Monday, March 16, 2009

Israeli Thinker Notes Obama's Humiliation by Israeli Right Wing

Uri Avnery may be the most perceptive Israeli world affairs commentator currently practicing his art, so I can't help but be a bit satisfied to see that he reached exactly the same conclusion about the Israeli lobby having humiliated Obama that I did.

As a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman is an expert on the Arab world and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He has strong opinions about American policy in the Middle East, and makes no secret of them.

In a 2005 speech, he criticized Israel's "high-handed and self-defeating policies" originating in the "occupation and settlement of Arab lands", which he described as "inherently violent".

In a 2007 speech he said that the US had "embraced Israel’s enemies as our own" and that Arabs had "responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies." Charging the US with backing Israel’s "efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations" and to "seize ever more Arab land for its colonists", he added that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians”.

Another conclusion is his belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is due largely to "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending".

Naturally, the appointment of such a person was viewed with great alarm by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. They decided on an all-out attack. No subtle behind-the-scenes intervention, no discreet protestations, but a full-scale demonstration of their might right at the beginning of the Obama era.

Public denunciations were composed, senators and congressmen pressed into action, media people mobilized. Freeman’s integrity was called into question, shady connections with Arab and Chinese financial interests “disclosed” by the docile press. Admiral Blair came to his appointee’s defence, but in vain. Freeman had no choice but to withdraw.

The full meaning of this episode should not escape anyone.

It was the first test of strength of the lobby in the new Obama era. And in this test, the lobby came out with flying (blue-and-white) colours. The administration was publicly humiliated.

Now, what does a powerful but humiliated actor do to regain his self-respect and his influence?

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