Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama, AIPAC, and Conspiracy Theories

Shalom to All,

Much of what I send out to my Israel list is purely informative and often includes statements made by anti-Israel sources, anti-Jewish sources, and other sources that are prominent players in the Middle East. We need to know what our enemies are thinking. That is why, for example, when the news about Postville came out, I didn't just look at the DMReg, the Times, and CNN. I looked at Vanguard News Network to see what the American Nazi Party was saying.

In this particular case, it is really interesting to see how those who oppose Israel have reacted to Barack Obama's extremely pro-Israel speech at AIPAC. Many among Israel's antagonists saw Obama as a candidate for changing America's pro-Israel stance. Especially in the Arab world, this was true. At AIPAC, Barack Obama made a speech that upset Israel's antagonists in a big way. He declared himself, not only a friend of Israel, but a strong friend of a strong Israel. In fact, Obama's speech at AIPAC was more pro-Israel's bargaining position in negotiations with the Palestinians than was Ehud Olmert's.

People like Avnery and Tikkun, along with others on the political far left who regularly bash Israel were shocked by what was said by the man who they thought was "their candidate" at AIPAC as opposed to Hillary Clinton, who they already knew to be a strong supporter of Israel. Those on the far left believed that as a black man and a "Muslim," and they regularly cite his Muslim upbringing (having a Muslim father and going to a Muslim school in a Muslim country)and not his espoused Christian beliefs, Barack Obama would understand the plight of Muslims and non-whites around the world and that he would certainly take on the "Zionists" that are "oppressing" the non-white Arabs, be they Muslim or Christian. The political right among Israel supporters also assumed this to be true and therefore had been strongly opposed to Obama. A lot of that changed with Obama's speech at AIPAC.

In Israel, Sever Plocker, a regular columnist (not remotely politically correct) for Ynetnews wrote that the fact that he, seen as the champion of those who regularly bash Israel, simply stood up and prominently supported Israel in numerous ways was one of the greatest gifts that Israel could have received. It was clear that a President Obama would be a friend of Israel and not a friend of those who would destroy it.

Condemnations came swiftly from President Abbas concerning Obama's Jerusalem statements and from many on the political left concerning what had to be "American Zionist influences." Even aside from the "undivided Jerusalem" statement, there was concern about that. How else could Barack Obama be a friend of Israel, much less such a strong friend. Some have said, particularly among Republican supporters, that he was saying what the group wanted to hear and not what he actually believes. Perhaps, it is simply because he is a brilliant man and knows right from wrong that he is a supporter of Israel? I tend to think that is why most of us support Israel. Regardless, this declaration opened up a field day for Israel and Jew haters around the world. There had to be a conspiracy at work. Obama, a black man with a Muslim father, could not possibly be an ally of Israel, symbol for them of white power and oppression.

Gaddafi's opinion is one of many similar statements that I have seen. His is the only one that I have ever seen that blames JFK's assassination on the Mossad. Yet, it is amazing just how broad the level of conspiratorial thought goes and just how scary the anti-Israel sentiments are, particularly among Palestinian activists. All you have to do is google "Obama Zionist" and you will find tens of thousands of citations, no small number discussing the nature of the conspiracy at work that led to Barack Obama's support for Israel. We will likely see much more of this coming from the Arab world as we near the election. The Arab world and Walt and Mearsheimer, who no doubt will add this episode to their list of evidence of influence by the "Israel Lobby," will without fail argue that it is because of a vast Zionist conspiracy.

Gaddafi is a nut case who thankfully no longer has a nuclear weapons program, but unfortunately the general sentiments of his statements seem to be more widespread in the Arab world and Gaddafi is still the leader of a nation, so his opinion actually has some influence. Having seen numerous "scholars" in the Arab world go about blaming Israel from everything from 9/11 to AIDS, it is not surprising to see Arab leaders blame Israel for just about anything. There are even leaders in the Arab world who will tell you that PEPSI stands for "Pay Each Penny Save Israel." The fact that statement makes no sense is besides the point.

Israel's detractors simply cannot understand how Barack Obama, who they thought was their champion, supports Israel unless he is facing threat. That is the mindset at work.

I do not know what conspiracy theories will arise concerning John McCain or the various candidates for VP positions. Should Joe Lieberman find his way onto the Republican ticket, I'm sure that there will be no end of conspiracy theories.

In the meantime, having heard from all of the candidates at AIPAC, I feel secure in the knowledge that the next President of the United States will be a friend of Israel, whoever he may be.