Around the Mecca Accord, Obama’s love for Israel

Deep analysis on the political dance around the Mecca accord. A fascinating narrative by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry on how the Saudi diplomacy distanced itself from the US to try to end the infighting between Hamas and Fatah. Infighting partly supported by the US diplomacy (Elliot Abrams from the NSC and the neocons) against Condi Rice. So, it seems to me that the infighting inside the White House are doing a spill over on the Middle East.

Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry, How the Saudis stole a march on the US,

Another good read is this analysis on Barack Obama’s position toward Israel from Ali Abunimah.

On Friday Obama gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Chicago. It had been much anticipated in American Jewish political circles which buzzed about his intensive efforts to woo wealthy pro-Israel campaign donors who up to now have generally leaned towards his main rival Senator Hillary Clinton.

Reviewing the speech, Ha’aretz Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner concluded that Obama « sounded as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani. At least rhetorically, Obama passed any test anyone might have wanted him to pass. So, he is pro-Israel. Period. »

Although, Abunimah think that Obama is more favorable to Palestinians than what he profess now, the interesting part of this article is, in my opinion, the conclusion.

Obama has also been close to some prominent Arab Americans, and has received their best advice. His decisive trajectory reinforces a lesson that politically weak constituencies have learned many times: access to people with power alone does not translate into influence over policy. Money and votes, but especially money, channelled through sophisticated and coordinated networks that can « bundle » small donations into million dollar chunks are what buy influence on policy. Currently, advocates of Palestinian rights are very far from having such networks at their disposal. Unless they go out and do the hard work to build them, or to support meaningful campaign finance reform, whispering in the ears of politicians will have little impact. (For what it’s worth, I did my part. I recently met with Obama’s legislative aide, and wrote to Obama urging a more balanced policy towards Palestine.)

If disappointing, given his historically close relations to Palestinian-Americans, Obama’s about-face is not surprising. He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power. Palestinian-Americans are in the same position as civil libertarians who watched with dismay as Obama voted to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, or immigrant rights advocates who were horrified as he voted in favor of a Republican bill to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico.

Only if enough people know what Obama and his competitors stand for, and organize to compel them to pay attention to their concerns can there be any hope of altering the disastrous course of US policy in the Middle East. It is at best a very long-term project that cannot substitute for support for the growing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions needed to hold Israel accountable for its escalating violence and solidifying apartheid.

Ali Abunimah, How Barack Obama learned to love Israel, [via SyriaComment]

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