Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Electing the next president of... Israel?

In comments to a post by Daniel Larison at The American Conservative regarding the idiotic meme that calls for Democratic Party "unity" are "fascist", a blogger by the name of "Grumpy Old Man" points out a truly remarkable statement made by Clinton campaign surrogate Ann Lewis reported by Dana Milbank a few weeks ago.

Speaking to a gathering of American Jews, representatives of both the Obama and Clinton campaigns attempted to demonstrate their pro-Israel credentials. But unfortunately for Obama, his representative, Princeton professor Dan Kurtzer, was unable to outdo the brazenness of the Clinton campaign and their representative, former Clinton administration spokeswoman Ann Lewis:
Next question to Kurtzer: Obama's assertion that he needn't have a "Likud view" -- that of Israel's right-wing party -- to be pro-Israel. Kurtzer explained that Obama wanted to see a "plurality of views." Silence in the room.

To that, Lewis retorted: "The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties." The audience members applauded.
Silly me. I thought the role of the president of the United States was to support the decisions that are made by the people of the United States, not any other country. But then again, Israel isn't just "any other country," and a major party candidate has nothing to lose by expressing absolute fealty to the most right-wing Israeli policies, however much those policies may actually hurt both the United States and Israel. On the other hand, expressing the most mild of criticisms of Israeli actions -- such as the immoral and counterproductive collective punishment of the people of Gaza -- is likely to get one branded as "far left" or an anti-semite. In Obama's case, merely suggesting that the United States should listen to a plurality of Israeli voices has gotten him roughly the same treatment in some quarters.

However, with the rise of pro-Israel groups in the United States that aren't entirely beholden to the Israeli government's more destructive policies, the political climate may slowly be shifting to the point that sane discussion on Israel and Palestine may someday be a reality. Maybe.

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