Obama's Anti-Arab Racism
Enjoying a luxurious Hawaiian holiday with his family in a $9 million beach-front vacation home, President Elect Barack Obama had "no comment" on the carnage in Gaza.
Still, his media handler and spokesman David Axlerod essentially endorsed the murders of the Balousha and al Absi children on NBC's weekly show "Face the Nation."
"Well, certainly, the president-elect recognizes the special relationship between United States and Israel," Axelrod told NBC. "It's an important bond, an important relationship. He's going to honor it ...
"And obviously, this situation has become even more complicated in the last couple of days and weeks. As Hamas began its shelling, Israel responded."
"The president-elect was in Sderot last July," Axelrod continued, "in southern Israel, a town that's taken the brunt of the Hamas attacks...
"And he said then that, when bombs are raining down on your citizens, there is an urge to respond and act and try and put an end to that. So, you know, that's what he said then, and I think that's what he believes."
In other words, Israel's criminal bombing of Gaza - preparation for a ground invasion - was legitimate retaliation, not naked aggression, as far as Obama was concerned. That was the Obama team's take on Israel's latest outrage - the same exact line as the Bush administration.
This line ignored the grossly disproportionate nature of Israel's response, which killed hundreds of Palestinians, including many civilians, in two days while just 17 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians rocks over the last seven years. (The "Israel-Palestine conflict" is a very asymmetrical affair.)
It also deleted the fact that Israel, not Hamas (the militant Muslim organization that holds elected authority in the Gaza ghetto), broke a six-month truce by firing missiles into Gaza on the evening of the U.S. presidential election.
BLAMING THE VICTIM
The Obama team's response to the latest Israeli outrage is depressing but it is not surprising. Obama's pronounced reluctance to rock the imperial boat  and question the conventional U.S. foreign policy wisdom been sharply evident in his statements and actions relating to the Israel-Palestine issue.
Early in his political career, to be sure, state senator Obama took positions embraced by Israeli peace activists and their supporters.
During his failed campaign against South Side Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) in 2000, for example, Obama criticized the Clinton administration's unconditional support of the occupation and other Israeli policies.
He called for an "even-handed approach" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and referred to "the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians" while most Democrats joined Republicans in discussing the conflict purely in terms of Palestinian provocation and Israeli response.
Obama claimed to support a Palestinian-Israel peace settlement in accord with the Geneva Initiative and with related proposals by Israeli and Palestinian moderates.
But this approach could not survive presidential aspirations in a political culture where substantive criticism of Israel's behavior carries grave electoral risks.
As a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, Obama's statements on Israel-Palestine were practically identical to those of the Bush administration, which has backed the right-wing Ehud Olmert (Likud) government (January 4, 2006 to present) on nearly every important policy matter.
Obama argued that "we should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests" and claimed that no Israeli prime minister - no matter how unpopular and murderous (e.g. Olmert) - should be "dragged" against his will into negotiations with the Palestinians.
The contradictions Obama embraced and overlooked in his quest to appease Israel and its hard-line American supporters were quite pronounced. As foreign policy analyst Stephen Zunes noted last January:
"Despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's refusal to freeze the construction of additional illegal settlements, end the seizure of Palestinian population centers, release Palestinian political prisoners, or enact other confidence-building measures - much less agree to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state - Obama claimed in his AIPAC [American Israeli Public Affairs Council] policy forum speech [in March of 2007] that Olmert is 'more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security'.
"And though, as recently as last March, Obama acknowledged the reality that 'nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,' as a result of the stalled peace process he has since placed the blame for the impasse not on the Israeli occupation but on the Palestinians themselves."
Obama has consistently rejected the insistence of peace activists that U.S. make military aid to Israel contingent on the Israeli government following international and human rights law.
One chilling example of what some might call anti-Arab racism on Obama's part came when Israel tightened the screws of its siege of Gaza last January.
As Palestinians struggled to survive a vicious embargo of food, fuel, and medicine, Obama sent the following letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations"
"Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,"
"I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order."
"I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel..."
"All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians."
"The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all."
"United States Senator"
This terrible letter pandered to the right wing of Israeli and "pro-Israel" U.S. opinion by ignoring the absurdly disproportionate nature of Israel's "response" and the suffocating apartheid and poverty conditions that predictably generate violent resistance on the part of some Palestinians. More...