Sunday, March 02, 2008

Obama, Israel, and the Palestinians: Who are the rubes? 

Is the Imperfect Vessel everything to everybody?

We have already seen this week that with regard to NAFTA Barack Obama seems to have told Ohio voters one thing and Canadian diplomats another. Has he done the same thing with the Israelis and the Palestinians? Check out this interesting article from Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. A year ago Abuniemah reviewed Obama's many recent statements in support of Israel, but suggested that they did not reflect his genuine opinions:

Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.

As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"

Assume, for a moment, that Ali Abunimah had genuine insight into Barack Obama's opinions four years ago. Is his recently expressed strong support for Israel fabricated? Is it permanent, or will he in fact "be more up front" after he is elected? Or, has Barack Obama actually changed his mind?

Who are the rubes to be fooled this time?

CWCID: Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein, via Glenn Reynolds.


By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Mar 02, 10:47:00 PM:

I don't know if we should take seriously what Ali Albumen says since Palestinian rhetoric typically has only a coincidental relationship to reality, if that. But there are plenty of other reasons to be suspect of Obama's views on Israel, e. g. his foreign policy advisors and his "spritual mentor".  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 03, 01:12:00 PM:

"coincidental relationship to reality" I love that! It can be used for so many things.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 03, 01:28:00 PM:

Maybe he justs tells whoever he's talking to at the moment whatever they want to hear.

After all, he is a politician.  

By Blogger RuyDiaz, at Mon Mar 03, 02:18:00 PM:

I think you are trying to read Obama's mind the wrong way. Knowing the totality of his worldview, what is he likely to believe will lead to "peace" in the "Arab-Israeli conflict."

Being left-liberal means that he is likely to be lying to the Jews, not to the Muslims.  

By Blogger The Ghost, at Mon Mar 03, 02:20:00 PM:

Not just a politician ...
A gifted con man as well ...

His con is to appear as a Moderate ...

I ask you to consider ...

Does a Moderate marry a divisive racebaiter like his wife ?

Does a Moderate continue to attend a church that pushes African First with a pastor who honors the worst anti-semite of our generation ?

Does a Moderate have the most liberal voting record in the Senate ?

You know the answer to all of the above is No ... so if he is not a Moderate then why does he work to hard to appear as if he is ?

Its a long con begun years ago ...  

By Blogger Rocker 419, at Mon Mar 03, 02:39:00 PM:

Most of the young people supporting Obama don't care if he supports Palestine over Israel. They get most of their news from the Daily Show and The Colbert Report anyway. I say let the Democrats elect their hero. And guarantee Republican rule for the next 16 years after...!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 03, 02:41:00 PM:

Wow, "divisive racebaiter" is an ugly characterization. "Given to malaprops" is perhaps closer to the mark.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Mar 03, 02:46:00 PM:

Harlem, I think your view of the facts in question is, shall we say, unrealistically negative. I agree with the last Anonymous -- I have seen nothing to suggest that Michelle Obama is a "divisive racebaiter."  

By Blogger DWPittelli, at Mon Mar 03, 04:56:00 PM:

I think if you're going to accuse someone of being dishonest or inconsistent, you ought to have a specific, concrete example of such inconsistent statements.

What policy, exactly, does Obama support only when in front of Arabs? And what contradictory policy or statement has he made in front of other groups?

The "I feel your pain" sort of statement, which politicians use to get everyone to feel they're on the same side, doesn't really count, in my book, or if it does, they truly are all guilty of doing it.  

By Blogger DWPittelli, at Mon Mar 03, 04:58:00 PM:

In particular, advocating an "even-handed" approach hardly seems damning.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 03, 05:01:00 PM:

I see a lot of speculation as to whether he's telling the truth to the Arabs and lying to the Jews or vice versa, trying to guess what his underlying real beliefs are.

What if in both cases he's saying what's convenient, and convenience is all he has, and there are no real beliefs.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 03, 05:04:00 PM:

advocating an "even-handed" approach hardly seems damning

"Even handed" between PLA and Israel is like "even handed" between mugger and victim, or wife-beater and wife. A policy based on justice and responsibility would note, for example, which side tries but sometimes fails to protect civilians, and which side goes out of its way to kill them.  

By Blogger DWPittelli, at Mon Mar 03, 05:34:00 PM:

Ralph, I don't disagree with you.


I am in favor of the execution of all military and political leaders who advocate or cause the deliberate killing of noncombatants.

I am also in favor of the execution of all combatants who target noncombatants, or who use noncombatants as human shields.

I would apply this policy in an even-handed fashion.

Of course, this would mean killing virtually all of the leadership of Hamas and most of the PLO and its offshoots, and very few people, if any, on the Israeli side.

But I would indeed be "even-handed" in my application of justice.

The fact that the term can fit even my policy objectives shows how vague and essentially meaningless it is. Naturally, depending on audience and speaker, you are free to conclude something else about what is meant by "even-handed." But still one can't properly accuse someone of dishonesty for using this term. One can, however, put the speaker on the spot by asking him exactly what he has meant when he has used the term.  

By Blogger DWPittelli, at Mon Mar 03, 05:39:00 PM:

(Note that the term "even-handed" or "more even-handed" has been applied to the policies of Bill Clinton and also to both George Bushes and Jim Baker, et al, but it was not exactly used, to my knowledge, by either of them, although it was used by Howard Dean, for which he was criticized.)  

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