Israel has never really liked Barack Obama. That alone made Obama’s election a victory the Arab world could savor. But Obama’s election in 2008 didn’t bring peace. Instead, it resulted in a presidency that was sometimes feeble, contradictory and incapable of delivery on its promises.
Still, Obama’s actions were troubling for Israel’s right-wing government, which is used to American president’s battling over who is more “pro-Israeli” and bowing to the headlock power that Israel’s lobby, AIPAC, has over American foreign policy in the Middle East and the region.
So last November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who may not realize that he is the modern day version of South Africa’s last apartheid-era president F.W. de Klerk, decided to test the limits of Israel’s influence over America by openly campaigning for Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger whose pro-Israel evangelism trumped his Mormon faith.
Netanyahu played a clever but transparent political game, taunting Obama and hoping that Obama’s record on Israel might help swing American voters by exploiting the lack of knowledge of the country’s right-wing conservative lemmings.
It didn’t work. Obama not only defeated Romney, despite record donations from Sheldon Adelson, the publisher of Israel’s largest circulation newspaper Israel Hayom and owner of one of the seediest casinos in Las Vegas, but he also won in a near landslide that shocked the GOP and exposed the Tea Party threat as more bark than bite.
Nothing to lose
As a lame duck president — meaning this is his last term and he has nothing really to lose — Obama has smartened up. Instead of delivering the bad news to Israel himself, he is going to do it through surrogates in his new cabinet.
Obama nominated Chuck Hagel the former Nebraska Republican senator who was often attacked for his comments questioning Israel’s influence over the best interests of the American people. Although he was a Republican during his high-profile career in politics, he was a centrist Republican. He was the first Republican to win a US Senate seat in the state in 24 years, succeeding a popular Democrat who retired.
Mistake Number 1 for Israel is failing to realize that Hagel is not a Republican fanatic. He is a Reagan-era Republican. And Reagan was as popular with Republicans as a president as he also was with many Democratic voters.
Mistake Number 2 for Israel is forgetting that Hagel, unlike many of the loudmouthed bullies who defend everything Israeli, really served in a frontline military position not as a clout-heavy member of the privileged military reserves but winning two Purple Hearts for wounds he suffered during the Vietnam War.
Very few of the Republicans who scream about strengthening our military and about fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran served in real frontline military positions. Most are like US Senator Mark Kirk who exaggerated his cushy, clout-heavy position in the reserves to make it seem as if he singlehandedly battled Iraqi pilots to win the Iraq war.
The only real Republican exception is Senator John McCain who ran and lost to Obama in 2008. A Vietnam veteran, McCain fought on the frontline of the war and was taken captive by the Viet Cong, serving as a POW under harsh conditions for nearly eight years.
Ironically McCain’s father was not so courageous, and faced with a choice to stand up to Israel or cower under Israel’s powerful thumb, chose the latter and silenced a real probe into the Israeli murder of 33 American sailors on the USS Liberty communications ship during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Israel feared that the “spy ship” might expose its public lie that it was hoping to negotiate peace when all along Israel was hoping to use the fake conflict to justify its biggest land grab since 1948, taking control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights.
But unlike McCain’s father, Hagel has no shameful collar hanging around his neck. His only problem is that while Democrats don’t like him because of his questioning of Israel’s undue influence over American interests, Israelis dislike him even more.
There are only two kinds of Americans to the Israelis. Either you are a brainwashed ignorant American who accepts everything and anything that Israel tells you, or you are an “anti-Semite” for standing up for American interests.
Mistake Number 3 for Israel is assuming that today’s reality is the reality of the past when Israel could literally write American foreign policy on the Middle East to reflect its selfish and often anti-American interests. In 2000, as Americans prepared to elect a new president, Israel provoked a war with the Palestinians by declaring that Jerusalem would be ethnically cleansed of non-Jews like Muslims and Christians.
Today is not the same. Americans are getting smarter and they are becoming more and more educated about Israel’s propaganda and lies. After years of being trained like Pavlov’s dogs, Americans are slowly but steadily understanding that Israel is an apartheid-like country that discriminates against people based not only on race but religion, too.
And the people suffering equally as much as Muslims, whom American Christians despise, are in fact Christian Arabs. Bethlehem and the Christians of Israel continue to suffer under Zionist persecution and while it is not easy to promote in America’s pro-Israel controlled news media, the word is getting out. Sometimes by accident. Sometimes by conscience like when Bob Simon, the Jewish reporter for CBS TV’s 60 Minutes, dared to raise questions about the challenges Christians face under Israeli oppression.
Hagel represents the heart of the baby boomer generation. He is a war hero of true American colors. His dedication is to the best interests of the United States. Over the years, when he was just a US senator, Hagel could be attacked, vilified and even marginalized by the Israeli lobby. But as the Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, Israel’s liars have a lot to fear in Hagel.
He just may be the first American official to ask publicly, why no international agency has been allowed to inspect Israel’s nuclear arsenal, or wonder aloud why Americans, who are experiencing their hardest economic times, continue to subsidize Israel’s lifestyle of conflict.
*This article was published on the Saudi Gazette on Jan. 13, 2013. Link: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20130113149120
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist. His columns appear in a number of publications, such as the Jerusalem Post, Southwest News-Herald Newspaper and the Lawndale News Newspaper. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" in Nov. 2006 by the New America Media and winner of the 2009 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com. Twitter: @rayhanania