Sen. Obama: Lead on the Middle East

Tomorrow Sen. Obama will be making his first address on Israel.  I hope he takes the opportunity to lead.  While we all know there will be tough rhetoric on Iran, it doesn't have to be an implicit threat of nuclear war.  Likewise, while we all know the statements, "Israel has a right to defend itself" will be uttered when discussing Hezbollah, Syria and Palestine, it doesn't have to be an implicit acquiescence that an Obama administration will look the other way if Israel bombs civilians.  Most politicians have taken pandering on the Middle East to an art forum; even at the expense of American, Israeli and Palestinian lives.  Rather than lead and really discuss the difficult issues that divide all sides in the conflict, they take the easy route and alienate Arab moderates, while branding an entire people as terrorists.

Outside of the political world, it is mainstream among most Americans that we want Israel to be safe and Jews to be able to move beyond the fear that history has created.  It is also mainstream that American foreign policy should always put America first and that we should be leaders in the global community.  While Bush is a failure on foreign policy, nothing has been shown by Congress in terms of leadership on the Middle East.  To talk Palestine and the peace process makes one persona non grata on Capitol Hill.  Pandering is all that occurs among our elected officials when it comes to Israel and its neighbors.  Will Obama's "politics of hope" go beyond this?  

Rather than bring Israelis and their neighbors together to find a comprehensive peace, our government has shown a willingness to only go so far as their political donors and action committees allow them.  Will a President Obama go beyond this?  Will he be willing and able to  say to the Israelis to stop the settlements and sit down with the Palestinians?  As his pro-Israel rhetoric heats up, will he, once elected, have the credibility  in both the international community and, most importantly, the Middle East to be able to bring the needed compromise from Arab leaders?  To tell Hamas to put down there weapons "a new politics of hope" has arrived?  Will they trust him?

Sen. Obama is running as a post-partisan.  Noble goal for domestic politics.  My question to his campaign is whether he will run as a sincere peace maker, who is not only beyond the partisan tit-for-tat, but also beyond the pandering that clouds foreign policy judgments.  I hope he will be.  The Senator inspires a younger generation and encourages us to believe that America can be something more.  On Friday, we will see what a President Obama view of the Middle East looks like.  I hope I can be inspired once again.  

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This communication was sent out by email from Citizens for Fair Legislation this morning appealing for support of its petition for our government NOT TO BOYCOTT the unity government recently negotiated by Fatah and Hamas.


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Israeli Policy Makes Apartheid More Likely

The founder of the Israeli organization, Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), is a guy named Jeff Halper. Along with Naim Ateek, Halper recently spoke at the National Press Club (February 12, 2007) and provided his latest analysis of the prospects for peace in Palestine. His article, The Problem With Israel, was posted at Daily Kos sa few months ago, where it received a lot of attention. It provided a unique understanding about Israel's intentions regarding a Palestinian state. These intentions are seldom what they seem to be. He called Israel's actions over the decades "muddling through" by "conflict management" rather than making any real movement toward peace. Israeli leaders talk it up, in other words, but always seem to fall short when peace is threatening. At the same time, building on the West Bank continues as if there is an intention to stay (

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AIPAC, Palestinian Aid and the Democrats

Democrat Nita Lowey, chair of House panel overseeing foreign aid spending, has announced that she is holding up $86 million in aid to Palestine. She has, we are told, "serious questions".

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The Quartet Fiddles While Palestine Starves

"Slowly, painstakingly, but inexorably, Hamas is moving away from its traditional notion that Palestine is an Islamic waqf [land-in-trust] `from the river to the sea...Hamas is signaling that it accepts Israel as a political reality today and is intimating that it would accept a final agreement with Israel `according to the parameters of the [1991] Madrid conference and U.N. resolutions,' says Palestinian analyst Khaled Hroub, an authority on the Islamist party."

- Graham Usher, veteran Palestine correspondent for The Economist (Middle East Report Online, 21/8/05)

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