The Democratic President Barack Obama has been very kind to the most right-wing Israeli government in history. The Obama administration, conjointly with Congress (in a rare act of bipartisan solidarity) has provided above and beyond the package of billions of American tax payer dollars in military aid, standard diplomatic immunity at the UN security council, plus, aside from some posturing during the very beginning of his presidency, has all but left Israel to do as it wishes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This has translated to egregious violations of international law by Israel and further Palestinian dispossession and bloodletting. It is unclear whether Obama’s reluctance to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is due to his administration’s fatigue with Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s disagreeable personality and hopelessly corrupt government or due to U.S. financial and military interests in sustaining the impasse.
Nevertheless and in spite of Obama’s unprecedented generosity, Bibi has disrespected the US President on numerous occasions, most recently in a speech before Congress in a failed bid to derail the Iran nuclear deal. Some interpreted Netanyahu’s flagrant attempt to sabotage Obama’s work as an ugly expression of racism toward the first black President. Coincidentally and in another barefaced act of racism, two weeks after his speech to Congress Netanyahu falsely claimed Arab voters were coming out “in droves”, in a last minute appeal to promote voting for his Likud party. Ironically perhaps, “Likud” means “unity” in Hebrew.
But those familiar with Bibi’s political prowess know that more than simple racism was at the bottom of Netanyahu’s disrespectfulness toward President Obama. In Netanyahu’s mind, nothing is ever enough; he was opportunistically positioning himself as the victim of an unfriendly president in a bid to seek even more American cash. This proved to work well, as the Obama administration has recently offered Netanyahu a record high sum in military aid.
Regardless of the supposed rift between Obama and Bibi, Democratic establishment favorite Hillary Clinton has made no effort to conceal her devotion to the arch hawk Prime Minister. In fact, in a speech to the wealthy and powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) before the crucial New York Democratic primary, Clinton trumpeted official Israeli policy against the nonviolent Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement (or perhaps more importantly, official policy of mega Democratic party donor Haim Saban), calling BDS “alarming” and implying that it promotes anti-Semitism. A mention of the dire state of Palestinians was eerily, though expectedly, absent from Clinton’s speech.
On the other hand, fringe candidate Bernie Sanders skipped AIPAC’s extravagant gala and departed from unwavering bipartisan support for Israel by acknowledging the plight of Palestinians and holding the Israeli government accountable for use of excessive force during “Operation Protective Edge”, which resulted in over 2000 Palestinians dead, approximately 500 of which were children. On April 14th during the Democratic debate Sanders went so far as to use the word “justice” when referring to the conflict:
“There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time… All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.”
Sanders’ stance sent shock waves throughout Clinton’s do-or-die pro-Israel Democratic party establishment, which quickly deployed its tentacles in the media to galvanize on the electoral opportunity it presented.
One such Clintonite outlet is The New York Daily News. In a bid to mask its favoritism for Clinton, the editorial board conducted seemingly unbiased interviews with both Bernie Sanders (interview on April 1st) and Clinton (interview on April 10th) prior to the paper’s endorsement of Clinton on April 12th, and the New York primary on April 19th. During the meeting Sanders was asked about Israel-Palestine and made an error with respect to the number of Palestinian casualties as a result of “Operation Protective Edge”, though he did state it with reservations. Very quickly after Sanders’ interview/ambush, the media went into a well-orchestrated frenzy about how the Vermont Senator botched it.
Meanwhile, on April 6th , well before Clinton’s interview, The Daily News published an editorial which clarified their obvious pro-Israeli government bias, dislike for Sanders and favoritism for Clinton. The editorial stated:
“Sanders would also bring to the White House a destructive conviction that Israel is deeply guilty of oppressing the Palestinians — including through excessive, unjustified violence.”
In the glowing endorsement of Clinton on April 12th, the editorial board summed up their impressions of the two candidates:
“On April 19, New York Democrats will have unusual say over the party’s nominee. They have in Clinton a superprepared warrior realist. They have in opponent Bernie Sanders a fantasist who’s at passionate war with reality. By choosing Clinton, Empire State Dems would powerfully signal that the party has gotten real about achieving long-sought goals.”
One such “long-sought goal” seems to be the denial of any sort of Palestinian claim for freedom from occupation, not to mention justice. In an editorial from this past Sunday, The Daily News once again attacked Sanders’ for acknowledging the plight of Palestinians:
“Exerting his new power among Democrats, Bernie Sanders has won sway over drafting the party platform with plans to make the document’s section related to the Middle East more “even-handed” toward the Palestinians.
What might that mean? Nothing good.”
The editorial goes on to describe the BDS campaign as “at heart anti-Semitic”, falling in line not only with establishment favorite Hillary Clinton, but also with Clinton supporter and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has recently signed a Draconian executive order punishing organizations and companies who support BDS.
In summary, aside from a few gestures, such as occasional displays of disapproval of settlement building in the OPT and John Kerry’s appearance at the futile peace talks in Paris, the Obama administration has been counterproductive with respect to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy. Looking toward the future, recent months paint an ugly picture of a Democratic establishment that is and will be deeply aligned with media and corporate interest groups who could not care less about Palestinian justice and freedom. A Clinton presidency would undoubtedly escalate the disastrous US policies in the Middle East in general, and in Israel-Palestine in particular.