An Underdog’s Dilemma

Almost a thousand Palestinian civilians were dead from Israel’s recent Blitz on Gaza before Barack Obama interrupted his mantra, that there’s only one president at a time, to bemoan what he called a tragedy for both sides. Israel suffered civilian losses, too, after all. Three to be exact. And if Obama, the consummate underdog, didn’t seem especially moved by the latest suffering of the clear underdog in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he was merely following a hallowed tradition, started long ago.

By a fellow Democrat.

On May 14, 1948, President Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state against the advice of prominent cabinet members.

His first secretary of state, Edward Stettinius, who was key in forming the United Nations, advocated carefully dividing the land with “a view to the long-range interests of the United States.” Before mysteriously falling from the 16th floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital, the country’s first defense secretary, James Forrestal, warned that “no group should be permitted to influence our policy to the point it could endanger our national security.” Another state secretary, George Marshall (of Marshall Plan fame), even threatened to vote against the president if he acted prematurely.

But Truman easily won his second-term, six months after recognizing the Jewish state. And to preserve the “special relationship” he initiated, groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have since pressured every president to deprive Palestinians of the very thing he secured for Israel.


Whether this president succumbs to the same pressure remains to be seen, but the picture so far looks as bleak as he did in his first press conference. In a two-part question alluding to earlier remarks by Obama on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, reporter Helen Thomas asked the president if he knew of any country in the Middle East that actually did have nukes (an obvious reference to Israel). Obama refused to “speculate” and grew visibly tense when Thomas tried to press him for an answer. He cut her off, and for the remainder of the conference his usually bright smile noticeably dimmed.

No one likes his biases pointed out to him, least of all a president who ran on a promise to reverse the “failed policies” of the past eight years. No action by a president would signal a more clean break with the past than scrapping a tradition of bias toward Israel that has spanned eleven presidents and more than sixty years. But that isn’t an action this president is likely to take.

Obama has conspicuously surrounded himself with people who are unabashedly pro-Israel, like his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once volunteered for the Israeli Defense Forces, and Vice President Joe Biden, who takes pleasure in calling himself a Zionist. More tellingly, Obama attributes terrorism to just one side of the conflict, even sacrificing his pastor to make the point.

It wasn’t his preaching “God damn America” that got the Rev. Jeremiah Wright labeled an anti-Semite and thrown under the campaign bus. It was his calling the Israeli occupation at the root of the conflict by its rightful name: “state terrorism.” Wright’s sin was highlighting what mainstream American media have long obscured. Namely, that terrorism cuts two ways in the conflict, the Hamas way (hand-held rockets, suicide bombers) and the Israeli way (air strikes, white phosphorus, the possible use of experimental weapons like Dense Inert Metal Explosives, or DIME).

Israel says it is fighting a war on terrorism akin to the United States’ war against al-Qaeda, but the comparison is weak: Al-Qaeda is a foreign enemy; Palestinians are an occupied people. It also says it doesn’t target civilians, unlike Hamas. But the Palestinian death toll speaks volumes to the contrary.

The only thing blocking peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the occupation — not Hamas, Iran, al-Qaeda, anti-Semitism or any other red herring. By pressing Israel to remove the real obstacle Obama would help Israel help itself, and also deny groups like al-Qaeda the argument that sustains them: that U.S. Middle East policy is formulated in Tel Aviv.

“We figured out how to put a man on the moon in ten years,” Obama said in a campaign commercial touting the benefits of “clean coal.” He has a potential eight years to apply the same optimism to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peace in the Middle East would have incalculable benefits, chief among them reducing the threat to America’s security, which would let Obama devote more energy to domestic concerns.

More broadly, it would justify the worldwide outpouring that greeted Obama’s victory against amazing odds, the tears serving as a reminder that everyone loves an underdog, especially Americans.

But tell that to a Palestinian. He won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

13 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. bozh said on February 20th, 2009 at 10:19am #

    obama can be likened onto a crook. give a crook a book and s/he wld throw it back at you.
    but wasn’t he (s)elected by crooks who throw away books?
    vote for obama, as i have said before, was a vote for greater evil.
    and not because of obama only, if at all.
    it’s uncle sam, stypid! thnx

  2. Shabnam said on February 20th, 2009 at 3:18pm #

    Mr. Obeid writes:

    {The only thing blocking peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the occupation — not Hamas, Iran, al-Qaeda, anti-Semitism or any other red herring. By pressing Israel to remove the real obstacle Obama would help Israel help itself, and also deny groups like al-Qaeda the argument that sustains them: that U.S. Middle East policy is formulated in Tel Aviv.}

    I agree with you Mr. Obeid, but who is going to tell those closet zionist liars who are misleading the public to serve the interest of ‘the Jewish State’ to help its preservation. As long as these liars are permitted to follow on the same path and are misleading those who seek to understand the reason behind occupation of palestinian’s land where is taken by the Zionists not Americans to erect ‘the greater Israel’ to expand its domination further in the world and finally establishes the ‘world government’ – as ‘ protocal’ has directed them to do supported by these closet Zionists as human salvation – we can not change facts on the ground. We have to be united first against spread of LIES AND DECEPTIONS BY THESE CLOSET ZIONISTS AND EXPOSE THEM whenever we can.

  3. Rita said on February 20th, 2009 at 11:02pm #

    Shabnam, you are quite bizarre in your obvious protocols of zion rave.

    Being that i am appalled and disgusted by the policies of the Israeli government, it doesn’t help the cause of justice to rant antijewish conspiracy theories. The world takeover hypothesis is clearly an irrational fixation.

    And quite frankly, this article had nothing new or creative to offer. I don’t even know why it was worthy of being published here. Especially since the author seems to think that slick politico obama is an ‘underdog’…Please. He didn’t want third parties in the debates and had more money than any other candidate in history. And most coming from banking and corporate interests.

    Is the writer aware of the fact that obama isn’t giving prisoners their rights in Bagram? Torture on the us airfield. Has the author seen “Taxi to the Dark Side”? Is he that naive that he drank the obama kool aid.


    Underdog? What a feeble attempt to find a theme to write an article about.

  4. Beverly said on February 21st, 2009 at 7:48am #

    Sometimes one gets what one deserves. This is the case with the worldwide kool-aid drinkers hailing the coronation of Obama.

    The average Joe may have been ignorant of the real deal on the man, but foreign leaders, the media, and advocacy groups here and abroad are behind the scenes and dealing with these politicians daily. They knew Obama’s campaign team and cabinet selections were opposite of all the “hope and change” rhetoric he laid on the public. Anyone of the above mentioned entities that expresses anger, concern, or surprise over Obama’s actions/inactions toward the Israel problem or anything else needs to be publicly flogged. They knew the dang deal and kept silent (and silenced the dissent and questions of others) for the past 2 years.

    As for underdog status – pleeeeeez! Obama was vetted years ago by the power players in the Democratic and corporate arenas. Their stamp of approval, “their” media doing its “job” of crafting the desired storyline, and an illiterate and ignorant public ensured Obama’s election was a slam dunk even before the primaries were started. The power players even had a reliable backup in Hillary, another axis of evil.

  5. Barry said on February 21st, 2009 at 7:59am #

    Rita is right about the Protocols of Zion – they are pretty much universally regarded as fraudulent – referencing them does a disservice. Just as the zionists on this site who turn to Joan Peters work are referencing a fraud.

  6. RH2 said on February 21st, 2009 at 8:12am #


    In my assessment DV has never been creative. Many articles and many comments reflect banal ideas on daily policies of US Imperialism and commentators’ googled information, which is difficult to a short time. Some articles are not only banal, but also ridiculous Nevertheless you would usually not find such ideas in mainstream media. That is all about it.

    You would agree with me, that we should not underestimate the evil of Zionism, an important phenomenon of US Imperialism. Would you not? I am also fed up with boring repetitions on DV. I would appreciate a new approach.

  7. Don Hawkins said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:03am #

    RH2 be careful what you wish for. Looking for a new approach are you. Well that new approach has already started and in the coming years tuff is a good word and change is another. It’s the change part that many don’t seem to understand yet. Truck loads of food now going into some city’s to feed people you know people who don’t have any money to pay for food. A few other minor little problems on the horizon as yet to be faced not only by so called leaders but all of us.

  8. Rita said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:45am #

    Thanks, Barry.

    Rh2, yes i agree with you on zionism. I think it is part of u.s. hedgemony as well. And i think their are many more ‘christian’ zionists than jewish, quite frankly.

    I am jewish and anti zionist. Israel says that iran is an ‘existential’ threat- and i say that israel is an existential threat to me. I believe they use the holocaust in shameless ways that make a mockery of that historical event.

  9. Rita said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:47am #

    Also, you may want to check out ‘Counterpunch’ and ‘Commondreams’ has a very active commet community. Although CD did support obama which was quite annoying during the campaign.


  10. Shabnam said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:52am #

    I agree with you when you write: “And quite frankly, this article had nothing new or creative to offer.” The reason people rarely bring something “creative to offer” is due to zionist power over the media and expression of opinion in the public sphere. The reason politicians spread the zionists’ lies, and in case of Obama who go even further, spreading goals’ of the Zionism “undivided Jerusalem as capital of Israel” to be elected president, using the zionist power and its Wall Street financier. No white candidate ever DARED to say such nonsense, but Obama as a black candidate felt was necessary to give MORE to be supported by the lobby.
    No one is going to be intimidated by zionist’s tricks and their closet supporters who are in the business of making taboos to censor and intimidate people who are concerned about not only Palestinians who have been murdered and dispossessed in their own land and properties have been confiscated at gun point but also the population of the world at large. These Zionists who have Rothschild family – who built British empire with the help of Benjamin Disraeli against Gladstone who did not want Britain as an imperial power – and his resources on their side, have advanced their influence and domination in Palestine and over the US foreign policy in the middle east and North Africa, least to say, and expanding their influence further towards world domination while the closet Zionists are reminding us what the Zionists have said about ‘the protocol.’ Who cares about Zionists’ trick who have created so many man- made taboos to censor and to silent people of the world to submission to remove obstacles against their expansionist policy. Are their activities for the last, at least, hundred years not enough for you to realize that their plan is to establish “the greater Israel?” Are their occupation and creating chaos in the neighboring countries and in Africa is not enough to present Israel is seeking world domination?
    Many people use the expression of “protocol” to express this very true fact. The fact that zionists’ plan is not limited to Palestine and is towards world domination. This expression is used by both Jews and non-Jews such as Joseph Massad and Gilad Atzmon and others which basically mean the goal of zionism is world domination and they have plenty of evidence to prove it.
    What we are witnessing today in Iraq, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere is very much related to zionist’s world domination plan where is written in Oded Yinon “A strategy for Israel in the nineteen eighties.”
    Israel Shahak wrote:
    “The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe.”

    “This document is the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East. The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.”
    The Zionists have been able to use the victimization card, ‘chosen people’ and Anti-Semitic card to prevent dissident voices. How many papers did you see in the past few years to expose zionists’ dogma over the holocaust in ‘regular’ media? The Zionists war crimes and terrorist action have shown very well what is behind its taboo making trick.

  11. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2009 at 11:01am #

    Rita and Shabnam,

    Remove Our Grandmother’s Name from the Wall at Yad Vashem

    Call me a sucker, but I was moved by this current piece in Counterpunch (you may have read):

  12. Rita said on February 21st, 2009 at 11:40am #

    Hi Max, yes i did read that piece and i thought it was very important.

    I had relatives who died in camps, myself. I was never taken with the zionist cause, however. It just never resonated with me. So, i haven’t been disillusioned, just more and more disgusted and offended and outraged.

    Thanks for the heads up, though.

  13. Shabnam said on February 21st, 2009 at 2:20pm #

    Thanks for this information. I would not call you a sucker. I feel the same and I am sure many people were moved as well. However, if all victims’ name of holocaust regardless of their religion or ethnic divide were printed on the wall of the museum, we would have seen more people ask to remove the name of their beloved relatives to be removed since Israel is using the name of the victims of Nazi genocide to advance the zionist’s project. We must understand that holocaust is not ‘unique’ and limited to Jewish experience to be used in zionist goal of world domination. Many group of people had and continue to experience their own holocaust because a group of people think they are ‘chosen’ and are carrying God’s will for the sake of civilization. Although we have seen the horrific consequences of this racist attitude, yet this ‘chosenness’ and ‘civilizing mission’ are still alive and continue to get its own victims. As Israel Shamir in ‘Cabbala of Power’ writes:

    “Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is. Palestine is just the place for the world state headquarters.”

    Thus, it is important to raise our collective voices against what is happening in Palestine and elsewhere that zionists are making advances towards the ultimate goal of world domination.

    Echoing Shamir, Petras noted that Israel’s attempt to “purge Palestine of its Arab population” continues without apology because “The Israeli totalitarian leaders knew with confidence that they could act and they could kill with impunity, locally and before the entire world, because of the influence of the US Zionist Power Configuration in and over the US White House and Congress.”

    Why the Israeli totalitarian leaders are able to do that? It is because they made number of man-made dogmas like, ‘uniqueness’ of Jewish holocaust experience to make it as a new religion and through UN to establish it as ‘the world religion’ that should be ‘observed’ by the world on 27 of January. On this pretext they can punish whoever deviates from the ‘official line.’ They have been able to arrest and convict many scholars who have deviated from the official line of the new religion so far. However, it is interesting to know that the same rule does not apply to Zionists and has no similar consequences on their lives.

    Shamir in an interview by Kim Petersen said that Bernard Lewis who denies Armenian holocaust was summoned to the court of Paris, and he was found guilty of denying their genocide, but unlike those who were convicted as holocaust denial of Jewish experience and received many years in jail as punishment, or to pay large amount of money and have been subjected to character assassination, was fined one franc and experience no character assassination and he still appears everywhere, and his name graces various petitions. This mechanism of intimidation prevents expression of ideas and destroys original thinking.
    As Shamir wrote:

    {Indeed, if the Protocols would have no relation to reality, they probably wouldn’t be as popular as they are. The Jews are sufficiently powerful to dream of domination, and some do. Apparently some Jewish ideas found their way into the text. Other thoughts are ascribed to the Jews on the basis of “qui bono”.}