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Opinion Editorials, January  2008



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Barak Obama: Is he really for change? 

By Tammy Obeidallah, January 11, 2008

Barak Obama is no friend to the Arab-American community.

This is not a newsflash to many. However, the masses swallowing Obama's message of "change" and "hope" are cause for alarm. One can assume these people espouse liberal ideals: a domestic agenda centered on social justice and foreign policy which will see an end to the ill-conceived war on Iraq.
Of all the presumably well-meaning, wide eyed masses at Obama rallies chanting "Fired Up! Ready to Go!" and the sound bytes of voters echoing the "change/hope" mantra, it is doubtful any of them can name one specific example of what Obama will do to bring about that change once-God forbid-he is elected president.

For that matter, do any of them care to examine Obama's voting record in the U.S. Senate? While Obama proclaims he is the only major candidate who did not vote for giving authorization to invade Iraq (he was not yet serving in the Senate when that vote took place), he has voted to appropriate additional funds, enabling the war and occupation of Iraq to continue. Furthermore, Obama voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act and for the construction of the 700-mile border fence with Mexico.

Speaking of "security fences," not only is Obama a wall-builder here at home, he is a staunch supporter of the Israeli government's wall to separate Palestinian farmers from their land, children from their schools, patients from their hospitals, workers from their jobs. Like nearly all U.S. politicians-at least the ones that are upwardly mobile-Obama is a die-hard supporter of Israel and is in the back pocket of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
But this was not always the case.

Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada and contributor to the Chicago Tribune, wrote in March 2007 that Obama had frequented Arab-American community events in the past, including a 1998 fundraiser featuring the late Edward Said as a keynote speaker. Obama was openly critical of U.S. policy vis-a-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

That all changed when Obama, who had been defeated in a bid for the House of Representatives, began his successful run for the U.S. Senate. According to Abunimah, Obama told him at a gathering in Chicago, "'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."

It never happened. Obama became further ensconced in the politics of Zionism when he co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code enabling that state to lend money to the Israeli government.

In January 2006, Obama made his first trip to Occupied Palestine, seeing it first from the vantage point of an IDF helicopter. Later he met with a group of college students at Jerusalem University's Ramallah branch. An International Solidarity Movement (ISM) member, identified only by her first name, Katie, was in the audience.

Like Ali Abunimah, Katie was under the impression that Obama was a progressive, compassionate individual who would be sympathetic with the plight of Palestinians. And like Ali Abunimah, she was in for a rude awakening.
Katie recalled the event in a widely disseminated e-mail. She questioned Obama's comments regarding the need for Arab governments to embrace democracy, not theocracy. "...How can you explain to the Palestinian people how the U.S. can be opposed to these things (theocracy and terrorism) but still supports a state that has racist, oppressive, unjust and apartheid policies...?" she asked.

According to Katie, Obama informed her that he would not accept the assumptions she made, thereby ignoring that part of her question. He added the U.S. relationship with Israel was not going to change.
And this is our "change" candidate?

Obama made it clear in his speech to AIPAC on March 2, 2007. The following is taken from the text of that speech, as prepared for delivery:
"...we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs. This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza. And when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel's legitimate right to defend itself."

The sinister implications of this statement are twofold. This highly creative scenario involving Iran can be used to justify another pre-emptive U.S. attack at some point in the future. Secondly, it further demonizes the beleaguered citizens of Gaza, casting them in the role of aggressor. Such rhetoric is lockstep with the Bush administration.

Obama, who claims to be anti-war, has said in numerous interviews that "no options are off the table" when it comes to Iran. This agenda also bows to the will of AIPAC, as it was Ariel Sharon who said "first Iraq, then Iran."
Ironically, during a Democratic debate held just days before the New Hampshire Primary, Obama decried the influence of special interest groups on Washington. He also called for more bipartisanship, more "cross-aisle cooperation."

Sorry, Senator Obama, but my idea of bipartisanship does not have room for saber-rattling against Iran, wiretapping my phone or sending the FBI to my door. Not to mention that multi-million dollar border fence.
If Obama supporters are duped into thinking he is the self-proclaimed "candidate of change," they can guess again. With Obama, we can expect more of the same: Zionist interests ahead of America's. Always.




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