Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 7 Issue 11 | March 14, 2008 |

  Cover Story
  Writing the Wrong
  Straight Talk
  View from the   Bottom
  A Roman Column
  Human Rights
  Dhaka Diary
  Book Review

   SWM Home

Writing the Wrong

Acts of Desperation

Sharbari Ahmed

It was bound to happen. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been effortlessly (it seems) gliding to the front of the race. He, a half black man with the middle name of Hussain has been defying the odds and the cynic in me knew it was only a matter of time before he was asked The Question. What is his position on our number one “ally” in the Middle East, the righteous buffer between us and the savage, pungent Arab scourge, the democracy (theocracy?) of Israel?

Arik, a 19 year-old Israeli was killed by Hamas militants, his father organised an Institute that promotes peace and dialogue between Arabs and Israelis.

On his site Obama for America his position is clear and succinct:

On Israel
-Ensure a Strong U.S.-Israel Partnership: Barack Obama strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship, believes that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle East. Obama supports this closeness, stating that the United States would never distance itself from Israel.

- Support Israel's Right to Self Defense: During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He believes strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.

-Support Foreign Assistance to Israel: Barack Obama has consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. He defends and supports the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and has advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. He has called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems.

When I read the above, I was fit to be tied. And then utterly heartbroken. Especially when it came to his position on Israel's attack on the citizens of Lebanon. It was an overt act of war that killed women and children and the world-as usual-allowed it to happen. Israel, the small, shivering victim was defending itself. What do I have to say about that? Feh! (Yiddish spitting noise). Bollocks! Ten times over.

But this is the point: Mr. Obama must say he supports Israel, and this is the kicker: he must MEAN it. It is the only way he can get elected. I will make a prediction. In the next few months his commitment to Israel will be brought into question repeatedly. On FOX some bobble head is going to bring up the sentaor's name. The script will go as follows:

Bobble head: Come on Shephard (Smith) or Bill (O'reilly) with a name like Barack HUSSAIN OSAMAsorry, OBAMA, you've got to question his loyalties. (much guffawing and smug snickering ensues)

Bill or Shepherd: Come on, Anne (Coulter) that's not fair. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Hillary has already started attacking him on that front. She is getting desperate and is going to fire with both barrels at this point. To me she is coming off as usual as a hysterical harridan who wants to dine off The White House china again so badly she is practically salivating. She knows the nomination is not in the bag and so now is more dangerous for Obama than ever. He needs to tread very, very carefully. He needs to reiterate again and again that he fully supports Israel's right to defend itself and that he will always take its interests to heart.


Hell, I support Israel. I support the citizens of Israel who have consistently and courageously spoken out against the occupation of the Palestinian territories. I support truly transcendent beings like a man named Yizhak Frankenthal whose son, Arik, aged 19, was kidnapped and killed by Hamas militants. Instead of seeking revenge, Arik's father established communication with Palestinians who had lost loved ones in the conflict. He organised the Arik Institute that promotes peace and dialogue between Arabs and Israelis. Frankenthal took a step back and asked the question, what would drive human beings to commit such a cruel act? He only had to visit the refugee camp Jenin once to feel the full impact of the degradation the Arabs were facing. These are the people I support and Obama should support and the American media won't highlight because it undermines a real politik agenda. I support the artists who work in cooperation with Arab artists. I support the many young men and women who fall in love and marry, with neither party converting. I support the professors, the writers, the activists, the mothers, the ordinary citizens who have not lost sight of their humanity. Conversely, I would like to take the Arab mothers who encourage their children to martyr themselves and shake sense into them. This position is so counter-intuitive for me, a mother myself, that I am baffled by it. But then again I do not live in Jenin.

Obama should support that Israel that I have described above. I have seen evidence of that Israel. Their voices are strong and pure and drowned out by the other voices--some of them Muslim--that insist on creating hell on earth. They need a champion.

But of course he has much more to worry about than just Israel. This is a crucial time for him as he just lost Texas and Ohio, causing a smile to appear once again on Hillary's face. Michigan and Florida are pulled into play and the Democratic Party is scrambling to keep unified. Hillary has even mentioned that it might come to a Clinton/Obama ticket. Even she acknowledges that will be an impossible ticket to beat. Now if only she was amenable to having the names on the ticket reversed. Will her ego allow for a Obama/Clinton team? I sincerely hope so as America seems more confused than ever. The empire is no longer on sure footing and that does not bode well for any of us.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008