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

7 comments:

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?

Jaydev,India 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.

Abdi 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...

It seems that US media spin favoring Israel is working on Americans. A poll indicates 49% of Americans blame "pro-Palestinian" activists (a term deliberately used by America's pro-Israel medua to deny the humanitarian objectives of the peace activists on the Flotilla) for the deaths on the Flotilla inflicted by Israeli commandos.

Here's the Haaretz story on it:

Nearly half - 49 percent - of likely U.S. voters believe that pro-Palestinian activists were to blame for the deaths that occurred when the Israel Defense Forces raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last week, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Only 19 percent believe that Israel was to blame. Another 32 percent said they were not sure.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed on May 31 when the IDF intercepted six Gaza-bound aid ships. All the deaths occurred on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara vessel. The IDF said its soldiers opened fire in self-defense after being attacked by activists with knives and other weapons.

51 percent of those surveyed said Israel should allow an international investigation of the incident. 25 percent rejected the idea of an international probe and another 24 percent were undecided.

49 percent of U.S. voters agreed that, generally speaking, most countries are too critical of Israel. 21 percent said countries are not critical enough and 17 percent said neither.

Israel is one of only five countries that a majority of Americans are willing to defend militarily.

70 percent of voters said they have been following news reports about the Gaza flotilla incident at least somewhat closely. 28 percent have not been following closely, if at all.

73 percent of voters think it is unlikely that a lasting peace agreement will be reached between Israel and the Palestinians in the next ten years.

58 percent view Israel as a U.S. ally and two percent as an enemy, with 32 percent saying the country is somewhere in between the two.

By comparison, just 30 percent see the United Nations as an ally of the United States. 16 percent see the UN as America’s enemy, and 49% put it somewhere in between.

The survey was based on interviews with 1,000 likely U.S. voters and had a +/-3 percent sampling error margin.

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...

#Israeli military chief compares #Israel to #Nazi Germany | Middle East | News | The Independent. #FreePalestine

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-compared-1930s-germany-idf-military-chief-major-general-yair-golan-a7014361.html

Major General Yair Golan, the Israel Defence Forces' (IDF) Deputy Chief of Staff, was speaking at a Holocaust memorial service when he made the unexpected statement.

However, following strong criticism of his comments, he has since denied he was attempting to make a direct comparison between Israel, its armed forces and Nazi Germany.

"It's scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here," Maj. Gen. Golan told an audience of politicians and dignitaries.

"Because if there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016."

"The Holocaust, in my view, must lead us to deep soul-searching about the nature of man. It must bring us to conduct some soul-searching as to the responsibility of leadership and the quality of our society. It must lead us to fundamentally rethink how we, here and now, behave towards the other."

"There is nothing easier and simpler than in changing the foreigner," the officer said, according to the Jerusalem Post and other reports. "There is nothing easier and simpler than fear-mongering and threatening. There is nothing easier and simpler than in behaving like beasts, becoming morally corrupt, and to act sanctimoniously."

"On Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is worthwhile to ponder our capacity to uproot the first signs of intolerance, violence, and self-destruction that arise on the path to moral degradation," Maj. Gen. Golan said.

In a further striking comment, he also appeared to criticise certain members of the IDF, while defending the organisation’s record for its ability to “investigate severe incidents without hesitation”.

While not directly referencing it, many believed the Major General was referring to the case of 18-year-old Sgt Elor Azaria. The soldier was charged with manslaughter after shooting dead an apparently wounded and unarmed Palestinian attacker. The consequent fallout has polarised Israel.