Opinion Editorials, January 2008
Barak Obama: Is he really for change?
By Tammy Obeidallah
ccun.org, 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.
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).
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
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.
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:
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."
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.
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