13 thoughts on “Obama’s Mixed Message to AIPAC – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I wasn’t there. I haven’t read a full transcript.

    Reading the reports from multiple sources, NY Times, Haaretz, The Nation, Mondoweiss is an interesting exercise. Everybody has their pet criteria for trust.

    The commitment to universal dignity that Obama has expressed consistently, that INCLUDES Israeli valid concerns and Palestinian valid concerns in its math and criteria, give me great hope.

    I like that he regards the existing friendship (more than friendship) between many Americans and Israelis as primary, and does not yeild an actual relationship to a theoretical or abstracted one. I like that implicit in his message is the distinction of applying the universal principles in existing relationships rather than arbitrarily imposing the principles in a more punitive approach.

    Applying vs imposing. Engagement vs condemnation.

  2. Thank you for your very thoughtful perspective. My husband and I have been Obama supporters for some time now, predominantly because he gave us hope that he would approach the Palestinian-Israeli issue in a new way, rather than continue the “pander to AIPAC” approach we have seen for the last two administrations.
    When I read Senator Obama’s statement on Jerusalem, I was so disappointed, I nearly cried.

    Unlike you, I am not confident that Jerusalem will avoid becoming the sole property of Israel; however, Jersusalem is a significant bargaining tool for the Palestinians, and by making the broad statement that it should be undivided and the capital of Israel renders any peace negotiations moot.

    Erekat’s comments on the speech: “What really disppoints me is that someone like Barack Obama, who runs a campaign on the theme of change – when it comes to Aipac and what’s needed to be said differently about the Palestinian state, he fails.”

    “I say to Obama … please stop being more Israeli than the Israelis themselves, leave the Israelis and Palestinians alone to make decisions required for peace.”

  3. “He was received warmly, though nowhere near as riotously enthusiastically as McCain the day before.”

    I presume you weren’t in attendance, because that’s just not true. If anyone was received more enthusiastically, it was Obama. Granted he did have more applause lines in his speech, but he got more standing ovations, a longer ovation at the end of his speech and his remarks about the black-Jewish relationship and Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner got an ovation dwarfing anything McCain got. He even got some applause (mostly from students) for lines about a two-state solution that were greeted with silence when Rice and Olmert said similar things.

  4. The idea behind an academic boycott of Israel is not to punish Israel’s scientists and academics. The idea is to send a message, the only message available as long as the government fail to address the issue of Israel’s violations of international law.
    I refuse to sit beside an Israeli doctor at a medical conference unless he has spoken up against the inhumane treatment of Palestinian patients and women giving birth to stillborn babies at checkpoints on the West bank
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  5. @Daga1: I feel ambivalent about the boycott though I don’t oppose it. As I wrote I think it takes a sledgehammer approach. For example, how do you or anyone else know whether the Israeli scientist sitting next to you HAS opposed the Occupation or done his or her share to help Palestinians in need of medical services? The boycott tends to lump people together as a class & not allow for distinctions. Some Israelis have acted courageously and some have been “good Germans” & gone along w. the national consensus. We need to reward the good & create consequences for the bad. A boycott tends to treat everyone the same & judge them guilty unless/until they can prove themselves innocent.

  6. Thanks Orgo for that note about the Blue Line on the Israel-Lebanon border. I’d never heard that term before. Maybe Obama meant that. Though the term would be so unknown to his audience that he should have explained what border it referred to.

  7. @ Richard
    You said:

    Some Israelis have acted courageously and some have been “good Germans” & gone along w. the national consensus. We need to reward the good & create consequences for the bad. A boycott tends to treat everyone the same & judge them guilty unless/until they can prove themselves innocent.

    True. Such actions will always have some “collateral damage” and cause problems for academics who are critical to Israel’ policy vis a vis the Palestinians, but they might also make it easier to voice opposition when they feel international support.
    Ilan Pappe is one of the most influential “new historians” here
    is his explanation why he supports academic boycott;

    Boycotts and outside pressure have never been attempted in the case of Israel, a state that wishes to be included in the civilized democratic world. Israel has indeed enjoyed such a status since its creation in 1948 and, therefore, succeeded in fending off the many United Nations’ resolutions that condemned its policies and, moreover, managed to obtain a preferential status in the European Union. Israeli academia’s elevated position in the global scholarly community epitomizes this western support for Israel as the “only democracy” in the Middle East. Shielded by this particular support for academia, and other cultural media, the Israeli army and security services can go on, and will go on, demolishing houses, expelling families, abusing citizens and killing, almost every day, children and women without being accountable regionally and globally for their crimes.

    In addition you have inside Israel ICAHD , refusnicks, Machsom Watch, Whistleblowers and countless others
    . who’s work would be much easier if they had international support.

  8. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Obama’s remark’s re Jerusalem: “This is the worst thing to happen to us since 1967…He has given ammunition to extremists across the region.”
    [Al Jazeera]

    I believe if Obama becomes president he will be worse for Palestine than McCain. Why? Because Obama has to lean over backwards to assure the Zionist part of the electorate that he is sufficiently pro-Israel. McCain has nothing to prove. Everybody knows he is.

    In his AIPAC speech, Obama has already made a sharp right turn re Iran. Look for more of the same in the coming months. I share the fears of the Palestinians.

  9. One curious note:
    wonder if Obama’s Jerusalem remark was deliberately made to coincide with the June 2nd passage in the Israeli Parliament of a bill to consider the city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel all the Jews world wide.

    “The bill was submitted by the right wing Israeli National Religious party to amend the Basic law which considers Jerusalem as capital of Israel. The bill passed in the ruling coalition with a majority of 58 to 12.”


  10. Bernard Avishai claims here that:

    […] he used the term “undivided.” Now, this is code. All these things are code. When you’re trying to say that you expect sovereignty to be Israeli in the whole of Jerusalem, you usually say, “Jerusalem, Israel’s capital united.” When you say “undivided,” what you really mean is that you have a commitment that a wall will not separate the various parts of the city, but you’re not prejudicing in advance the question of where sovereignty will be. […]

    Do you think he makes a valid argument with “undivided” vs. “united”?

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