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March 16, 2007

The Problem with Barack Obama's Israel Pose


by Joshua Frank

Sen. Barack Obama isn't quite sure how he feels about the lopsided situation between Israel and Palestine. Less than two weeks after Obama gloated to AIPAC about his love for Israel, he unexpectedly admitted the truth while campaigning in Iowa recently. "[N]obody is suffering more than the Palestinian people..." said Obama, "the Israeli government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart..." The truth hurts indeed, and Obama has been feeling the wrath of the pro-Israel activists since his statement last week.

Nonetheless, Obama shouldn't be trusted on the issue. While Rep. Dennis Kucinich hired avid pro-Palestine advocate Noura Erakat to sit on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Obama has been backpedaling – assuring AIPAC and others that he is unwavering in his support for Israel's continued bullying of Iran and occupation of Palestine.

"[Iran] is a genuine threat" to the United States and Israel, expressed Obama at a forum sponsored by AIPAC on March 12 in Washington D.C., only one day after his lucid remarks in Iowa. At the event Obama also reiterated that he would not rule out the use of force in disarming Iran, a position shared by the other leading Democratic presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

Earlier this month on March 2, Obama spoke at an AIPAC Policy Forum in Chicago where he clearly laid out his full stance on Israel, promising he would not alter the U.S./Israeli relationship. "[W]e must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs," he said. "This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza."

So while Obama admits that Palestinians suffer more than Israelis, he still won't do a damn thing to balance out the asymmetrical relationship. In fact, Obama has made it clear that U.S. taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for Israel's ever-growing arsenal of weapons and missiles if he is indeed elected president in 2008.

In Obama's March 2 speech, he even had the audacity to declare that "we have to press for enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which demands the cessation of arms shipments to Hezbollah, a resolution which Syria and Iran continue to disregard. Their support and shipment of weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which threatens the peace and security in the region, must end."

If Obama is truly interested in invoking U.N. Resolutions to prop up his case for a military assault on Iran, we may as well note the some 65 Resolutions the senator has blatantly ignored that condemn Israel's actions – past and present – including Resolution 242 which calls for the withdraw of "Israeli armed forces from territories occupied" during the Six-Day War of 1967.

Sen. Obama, despite his acknowledgment of Palestinian suffering, has little to offer those who recognize that lasting peace in the Middle East will only begin when the U.S. radically alters its relationship with Israel. Continued funding of Israel's illegal occupation won't end the violence – it'll only continue it.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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