Somewhat bizarrely there are still those who argue that Barack Obama is not just the lesser of two evils, but some kind of brave, progressive politician genuinely trying to do the right thing in a difficult political climate. Anyone who believes this should check out the following video produced by the White House entitled Israel & the US: An Unshakeable Bond, which has just been released as part of Obama’s pre-election campaign.
This seven minute and fifteen second love letter to Israel manages to be simultaneously abject, cynical and dishonest and leaves hardly a single Zionist cliché untouched. Against a horribly mawkish soundtrack of swirling strings Obama can be seen delivering a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in which he declares his ‘unshakeable’ commitment to Israeli ‘security’.
Various Israeli officials including Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and a former head of Mossad praise his administration’s commitment to this noble cause, as Obama lists some of the examples of his support for Israel that include missile defence systems, unprecedented cooperation between the US and Israeli military, the sharing of advanced military technologies, US opposition to the Goldstone report on human rights violations carried out during Israel’s 2009 assault on Gaza (characterised by Obama as ‘we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself’), and the US vetoing of the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN.
Iran looms large in Obama’s list of achievements. He tells AIPAC how he visited the Vad Yashem Holocaust museum and the town of Sderot and ‘saw the struggle to survive of an 8-year-old boy who lost his leg to Hamas rocket.’ Had he travelled less than a mile further south, Obama might have discovered Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip engaged in a similar struggle for survival – and he might also have spoken to the parents of some of the 352 children killed during Operation Cast Lead.
But to the Peace Laureate there are only victims on one side and there is only little Israel, a fragile oasis of democracy and western ‘values’ surrounded by an Arab sea of hate. And so he tells his audience ‘I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.’
Let’s be clear about this: this ‘threat’ is a lie and a president who repeats it as a potential casus belli is a liar, a coward and a warmonger. Obama is so determined to please his audience that he insists that ‘no options are off the table’ against Iran. The famous photograph of White House officials watching the killing of Osama bin Laden alternate with soundbites from Ehud Barak, the counterterrorist warrior, who praises Obama’s commitment in the ‘struggle against terror’.
Barak tells his interviewer to ‘go and ask Osama bin Laden and go ask the Haqqanis, go ask half a dozen pretentious terror leaders who you cannot contact anymore because of the readiness of this administration to take action.‘
It really is something to witness Obama the Peace Laureate and former Chicago community organizer receiving an accolade for his killing prowess from a hard, devious bastard like Barak who has always excelled in such activities himself – and also to see the degree to which Obama is prepared to bask in such praise. But it is also par for the course.
Four years ago one of the components of Obama’s ‘hope’ message was the belief by some of his supporters that he would stand up to Israel and pursue a less one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than his predecessors.
This disgraceful video is one more explanation why that did not happen and why justice for the Palestinians remains as remote and elusive as ever. So low is Obama prepared to sink in his desire to outflank the Republicans and please the Israel lobby that Unbreakable Bond even includes praise from Netanyahu. Never mind the fact that Obama was only recently overheard apparently endorsing Nicolas Sarkozy’s depiction of the Israeli Prime Minister as a liar.
It is a dismal reflection of the extent to which Israel now dominates US domestic politics that the president of the world’s only superpower feels the need to gain Netanyahu’s approval in order to be re-elected. But such support has now become so ingrained in the US political class that both parties routinely attempt to outdo each other in paying homage to an alliance that is often contrary to America’s own national interests.
According to a recent report by Mark Perry in Foreign Policy magazine Mossad agents during the Bush administration posed as CIA agents to recruit members of the Iranian Jundallah organization to kill Iranian officials and civilians. One official quoted in the article argued that these activities risked prompting retaliatory attacks against Americans, and told Perry ‘It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with…Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.’
This isn’t the first time that Israel has pursued its own interests at the expense of its ally and benefactor, secure in the knowledge that no matter how badly it behaves it will always be forgiven. American support not only overlooks such behaviour – it also encourages Israeli arrogance and lawless violence toward the Palestinians and towards its neighbours.
Because in the end there is no reason why Israel should ever make any political concessions or do anything to moderate its behaviour as long as the US political establishment continues to provide it with money and weapons, and as long as American leaders are prepared to make grovelling and shameful videos like Unbreakable Bond .
And a politician who is prepared to sanction such material is not a man to inspire ‘hope’, but a coward and a cynic who deserves no more respect from ‘progressives’ than the man who held the job before him.