Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Obama's biggest fans

He declared his support for Israel. He shunned Farrakhan. He distanced himself from Rev. Wright. And still they follow and support him, with passion.

This is a question I keep asking myself: What do they think they know, that other people don't?

Watch here.

See my comment to Bob's post here.

(Update) Here is The New Centrist's contribution to the discussion over there at Bob's place. I'm reproducing it because he touches upon the Obama/Carter analogy which I address futher down in this post:

Alan Johnson too?

Things look much different on this side of the pond. A sizable chunk of the indecent left (Many of the broadcasters on radical lefty Pacifica Radio for example) supports Obama. Obama does not share the robust internationalism of the Euston Manifesto, especially not of the American Statement. He has much more in common with president Jimmy Carter than senator Scoop Jackson. Carter is an excellent example of a "change" candidate who did far more harm than good, especially on the international scene. I realize that Americans were justifiably upset with Nixon and the Republicans but replacing Ford with Carter was a disaster. I think the same will be true of Obama.

Having said that, here is a description straight from Obama's own podcast of what must have been rather preliminary thoughts about Israel and the Palestinians:

One of the points that I think all Israelis want to emphasize is how small and potentially vulnerable from the ground Israel is. And it's true that at certain points it's only about 20-30 minutes wide. When you are flying over it is almost impossible to distinguish between - at least for a layman - between Palestinian villages and Israeli villages. And we had the opportunity to fly up over the Sea of Galilee, towards the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders and visit with a gentleman whose house had been hit by a Katyusha missile just recently, launched by Hezbollah (Hezbollah, the militant Islamic organization that is active in Syria and Lebanon and occasionally engages in skirmishes across the border and obviously makes the population there feel extraordinarily vulnerable.) But, having said that, one of the things you do get a strong sense of is that Israel at this point possesses such superior military forces, that they don't really have enormous vulnerability in a conventional sense. There is no risk of invasion by its neighbors and Israel's economy and infrastructure seem extraordinarily robust and vibrant.

...As you travel through the West Bank, you get a sense of the differences between life for Palestinians and Israelis in this region. Palestinians have to suffer through the checkpoint system, the barriers, the fenced-in wall that exists just to get to their jobs, often times to travel from north and south even within the west bank. It's created enormous hardship for them - there is high unemployment and the economy is not doing as well as it should.

Unfortunately the Palestinians, through Yasser Arafat, suffered from leadership that seemed to be more interested in the rhetoric of Israel's destruction and less interested in actually constructively creating a peaceful solution to the problem and focusing on delivery of services to the Palestinian people...

Notice the perfect balancing between the two adversaries: Israel seems vulnerable but is not really. Palestinians are suffering hardships but it's mostly due to their own failed leadership.

Obama seems to have got the gist of the complexity that is the I/P conflict. What I like about this description is the lack of sentimental schlock. There is a coolness and detachment which suggest distance from either the Jews, or the Arabs. This is a potentially promising sign. Israel's case has been soiled by the antisemitic slurring of Carter, Tutu and other such sage elders. Antisemitism, when coming from the saintly mouths of the genuinely religious but otherwise morally-vapid campaigners, colours everything that has to do with the Jewish state in emotions and sanctimonious auctioneering of pity. Israel's fully legitimate case cannot be made and evaluated on its own merits when fogged by this cloying heaviness of exclusive pity. If Obama can maintain his clear vision of what's at stake, then he might, just might, be able to take the first steps towards a solution. But then, who knows? Seeing the conflict for what it is, and knowing what the solution has to be are not that hard to do. getting from here to there has confounded the best minds so far, like Kissinger, Clinton, and even Dennis Ross.

I found this part of the podcast particularly interesting, in view of what has recently been revealed about Obama's pastor's views of "AmeriKKKa":

There are a lot of memories, there's a lot of history, there are a lot of grudges and bitterness and in some ways it reminds us of how lucky we are as Americans that ironically we don't have this kind of history. It's easier for us to forget and move on. It's much harder for people here who are seeing everyday the roots of their own people and the conflicts that go back generation after generation.

When a man is far away from his own country, his church and his fire breathing pastor, and has just met with some existential problems of real life and death situations, does he see more clearly the blessings of America?


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