Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is Obama True Friend of Israel?

President-elect Barack H. Obama has finally broken his silence by expressing his "deep concern" about mounting civilian casualties as the carnage in Gaza has continued into the second week. He added he would have plenty more to say after he takes office on January 20, 2009.

Is Obama a true friend and a genuine ally of the state of Israel? This question was asked repeatedly during the presidential election campaign of 2008. As expected, each presidential candidate vied with the rest of the field to prove their credentials to AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee aka the all powerful Israel lobby) by offering total and unconditional support to Israel. In fact, Obama went beyond all other candidates in this competition by declaring at an AIPAC conference, where all of the presidential hopefuls lined up to kowtow to the Israel lobby, that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided". "Let me be clear," he said, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," he added, in efforts to secure the Jewish vote. Later, Obama backtracked from his controversial statement about Jerusalem.

Let's examine seriously what it means to be a friend of Israel in practical terms. Does it mean slavishly echoing the positions of Israeli government and AIPAC without much thought? Or does it require the US to behave like a friend who tells Israel the truth, no matter how unpleasant, to help make life better for both Israel and the US in an increasingly enraged world?

Looking at the long, checkered history of America's involvement as Mid East peace broker, there have only been two American presidents who can claim any measure of tangible success: President Jimmy Carter and President George H.W. Bush, the father of the outgoing president George W. Bush. President Carter is credited with the Camp David Accord that resulted in peace between Israel and Egypt in 1970s, while President Bush Sr. initiated the Madrid Mideast Peace Conference in 1991 that led to Oslo accord in 1993. Since the mid-1990s, there has been no progress toward resolving any outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians. Neither Clinton nor Bush showed the kind of courage required to tell the Jewish state what they must do to reach a viable peace accord that allows both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace side by side. Their rhetoric never really matched their actions. According to reliable sources, each proposal by Clinton and Bush Jr. was first shared with Israel, and only after its modifications and approval by Israel was it presented to the Palestinians. In every major or minor dispute, the US openly and vocally sided with Israel. Both Clinton and Bush took the easy way out by heaping scorn and criticism on the Palestinians and by failing to press the Israelis to make any substantial concessions, while Israel continued to build and grow settlements on Palestinian lands as facts-on-the-ground. In fact, it would be accurate to say that things have never been as bad as they are today. The worsening Mideast situation has been a boon for Al Qaeda and Taliban recruiting and it has fueled anti-American sentiments throughout the world, particularly the Muslim world.

What is it that former presidents Carter and Bush Sr. did that has been missing lately? In the words of former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami who said in 2006 that Carter and Bush succeeded because they were "ready to confront Israel head-on and overlook the sensibilities of her friends in America." If Barack H. Obama is a true friend of Israel, he should be warning Israel about the danger of becoming an apartheid state, just as Carter has.

I suspect Obama will try and test how far he can push the Israelis to make concessions that are in their own best interest to reach durable peace in the Middle East. But he will have to deal with AIPAC, the extremely short-sighted and power-drunk Israeli lobby in America that has been the main obstacle to any real and meaningful progress toward peace in the Middle East. Ultimately, Obama will have to decide if he is willing to take the risk of becoming another one-term president, like Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush before him.

Here is a video clip of Obama addressing AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby in US:

Here's another videoclip about Israeli bombing of American Navy Ship USS Liberty in 1967. It has been described as "cold-blooded" murder of American sailors by a paranoid Israeli military that assumed USS Liberty was spying on Israel:

Related Links:

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

USS Liberty Coverup

The Rise of Jewish Power-Nothing Short of Astounding

Jewish Tribal review

Obama's Conservative Mideast Pick

Middle East Conflict

Dennis Ross is Not the Change We Seek

Echoes of Lebanon in Gaza

Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again

The Nakbah


Anonymous said...

Dear Jaydev/Riaz -
There are other unanswered questions. Among the first casualties of the Mumbai attacks were three top officials of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS): Hemant Karkare, his deputy Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte. Karkare had arrested several Indian military officers and Hindu priests for their involvement in the Malegaon attack of September 29 in which five persons were killed. Altogether 11 persons including a serving military officer, lieutenant colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit, were being interrogated by the ATS. Purohit was also implicated in the bombing of the Samjhota Express train in February 2007 in which 68 passengers, all of them Pakistanis, were killed. At that time, India had blamed Lashkar-e Taiba for the bombing. The ATS chief, Karkare, discovered that colonel Purohit had provided the RDX explosives used in the train attack. After these high profile arrests, Karkare was threatened by rightwing Hindu fascist organizations and political parties. Leading the attack were members of Shiv Sena, Abhinav Bharat, Sang Parivar and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They denounced him as a traitor and accused him of pandering to Indian Muslims. Some of them even went so far as to say that regardless of what they do, Hindu nationalists cannot be wrong; they cannot be called terrorists since they are involved in “retributive justice” against India’s Muslims, whom they brand as traitors. A day before his death on November 26, Karkare had received a death threat. He was warned that if he did not stop his investigation against the Hindu priests and Indian army officers, he would be eliminated. Who were these anonymous callers?

Anonymous said...

This is the wrong post to discuss Malagaon blasts..sorry 2 all..
Karkare according to media reports got death threat from IM-SIMI by phone not Hindu extremist elements(The reason for threat is ATS killing of many gangsters in D-gang..which is exclusively consists of Muslims..SIMI foot soldiers are mostly former or current members of criminal gangs).The trial hav not even started, so many theories are floating around in media w.r.t Malegaon blasts. The first responders in Mumbai are the special cell (ATS), so it is no surprise that the ill-equipped team with older-generation body armor(for 9mm pistol rounds) were wiped out by guys with naval commando training with assault rifles of AK-56 (7.62mm possibly with armor-piercing rounds).Usually commandos' ratio is 1:22, I think.So its no surprise that the well-trained guys who got nothing to loose held up 500 of special force teams.
If Lt.Col Purohit is indeed the guy who did Malagaon blasts, it doesn't automatically mean, they are the same ones who killed ATS team. To finish off ATS team at the same time of Lashkar/Jaish-e-Mohemmad Mumbai massacre..they should have known about Mumbai attack before hand. If you are going to the extend of suggesting that
the 10 man team including Qasab are members of a Hindu extremist group..that's pushing it. ;-)

Btw, regarding assuming Malageon blasts to be work of Islamists is natural since all terrorists operating in urban areas are of Jehadi origin. Ironically, the supposed grievance of Hindu groups was govt's "soft approach on terror" like not attacking Pak or not taking action against SIMI etc becoz of Muslim appeasement. Lt Col Purohit is one of Military Intelligence's top counter-terror experts. I personally sympathize with agenda of those Hindu terror group if they were indeed the ones who did it. But since they are caught now, they should be punished, everyone must be equal before law.

ebbsflow said...

I agree that this is not the right forum to discuss the stage dram of Mumbai, but ask a question to yourself without giving the stats, who called MR Kurkure at that time that made him remove the helmet and thus becoming a soft target for the actors.

It might lead to the someone big and untouchable on the ladder in Indian hierarchy and you will solve the puzzle .

Regarding Obama, nothing much is expected as US of A is in a financial crunch and all the threads are in the hand of the zoinest state, mulactiUS of A is just a puppet so expect nothing concrete.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting commentary by Juan Cole on the Khost suicide bombing:

"Although Pakistani troops fighting in South Waziristan had found Arab passports and other effects suggesting a small presence of Arab fighters with the TTP, al-Balawi had clearly joined the movement and given it his allegiance. It seems to me an alarming development, as the Aljazeera anchor also noted, that Arab jihadi volunteers might now be enlisting under the banner of the Pakistani Taliban rather than, as in the past, al-Qaeda or one of the Afghan insurgent groups. The Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan is only about 7 years old, there never having been Pakistani Taliban until the early 21st century--it was a phenomenon of the Soviet ethnic cleansing of Afghans, which forced 3 million into refugee camps in Pakistan, where many became radicalized. (And were encouraged in that direction by the Reagan administration).

Many intelligence specialists had insisted that the Khost bombing was the work of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. But I read al-Balawi's emotionalism about the Mahsuds as a clear indication that he was working for them rather than for the Haqqanis. He must have repeated seven or eight times that Baitullah Mahsud would be avenged. The militant founder of the TTTP was killed by a US drone strike in South Waziristan in August."

"Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people."

"The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (The Israelis were trying to destroy the fundamentalist Hamas party, which rules Gaza, and gave as their pretext the occasional rockets Hamas fired into Israel, though in fact there had been a truce for much of 2008, a truce of which the Israelis coldly took advantage to plan their war.)

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed piece "The US as Israel's Enabler in the Middle East" by KATHLEEN CHRISTISON:

Before the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the United States never considered that Egypt was quite the strategic asset that it became when it surrendered its military capability in the interests of Israel. The same can be said about the United States’ relations with several other Arab states. Its involvement in Lebanon over the years -- including its effort to remove Syrian forces from Lebanon --
The recent Wikileaks releases of State Department cables and particularly al-Jazeera’s release of a raft of Palestinian documents dealing with negotiations over the last decade also demonstrate with striking clarity how hard the United States works, and has always worked, to help Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process. U.S. support for Israel has never been a secret, becoming less and less so in recent years, but the leaked documents provide the most dramatic picture yet of the United States’ total disdain for all Palestinian negotiating demands and its complete helplessness in the face of Israeli refusal to make concessions. It is striking to note from these papers that the U.S. role as “Israel’s lawyer” -- a description coined by Aaron David Miller after his involvement in negotiations during the Clinton era -- is the same whether the administration is Bill Clinton’s or George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s. Israel’s interests and demands always prevail.

Beyond the Arab world, U.S. policy on Iran is dictated more or less totally by Israel. The pressure to attack Iran -- either a U.S. attack or U.S. support for an Israeli attack -- which has been brought to bear for most of the eight years since the start of the war on Iraq, ...
It has been clear to most analysts for years, even decades, that the United States favors Israel, but this reality has never been revealed so explicitly until recent events laid the relationship bare, and laid bare the fact that Israel is at the center of virtually every move the United States makes in the region. There has long been a taboo on talking about these realities, a taboo that has tied the tongues of people like my interlocutor. People do not mention Israel because they might be called anti-Semitic, they might be attacked as “singling out” Israel for criticism; the media fail to discuss Israel and what it does around the Middle East and, most directly, to the Palestinians who live under its rule because this might provoke angry letters to the editor and cancelled subscriptions by Israel supporters. Congressmen will not endanger campaign funds by talking honestly about Israel. And so Israel is taken off everyone’s radar screen. Progressives may “mention Israel in passing,” as my friend told me, but they do no more. Ultimately, because no one talks about it, everyone stops even thinking about Israel as the prime mover behind so many U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex-#Mossad Chief Says #Palestine Occupation Is #Israel's Only Existential Threat - Israel.


Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo asserted on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation and the conflict with the Palestinians are the only existential threat facing Israel.

“Israel has chosen not to choose, hoping the conflict will resolve itself – perhaps the Arabs will disappear, maybe some cosmic miracle will happen,” Pardo told a conference at the Netanya Academic College. “One day we will become a binational state because it will be impossible to untie the Gordian knot between the two peoples. That is not the way to decide.”

Pardo stated: “Israel has one existential threat. It is a ticking time bomb. We chose to stick our head in the sand, creating a variety of external threats. An almost identical number of Jews and Muslims reside between the sea and the Jordan. The non-Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria live under occupation. This is Israel's definition, not mine. The law in this territory is as we have made it, a military justice system that is subject to the authority of the Israel Defense Forces.”
He said that despite the full withdrawal from Gaza, responsibility for the territory remains in Israel’s hands. “Israel is responsible for the humanitarian situation, and this is the place with the biggest problem in the world today,” he said.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.778650