Barack’s Buckdance for the Israel Lobby

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Brotha Barack’s Safe Negro tour makes an obligatory stop today to pander and buckdance in blackface for the Israel Lobby’s political action arm: AIPAC.   

AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), as Ari Berman has written in the Nation is “the leading player in what is sometimes referred to as “The Israel Lobby”—a coalition that includes major Jewish groups, neoconservative intellectuals and Christian Zionists. With its impressive contacts among Hill staffers, influential grassroots supporters and deep connections to wealthy donors, AIPAC is the lobby’s key emissary to Congress. But in many ways, AIPAC has become greater than just another lobby; its work has made unconditional support for Israel an accepted cost of doing business inside the halls of Congress.  AIPAC’S interest, Israel’s interest and America’s are perceived by most elected leaders to be one and the same.”

Barack Obama doesn’t support the entire AIPAC line but he doesn’t significantly depart from it either.  He intuitively understands the price he must pay to ascend to the Presidency. According to Jewish Week, “The [Obama] Campaign has…signed on a leading Jewish Mideast expert, Dan Shapiro, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton Administration.  Shapiro is leaving his position as a top aide to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) for a…role doing Mideast policy and Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign.”  

Gotta admire Brotha Barack for getting all his ducks in a row and stealing prominent Jewish fundraisers like David Geffen and George Soros away from Hillary.  He plays political chess masterfully and executes his moves deftly. Anybody who still believes that the brotha wasn’t planning a run for President from the moment he stepped on the national stage in 2004 is a damn fool. This shit didn’t just happen, it was methodically planned like a new Microsoft product launch.  His flacking for Israel and his votes on the Senate floor are as calculated and cynical as every word in the Audacity of Hope.

M. J. Rosenberg has written on TPM Cafe, “A new voice like Obama really has no need to adopt the me-too policies on the Mideast that have been de rigueur for 30 years.  The status quo types are not going to support him anyway but the overwhelming majority of pro-Israel (and that means pro-peace) Jews will.  By that I mean the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community which, according to the AJC poll, is the most anti-Iraq war segment of the population.  They are not neocons, not on Iraq, not Israel.”  I wish I could believe that.  Obama’s actions during the latest Israel/Lebanon conflict contradict that presumption, underscore his compliant “Me-too” attitude, and sour my disposition towards his Presidential bid.  

Israel’s actions last summer toward Lebanon were unnecessary and constituted war crimes in violation of international law.   Israel’s government has been swapping military hostages for decades with the Lebanese and the illegal seizure of two more Israeli hostages became a convenient pretext for war to Israel’s new Prime Minister.  Obama rubberstamped Israeli war crimes when he said, “I don’t think there is any nation that would not have reacted the way Israel did after two soldiers had been snatched.  I support Israel’s response to take some action in protecting themselves.”

As a reasonable person, I do not argue against Israel’s right to exist or that it has a right to defend itself when attacked.  The Lebanese government is not blameless here nor is the Iranian backed paramilitary organization Hezbollah.  What I contend is that Israel defend itself in conformity with international law, something it has categorically refused to do for decades.

Obama voted for a manifestly fraudulent nonbinding Senate resolution that Stephen Zunes has said, “reinterpret(s) the United Nations Charter by claiming that Israel’s attacks on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure is an act of legitimate self-defense under Article 51 despite a broad consensus of international legal scholars to the contrary. In short, both Democrats and Republicans are now on record that, in the name of “fighting terrorism,” U.S. allies—and, by extension, the United States as well—can essentially ignore international law and inflict unlimited damage on the civilian infrastructure of a small and largely defenseless country, even a pro-Western democracy like Lebanon.”

Obama’s fraudulent vote and his endorsement of unilateral war should be all the proof one needs that his perspective is warped and his focus on just and equitable conflict resolution in the Middle East will be lacking as President. When Africa cries out for help, brotha Barack, like Colin and Condi before him, will be too preoccupied with “more important” whitefolks problems to deal. As a freshman Senator and imperialist in training, he learned his lessons well. This is the real reason why our white brothas and sistahs in the beltway establishment can’t curb their enthusiasm for Barack.  

However, if that isn’t enough for you, consider this:  Obama’s address today to AIPAC called for “preserv[ing] our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing to work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs.  This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as Close as Gaza.”  Consequently, this is a recipe for generous military subsidies to keep the Israeli Defense Forces armed to the teeth and a continuation of Israel’s unjustified militarism toward its perceived enemies.

This speech does more to call into question Obama’s blackness more than any single address he has given because it is nothing but blackface minstrelsy calculated to appease wealthy and influential actors interested in keeping the status quo in place. The brotha has sold his soul for a chance at Presidential power and he clearly hasn’t sold it to blackfolks.   The speech is standard AIPAC friendly boilerplate that national candidates on the make give at one time or another.  

Lately, there is always some Iran and Ahmedinejad bashing, a commitment to large military subsidies, and a tacit acknowledgement that we will look the other way when they do their dirt to the Palestinians and Lebanese. Moreover, unless he commits to Israeli military supremacy, he’ll never be able to compete with Hillary in the money chase of which the Jewish community always plays an integral part on the Democratic side of the aisle. 

Jewish Voice for Peace, a California based peace group has written, “Massive military aid promotes militarism, which has led to a reliance on military, rather than diplomatic means to work for a solution to this ongoing [Israel vs. Arab] conflict.” Like Iraq, imposing a military solution has solved nothing between Israel and its neighbors and has increased instability in the region.  

Jewish Voice for Peace has also written that, “Furthermore, when our government arms proponents of massive human rights abuses, we become complicit in their crimes and hated by their victims. U.S. support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and its abuse of human rights undermines any moral authority to criticize human rights abuses in other countries. And it shreds the U.S. of any credibility in acting to promote peace in the region.”   

Last month, a movement was afoot in Oslo, Norway by 40 nations to ban the cluster munitions that proliferate in current conflicts, which continue to kill and maim people long after the battles are over. Human Rights Watch has documented that “Israel used cluster munitions containing some 2.6 to 4 million submunitions in Lebanon, the majority of which were produced in the United States. Israel’s use of cluster munitions was the most extensive anywhere in the world since the 1991 Gulf War.” The United States opposes this effort and there were no calls from either the Obama or Clinton camp for U.S participation because neither will sacrifice their ambition to sit in the Oval Office for peace.

It is a violation of U.S. law to provide military aid to governments, which consistently give short shrift to human rights as defined in international law. Israel is always given a pass no matter what it does or how many civilians it illegally targets and kills. Both Obama and Hillary could have stepped up at anytime to pressure the Administration to cut off military aid to Israel and prevent the atrocities that routinely occur in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon because of Israel’s over-the-top defensive posture.    

It is all very Orwellian to me. Indeed, “War is Peace” to all of the leading contenders for the imperial power of the Presidency. A showdown is developing in Selma, Alabama this weekend in the continuing battle for the black vote between Hillary and Obama. They both need to be seen paying homage to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement’s direct action campaign, which culminated in “Bloody Sunday” and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.     

Whatever both candidates say will be more empty rhetoric that quotes Dr. King without adhering to the spirit and substance that he advocated. “The stability of the large world house which is ours will involve a revolution of values to accompany the scientific and freedom revolutions engulfing the earth.  We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “person” –oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” That’s the message Obama needs to embrace instead of embracing more war. He never will because he is lost to us forever.