United They All Stand in Their Commitment to Israel

United They All Stand in Their Commitment to Israel
Sherene Walid Awad, Arab News

It seems like Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and John McCain can’t agree on anything these days – whether it is guns, elitism, NAFTA, and the definition of “the typical white person.” However, there is, at the very least, one shared passion amongst the three. And, strangely enough, that passion (ostensibly) has nothing to do with the country that each of these individuals is campaigning to lead. On April 6, the National Committee for Israel’s 60th Anniversary announced its newest additions to the membership list: While they can’t all be president, Obama, Clinton and McCain can at least proudly proclaim now that they are all vice-chairmen of the committee to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday next month (along with George Bush Senior, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and every former living US secretary of state).

Maybe I shouldn’t be appalled by this. Maybe I shouldn’t be upset, or even surprised, that a whole series of past, present, and future most powerful people in the world are willing to serve as chairmen on a committee to celebrate an event that had the direct effect of ensuring that, today, Palestinians constitute the longest-lasting refugee situation in modern history.

Israel has always had a friend in the United States from the day of its founding, but the American political establishment’s relationship with the Jewish state goes far, far beyond friendship or common interests, and it makes the prospect of the United States serving as an honest-broker in Mideast peace more remote than ever. There is a fair solution to the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and, with all the cynicism and emotional baggage I bring to the table, I cannot see why it would be in anyone’s interest – the United States included – to continue delaying the possibility of such peace. When Bush Jr. invaded Iraq and proclaimed it to be his grand experiment in bringing democracy to the Middle East, one of my first thoughts was – why not try that in Palestine? Why not make a sincere commitment to spend part of your four or eight years in office brokering a just peace between Jews and Arabs through creating a democratic, secular, free Palestinian state?

No, instead Bush tied the American people to a bloody disastrous collapse of Iraqi society that has cost, and will continue to cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands of lives, all for the sake of a pointless experiment. And in the meantime, American leadership, with all its prestige, authority, and potential for positive leadership in the world, continues in its failure to serve as the basic building block for Middle East peace: A fair and impartial partner. American presidents, and presidential candidates, now don’t even bother to maintain a facade of neutrality in dealing with Israel. Instead, they wholeheartedly work to celebrate a day that Palestinians mark as the catastrophe of their own nationhood, they ensure that Israel continues to receive upwards of $3 billion a year (or 30 percent of the entire annual foreign aid budget) in cash and military equipment, and they work tirelessly in the international community to ensure that Israel never has to bear responsibility for violating countless UN resolutions, the Geneva Convention, and basic international humanitarian norms. A special word here for “my friend” Barack Obama. I attended his rally last week, and came away from it inspired, hopeful, and so impressed by the man’s apparent vision and articulation of a future for those at the bottom of the pile. I’m not an American, but as I watched him speak, I honestly thought that with someone like him in charge, that future could include me and my people as well. Not so much.

Obama’s pandering over the past few weeks in particular has been especially appalling. Apart from his volunteer service on the Israel 60th committee, he has condemned Jimmy Carter for meeting with Hamas representatives (yes, meeting with and talking to the enemy! Sound familiar?), set up a campaign blog in Hebrew, described UN resolutions criticizing Israeli human rights and international law violations as “attacks” on Israel, rejected the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, dismissed the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem as their capital, and assured and reassured Jewish leaders across the United States that a President Obama will continue to be absent and irrelevant in the Israel/Palestine conflict as his predecessors. But, rest assured, he will continue to sign the checks.

– Sherene Walid Awad is a JD candidate at Notre Dame Law School, US.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: