Thursday, April 03, 2008

Barack Obama and Israel, Part 2

In Part 1 I acknowledged that Barack Obama's record supporting Israel during his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate has been excellent. Despite that I am extremely worried about what an Obama administration would mean for Israel because he has surrounded himself with a foreign policy team that is openly hostile towards Israel.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. The ex-President has famously written a book equating Israeli policy to South African apartheid. As I frequently point out accusing Israel of apartheid is reserved for people who are either totally ignorant both about Israel and what apartheid in South Africa meant or else simply want to spread propaganda with no regard for facts. President Carter certainly isn't ignorant and neither is Brzezinski. In addition to serving as a senior foreign policy to Senator Obama, Brzezinski has made a career of writing scathing attacks on Israel and making the rounds of the talk show circuit eloquently explaining to Americans why Israel is at the root of all evil in the Middle East and probably beyond. I cringe every time I see him on TV.

Brzezinski is the only senior American official, past or present, who has openly supported John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's claim that the "Israel lobby" has shaped American foreign policy to the detriment of the United States. Alan Dershowitz cited Brzezinski's views as damaging to the Obama campaign:
It is a tremendous mistake for Barack Obama to select as a foreign policy adviser the one person in public life who has chosen to support a bigoted book.

More recently, in response to the Annapolis peace conference Brzezinski signed a letter calling on the Bush administration to open a dialogue with Hamas terrorists, the same people who daily fire rockets and mortars into southern Israel, in part to scuttle any chance for peace. Brzezinski also blamed American and Israeli foreign policy rather than Hizbullah for the 2006 Lebanon War.

Brzezinski's quickness to attack any Israeli government as an obstacle to peace was demonstrated in 1996 appearance on PBS's The Newshour With Jim Lehrer when he had signed a letter urging pressure on the then new government of Binyamin Netanyahu. Brzezinski gave this assessment of the Israeli Prime Minister:
In my view, there is the real danger that Netanyahu is pursuing a policy not of peace with security, which is what he was elected to pursue, but of peace with territory, which is what the Likud has stood for, for a long time--peace with territory, which really means security with territory, and peace being sloughed off.

Prime Minister Netanyahu went on to negotiate, sign, and implement the Wye River Agreement and pulled out of most of Hebron in an attempt to push the Oslo peace process forward. We may have already seen some of Brzezinski's antagonism toward Netanyahu expressed by Senator Obama in his statement that supporting Israel doesn't mean supporting Likud.

How damaging is Brzezinski to Obama with supporters of Israel? Just ask Mark Siegel, who served as Jewish liason for President Carter until 1978:
Brzezinski was a major obstacle to bridging the divisions between the president and the Jewish community. I’m very, very surprised that someone would have him directly involved in a presidential campaign.

Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to fail to capture a majority of the Jewish vote. With foreign policy advisers like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley I think it is very likely that Obama will follow in Carter's footsteps. The loss of supporters of Israel, Jewish, Christian, and other, could easily cost Obama a close election is he is the Democratic nominee.

In Part 3 of this four part series I'll introduce one more adviser that's even more worrisome than Brzezinski.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stop Canadian Apartheid Now!

I think I'm going to start a campaign against Canadian apartheid. After all, in Canada's reserves (native villages) you have to be a native to live there. Isn't that a form of apartheid? The Inuit people, part of Canada's First Nations, live in territories rather than provinces. Why the unequal status? Why are these natives treated differently? Isn't this apartheid?

Accusing Canada of apartheid is patently ridiculous, of course. It's every bit as ridiculous as accusing Israel of apartheid. Either example shows a profound ignorance of the country in question (Canada or Israel) and is an insult to those in South Africa who truly suffered under the apartheid regime.

Despite this every year the University of Toronto hosts Israel Apartheid Week, filled with all sorts of propaganda that goes beyond anti-Israel into outright anti-Semitism. From the description in the Jerusalem Post article:
In 2006, Toronto's IAW featured, among others, Ward Churchill, who has argued that the murder of European Jews was not at all a "fixed policy objective of the Nazis"; As'ad Abu Khalil, who has said that "Israel will have to submit to the will of the Palestinians"; and Ilan Pappe, an Israeli professor who supports Hamas and has called for the dissolution of Israel.

There is some good news in the article: 125 faculty members ran a full page ad in the National Post calling on the University to stop hosting the annual event. They noted:
"...the university would not tolerate homophobia, racism and Islamophobia on campus, and questioned why the school continued to host IAW."

Kudos to these conscientious faculty members and all the other Canadians who have spoken out against this. Perhaps, if the effort to end Israel Apartheid Week fails we can organize Canadian Apartheid Week to point out how ludicrous this is. I can see the banners: "Stop Canadian Apartheid Now!" Hopefully the University of Toronto will come to its senses and no such campaign will be needed.

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