U.S. Presidential campaigns sees to cause a suspension of critical thinking. Media and e-mail lists are flooded with PR materials, spin on the PR materials and spin on the spin. Each and every interest is targeted with campaign bumf that insists that only candidate X is good for "our folks." The most effective materials supporting a candidate are those that actually come from interest groups.
Every candidate and every candidates groupies do it, but this year, nobody is doing it better than Barack Obama and his Obamanians. A host of Jewish Obama supporters insist vehemently that only their candidate is good for the Jews and good for Israel. A host of anti-Obamists insist that Obama is a secret Muslim, friend of the Arabs and friend of anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
A candidate however, must be all things to all men. Therefore, it is inevitable that while Jewish and Zionist supporters of Obama insist he is the best man for the Jews and for Israel, Arab and Muslim supporters of Obama insist he is the best man for Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians. There is more than ample proof of Arab sympathy for Obama from Arab and Muslim media and writers. For example:
Arabs heed Obama's call for change
. Alaa Bayoumi tells us, "If it were not for Barack Obama, many Arabs would not even bother to follow the results of the US presidential race on Super Tuesday.|
St Petersburg Times: Most Arab-Americans support Obama
. Tamara El Khoury, apparently not a "Zionist," provides convincing explanations for Muslim support.
The Arab-American writes that Arab Americans are divided
, since many traditionally vote Republican. However, the report quotes numerous Arabs explaining their support for Obama. The following quote probably sums up what is the most sensible view for many Arab Americans:
In Washington, Subhi Ghandour [an influential journalist] ... explained that Arabs do not have a better choice than Obama "in dealing with the Arab Israeli peace process, ending the Iraq occupation with diplomacy and opening channels of dialogue with Iran and Syria." Ghandour added that Obama cannot be expected to see the entire world through a Palestine lens, and that "Arab Americans must chose among the existing candidates, even if there is no ideal custom-made candidate to fully suit Arab preferences."
That would seem to be fair enough. The enthusiasm for Obama is by no means universal among Arabs in the US, as noted here.
The same findings, essentially, were published in an article by the Los Angeles Times, Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama, a piece of fairly solid and balanced reporting. One of the most damaging allegations in the story is a strong hint by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada that Obama has submerged his "real" feelings about Israel and Palestine in order to curry favor with Jewish voters. For what it is worth, Abunimah, not known for being a supporter of either peace or truthfulness, provides an "endorsement" of Obama that should be enough to help him carry Crown Heights, Miami and the Los Angeles Jewish community. Abunimah recounts what looks like Obama's solid gold pro-Israel voting and pro-Israel remarks in recent years. Obama's sins against the Arabs include condemning Hezbollah, he co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government, and horror of horrors, Obama appointed pro-Israel advisers. The last remark should be taken advisedly. Abunimah would probably consider Yasser Arafat to be a "pro-Israel adviser." But at one time, Obama was a friend of the Arabs, notes Abunimah, and he attended functions for Edward Said and Prof. Khalidi. The same shift in Obama allegiance was alleged by Ralph Nader.
The LA Times article by Peter Wallsten builds on this history and examines the different opinions. It quotes Abunimah's assertion that Obama intimated he was bowing to political pressure when he submerged his support for Palestinians, and it also, quite correctly and professionally, quotes the Obama denial of that assertion. Personally, I would sooner believe Nigerian confidence scheme e-mail then just about anything Abunimah says, but I wouldn't put much faith in denials by politicians either. Abunimah's rant might be the best "Jewish endorsement" that Barack Obama ever got. The LA Times article is the sort of straight news story that can really infuriate partisans of a political candidate, and infuriate it did.
Led by M.J. Rosenberg in TMPCafe, and Ari Berman (LA TIMES REVIVES OBAMA SMEAR.) in The Nation, the Jewish knights of Obama flocked to the rescue. If Obama thought the article was unfair, he could, presumably have devoted a tiny portion of his vast resources to refuting it. He didn't need volunteers to do so, did he? Why is it a "smear" to say Arabs support Obama if it is true, and to repeat what has appeared before in the American Arab press and other sources, quoting what they say? Nowhere in the entire article does it say, "Obama Not To Be Trusted, Doesn't Hate Arabs!!" but those are the words Rosenberg attributes to the LA Times.
This is not the first such fracas to elicit stalwart defenses of Obama by certain Jewish lobbyists. No doubt, the same sort of bickering goes on among American Arabs, Latinos and other groups over each of the candidates.
Beyond the immediate issue, we have to ask why all these supposed representatives of the Jews, Latinos, African-Americans, Arabs and other groups are lobbying for a political candidate instead of supporting their groups. Now is the time for the Rosenbergs and the Bermans, the Ted Belmans and the pyjamas medianites, the Abunimahs and the Zogbys to find out where the different candidates stand on different issues and to try to pin them down and get concrete commitments on issues that affect their groups and their viewpoints. The fact is, we know virtually nothing at all about the positions of Clinton, McCain and Obama on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and most other issues. Obama's Web site has two pages on his Israel policy. Clinton has a page about Israel that is relatively detailed, but only relatively, with positions not much different from those of Obama. McCain has only this inanity apparently part of a speech to AIPAC:
"...We must protect that freedom here in our own country by ensuring that judges do not legislate from the bench to remove religion from the public squares of our communities. And we must support its expansion abroad by standing with those whom, because of their religion and their values, come under threat.
"It is evident that I am speaking, once again, of Israel. The bond between America and Israel is not just a strategic one, though that is important. The more profound tie between our two countries is a moral one. We are two democracies whose alliance is forged in our common values. To be proudly pro-American and pro-Israeli is not to hold conflicting loyalties. It is about defending the principles that both countries hold dear. That is why today I stand as I believe so many of you do: a Christian, proudly pro-American and proudly pro-Israel."
From the above, we might conclude that McCain supports manger scenes in public squares, and that somehow, he thinks that having more of those is going to help Israel. Forget J-22 aircraft, anti-rocket systems and support in the UN. McCain is going to give us manger scenes in public squares and that's going to save Israel.
But in truth, none of the candidates have been pinned down on any of the issues that might be dear to any part of the Zionist spectrum of opinion. Nobody knows which candidate, if any, would support a united Jerusalem as opposed to giving up the old city to the Palestinians, nobody knows which candidate, if there is such a candidate, would make progressive Zionists happy by making Israel evacuate illegal outposts. Nobody knows what each candidate is really going to do about Iranian nuclear development. Nobody knows which candidate, if any, would go to bat for Israel at the UN, and try to stop the endless stream of anti-Israel resolutions generated by that organization, clean up the Human Rights Council, and prevent the "Durban II" anti-racism conference from turning into an anti-Semitic hate fest sponsored by Iran and Libya. We don't know any of these things, because bloggers and journalists and political advocates have been busy protecting their candidates from controversial questions, rather than representing the interests of voters, and finding out where candidates stand on the issues.
So please, stop snowing us under with defenses of your candidate. Stop defending your candidate against the absurd charges, which nobody believes anyhow. We know none of the candidates are going to eat babies or wage perpetual war. Find out about the difficult questions - specific stands on specific issues. You don't know the answers to those, do you? If you don't know what your candidate might do, why are you telling us to support him? You really have no idea what Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Barack Obama would do if the Hamas took over the West Bank, or the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, or Mr. Ahmadinejad announced the successful test of a 20 kiloton fission bomb, or if Palestinians resume violence because their demands for right of return of refugees are not met. Get your candidate to take stands on these issues, instead of telling us how many Jewish friends they have or how they were taught to love Israel in Sunday school. School is out. This is the real thing. Commit to your candidate only after you know what their stands are on these issues, and tell us where your candidate stands, and why you chose him or her.
Even you can't believe your candidate can do no wrong. Face it, one of those candidates will be elected and it is certain that they will do wrong, whoever they are. The god will develop clay feet as usual. Meanwhile, they try to catch votes with fluff. McCain visited Israel and wore a kippah, Obama will put on tfillin and Clinton will show up at the wailing wall in a shaytl (head covering of orthodox Jewish women). That's not policy. It's show-biz. Most of the commentary on the candidates has been at about that level too. If you represent the Jewish community or Zionists or whomever you claim to represent, stop selling your candidates to us. Start selling your candidates on the hard issues that are important to us. It is time to get some answers.
Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000528.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNNfirstname.lastname@example.org. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.
Replies: 2 Comments
The only times US presidential candidates can get very specific is on domestic issues, particularly either the economy (their proposals for tax changes, always tax CUTS of course since nobody has proposed general tax increases in a campaign since Mondale in 1984--so any increases are "revenue enhancers" or some such reference) or issues which are more black-and-white (no double entendre intended) such as stem cell research. NO candidate gives any detailed foreign policy proposals for many reasons: because they are not privy to some highly classified information until they are elected, because events are not in their control so situations may change, and because the execution of foreign policy is not as simple a matter as signing an executive order to allow stem cells to be harvested from discarded embryos. And the more specific you get on foreign affairs, first foremost and always with regard to Israel, the more people you're going to piss off.
So one can only infer where a candidate may come down on specifics based on what he/she has said in the past, who his/her advisers are, and what he/she supports as general principles. (This of course excludes the fringe candidates who CAN actually say what they propose to do since they have no chance to be elected anyway)
Not only that, you can get someone like Bush, who is the good friend who offers to help fix your fireplace and ends up burning down your house by mistake.
DrMike, Monday, April 14th
You speak nothing but the truth; but who is listening? Ask not what America can do for Israel,but what can Israel do for its people. It's time the Jews realize that nothing but empty words can be expected from the Presidential candidates. It's time for Plan B
Henry Davis, Sunday, April 13th
Constructive comments, including corrections, are welcome. Do not use this space for spam, publishing articles, self promotion, racism, anti-Zionist propaganda or character defamation. Inappropriate comments will be deleted. See our Comment policy for details. By posting here, you agree to the Comment policy.