January 19, 2009

Change for Israel?

Someone "joked" recently that the only reason a black man is president is because no one else wanted the job. I think it's because he is the best person for the job. But that job is insanely difficult these days. Obama is inheriting the worse world economic mess in generations, a global image as a unilateralist bully, and an unparalleled deficit.

The funny thing is that I have the hope that he spoke about in his remarkable campaign -- at least about most of the challenges facing this country.

But I do not have optimism about an issue very close to my heart: the occupation of the Palestinian people and their land. I have started a dozen blog posts about Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks. But my words have seemed pithy, insignificant and inadequate for the magnitude of the suffering of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Obama's silence throughout the onslaught spoke volumes. Behind the excuse -- because that's what it is, an excuse -- that there is only one president at a time, Obama was telling us what his policy will be: continued blind support of Israel. I'm not the first to suggest that Israel's actions in Gaza were (and are) illegal, immoral, and dispicable, nor that its policy of occupation is reminiscent of the deplorable Apartheid regime in South Africa. It is often Israelis that criticize Israel most eloquently and truthfully

Politicians don't get re-elected if they are even the slightest bit critical of the state of Israel. I'm positive that Obama will not risk challenging this trend during his first term. But maybe his conscience will kick in during his second term. Hey, a girl can dream


2 comments:

crazyred said...

I bet you know --I've always wondered; does our foreign aid money to Israel go through the State Dept? Defense? or what?

Zee said...

Yes and yes -- and more. Check this out: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf. Very interesting. While some commentators say that US aid to Israel tops $3 billion each year, there are other less quantifiable forms of aid, such as early disbursement (allowing Israel to collect pretty major sums of interest on the aid money) and loan guarantees. Tack on special gifts approved regularly by Congress and the figure is much higher than conservative estimates predict.