Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why Does Obama Kowtow to AIPAC?

As soon as Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Party's nomination as its presidential candidate, he went to the leading Jewish Lobby's organization--AIPAC--to kowtow to it. As Uri Avnery described it in his "No, I Can't:"

"And what was the first thing he did after his astounding victory? He ran to the conference of the Israel lobby, AIPAC, and made a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning."

The question is, why? Avnery's explanation in "No, I Can't" is wrong, but let's examine it and see why. Avnery's analysis goes like this:

1. Fawning over Israel, as U.S. foreign policy does, is contrary to U.S. national interest. Avnery writes:

"He [Obama] is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco."

2. And yet, the entire American political elite kowtows to AIPAC. As Avnery describes it:

"All the three presidential hopefuls made speeches, trying to outdo each other in flattery. 300 Senators and Members of Congress crowded the hallways. Everybody who wants to be elected or reelected to any office, indeed everybody who has any political ambitions at all, came to see and be seen."

3. Since the American political elite, when it comes to Israel, acts contrary to the American national interests they serve otherwise, there must be some deep psychological basis for their irrational behavior. Avnery says the explanation lies in the commonality of the guilt that Americans and Israelis share for having trampled on indigenous people to colonize and take over their land. He writes:

"The more I think about this wondrous phenomenon, the stronger becomes my conviction (about which I have already written in the past) that what really matters is the similarity between the American enterprise and the Zionist one, both in the spiritual and the practical sphere. Israel is a small America, the USA is a huge Israel...

It seems that in the unconscious mind of both nations there is a ferment of suppressed guilt feelings that express themselves in the denial of their past misdeeds, in aggressiveness and the worship of power. "

What's wrong with this explanation? It is wrong because it is based entirely on the false presupposition that fawning over Israel is contrary to the rational (though immoral) interests of the American corporate and government elite. Avnery proclaims that the rational goal of this elite would be to achieve "an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco." But this is just not true. On the contrary, the American elite fears peace, and for good reason. What happens when there is peace? When ordinary people are not at war with each other along national or ethnic lines, that is precisely when they are more likely to direct their attention to the people who actually oppress them--their own elite rulers. This is the last thing that the American elite wants to see happen, especially in the Middle East where they have a vital interest in making sure that the oil never falls into the hands of the masses but rather remains in the hands of trusted members of the multi-national corporate elite's "good old boys" club, namely the oppressive kings and dictators of the region whose power over their own people is strengthened by the "Arab versus Jewish" war that Israel's ethnic cleansing so perfectly foments.

Once one understands that Israel's ethnic cleansing, by fomenting conflict along ethnic-religious lines in the Middle East, performs an immensely valuable service for the American elite--by making sure that genuinely popular democratic movements in that region never get off the ground--one can make sense of what otherwise seems paradoxical.

AIPAC does not have some mysterious hold over American politicians, due to some presumed psychological guilt of the American public. American politicians, because they are beholden to the American plutocracy who fund their campaigns and give them favorable media coverage, aim to please that plutocracy by demonstrating that they will support and defend Israel's ethnic cleansing.

AIPAC, far from being the "tail-wags-dog" master over America's wealthy rulers, is better understood as an instrument of the American plutocracy, an instrument that the plutocracy uses for two key tasks: to try to prevent the American public from understanding that Israel is based on ethnic cleansing, and to discipline any politician who veers off track by saying anything truthful about Israel.