In this time of economic austerity, when jobs are being slashed and Americans are fearful about their future, the Congressional recess is the time for our elected representatives to be home in their districts, reaching out to their constituents and servicing the people they are paid to represent. Instead, this August one out of every five representatives will be taking a junket to Israel, compliments of an affiliate of the Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) but still clocked in on the taxpayer’s dime[...]
Barack Obama gave a major speech on the Middle East today and it is clear from the subsequent commentary that he impressed few people. The main reason is that he did not say much new or indicate that there would be any serious changes in US policy in the region. It was essentially more of the same with the some tweaking here and there. Nevertheless, he did manage to anger some people. For example, Israel’s hard-line supporters were outraged that he said, “Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” For them, the 1967 borders are “Auschwitz borders” and thus can never serve as a basis for negotiations[...]
Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the “moral force of non-violence” in places like Egypt and Tunisia. But there he was, the commander-in-chief of the largest empire in history, praising the power of peaceful protest in countries with repressive leaders backed by his own administration[...]
My concern for the Israeli-Arab conflict is a personal one. I was raised in a Jewish neighborhood -- three synagogues within three blocks of our home in Springfield, Mass. -- which sensitized me to Jewish culture and history. As a young student of world affairs, I closely followed the history of the Holocaust and Israel's birth in Palestine.
On the other hand, I also had a close boyhood friend whose family had roots in Syria and Lebanon; they exposed me to the local Lebanese community. The Middle East conflict was part of my global political awakening[...]
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is holding its annual conference May 22-24, where Congress people and many of our national leaders will rush headlong into the committee’s open arms and bountiful coffers. In an increasingly bizarre time warp they will congratulate each other and kvell about Israel’s special relationship with the US, our strategic partnership, and Israel’s commitment to democratic ideals in a “sea of dictatorships” (to quote the website).
What they will not talk about is reality[...]
In May 2009, Congressmen Eric Cantor (R., Va.) and Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) wrote to President Barack Obama about U.S. policy toward Israel. Their staff sent the letter as a PDF but forgot to change the name of the file to something other than "AIPAC Letter Hoyer Cantor May 2009.pdf."[...]