Friday, January 02, 2009


Obama, Israel and Palestine

by Larry Geller

It was observed that Obama carefully avoided making eye contact with protestors supporting the Palestinian plight this weekend:

KAILUA, Hawaii, Dec 30 (Reuters) - A small group of placard-waving pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered near U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's vacation retreat in Hawaii on Tuesday to protest against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Obama did not acknowledge the protesters when his motorcade drove past to take him to play basketball at his old school. He stared straight ahead sipping from a bottle of water. [Reuters, Pro-Palestinian protesters at Obama's Hawaii house, 12/30/2008]

Of course he did that. The reality is, as one of the protestors remarked,

It's political suicide to challenge Israel in this country. [Honolulu Advertiser, Activists demonstrate outside Obama home, 12/31/2008]

It’s important to keep the pressure up, of course, but there is that reality to contend with.

There’s a great essay on by Alexander Cockburn, Diary of 2008: an Incredible, Hope-Filled Year which anyone who still hopes for justice for the Palestinians should read, at least to see what they are up against as they continue their worthy quest. Here’s a snippet, taken from the section “Israel, Gaza and the U.S.” As usual, I hope you’ll click over and read the entire essay, it’s worth it:

Noam Chomsky remarked recently. “With Obama, Israel and less than 2 per cent of the American population is now in full control of the American government.” So, is there any evidence that when he sits down in the Oval Office, Obama will try to set a new course? 

It’s certainly true that the minute the new Obama administration made any move, however tentative, deemed “anti-Israel” by the massed legions of the Israel lobby – stretching from vice president Biden’s office, through Obama’s own Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to about 98 per cent of the U.S. Congress, the major newspapers and TV networks, the think tanks in Washington, the big Democratic Party funders – political mayhem would break loose. The White House would see its prime political enterprise, the  economic recovery program, immediately held hostage.

Obama, in his SUV driving past the demonstrators, didn’t dare be caught by a photographer glancing out the window at the signs. He knew they were there, of course, or he wouldn’t have worked so hard not to see them. He had to look straight ahead or all hell could have broken loose.



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