During Israel’s bombardment, invasion, and massacre of Gaza, Barack Obama has remained infamously silent, sticking to his stock phrase, “There is only one president at a time.” And to those who hold out hope that, once in office, the Obama administration will stop the suffering in Gaza or change U.S. policy on Israel, consider the following:
President –Elect Barack Obama:
*Gave his first major speech after accepting the Democratic nomination to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security,” Obama promised during the June 4 address. “That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat — from Gaza to Tehran.”
*Brags on his Web site that he co-sponsored a resolution endorsing Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon. Indeed he did. Among other things, Senate Resolution 534, introduced by Sen. Bill Frist (R) “urges the President to continue fully supporting Israel as Israel exercises its right of self-defense in Lebanon and Gaza.” The result of this so-called “self-defense” was roughly 1000 dead Lebanese civilians, an estimated 1/3 of whom—according to Human Rights Watch— were women and children.
Vice-President Elect Joe Biden
*Told Shalom TV, in April 2007: “People should understand by now, they should be crystal clear, that Israel is the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East. I always say to my friends… imagine our circumstance in the world were there no Israel. How many battleships would there be? How many troops would be stationed?”
*Told a Jerusalem Post reporter on the 2008 campaign trail: “I take a backseat to no one - including AIPAC - when it comes to supporting Israel."
Secretary of State designate Hilary Clinton
*Told ABC’s Good Morning America in May 2008, in reference to Iran: “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”
*Attended—in the midst of Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon—a pro-Israel rally at the United Nations. She told the crowd there: “We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing up for American values as well as Israeli ones.” Clinton also joined Obama in co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 534, endorsing Israel’s attack on Lebanon.
Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
*Left his job in Bill Clinton’s campaign finance committee in 1991 in order to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the Gulf War.
*Is the son of Benjamin Emanuel, who in the 1940s was active in the Irgun—a Zionist group that carried out bombings against Palestinians and British nationals. Even the New York Times referred to the Irgun as a terrorist organization. A December 29, 1947 article in the Times by Sam Pope Brewer begins: “A bomb thrown by the Jewish terrorist organization Irgun Zvai Leumi from a speeding taxi today killed eleven Arabs and two British policemen and wounded at least thirty-two Arabs by the Jerusalem Damascus Gate, the same place where a similar bombing took place sixteen days ago.”
After his son was named Obama’s chief of staff, Benjamin Emanuel told the Israeli newspaper Ma’Ariv: “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House.”
When Time Magazine’s blog Swampland asked an Emanuel aide to comment on Benjamin Emanuel’s overtly racist remarks, the aide said only, “When it comes to Israel's security and America's partnership with Israel, President-elect Obama doesn't need Rahm Emanuel. President-elect Obama's commitment to Israel is steadfast and unwavering.” Only later did Emanuel’s staff apologize for Benjamin Emanuel’s comments.
Barack Obama’s silence on the massacre of Gaza is not an accident. Rather, that silence reflects the incoming administration’s consistent, fervent, and undivided support for Israel and its policies, and its deeply-held belief that such support is vital to U.S. interests in the Middle East.
It’s time to wake up! Barack Obama and his administration will not stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza, or the U.S. wars for empire of which that massacre is a part. It is up to us to break out of politics as usual, and take responsibility on our own shoulders to bring the crimes of U.S. empire to a halt!