Iran obtaining ICBMs) this recent act of military muscle-flexing by Israel certainly undercuts this notion. An unprovoked attack of a sovereign nation is, as Dennis Loo reminds us, "the gravest war crime of all." As Robert H. Jackson, chief US prosecutor during the Trial of Major War Criminals in Nuremberg, stated in his Judgment of the International Military Tribunal in 1946,
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Israel, of all places, should (and does) know better than to threaten Iran with aggressive action considering how often it invokes memories of World War II and the heinous crimes of the Nazis against humanity to deflect all criticism of Israel's own legal, humanitarian, and military transgressions. And yet, no lessons are learned when the world's only superpower is there to back you up unconditionally; a willing and vital partner to the coming crime.

The New York Times article notes Iranian nerves, fears, and recent attempts to "beef up its air defenses in recent weeks," despite the fact that Iranian government spokesman Dr. Gholam-Hossein Elham dismissed these worries and Western rhetoric this weekend, stating, "Such audacity to embark on an assault against the... territorial integrity of our country is impossible." Similarly, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, described the Israeli aerial exercise as an act of futile “psychological warfare." He continued, “They do not have the capacity to threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran. They have a number of domestic crises and they want to extrapolate it to cover others. Sometimes they come up with these empty slogans,” adding any Israeli attack on Iran would be met with a “devastating” response. This sentiment was echoed by Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, who was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that if Israel "makes a strategic mistake [by attacking Iran], the Revolutionary Guards are fully prepared to give a severe answer." Previously, in response to earlier Israeli threats towards Iran over the nuclear program, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najja has said, "Our armed forces are at the height of their readiness and if anyone should want to undertake such a foolish job the response would be very painful." In his recent Counterpunch piece, Jeremy R. Hammond, noting Iran's justifiable and eloquent reaction to the constant barrage of Israeli threats culminating with Mofaz's aggressive comments, quoted a recent official Iranian statement:
"Such a dangerous threat against a sovereign state and a member of the United Nations constitutes a manifest violation of international law and contravenes the most fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
The Times article describes a number of "challenges" that Israel would face as the result of such an attack, such as not being able to destroy all of Iran's nuclear facilities, infrastructure, or capabilities. Because many of Iran's supposed nuclear sites are concrete-enforced bunkers installed underground in long tunnels, "precise targeting" by Israeli bombers may be "difficult." The article goes on, "There is also concern that not all of the facilities have been detected. To inflict maximum damage, multiple attacks might be necessary, which many analysts say is beyond Israel’s ability at this time." Oh poor Israel! All they want to do is protect their little apartheid state from the imaginary nuclear missiles of sinister Iran - a country that hasn't threatened, invaded, or attacked another country in hundreds of years; something that Israel enjoys doing on a regular basis - but can't because their capabilities are lacking, despite being one of the strongest military forces on planet Earth.

The fact that no mention is made of the complete illegality of a possible Israeli strike on Iran is stunning. The article proliferates the accusations that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons program (an allegation discredited by 16 top US intelligence agencies in the recent NIE report) and that the IAEA is seriously concerned with Iran's suspected nuclear work and has demanded "substantial explanations" (a flagrant misreading and misrepresentation of a recent IAEA report that is masterfully analyzed by Cyrus Safdari of Iran Affairs). No effort is made to identify the complete legality, international supervision and approval, and monitored transparency of the Iranian nuclear energy program, nor are any moral, ethical, or humanitarian implications of dropping bombs on a country of 70 million people addressed by the most famous "newspaper of record." I suppose the right of all Iranians to remain alive within the boundaries of their own nation isn't determined to be news that's "fit to print."

But what is perhaps most striking about the article that reveals this recent Israeli foray is that it was co-authored by the infamous, Cheney-mouthpiece Michael Gordon (of pre-Iraq War WMD lies/Judith Miller co-conspirator fame) and uses, as veteran journalist Helena Cobban observed yesterday on Democracy Now!, information offered by "unnamed Pentagon sources and presenting them unexamined as the truth on the front page of the New York Times." Cobban elaborates further:
"Clearly, the Pentagon wanted this, or these people in the Pentagon wanted this news to get out...What is going on here? It’s not exactly what it seems to be. I wish obviously that Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt, his co-byline writer there, had asked some of the more interesting questions. For example, these exercises were held at the end of May and the beginning of June; why didn’t we learn about them then? Why was it leaked now? That’s one good question. Another good question is, what is the involvement actually of some portions of the US military in all this? Because the exercises took place in a portion of the East Mediterranean that is certainly NATO air space. So, you can’t say that nobody in the US military knew about this. There has to have been some degree of complicity.

Then, if they are indeed preparing—Israel is really preparing for an attack on Iran—and this is where it gets extremely scary—we, as Americans, need to understand that that has major and very, very catastrophic consequences for us, because there is no way that any kind of an Israeli bombing raid against Iran could reach the targets that they seek there without going through US-controlled airspace either in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, NATO air space in Turkey or whatever. So, the US would be complicit in that attack, would be seen as that, and would therefore be subject to reprisals, because, you know, launching a military attack on another country is an act of war. Maybe we’ve forgotten that. I guess, no, we haven’t forgotten that, because that’s what we did in Iraq in 2003.
It's obvious that certain of the most hawkish neo-cons (wait, isn't that all of them?) look longingly back to the invasion of Iraq and are now intent on repeating the disastrous war crime next door in Iran. A couple days ago, on Fox News Sunday, William Kristol, Weekly Standard editor and notorious neo-conservative, told smarmy host Chris Wallace that President [sic] Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Barack Obama will win the general election in November. ThinkProgress reports that "the claim that Obama’s potential election could force Bush’s hand also isn’t new. Earlier this month, far-right pseudo scholar Daniel Pipes told National Review Online that 'President Bush will do something' if the Democratic nominee won. 'Should it be Mr. McCain that wins, he’ll punt,' said Pipes."

And then there's this: Just today, the Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that "John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, has predicted that Israel could attack Iran after the November presidential election but before George W Bush’s successor is sworn in," and indicated that "the Arab world would be 'pleased' by Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities," claiming that "[the reaction] will be positive privately. I think there’ll be public denunciations but no action." Bolton, who does not believe the Bush administration will launch an attack itself (though veteran intelligence experts disagree), explained why he thinks the time between November 4th and January 20th is the "optimal window" for an Israeli strike thusly,
“The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.

“They’re also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgement is they would not want to do anything before our election because there’s no telling what impact it could have on the election.”
The Telegraph piece concludes with another notable Bolton quote that sounds like it could be the gentle coda of a Rumsfeldian lullaby:
“The key point would be for the Israelis to break Iran’s control over the nuclear fuel cycle and that could be accomplished for example by destroying the uranium conversion facility at Esfahan or the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

"That doesn’t end the problem but it buys time during which a more permanent solution might be found…. How long? That would be hard to say. Depends on the extent of the destruction.”
What a sweetheart.

On Monday, the nations of the European Union approved a new set of sanctions against Iran that "specifically target its financial institutions." The measures, according to the Associated Press, were adopted without debate and establish an asset freeze of Bank Melli (Iran's largest bank), prevent the European operations of the bank in London, Hamburg and Paris, and include "visa bans on senior officials like the Revolutionary Guards' chief Jafari, Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iran's top atomic official." And there may even be more restrictions to come considering that "the 27-nation bloc is also studying sanctions against Iran's oil and gas sector — but such a step would probably take several months to implement, diplomats say."

While the US and EU are lauding their own "carrot-and-stick" approach to diplomacy, supposedly offering "technological incentives" in exchange for Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini condemned the EU sanctions, stating, "that the illegal, double-standard and contradictory approach during the time the packages of proposals are being studied is meaningless and is strongly denounced." IRNA reports
"Referring to hostile political approach against the legitimate rights of the Iranian nation, [Hosseini] said, 'Adopting the stick and carrot policy towards the legal rights and national will of the great nation of Iran is futile and will have no effect on materialization of the indispensable rights of the nation.'

Hosseini said that 'this kind of behavior will make the Iranian nation and government more determined in obtaining their rights.' He added that such moves will waste European opportunities and would not lead to an appropriate atmosphere for diplomacy to go ahead.
European officials may have another reason for approving this new round of sanctions; a justification that goes a bit beyond agreeing whole-heartedly with the US and Israeli allegations against Iran. As reported by Jeremy R. Hammond, Julianne Smith of the Center for Strategic and International Studies explained the EU's recent decision to employ stringent sanctions that go beyond the already existing UNSC sanctions by saying, "I think this was a European attempt to show the Bush administration that Europe takes the threat seriously and to try to continue to prevent a situation where Israel or the United States might turn to the military instrument."

What still seems to keep eluding American and European officials, however, is the inconvenient truth of the Iranian nuclear program: it's all perfectly legal. By imposing strict economic and financial sanctions on Iran, the US and EU are actually denying the legitimate rights of the Iranian nation. This is not a controversial concept, it is a simple fact, confirmed under the auspices of the NPT and by the IAEA's report that it has found "no indication" that Iran now has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program, an ElBaradei refrain for five years now. Jeremy R. Hammond reports that, in May, "the IAEA noted that 'The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.' The IAEA's previous report had noted significant progress in verifying the peaceful nature of Iran's program and concluded that several areas where there had been concern we no longer outstanding."

(For more information on Iran's legal right to nuclear energy production, please read nuclear physicist and energy expert Gordon Prather's amazing April 12, April 19, May 10, May 17, and May 24 articles on AntiWar - the May articles are especially impressive.)

So, if Israel is going to take care of military strikes on Iran and the EU is adopting unwarranted and excessive economic sanctions, what is the US supposed to do? Sit back and wait? Stop lying about Iranian intentions? Scale back the bellicose rhetoric? Not do something absurd, uncalled for, and offensive? Pul-eeeeeze.

Not to be outdone by Israel or the European Union, the United States House of Representatives, in an act of staggering cowardice (though, is anything really surprising at this point?), aggressive arrogance and imperial ignorance, is poised to quickly pass (possibly even without a vote) a new non-binding resolution to demand that President [sic] Bush impose "stringent inspection requirements" on all trade with Iran. This legislation, H.Con.Res.362, reported on by Truthout's Maya Schenwar and Matt Renner - and pretty much no one else, "has gained bipartisan support rapidly, with more co-sponsors signing on by the day" and is "paralleled by a similar Senate bill."

The resolution is tantamount to a declaration of war as it is filled with purposely vague language that can be seen as approving a US military blockade of Iran and is baffling in its illegal implications. Before stating some of the contents of the bill, let me reiterate where this all comes from: The House of Representatives of the United States Congress. This truly sets the stage for countless acts of aggression supported explicitly by the Democratic Party-controlled legislative branch of the government. I suppose this is part of the "tough diplomacy" Obama was talking about in his fawning speech to AIPAC three weeks ago. (Apparently, this resolution was the top lobbying priority of the 7,000 attendees of the AIPAC conference in Washington DC. AIPAC lobbyists promoted the bill heavily on Capitol Hill and have now seen their efforts rewarded in political legislation.) Goodbye carrots, hello sticks. Is this the change we are all supposed to believe in?

Schenwar and Renner reveal the following, harrowing details:
The most strongly worded section of the legislation is Article Three, which states: "Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress - (3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia [among other things], prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program."

The resolution makes no mention of the National Intelligence Estimate report released in December 2007, which found that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003.

The language regarding inspection requirements and restrictions of movement have led critics of the bill to suggest that, if implemented, this type of international sanction would amount to an embargo and would have to be put into place at gunpoint. Such action would be illegal under international law, unless approved by the UN, according to Ethan Chorin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Middle East Program. UN approval is not mentioned in the bill.

Moreover, the resolution would unquestionably send a hostile message to Iran, according to Chorin.

"The Iranians would certainly view this as an act of war, whether or not they acted on it as such," Chorin told Truthout. "All of this would confirm the Gulf Arabs' perceptions that the US is playing an increasingly destabilizing role in the region."
Perhaps most shocking is that the resolution, even with its unequivocally aggressive language and requirements, "counts some of Congress's most liberally voting members among its co-sponsors, including Representative Robert Wexler, an outspoken advocate of impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney; Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, one of Congress's most vocal critics of the Bush administration's missteps; and Representative Jan Schakowsky, rated the most liberal Democrat in Congress by the nonpartisan vote-tracking project GovTrack."
Besides AIPAC's strong pull, [JustForeignPolicy's Chelsea] Mozen pointed to the resolution's references to diplomacy as a draw for some vocal antiwar Democrats.

"Some in Congress see such a resolution, in part because it is non-binding, as a way to forestall or prevent more serious action against Iran," Mozen said. "However, with the atmosphere as it is on the Hill, with the election debate hinging in part on the debate about Iran, most folks in favor of diplomacy won't be pro-active for it, I gather because they think this will open them up to criticism. Those in favor of stronger action on Iran are pushing for it now and they have AIPAC pushing too. As a result, the folks that want to wait it out are looking to non-binding resolutions to quiet the need for stronger action and buy them time until January. I suppose it seems like a tug-o-war with only one side tugging and the other thinking about when to tug in the future."

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy's national coordinator, noted that the bill's "non-binding" status is deceptive. The bill does not immediately do anything; it merely expresses a "sense of Congress." In itself, it does not authorize war, he added.

"It still has consequences," Naiman told Truthout. "The Kyl-Lieberman resolution was a non-binding resolution and it helped lead to the Quds Force being classified as a terrorist organization."

While liberal-leaning Congress members may perceive the passage of a non-binding resolution as a stall tactic, keeping the administration sated while waiting for a new administration to take office, Mozen called the legislation a "slippery slope" toward further tensions.

"It certainly would not be good to set such a precedent from Congress that could taint the ability of the next administration to make progress in US-Iranian relations," Mozen said.
With this resolution, any prospect of renewed Democratic leadership in the US government signaling a new era of respect for international law, deference to the sovereignty of foreign nations, and any notion of altering the institutionalized imperialism, gunboat diplomacy, and militant hegemony of this country is null and void. The future, at least in terms of American foreign policy on Iran, looks disastrously bleak...if not deliberately bloody...regardless of November's election results.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living
In better conditions.

- Hafez (c.1324-1391)


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack To The Future!
(While Clinging Firmly to the Dubious Past & Nightmarish Present)

My sincerest apologies for the unintended hiatus of the past few weeks. For some terrible reason, I have been working a whole lot lately and as a result have been neglecting more important things, such as thinking about the world and writing about things that piss me off. Now that I'm back, please allow me to jump right in.

In his very first act after clinching the Democratic nomination for president of these United States of America, Barack Obama once again provided me with myriad reasons not to vote for him come November. Yes, his candidacy is historic and unprecedented. He's the new RFK, people say. He's progressive! He's liberal! He'll bring "hope" and "change" to the masses and clean this country up after eight years of chronic neglect and rampant criminality. He'll heal the fucking world, don't you know that?

Others simply call themselves realists and support Obama for pragmatic reasons, rather than ethical ones: he's not McCain (or Hillary); McCain is worse; Obama's electable; Obama's the first step towards a more progressive future; he's also, apparently, not John McCain.

What I do know is that while Obama may be a slightly lesser evil by CheneyMcCainian standards, and he may pretend to engage in "tough diplomacy" before dropping bombs on innocent brown people in deserty type places in the future, actually he offers very little in the way of real, substantive "change" for...uh...pretty much anything.

His campaign is supported by major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and the powerful hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. Obama has said time and again that "Washington lobbyists haven't funded my campaign. They won't run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president." And yet, according to insider and investigator Pam Martens, "Seven of the Obama campaign’s top 14 donors consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages." And award-winning journalist John Pilger points out that "a report by United for a Fair Economy, a non-profit group, estimates the total loss to poor Americans of colour who took out sub-prime loans as being between $164bn and $213bn: the greatest loss of wealth ever recorded for people of colour in the United States," and, in addition, "according to files held by the Centre for Responsive Politics, the top five contributors to the Obama campaign are registered corporate lobbyists." Ooops.

Obama has voted to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan at every turn during his short Senatorial career, approving each and every appropriation, hundreds of billions of dollars to kill hundreds of thousands (at least) of citizens in their own land and to thoroughly destroy and demolish two ancient countries. He demonstrated his utter disregard for American civil liberties, personal privacy, and Constitutional authority when he voted for an improved and reauthorized USA PATRIOT Act in 2006. He opposes universal health care and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the healthcare industry in 2008 alone, probably to ensure his preferential treatment of insurance companies that reap huge rewards by denying critical medical treatment to their unfortunate customers. He emboldens the nuclear sector, opposes a carbon pollution tax, supports the death penalty, and has no intention of putting an end to the vast federal subsidies for major corporations, including Big Oil and Gas. He campaigns as the anti-war antithesis to the Bush/Cheney doctrine, and yet has stated with all the post-9/11, "War On Terror" brain-washed sincerity and gusto that, in an effort to pursue "the terrorists" he would willfully attack Pakistan (something the US currently enjoys doing). He lauds the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. He promises to continue the cruel fifty year old embargo on Cuba, despite stating the opposite only a year ago. Greg Kafoury, a lawyer and activist in Oregon, explains Obama's misguidance:

In 1959, Cubans overthrew a dictator who was in partnership with the Mafia and who allowed Cuban workers and natural resources to be exploited by giant American corporations. In response to their nationalizing American assets, the Cubans faced nearly fifty years of U.S. sponsored invasion, embargo, sabotage, terrorism, and attempts to assassinate their leaders.

Yet Obama spoke not a word of how the restrictions of political liberty in Cuba are linked to Cuba's struggle to maintain independence in the face of relentless attempts by a succession of U.S. administrations to use their great power to bring Cuba to heel.

Senator Obama spoke not a word of the accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution, the world-class health system, the high quality education, rural development, cutting edge research on infectious diseases, and the provision of thousands of Cuban doctors to the most disease-ridden, God-forsaken corners of the earth.

Senator Obama essentially gave the same kind of speech on Cuba that we have heard from American Presidents for the last fifty years. Where is the "change" that we have been waiting for, that we have been promised so repeatedly?
Obama has consistently in the past and continues to this day to threaten, bully, and intimidate Iran over its non-existent efforts to "destabilize" a militarily occupied Iraq by 'killing American troops' and legally pursue nuclear energy in a UN-sanctioned and supervised attempt to boost its own economy and enter developing-nation modernity. Obama, in best Dick Cheney-hand-puppet form, ridiculously insists that the Iranian government is "a threat to all of us" and that, with regard to further illegal sanctions and possible military (including nuclear) action, "all options are on the table," regardless of the legality of Iran's own actions or, apparently, the criminality of America's. He repeats the tired lies about Iranian President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map." As Matt Kosko has pointed out, Obama has also "supported the demonization of Iran by urging the State Department to consider the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.”
The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which McCain and Clinton voted for but Obama missed, wasn’t the only bill that asked for the Guards to considered terrorists. S.970, the “Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007” co-sponsored by Obama, included a suggestion that the “…Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization…” Really, the only difference between the three is that neither Clinton nor Obama have put their plans for destruction in song form.
Even on the big issue of Iraq, over which he has constantly blasted McCain and Clinton for voting for the 2003 Authorization for Use of Military Force, Obama offers no substantial change from the past five years or the potential actions of a hypothetical (?) McCain Administration. He has stated that he doesn't know how he would have voted on the 2003 Authorization had he actually been in the Senate at the time. Since then, despite being pushed as an antidote to the bellicosity of the current administration, Obama has never denounced the invasion of Iraq on moral, legal, or humanitarian grounds, but only as a strategic blunder. Kosko notes that Obama (along with McCain and Clinton), "has refused to promised to end the occupation and completely remove all U.S. troops from Iraq, despite the fact that the occupation is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Iraqis and is the main fomenter of violence in the country."
Not only that, Obama has called Bush’s intentions in starting the war “sincere” but “misguided.” Neither McCain, Clinton, nor Obama considers the war to be a grandiose atrocity that has resulted in the deaths of one million people and the displacement of millions more nor do they acknowledge their own culpability by either authorizing the war or refusing to stop funding it; no candidate suggests the possibility of war crimes trials, impeachment of the criminals, or the fact that war had nothing to do with sincerity or heroic intentions on the part of the Bush government but was instead a quasi-imperial crusade to preserve American power and hegemony in the Middle East.
John Pilger had this to say about Obama's current Iraq position:
On the war in Iraq, Obama the dove and McCain the hawk are almost united. McCain now says he wants US troops to leave in five years (instead of "100 years", his earlier option). Obama has now "reserved the right" to change his pledge to get troops out next year. "I will listen to our commanders on the ground," he now says, echoing Bush. His adviser on Iraq, Colin Kahl, says the US should maintain up to 80,000 troops in Iraq until 2010. Like McCain, Obama has voted repeatedly in the Senate to support Bush's demands for funding of the occupation of Iraq; and he has called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. His senior advisers embrace McCain's proposal for an aggressive "league of democracies", led by the United States, to circumvent the United Nations.
Heck, the guy doesn't even support impeachment or gay marriage. But, then again, he is relatively young. And talks about a "better future" a whole lot which is nice because who doesn't want a better future, right? And, oh yeah, he's half-black. I had almost forgotten about that. That's certainly a change.

In America, to strive for a different future apparently means looking to the past for inspiration. The claims of Obama's Bobby Kennedyesque similitude are not off-base. John Pilger astutely notes that "Kennedy's campaign is a model for Barack Obama. Like Obama, he was a senator with no achievements to his name. Like Obama, he raised the expectations of young people and minorities. Like Obama, he promised to end an unpopular war, not because he opposed the war's conquest of other people's land and resources, but because it was unwinnable." Kennedy was also a staunch supporter of Israel's 1967 offensive war against its Arab neighbors and the subsequent occupation of the rest of historic Palestine - an issue over which he was tragically assassinated, exactly one year later. Hopefully Obama won't follow too closely in Kennedy's footsteps (despite the wishes of Hillary Clinton), though his recent pandering to Israel smacks eerily similar to his much-revered political predecessor.

Baruch ObamAIPAC
and the "Unwavering" Support of Apartheid,
"Unshakable" Commitment to Aggression
and "Unbreakable" Bond of Occupation

The common refrain I hear from non-Zionist Obama supporters is that he has to say what he has to say in order to get elected. He buckled under the call to condemn the much-YouTubed statements of his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright at the hysterical insistence of a fearful, ostrichesque, white American public, the sensationalist corporate media, and racist apologists for the State of Israel's violent history and primary role in anti-American sentiment throughout the world. "Jeremiah Wright," notes Pilger, "spoke an embarrassing truth. He said that the attacks of 11 September 2001 had taken place as a consequence of the violence of US power across the world. The media demanded that Obama disown Wright and swear an oath of loyalty to the Bush lie that 'terrorists attacked America because they hate our freedoms.' So he did."

In his much heralded (though actually quite unimpressive) "A More Perfect Union" speech, Obama "critiqued the topic of race in a way that would be considered tame in an Ethnic Studies department, but that was audacious by the standards of mainstream politicians," writes Virginia Tech English professor Steven Salaita, continuing, "Unexamined in the chorus of praise, however, was the following statement, offered as a rebuke of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s beliefs, which Obama patronizingly dismissed as misguided despite his refusal to condemn their messenger:"
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country—a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. (Barack Obama, March 18, 2008)
The statement does lots of things at once. From a public image standpoint, it allowed Obama to further distance himself from accusations that he is secretly Muslim while simultaneously cozying up to his still-slightly-suspicious Zionist patrons. As rhetoric, it enabled Obama to fulfill the requisite demand that whites be made adequately comfortable, a demand that entails the condemnation of anything that might actually threaten their privilege. This injunction is de rigueur for people of color.

But I don’t want to highlight these stupid political games. I’m more interested in what the statement doesn’t do, which is to convey anything even incidentally truthful. Obama’s claim is a profound insult not only to the Palestinians who have courageously fought for their physical and cultural survival, but to anybody who values the use of evidence to express an informed opinion. In no framework other than Zionist extremism can the Israel-Palestine conflict be attributed to “radical Islam.” Even those who disagree vehemently about the history of Palestine concur that the conflict is fundamentally territorial.

The very construct of a “radical Islam,” in fact, means nothing of substance; it is a rhetorical ploy for the intellectually vacuous. Much of Palestine’s resistance, in the past and present, has been conducted by members of the Christian minority. Palestinians, far from being religious extremists, are noted for their progressive secular institutions. The first Palestinian suicide bombing, an act said to exemplify “radical Islam,” didn’t even occur until 1994. To Obama, this is apparently the point at which the Israel-Palestine conflict started.

It is utterly indecent for a person to deem himself a moral authority on tolerance while concurrently recycling an anti-Arab racism whose existence has been devastating for the Palestinians.
Since making those remarks in Philadelphia back in March, Obama finally did denounce, condemn, decry, criticize, and lambaste Rev. Wright into oblivion. After a strong decades-long relationship based on mutual respect, faith, and friendship, Obama clearly demonstrated the audacity of political convenience and what it takes (and what is thrown away) in order to become the most powerful man in the world. The temptation is simply too great and, as a result, every fiber of morality and every dear friend is expendable.

Furthermore, Obama's pandering acts include supporting Israel's 2006 war against Lebanon as a rational response to Hezbollah's resistance (widely acknowledged as an unsuccessful offensive that successfully destroyed civil infrastructure and murdered over a thousand Lebanese civilians, 30% of whom were children - a war crime by any standard); he has pledged his allegiance and fealty to the Israeli state again and again in an effort to deflect criticism over his past pro-human rights leanings, emphasizing the sacrosanctity of Israel's 'security,' assuring Israel's qualitative military and nuclear superiority in the region, and vowing total US military and financial support to the tune of $3 billion per year over the next decade (that comes out of your paychecks, people!); he opposed a UN Security Council resolution in January that implied criticism of Israel's brutal siege and starvation of a million and a half Gazan civilians, claiming that Israel was "forced to do this" and had the "right to respond" to desperate Palestinian resistance to forty years of aggressive occupation, devastation, incarceration, and dehumanization. "In January," Pilger points out, "pressured by the Israel lobby, he massaged a statement that 'nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people' to now read: 'Nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel [emphasis added].' Such is his concern for the victims of the longest, illegal military occupation of modern times."

Obama exaggerates and lies about Iran's oh-so-notorious nuclear program, claiming that the Islamic Republic's phantom missiles are an existential threat to Israel, the only country in the Middle East that actually possesses nuclear weapons of its own. Matt Kosko notes, painfully, that "Not one of the candidates has ever criticized Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, preferring instead to praise them as necessary defenses against terrorism. We must then conclude that all the candidates support brutalization, occupation, murder, torture, arrest, arbitrary detention, home demolition, humiliation, degradation, property confiscation, and economic strangulation." Sure, this sounds harsh and "not condemning" doesn't automatically mean "condoning," and yet a politician's silence is often code for tacit approval or even strategic indifference.

In a recent article for DissentVoice.org, Steven Salaita eloquently sums up many of my own feelings regarding the Democratic presidential candidate (who hadn't yet become the presumptive nominee at the time), stating,
I won’t vote for Obama because he once was promising but has morphed into an unusually charismatic but typically mediocre politician. A man once known for engaging the issue of Palestinian liberation in Chicago’s Arab American community now can be found sharing his message of Israel-love to anybody who will listen. This change of opinion intimates a lack of integrity. Obama’s supporters will argue that he is simply doing what allows him to become a viable contender for president, to which I would respond: if one wishes to keep his or her integrity intact, then that person shouldn’t seek national office as a Democrat. Obama is willingly forfeiting his integrity for his ambition. That is his choice and it isn’t my place to make the decision on his behalf. However, it is my place to decide not to vote for him based on that choice.

The primary but not exclusive impetus for my displeasure with Obama is his suddenly avid support of Israel. It is an issue that I and many of my peers in the Arab American community cannot dismiss, as do other progressive supporters of Obama. We may be accused of shortsightedness by rejecting Obama based largely on this issue, but nearly everybody privileges one or few concerns when entering into the American political arena: religion, abortion, a particular foreign policy, immigration, the economy. I cannot listen to the man smilingly discuss the continued dispossession of millions of people who have already suffered unspeakably and then endorse such treachery with a vote.

In any case, there is no need to apologize for or shy away from emphasizing Israel’s brutality. Far from being a marginal item in the life of the United States, American support for Israeli colonization has serious moral and geopolitical consequences. It, more than any other action, generates justifiable anger toward the United States in much of Europe and almost uniformly throughout the Southern Hemisphere. It extends the bloody tradition of settler colonization in the American polity and in its imagination, a state of mind that helps facilitate so many of today’s imperialist adventures. And it renders every politician who has ever lectured an Arab nation about human rights glaringly hypocritical.
Generally, there would be very little for me to add to Salaita's sentiments, except that the article was written before June 4, 2008. On that morning, one week ago, his first ante meridiem as presidential candidate, Barack Obama celebrated his historic achievement by sprinting to the floor of the AIPAC conference, the most powerful Zionist lobbying organization, in Washington DC to give a speech that, as Israeli writer and peace activist Uri Avnery put it, "broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning."

[Incidentally, Avnery's piece is entitled "No, I Can't" which I can only assume he stole from me, since I used that very same title on this site more than four months ago!]

In front of the audience of over 6,000 Zionist zealots and hawkish right-wingers that any AIPAC conference would invariably house, in addition to hundreds of United States Congressmen and women, Republicrats and Demublicans alike (oh wait, did I say Zionist zealots and hawkish right-wingers?), Obama embraced some of the most horrific ideologies of the modern world and displayed his blind obedience to power and a will to get elected for high office that trumps all sense of human rights and justice, a fair foreign policy, and any desire for peace.

But why am I making such a big deal of this? Isn't this what politicians do? What else was he supposed to do? Tell the truth? Of course not. Obama's AIPAC ass-kissing is striking and troubling because of what his whole candidacy is supposed to have stood for up until this point. Avnery illuminates the irony that Obama's "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 Washington and to replace the old cynics with a young, brave person who does not compromise his principles. And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles." After the PR campaign about all that sexy "hope" and "change," it seems incongruous at the very least for 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."

Indeed, foreign policy analyst and professor of politics and Middle East Studies, Stephen Zunes, wrote yesterday that Obama's "speech in Washington [to AIPAC] in many ways constituted a slap in the face of the grass roots peace and human rights activists who have brought him to the cusp of the Democratic presidential nomination."

Obama went to extraordinary lengths to be a gracious mouse in a room full of snakes, describing himself as "a true friend of Israel" and pronouncing his "unshakeable commitment to Israel's security" that includes "ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage" and guarantee that "Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran" and pledging fidelity to the idea that the "bond between US and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable forever."

Obama, supposedly America's champion of peace and best bet for a change to the imperial US foreign policy of the past eight (or one hundred?) years, "rejected the view that the Middle East already has too many armaments and dismissed pleas by human rights activists that U.S. aid to Israel — like all countries — should be made conditional on adherence to international humanitarian law," writes Zunes.
Indeed, he further pledged an additional $30 billion of taxpayer-funded military aid to the Israeli government and its occupation forces over the next decade with no strings attached. Rather than accept that strategic parity between potential antagonists is the best way, short of a full peace agreement, to prevent war and to maintain regional security, Obama instead insisted that the United States should enable Israel to maintain its “qualitative military edge.
He talked tough about Iran, while still emphasizing his willingness to exhaust aggressive diplomacy before resorting to pre-emptive violence, declaring that "there is no greater threat to Israel — or to the peace and stability of the region — than Iran" and then reiterating the Cheney falsehoods that "the Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us [sic] across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists [sic]. Its president denies the Holocaust [sic] and threatens to wipe Israel off the map [sic]. The danger from Iran is grave [sic], it is real [sic], and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." He pushed for privatized sanctions and divestments from Iran, but made clear that he can be as aggressive as the worst of 'em, stating, "We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything. And I mean everything." Just in case any audience members had been taking a leak during that especially repetitious and rapacious part of his speech, Obama reiterated his bellicose charge a few minutes later, "Let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel." Whew, what a relief.

When "discussing" the Israel/Palestine conflict, Obama never once mentioned the Apartheid Wall that snakes illegally through Palestinian land in the West Bank, effectively annexing more territory to Israeli control; there was no mention of a stifling occupation, of checkpoints, of air strikes, of assassinations and extrajudicial killings, nor of the open-air prison that is Gaza. Israel could do no wrong, apparently, as it should never feel obligated to enter into peace talks or stop bombing civilian centers or refugee camps. Maybe slowing the building of illegal settlements would be a help, but no one's trying to twist anyone's arm here (unless they're Arab or Persian).

"Over the past three years," Zunes points out, "the ratio of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip killed by Israeli forces relative to the number of Israeli civilians in Israel killed by Palestinians is approximately 50 to one and has been even higher more recently. However, Obama chose only to mention the Israeli deaths and condemn Hamas, whose armed wing has been responsible for most of the Israeli casualties, and not a word about the moral culpability of the Israeli government." There was only praise heaped upon gooey celebration for Israel's hard-fought accomplishments, triumphs, and prosperity (do you think he meant land theft, dispossession of a native population, and institutionalized ethnic cleansing?), and its "resilient commitment to the rule of law" (though, naturally, Obama didn't mean international law or UN declarations), with absolutely no mention of Jews-only roads, collective punishment, anti-Arab laws and courts, and, of course, Obama never even let on that he had any knowledge of the bloody circumstances of the 1948 Nakba, the unquestionable root cause of the entire conflict.

Obama repeated the "never again" mantra that has been the calling card of all Israeli apologists since Ben-Gurion. Obama promised to stand with Israel in a slew of "nevers," never relenting, yielding, nor compromising when it comes to "security." He continued, "Not when there are still voices that deny the Holocaust. Not when there are terrorist groups and political leaders committed to Israel's destruction. Not when there are maps across the Middle East that don't even acknowledge Israel's existence, and government-funded textbooks filled with hatred toward Jews. Not when there are rockets raining down on Sderot, and Israeli children have to take a deep breath and summon uncommon courage every time they board a bus or walk to school."

I suppose Obama wasn't actually referring to maps in Israel that don't acknowledge the land of Palestine in any way, but rather call the West Bank by its biblical names "Judea and Samaria." I suppose he didn't mean the Israeli textbooks that claim Israel was given to the Jews by almighty god and that was, in the late nineteenth century, "a land without a people for a people without a land," despite the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whose ancestors had worked and lived on that land for centuries and who are living there still. I don't think he was referring to the same textbooks that hail, as a struggle for freedom and independence, the terrorist efforts of early Zionist militias such as the Stern Gang, Irgun, and the Haganah (which later became the foundation of the Israeli military) or the same textbooks that don't mention the names of the over 400 Palestinian villages these militias destroyed and looted while violently driving over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, lands, and livlihoods; the textbooks that acknowledge neither the massacre at Deir Yassin nor even, more recently, Sabra and Shatilla. My guess is that Obama wasn't talking about IDF drones, F-16s, and Apache helicopters whizzing overhead and dropping missiles and cluster bombs in residential neighborhoods, or the rockets that rain down daily on Palestinian homes, hospitals, and schools. Oh and, regarding uncommon courage? I wonder if Obama has ever heard of Abir Aramin, the Palestinian ten-year-old who was killed by an Israeli soldier's rubber bullet to the back of the head on her way home from school. If occupation and oppression breeds struggle and resistance, who are the courageous ones? The ones who oppress and fear reprisal? Or are they ones who go to school despite the humiliation of passing through checkpoints and beneath watchtowers manned by foreign soldiers in their own land? Does it take only common courage to fight against the region's most powerful military backed by the world's most powerful country? And then what kind of courage must it take for Barack Obama to stand up in front of a room full of ethno-supremacist cowards who are clearly using him for their own political, ideological, and hegemonic gain and tell them what they want to hear?

Zunes reports that "despite his openness to talk with those governing Iran and North Korea, Obama emphasized his opposition to talking to those governing the Gaza Strip, even though Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament in what was universally acknowledged as a free election."
Though a public opinion poll published in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed that 64% of the Israeli population support direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas (while only 28% expressed opposition), Obama has chosen to side with the right-wing minority in opposing any such talks. Furthermore, Obama insists that Hamas should have never been even allowed to participate in the Palestinian elections in the first place because of their extremist views, which fail to recognize Israel and acts of terrorism by its armed wing. Yet he has never objected to the Israelis allowing parties such as National Union — which defends attacks on Arab civilians and seeks to destroy any Palestinian national entity, and expel its Arab population — to participate in elections or hold high positions in government.

He insisted that Hamas uphold previous agreements by the Fatah-led Palestine Authority with Israel, but did not insist that Israel uphold its previous agreements with the Palestine Authority, such as withdrawing from lands re-occupied in 2001 in violation of U.S.-guaranteed disengagement agreements.
But isn't this all just par for the course in American politics? Sure it is, but that doesn't make it any more excusable or any less nauseating. Obama, due to his youthful impetuousness and riding a wave of recent success and political invincibility, decided that he'd win the crowd over with a declaration about the fate of Jerusalem, one of the four most hotly-contested "final status" issues of the conflict (the other three being the Palestinian Right of Return, internationally agreed upon and recognized borders of Israel and the Palestinian state, and the dismantling of Israeli settlement blocs on the West Bank), a declaration that according to Uri Avnery "breaks all bounds. It is no exaggeration to call it scandalous." Zunes explains what all the fuss is about:
Most disturbing was Obama’s apparent support for Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, the Palestinian-populated sector of the city and surrounding villages that Israel seized along with the rest of the West Bank in June 1967.

The UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions (252, 267, 271, 298, 476 and 478) calling on Israel to rescind its annexation of greater East Jerusalem and to refrain from any unilateral action regarding its final status. Furthermore, due to the city’s unresolved legal status dating from the 1948-49 Israeli war on independence, the international community refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the United States and other governments maintaining their respective embassies in Tel Aviv.

Despite these longstanding internationally-recognized legal principles, Obama insisted in his speech before AIPAC that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Given the city’s significance to both populations, any sustainable peace agreement would need to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city for both Israel and Palestine. In addition to its religious significance for both Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims, Jerusalem has long been the most important cultural, commercial, political, and educational center for Palestinians and has the largest Palestinian population of any city in the world. Furthermore, Israel’s annexation of greater East Jerusalem and its planned annexation of surrounding settlement blocs would make a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state impossible. Such a position, therefore, would necessarily preclude any peace agreement. This raises serious questions as to whether Obama really does support Israeli-Palestinian peace after all.


Obama argued in his speech that the United States should not “force concessions” on Israel, such as rescinding its annexation of Jerusalem, despite the series of UN Security Council resolutions explicitly calling on Israel do to so. While Obama insists that Iran, Syria, and other countries that reject U.S. hegemonic designs in the region should be forced to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, he apparently believes allied governments such as Israel are exempt.

Also disturbing about his statement was a willingness to “force concessions” on the Palestinians by pre-determining the outcome of one of the most sensitive issues in the negotiations. If, as widely interpreted, Obama was recognizing Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, it appears that the incipient Democratic nominee — like the Bush administration — has shown contempt for the most basic premises of international law, which forbids any country from expanding its borders by force.
Obama's ill-fated comment regarding the holiest city in the world was immediately rejected by PA president Mahmoud Abbas. Khody Akhavi reports that "On the same day Obama made his pledge, President Bush announced that he was suspending a move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem," and that Obama himself, perhaps attempting to extract his saliva-soaked loafer from his own gullet, "backtracked on the position the next day."

Perhaps, the saddest part of the whole AIPAC charade is that the guy who had previously not fallen for the empty gestures of phony patriotism and spoken truth to symbology, showed up on the podium (beema?) donning not just an American flag pin on his lapel, but rather a pin depicting the American and Israeli flags entwined in a Kama Sutra pose, illegal in 38 states (much to the wet dream delight of Zionist media outlets like JTA). Is it not curious that an American citizen, running for the very highest office, wears the flag of a foreign state directly over his heart and is not accused of some sort of Benedict Arnoldish ideological treason? Regardless, what is most disheartening is that Obama has essentially stopped caring about the tenets of his nomination campaign and has become just another US politician, even though that's exactly what we're supposed to believe he's not.

Stephen Zunes concludes with the following truth:
Through a combination of deep-seated fear from centuries of anti-Semitic repression, manipulation by the United States and other Western powers, and self-serving actions by some of their own leaders, a right-wing minority of American Jews support influential organizations such as AIPAC to advocate militaristic policies that, while particularly tragic for the Palestinians and Lebanese, are ultimately bad for the United States and Israel as well.

Obama’s June 3 speech would have been the perfect time for Obama, while upholding his commitment to Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, to challenge AIPAC’s militarism and national chauvinism more directly. Unfortunately, while showing some independence of thought on Iran, he apparently felt the Palestinians were not as important.

Taking a pro-Israel but anti-occupation position would have demonstrated that Obama was not just another pandering politician and that he recognized that a country’s legitimate security needs were not enhanced by invasion, occupation, colonization and repression.

That truly would have been “change you can believe in.”
Oh well.


Gaza, Obama, AIPAC

VoteNader.org | 4 June 2008

There is one clear choice this year for peace in the Middle East.


Thanks to your ongoing support, the Nader/Gonzalez peace in the Middle East campaign is aiming to be on the ballot nationwide in November.

Only Nader/Gonzalez stands with the courageous Israeli and Palestinian peace movements.

Only Nader/Gonzalez stands with the majority of Jewish Americans and Arab Americans which polls repeatedly show support a two-state solution as a way for peace in the Middle East.

Only Nader/Gonzalez would reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Doubt it?

Then just listen to Barack Obama's speech from this morning to the militarist and right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Did Obama make one mention of the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza's 1.5 million people and the UN-documented resulting humanitarian disaster there?

He did not.

Instead, Obama talked about "a Gaza controlled by Hamas with rockets raining down on Israel."

Did Obama mention U.S. government supplied Israeli firepower resulting in Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza at a ratio of 400 to 1 (Palestinian to Israeli)

He did not.

Many peace loving Israelis and Jewish Americans will be disgusted by Obama's speech today.

Like the editor at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz who wrote that the Israeli government has "lost its reason" through the brutal incarceration, devastation and deprivation of the innocent people in Gaza.

Obama told AIPAC today that "we must isolate Hamas." (In its current form.)

Did he mention that a March 2008 Haaretz poll showed that 64 percent of the Israeli people want direct negotiations for peace between Israel and Hamas, while only 28% oppose it?

He did not.

Instead, Obama said this morning that "Egypt must cut off the smuggling of weapons into Gaza."

Did he say that Israel must stop bombing the people of Gaza?

He did not.

Obama this morning told AIPAC that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Did Obama mention that this pledge undermines the widespread international consensus two-state solution peace plan?

He did not.

So, in a nutshell:

In this critical election year, Nader/Gonzalez stands on these issues with the majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Jewish-Americans and Arab Americans.

Obama/McCain stand with the hard-line minority position of AIPAC.

With your generous help, Nader/Gonzalez will work to make the voices for peace heard throughout this election year.

Together, we will make a difference.


The Nader Team