CAMPAIGN 08 EDITORIAL: Obama pays his AIPAC dues — again

Obama pays his AIPAC dues — again

Barak Obama gave a little pep talk to George Bush this week. The Washington press corps either never heard about it or possibly thought it was too thin on substance to bother reporting. My guess is they never heard. Even so, when a presidential candidate feels driven to write a letter to the president, it’s curious that his campaign would not have done a conference call (again, it’s my assumption that they didn’t) or posted his letter to the president on the campaign web site or at least issued a press release. Maybe this is another case of the Obama campaign having what they have elsewhere referred to as “a very tightly wrapped message.”

The message this time seemed to have had two target audiences: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Israeli press.

Obama’s letter to Bush was reported in Yedioth Ahronoth yesterday and the Jerusalem Post today. The letter itself has been posted on the AIPAC web site.

The Democratic candidate says:

I am deeply concerned that Israel’s security has been put at greater risk, both because of renewed threats from implacable enemies like Iran, Hizbollah, and Hamas, and because of policy choices by the United States.

Obama doesn’t spell out which particular policy choices he’s referring to and he rounds off his appeal to Bush by saying:

I close by urging you to redouble your efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve success in their peace efforts; to stand up for Israel’s right of self-defense; to press the Arab states to do more to advance the peace process; and to support the Israeli-Syrian talks. All of these steps will advance the interests of the United States and the security of our ally, Israel.

Most of what he says is the kind of boilerplate that might have come straight out of Condoleezza Rice’s mouth or from Bush himself. The Bush team might have refrained from chastising friendly Middle Eastern autocratic leaders, but when Obama says, “the Arab states should support the Palestinians and prepare their own people for peace by making gestures of normalization toward Israel,” he sounds pretty disingenuous. He ignores the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and he ignores the fact that Israel continues its relentless expansion of settlements in the West Bank. He doesn’t even echo the administration’s timid rebuke in saying that settlement expansion is “unhelpful.”

The subtext here — at least I assume this was what camp Obama thought AIPAC would want to hear — was that the ceasefire with Hamas constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the threat from Qassam rockets.

If the ceasefire takes hold and gets past its bumpy start, there is a real risk that Hamas could acquire some hard sought political legitimacy. The dam that’s been holding back all those unreliable European governments who’ve never had the balls to defy Bush, might finally break. So, the message to reassure AIPAC was that just because there’s going to be a new administration in a few months, everyone can be confident that it will be just as intransigent (“Israel-friendly”) as the present one.

The one small glimmer of hope comes from Obama’s nod of approval towards the Israel-Syria negotiations. Does it count for much? Not if Obama insists on continuing to make himself a tool of AIPAC.

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5 thoughts on “CAMPAIGN 08 EDITORIAL: Obama pays his AIPAC dues — again

  1. John Robertson

    Well said, Paul. I have to wonder if Obama isn’t doing this for November-electorate consumption. Better him than McCain, but I hate to see him pander his way into the Oval Office.

  2. Bernard Chazelle

    Bravo Obama: you’ve managed to out-neocon Elliott Abrams and out-Bush George Bush. On Planet Obama, Abbas is negotiating a peace settlement, Arab governments need to reach out to Israel, Saudi Arabia needs to “invest in Israeli-Palestinian peace” (what peace??) and the US needs to reiterate its support of Israel’s right of self-defense (more cluster bomb shipments, I presume).

    In the real world, meanwhile, Abbas is the hapless ruler of a police state with no power to negotiate anything, Arab governments have again and again expressed their willingness to normalize relations with Israel on the basis on the ’02 Initiative (as Paul mentioned), and it is Israel that has shown no interest.

    What’s happened to undivided Jerusalem? Cold feet?

    Obama says “Hamas, which opposes negotiations…”
    This is a lie. And he knows it. The US opposes negotiations.

  3. Matt

    Obama’s obesiance to Israel is breathtaking. I see no significant difference between Obama and the other the AIPAC approved candidate : McCain.

  4. Gary Rumor

    Obama is simply covering his ass, He wants to keep the mostly liberal Jewish acmerican communityfrom bolting to the supposedly moderate republican, McCain. The moslem vote is minimal and the left in the US has noplace to go, since unlike the rest of the world’s democracies, we have only one party that rules, and one that sits on the sidelines at any given time. If we had a real left party that had a base in the electorate, then he would be forced to deal with the concerns of the rest of us.

  5. Kahoneez

    There aren’t enough Jewish voters in America to constitute any ” threat ” so get serious . However just like Jimmy Carter who rightly criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was attacked by pro Israel media , which is basically all the major media , i.e. CNN and blitzer , who relentlessly attacked Carter for telling the truth , the same network that won’t report TWENTY – ONE Palestinians killed in one damn day , mostly civilians .
    Howard Dean was subjected to the same vile attack, for merely suggesting ” both sides should be treated equally ” a SIN to Israeli supporters . Don’t forget what they did to Cynthia McKinney .
    The power of the Israeli lobby and supporters of Israeli policies is HUGE in the media and they CRUCIFY ANYBODY that doesn’t show 100 % support . 90 % your still toast .
    Having said that , the inordinate and damaging influence zionism intimidates every politician , that’s why Obama won’t show ANY support or sympathy for Palestinians , NEVER suggest equal treatment and will pander the same way EVERY politician does, doesn’t make it right or ethical , but it’s a fact of life and that’s why there will be no Middle East peace .

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