Sunday, 8 June 2008

Shock and awe at AIPAC

PressTV's Middle East Today brings together a diverse range of guests to discuss the most pressing issues facing the region in particular, and the world as a whole.

In this edition we are taking another look at the relationship between the United States and Israel – one that comes in the light of the latest visit to Washington by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and an unexpectedly robust expression of support for Israel by presidential candidate, Barak Obama.

Throughout his primary election campaign, Senator Barak Obama has constantly reinforced his message of change. A change from the tired, worn out and failed policies of the past.

Most notable, perhaps, was his retort to Iraq military commander General David Petraeus that what was needed was a surge in diplomacy, not a surge in troops.

At the time he was accused of appeasement.

But his speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday sounded like something taken from the pages of the Project for the New American Century.

In fact, one of our correspondents remarked that Obama’s speech was more Dick Cheney than, well, Dick Cheney.

Obama’s frequent repetition of certain statements emphasizing his support for Israel actually made me wonder whether he was trying to convince the audience or himself of his pro-Israel credentials.

Political analysts say he had to do it. Without the Israel Lobby, without the Christian Zionist Lobby, then he may as well not bother continuing with his bid for the presidency.

But now he has done it. We can debate whether or not he really believes in what he said. But if the message was coming from Obama’s heart, then the prospects for a Middle East Peace settlement just became even more remote.

With just one assertion – that Jerusalem is and would remain the eternal undivided capital of Israel – Obama effectively drove the final nail into the coffin of Oslo, Annapolis and any Palestinian aspirations for a two state settlement with East Al-Quds as its capital.

Obama’s declaration flies in the face of numerous United Nations resolutions on the status of Jerusalem-Al Quds.

Obama said it is unacceptable to question the accepted history of the Holocaust, or challenge the legitimacy policies enacted by Israel. But apparently this presidential candidate is perfectly comfortable with ignoring a raft of UN resolutions, effectively endorsing an ongoing criminal activity.

The result of a US presidential election – unlike any other – is something that has a resounding impact around the world. And Obama’s campaign of change had struck a positive chord, especially among some countries here in the Middle East.

But Obama’s strident message delivered to AIPAC, reinforced by repetition after repetition, has left many in the region bitterly disappointed, and it would be fair to say, in something of a state of shock.

Joining the panel of Middle East Today to discuss the developments were:

In Gaza, Doctor Hani Al-Bassos, Lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza (

In Ramallah, we welcomed Abdallah Abdallah, a spokesman for Fatah. (

From East Jerusalem, Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Knesset. ( )

And on the phone from New York, Maxine Dovere, AIPAC Reporter, Maariv Newspaper (

It was a lively debate, with some fresh and interesting perspectives that you won't often see on the regular MSM. Watch Middle East Today's "A Vote For What Change?"

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