Saturday, June 07, 2008

obama on israel

"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."
- Arabs Shocked by Obama Speech
I think this is the wrong call for those who recognise and understand the historical truth that Israel is occupied Palestine. My limited understanding of US politics includes the belief that the Democrats are more captive to the Zionist lobby than the Republicans.

This is not "change you can believe in" but status quo pandering to powerful special interest groups.

By contrast Bush did more clearly call for a Palestinian State than his predecessor, Clinton, although it is an exaggeration to say that Bush was the first US President to call for a Palestinian state(source1, source2)


Tom Hoffman said...

I certainly don't think the Democrats are more in the tank to Israel than the Republicans, but the range of "respectable" opinion on the issue is quite small.

Anonymous said...

I think the term "occupied" is a distinction without meaning in this situation. The recent history (the last 100 years) is that what was called Palestine (now called Israel) was British occupied territory from after WW I. As far as I'm concerned it was really up to them what happened with it. What I was taught caused the problem, though I now believe this to be a simplistic analysis, is that Britain promised Palestine to both the Jews in Europe, and the Arabs in Palestine, in order to gain their assistance in WW II. In other words they double-crossed the Arabs. In order to shove this problem onto someone else they brought the newly formed UN into it, which ultimately decided in favor of the Jews from Europe. I'm not sure what the motivation was, but my impression is the Nazi attrocities, and the legacy of anti-Semitism against Jews in Europe had something to do with it. It wouldn't surprise me that there was a general feeling of guilt about that, and that a conclusion was reached that "they need their own homeland."

The plain truth is though that Palestine had been an occupied territory for millennia, under the thumb of one empire or another, whether it was the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, or more recently the British. So when the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, etc. claim Israel is "occupied territory" and blame the Jews, it seems like a political ploy to me. Anyone with any historical context would say, "Yeah, and it's been occupied for thousands of years." The thing that's unique about Israel now is the historical heritage that the jewish people have had there, going back thousands of years, before they were expelled from the area (in the first century AD? I don't remember).

The story of how the Palestinians have ended up in exile is a complex one, from what I understand. The Israelis always claim that they offered cohabitation to the exiles, but they chose to leave. There was a book I heard about some years ago that claimed to give the intimate details of how Palestinian land was taken away from them inside Israeli territory. I haven't read it though.

As to who is more beholden to Israeli interests, I'd say it's about equal between the two parties. The jewish community is a large constituency in the Democratic Party. The Republican Party also has an interest in Israel largely because Christians like the idea of a jewish homeland, because of their religious history, and there are good relations between Christians and conservative Jews here.

I was surprised to hear Obama take a pro-jewish/Israeli stance, because a large contingent in the Democratic Party in the last couple years has been pretty anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic. I remember when opposition to the Iraq war started here some Democrats blamed Israel and the Israeli lobby in America for it.