Obama’s VP Pick Right for Israel?

He eclipsed the democratic convention buzz, gained women voters, simultaneously reassured middle to far right conservatives and may have positioned a female presidential candidate for the Republican ticket for future elections. It makes sense. On the other hand, the best explanations for Barack Obama’s choice of Joseph Biden still don’t jibe.

It’s true that Mr. Biden brings some political experience to Mr. Obama’s ticket, but so could many of Mr. Obama’s other choices. Mr. Biden also narrows the race gap, which unfortunately still exists in America. But again, so could any of the other choices.

So, what then? Mr. Biden, the self-proclaimed Zionist, assuages Israeli and Jewish American fears that Mr. Obama might not be so accommodating to Israel.

I know it’s hard for the average American to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election. Israeli propaganda does an outstandingly good job of diffusing any meaningful debate on the Middle East or Israel’s role in shaping our foreign policies. Whether by defaming Jimmy Carter for daring to speak out or by censoring or ignoring important scholastic books such as The Israel Lobby by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, Americans are kept ignorant of just how important it is to please Israel in order to have a real chance at occupying an elected post in Washington. Every politician, newsman, and pundit knows that you cannot be elected in Washington without the blessing of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), known simply as “The Lobby” in Washington.

Under the Clinton administration, the head of AIPAC had to resign after someone leaked a tape of him discussing how AIPAC was negotiating with the president about whom he should select for Secretary of State. It is undeniably the most powerful foreign interest group in Washington, and arguably the most powerful lobby in general.

Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress and a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations admitted that, “When it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, the terms of debate are so influenced by organized Jewish groups, like AIPAC, that to be critical of Israel is to deny oneself the ability to succeed in American politics.” A noteworthy example of the great influence Israel wields on American foreign policy came in the summer of 2006, when Israel attacked Lebanon. As the world over condemned the attack, we stood alone in support of Israel. On July 18, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution “condemning Hamas and Hezbollah and their state sponsors and supporting Israel’s exercise of its right to self-defense.” After language was removed from the bill urging “all sides to protect innocent civilian life and infrastructure,” the House version passed by a landslide, 410-to-8.

Thus, in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers (which followed the killing of a Lebanese man inside Lebanon), Israel killed and maimed thousands of civilians, decimated civilian infrastructure, and littered Southern Lebanon with over 100,000 of the world-banned unexploded cluster bombs. Congress unequivocally approved and supported Israel’s actions with this resolution, which AIPAC actually wrote! Even when a post-war analysis by the State Department was delivered to Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Biden, asserting that Israel may have violated the Arms Export Control Act with its use of American-made cluster munitions in Lebanon, bipartisan support of Israel remained unwavering.

This potentially explosive report detailing how Israel may have used American supplied weapons to commit war crimes was ignored by Mr. Biden and Mrs. Pelosi, both of whom have traveled to Israel repeatedly, along with scores of other politicians, genuflecting as they always do to extol the virtues of the Jewish State and profess undying and uncompromising support for a country that is currently in violation of at least 200 UN Resolutions and has been condemned in the harshest terms by human rights organizations worldwide. It is a country that has been repeatedly caught spying on America (most recently, two top AIPAC officials were indicted based on evidence that they accepted and passed on to Israel confidential national security secrets from a Defense Department analyst working with AIPAC) and which continues to defy U.S. demands to stop annexing and colonizing private Palestinian property with illegal Jewish-only settlements. One would think such behavior would at least draw some criticism from candidates. But rarely does any politician dare.

Mr. Biden has proved himself an acolyte of Israel. In an interview with Shalom TV, Mr. Biden proclaimed: “I am a Zionist.” Ira Forman, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council said that “Biden is a great friend … with a solid pro-Israel record.” Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Biden brings “The Lobby” to Mr. Obama’s corner and that’s why he was picked. Let us at least open up the discussion to include the influence of this foreign interest lobby. Americans deserve to understand the forces behind decisions that affect us all individually and collectively as a nation.

Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin, a work of historic fiction and the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine. Read other articles by Susan, or visit Susan's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Deadbeat said on September 19th, 2008 at 8:09am #

    I know it’s hard for the average American to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.

    Let me refine that to …

    “I know it’s hard for [the American Left] to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

  2. Max Shields said on September 19th, 2008 at 8:19am #

    I know it’s hard for the average American to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.

    Let me refine that to …

    “I know it’s hard for [the American Left] to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

    Let me further refine that to…

    “I know it’s hard for [Deadbeat] to believe that there are [American progressives] who believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

  3. Deadbeat said on September 19th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Let us at least open up the discussion to include the influence of this foreign interest lobby. Americans deserve to understand the forces behind decisions that affect us all individually and collectively as a nation.

    Great article and it focuses in on the real reason why Biden was picked. Unfortunately there are many members of the American Left and especially Noam Chomsky who are actually gatekeepers in order to prevent discussion and debate. They’ve use various fallacious arguments including distortion, ridicule and twisting arguments in order to sow doubt and uncertainty.

    For example a recent article in Swan written by Gilles d’Aymery entitled Behind The Curtain Of Ron Paul’s Disciples refers to Alexander Cockburn in the following way …

    Like Justin Raimondo, his alter ego at antiwar.com, [Lew]Rockwell is a member in good standing of the “Old Right,” the America First non-interventionists, cultural conservatives, opponents to the New Deal, and firm believers that the foreign policy of the U.S. is controlled by Israel and the “Jewish lobby” — positions that are shared in various degrees by another “Libertarian,” Alexander Cockburn of counterpunch.org.

    Because the paleoconservatives has a history of xenophobia and outright anti-Semitic and racist views writers on the Left use “guilt by association” fallacy to belittle the anti-war and anti-Zionist views by writers voicing the influence of Zionism upon the U.S. body politics.

    Because the right shares these views doesn’t mean the concerns being raised about Zionism is untrue but these Leftwing “gatekeepers” use these fallacious smears in order to maintain confusion among activist. What happens is that Zionism goes unchallenged and therefore increases its influence.

    What I have found ironic throughout this campaign was how the Left got so bent out of shape when Obama spoke before AIPAC yet the Left stayed silent as Presidential candidate after Presidential candidate had to genuflect to AIPAC well before Obama’s appearance.

    Why was Obama’s appearance so stark? Because he is BLACK.

    Until the Left mounts a real and honest challenge to Zionism there will be no solidarity. What I believe the Left wants is to see the economy continue to deteriorate in the vein hope that the American people will rise up against the system. In this way the Left won’t have to confront Zionism because its ranks will swell as conditions worsen.

    This Machiavellian approach is cynical and it will not undo the problem of Zionism’s influence upon the U.S. political economy. In fact what will happen is the same frustrating dissolution of the coalition just like what happened in 2003-2004 when the left diffused and weakened the anti-war movement and Ralph Nader’s presidential bid.

  4. Deadbeat said on September 19th, 2008 at 8:45am #

    Max Shields mockingly scrolls while changing his position yet again…

    “I know it’s hard for [Deadbeat] to believe that there are [American progressives] who believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

    Thanks Max for changing your position. It would seem that you now believe that Zionism influences the American body politics. So Max what are you going to do to CONFRONT Zionism and build solidarity?

  5. Max Shields said on September 19th, 2008 at 9:44am #

    I have never changed my “positon”. YOU have failed to either read or understand it. It has always been the same.

    Without Israel, the US would still be the world’s leading imperialist and military interventionist nation in the world. There in lies the difference, Deadbeat.

  6. Deadbeat said on September 19th, 2008 at 4:41pm #

    Max denies he’s altering his ever shifting position… Here is what you wrote…

    “I know it’s hard for [Deadbeat] to believe that there are [American progressives] who believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

    Sure Max it is all part of the deception. Your intent is to obscure Zionism as a tendency and philosophy with real power having an influence in the U.S. polity. It’s all “imperialism”.

    You know Max slavery and white supremacy could have been obscured as “imperialism” too but people still rose up to challenge those tendencies. The real activist and hero didn’t go around like you trying to obscure it. They build up UNITY to struggle and in many cases defeat it.

    You Max seeks to obscure it. There are many aspects to what you label as “imperialism”. I’ll enunciate a few:

    [1] Capitalism
    [2] Militarism
    [3] White Supremacy
    [4] Sexism
    [5] Classism
    [6] Zionism

    Some how Zionism doesn’t fall on your radar and when it does you deploy all kinds of fallacious rhetoric in an attempt to conceal its influence upon the U.S. polity.

    You Max are not fooling anyone here. You and Noam are two-peas-in-a-pod.

  7. Max Shields said on September 19th, 2008 at 6:29pm #

    Deadbeat,

    You are hopeless. Why? Because you think racism comes out of some form of…I don’t know…hate for people of another race. Those in power wield it through domination and conquest of land and natural resources, and labor. Call it Zionism; call it racism. They come from the same source.

    Racism plays to the same fear that creates the frenzy leading otherwise normal people to go to war and kill other humans.

    Israeli Zionists don’t simply hate Palestinians. If the indigenous people in Palestine were non-Arabs, the Israeli Zionists would still want the land, as much of it as they could steal away.

    European settlers did not simply come to the Americas to kill the natives. They killed the natives to conquer the continent and take possession of its resources.

    Africans were not brought over in chains because white supremists wanted to shackle black people, but because they wanted labor for the fields. That there was an immoral aspect to this slavery is no different than the immorality we see today with corporate preditory capitalism.

    So, yes, all of this is part of imperialism and the colonization which allows domination of one people over another. And more specifically, a powerful elite over the larger masses.

    Zionism is just a word which, in its current manifestation smells and looks just like a form of domination we have seen for centuries, primiarly from the Western world. It is a pathological condition.

    My suggestion do a little historical reading. Remain critical of every word, and by all means quit hiding behind Chomsky.

  8. Deadbeat said on September 19th, 2008 at 11:13pm #

    Max as usual distorts the premise and proceed to argue the distortion.

    You are hopeless. Why? Because you think racism comes out of some form of…I don’t know…hate for people of another race. Those in power wield it through domination and conquest of land and natural resources, and labor. Call it Zionism; call it racism. They come from the same source.

    That is right Max you don’t know. I never made such an argument. You are only arguing with yourself. The issue is YOUR denial that Zionism influences the U.S. political economy. Your denial is part of your agenda to obscure this influence and tendency.

    Do so you clearly demonstrate that you are a reactionary and that you do not adhere to principles of honesty and justice.

    To say that Zionism and racism (white supremacy) come from the same source is ignores the very different histories of these two form of racism. The outcomes is oppression but white supremacy has been and is being challenged. Zionism, by the likes of you Max, is being allow to reign supreme in the United States.

    You are NO leftist Max. You sir are a reactionary.

  9. Max Shields said on September 20th, 2008 at 4:38am #

    db “The issue is YOUR denial that Zionism influences the U.S. political economy. Your denial is part of your agenda to obscure this influence and tendency.”

    You brought up racism, etc. but here you go with this banal response. I already said that Zionism/AIPAC influences our Middle East foreign policy (I don’t think it is completely alone in that regard). That should be pretty clear even to you.

    Obviously the presidential candidates have marched off to the tune of AIPAC – Israel first…. I’m quite aware of what happened during the Israel/Lebanese war a couple of Julys ago and the control the lobby had over Congress with its pledges.

    Never denied it anywhere.

    What I am arguing is you blind thinking that Israel and Zionism as related to Israel is the cause of all US Foreign intervention. You’ve made that case many times. You seem to deny American imperialism. In fact, you seem to ignore American history with regard to its imperialistic motivations from its inception.

    Instead, for you, it’s all about Israel and Zionism. The facts indicate otherwise. So, to you I say: Who is the obscurer, the reactionary, the denier? It appears to be Deadbeat.

  10. cg said on September 20th, 2008 at 9:13am #

    “I know it’s hard for [Deadbeat] to believe that there are [American progressives] who believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.”

    I know it’s hard for [ ] to believe that there are [American progressives] who CELEBRATE that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election.