Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Turning the light of rationality on our Israel policy

Today Senators Obama and Clinton both spoke to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is known as heavily right wing (LIKUD) tilted, and has been linked to spying for the Israeli government within the borders of the United States. But, it’s a highly respected Israel lobbying group and all politicians pay homage, just as politicians on both sides of the aisle want to achieve a favorable reaction from the NAACP or other groups representing politics on the left.

Obama has been viewed suspiciously in some Jewish quarters, and no wonder with the smear campaigns that have swept the Internet. His middle name, his father’s religion of birth, pictures of him in Islamic garments, have all been used effectively by the Clinton campaign and by the right wing (I know – kind of the same thing in many respects).

Actually though, Clinton was showing signs of realizing that her campaign is finished as she informed AIPEC – “I know Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel.” This statement seems to indicate a realization that Obama is the nominee and may well be the next President, as well as support for him if he is. But why is it necessary for Clinton to assure this lobbying group and what does Obama say on his own behalf?

From today’s New York Times – “Mr. Obama has struggled to combat the wariness about him that has been harbored by some Jewish voters, a wariness evidently fueled by e-mail messages spreading false rumors about his background and positions. In his speech, he promised to be uncompromising in his defense of Israel’s security. He also revived the contentious issue of how much to engage foreign adversaries, especially Iran, which promises to be a central dispute in his general election battle with Mr. McCain.”

While I don’t care for the pandering, I understand what politicians have to do (yes, even the candidate of “change”) if they have any hope of getting elected. Some pandering is worse than others though, and pandering to this group can have catastrophic consequences down the road. We may indeed see the apocalypse get its start in the Middle East, with Israel at the center of the ultimate death play. It won’t be directly because of any biblical prophesy, but certainly it would have a part in it – a “self-fulfilling” role.

I truly hope that when the heat of the campaign is over and if Obama does become our next President (because this post will definitely be irrelevant if McCain is elected) that we will have a national dialog about our role with Israel. I believe we should stand beside the democracy if it is attacked by other countries in the Middle East. But I think we have to send a clear message to Israelis that their job in this – the price they must pay for our support – is to pursue a vision of peace and reconciliation. This might not be possible. I’m not particularly optimistic that it is. But it has to be the course of action. I want Israel to understand that we will no longer defend and give moral support to every action they take in the Middle East. We might even (gasp!) publicly rebuke them for over-reactions in military situations.

In the middle of a U.S. Presidential campaign, there is no way to have this discussion. But there will be a time within the next 12 moths or so that we can. We should. We must prevent Reverends Parsley and Hagee from having their dreams come true.

2 comments:

PhillyChief said...

When I think of people being lead astray by those bullshit emails about Obama, I don't think of those people being Jewish.

Imo, I think Israel needs to be reminded more often that support and protection come at a price. I also think some American leaders need to be reminded of that too, and that support and protection is not some duty as a christian. Yes, having a democracy there is important and yes, it's in US interests to have them there, but that doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to what they do nor does it mean we can't suggest actions for them to take.

So how cool would it be to have a heavily bankrolled Atheist/Common Sense group like this where candidates have to give speeches promising to be stronger in defending church and state separation, not to engage in foreign policy predicated on religious prophecy or the advice of any woo-ist (psychic, astrologer, etc), increase the budget for education, make a greater commitment to Federally fund research like stem cells and alternative fuels, and defend and uphold the Constitution?

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