Monday, May 12, 2008

Leon Uris' Influence on Barack Obama

Jeffrey ("You-Can-Dump-On-Israel-As-Long-As-You-Are-A-Liberal-Zionist-Like-Me") Goldberg has an interview with Obama in Atlantic.Com that will trouble Obama supporters who are under the illusion that the US can still be an honest broker in the Middle East. On the same day when my Shabbas-minyan-mate Joe Lieberman wonders out loud why a Hamas spokesman welcomes an Obama presidency, a wary Goldberg goads Obama into expressing his undying admiration for the Jewish state.

JG: You’ve talked about the role of Jews in the development of your thinking

BO: I always joke that my intellectual formation was through Jewish scholars and writers, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Whether it was theologians or Philip Roth who helped shape my sensibility, or some of the more popular writers like Leon Uris. So when I became more politically conscious, my starting point when I think about the Middle East is this enormous emotional attachment and sympathy for Israel, mindful of its history, mindful of the hardship and pain and suffering that the Jewish people have undergone, but also mindful of the incredible opportunity that is presented when people finally return to a land and are able to try to excavate their best traditions and their best selves. And obviously it’s something that has great resonance with the African-American experience.

In that paragraph, and in the entire interview, you see why Walt and Mearsheimer's thesis of an Israel Lobby is so, well, irrelevant. There is an Israel Lobby in America, and it is called America (minus some leftwing churches and Muslims). So why should anybody be surprised that Obama goes on and on about his understanding for Israel, with just a few words about the Palestinians. (Goldberg, who apparently is spooked by goyim talking about Palestinians, never brings up the subject.) This is all Obama has to say about the Palestinian people.

When I visited Ramallah, among a group of Palestinian students, one of the things that I said to those students was: “Look, I am sympathetic to you and the need for you guys to have a country that can function, but understand this: if you’re waiting for America to distance itself from Israel, you are delusional. Because my commitment, our commitment, to Israel’s security is non-negotiable.” I’ve said this in front of audiences where, if there were any doubts about my position, that’d be a place where you’d hear it.

So there you have it -- according to Obama, the Israelis get a country whose "security is non-negotiable", whereas the Palestinians get, if they are good, "a country that can function."

That could be any liberal Zionist speaking, and it will play big with Obama's target audience, the Jewish liberals like my sister-in-law who are still nervous about him.

There is, of course, the ritual Goldberg defamation of Jimmy Carter in his best Alan Dershowitz manner:
JG: What do you make of Jimmy Carter’s suggestion that Israel resembles an apartheid state?

Funny, Jeff, but I never heard Jimmy Carter suggest that Israel resembles an apartheid state. I did hear him express his fear that the West Bank may resemble de facto a system of apartheid because of separate roads, separate laws, and separate water resources for settlers and natives. I have heard you suggest somewhat similar thing sans the "A"-word. Of course, you are a Jew and Carter isn't.

It is no surprise that Obama stays squarely within the American liberal Zionist consensus on Israel. I have said from the beginning that he will disappoint, and that there is a lot more to this election than Israel.

But maybe not all is bleak if he brings in a diverse Middle East team. Before the last presidential election, I had lunch with a prominent neocon intellectual and military historian, a man who had been a high-profile supporter of both Iraq wars. I asked him who he was voting for, and he said, "John Kerry". When I expressed surprise, he said, "Look, I may have some misgivings about Kerry. But I know the people he is working with, and they are intelligent -- unlike the Bush folks who were responsible for the fiasco in Iraq."

That may be true of Obama, though, frankly, I don't have the hutzpah -- sorry, the audacity -- to have much hope on this one.

1 comment:

LeaNder said...

Would you say one has to consider oneself an antisemite, if in reading Goldberg's interview one feels a very, very strong resentment towards the interviewer's strange combination of inquisition, narcism and utter self-righteousness.

Down on your knees goy and confess!

The bad thing it feels is that even before this self-enamored questioning Obama really was a "friend" of Jews and Israelis. My hope is that he does not consider this "love" as exclusive as Goldberg expects. Along the lines of Israel and the US against the Islamofascists, "Europistan" and the rest of the world.