March 19, 2008

Zionist Leg

Sen. Obama, in his speech, made a surprisingly conventional, and rather forced obeisance to Zionism: he condemns "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."

Israel is an ally, for what it's worth, and sometimes has done our bidding against its better judgment, as in not retaliating against Saddam's SCUDs in Gulf War One, but "stalwart" smacks of pandering. This of course is what Obama is doing, kissing AIPAC's ring.

Meanwhile, an Obama emissary was struggling to convince a room full of committed Zionists that his man was just as pro-Israel as McCain and Hillary the Suha Arafat-kisser. (This via Jennifer Rubin). All this ring-kissing and ticket-punching is, frankly, disgusting, but that's politics.

The most revealing graph in the piece describes former White House aide Ann Lewis's notion of what an American President's job is regarding Israel:

Next question to Kurtzer: Obama's assertion that he needn't have a "Likud view" -- that of Israel's right-wing party -- to be pro-Israel. Kurtzer explained that Obama wanted to see a "plurality of views." Silence in the room.

To that, Lewis retorted: "The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties." The audience members applauded.

I thought American President swore an oath to protect and defend the American Constitution, and implicitly, the American people. The notion that their role is blindly to follow the outcome of Israeli political debates is shocking. It's an antisemitic canard, nevertheless, in the minds of Zionist apologists, for Mearshimer and Walt, or me, to say that some in Israel Lobby demand of our politicians blind fealty to Israeli interests.

Because the whispering and email campaign about Obama being a secret Muslim or a Meccan candidate apparently is taking its toll among those Jews who actively support Israel and may base their votes on Middle Eastern questions, Obama may have had no choice.

In the person of Ann Lewis, the Israel Lobby inadvertently showed a bit more leg than it would have liked to do. We can only hope that Obama was pandering, and will be more even-handed if elected.

Don't count on it. The ring has been well and truly kissed, and Congress won't let a President Obama un-kiss it.

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