Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama and Gaza

Its no surprise, but, Daniel Larison thinks that Obama will do nothing to change US policy toward the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As Larison points out, both Greenwald and Philip Weiss say that one cannot know Obama's future policy toward the conflict.

Larison writes:
I don’t think Obama’s likely course of action is so hard to discern, and his public position is going to be exceedingly predictable, regardless of whether that is what he “really” believes...

The incoming administration will almost certainly abide by Obama’s campaign pledges not to force Israel to make concessions or “drag” them to the negotiating table. It will maintain what Weiss and perhaps even Greenwald will find to be an incredibly out-of-touch position of absolute support for ongoing military operations in Gaza (assuming the operations will still be going on in three weeks’ time) just as Obama supported Israeli actions in Lebanon in 2006 to the hilt. The public stance of the administration will be staunchly, almost embarrassingly supportive of the actions of Olmert’s outgoing government and whatever new government forms later this year.

All of this assumes that the structures that enable the Israel lobby to dictate US policy toward Israel/Palestine will continue. I don't think Obama (or any President) is strong enough to confront the lobby if the lobby maintains its current level of power. Certainly someone like Obama, with his accomodationist and extablishiment pattern of ruling, will not take on such a hard-headed foe. However, I think Obama may deviate from the past 50 years of slavishy toeing the Israel lobby's line because the lobby's ability to enforce its will may be deteriorating.

The press created the miasma that allowed the lobby to thrive, and the cultural fetishization of the Holocaust and demonization of Palestinians has allowed the lobby's power to endure. These cultural forces have been mutating in the wake of Israeli's atrocities against Gaza. Foreign Policy now hosts a blog by the author of The Israel Lobby. Rashid Khalidi, who, lest we forget, was demonized as a anti-Semetic terrorist by the nation's ruling political party just two months ago, has published information on Gaza in The New York Times. Pro-Palestinian demonstrationsn are occuring all over the country. The zietgiest is shifting--more and more people recognize that Israel is continuing to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people.

For Obama, if he recognizes this shift--and this shift continues and intensifies throughout his Presidency--he may hop on the bandwangon and do something about the situation. Or, at the very least, would be able to put more pressure on Israel to grant concessions to the Palestinians in peace negotiations. 2009 isn't 2006. Speaking out about Israel's bombardment of Lebanon in 2006 would have killed Obama's career. Hopefully, Obama will recognize the changing mood in the US, and adapt accordingly, like he has throughout his political career.

But don't get your hopes up.

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