Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama and Zionism

In his much lauded "speech on race" Obama set out to tell all that racism is not "endemic" to the US, and by implication, whiteness.

His commentary on race and racism in the US made me wonder if he really understands what racism is. And here I mean the structural context that sets racism apart from racial discrimination.

I am convinced that he does not. In fact, he cannot see that Zionism, which he supports, is a system of racism that privileges, and often brutally so, the rights of Jews over Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.

Of course, Obama must also know that supporting Palestinian rights over Israel's racist interests will make him absolutely un-electable in the US.

Joe Mowry has written a short analysis of Obama's compromised anti-racist posturing and his troubling support of Israel and its institutionalized racism toward Palestinians.

Mowry points out that even those who see Obama's racial faultlines (see Tim Wise for example) still support him even though he offers nothing different than Bush on the oppression of Palestinians and Israel's bullying role in the middle east.

Mowry writes:

"(T)he most “audacious” hypocrisy in the entire speech is the implication that the conflicts in the Middle East emanate from “the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical islam.” Of course, European and Western colonialism and imperialism have no bearing on the discussion and our stalwart ally, Israel, has nothing to do with the situation. Radical islam just popped up out of the fertile sands of the cradle of civilization with no provocation or rational historical context.

Praising Israel in a speech about racism is like praising the history of White South Africa in a speech about civil rights. Has the fact that Israel is a Zionist state completely escaped the minds of all the Obamakins?

For a brief update: Zionism is the political ideology which promotes the exclusivity of Jews in Israel over any other racial, religious or ethnic group. Zionism, by definition, is racism. Israel, with the full support and funding of the United States, flagrantly violates international law and engages in the systematic ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinian people as well as in the establishment of an apartheid system, not just in the West Bank and Gaza, but in Israel proper. The illegal colonization of Palestinian lands is an international crime and a model of institutionalized racism which is without equal any where in the world in that it is so widely ignored and even encouraged by the majority of so-called civilized nations. More importantly, what is largely forgotten in the little discussion there is of illegal settlement activities being practiced by Israel, is that the settlements themselves are racially exclusive. Jews only need apply. Palestinians aren’t even allowed to drive on the same roads as the Israelis in the Palestinians’ own territory. I wonder how Mr. Obama would respond if Canada decided to build huge whites-only cities in U.S. territory. I wonder if he would be willing to refrain from driving on a series of Canadians-only roads connecting those illegal colonies. It would only be a security precaution, after all, and Canada is such a stalwart ally or ours.

So-called liberals should examine their consciences before they bow down at the alter of Obamakinism. He has a lot of wonderful, albeit vapid things to say on the subject of race. Indeed, he has a unique platform and perspective from which to address this and other issues. Unfortunately, he is too busy selling out to the Israel lobby and a vast array of corporate interests to actually rise to the occasion in any substantive fashion.

On the surface Barak Obama may constitute one of the more palatable lesser of two evils we have been offered in quite some time. But he is still only the lesser of two evils. He offers us nothing more than a continuation of the United States’ corporate militarism and imperialist policies as well as the unquestioning support of a racist regime in Israel. For the last 60 years (at least) we have “lesser-of-two-evilled” ourselves into the position we are currently in on this planet. If we want actual “change” in our country and the world, we must move toward a true social revolution and not accept more of the same sound-bite political rhetoric. No matter what color the candidate may be on the outside, and no matter how inspiring his speeches and slogans may be, it is an honest examination of what is in his head, his heart and his bank account (and who put it there) that matters."

Unfortunately the liberals won't listen. They never do.

For this reason it is folly to build hopes for revolutionary change on the myopic goodwill of liberals.



Dade said...

Hi, Ridwan.

I can't and won't argue with any of the points made in this excellent post.

However, as Mowry says: "Barak Obama may constitute one of the more palatable lesser of two evils we have been offered in quite some time."

The way I see it, either support Obama and hope to influence him toward a more just Mideast policy, or surrender.

I can't do the latter.

Thanks for the excellent post, my friend.

Ridwan said...

Hello brother Dade. Thanks for your comment on this post.

I think it important to note that even though Mowry sees Obama as a more "palatable" choice he is not supporting an Obama candidacy or presidency. He writes:

"But he is still only the lesser of two evils. He offers us nothing more than a continuation of the United States’ corporate militarism and imperialist policies as well as the unquestioning support of a racist regime in Israel."

I also think it important to accept that those of us who will not support Obama have not "given up" but instead are in struggle against the status quo.

In fact, "the lesser of two evils" argument is more definitive of the "given up" position.

There is nothing in Obama's positions that suggest he will be more humane toward Palestineans.


I cannot make a decision about a president based on hope that he will change his postions on Palestine, Pakistan, or Iran.

Obama is a dangerous delusion. He has softened folks who would not accept his position on Israel from the neo-cons.

I still do not think that he can capture the vote to win the presidency.

Still, liberals need to be more honest about what their politics looks like 8 years after Bush.

I would be more inclined to see promise in working toward a third way than to just accept whatever is on the table.

Obama cannot change his positions. He is bought and paid for by the same interests that drive Hillary and Bush.

American voters deserve more than Obama, Clinton, or McCain.

The world deserves more than to put another imperialist war-monger into the White House.


Shus li said...

I agree with your analysis. The question I pose to you is: What plan of action would you propose for us American voters who deserve better than McCain, Clinton, or Obama in this election year?



Ridwan said...

Hello sista Shushli. Thanks for your comment.

I have voted once in a US presidential election. I was soon sorely disappointed.

My struggle politics directs me away from mainstream choices like McCain, Clinton or Obama.

I think it is too late now to just accept the "lesser of two evils" approach.

Too late because so many have died and will continue to die as Eugene argues on his blog.

As for choices, I liked Kucinich and still do. But you know what happened with him in this election.

Still, there is a need for a viable and principled third way.

And by third way I would not be looking for a movement that will arrest the imperialist form of the US.

At this junction, I would urge folks to follow principle and not consent to the murder and oppression of Palestinians, for example.

This means that voting for any of these three is unprincipled and inhumane in my thinking.

Best wishes Shushli,

nunya said...

I thought of you when I read this OpEd at Mother Jones
Black Intelligentsia: Holla If You Hear Obama

Last night Moyers took a look at race also, bringing up the Kerner report from 1968. The interview with the Mayor of Newark NJ was interesting. Cory Booker is inspiring.

I just had to tell you that the International Politics class (A on the mid-term, thank you very much) instructor asked us for one sentence each on two chapters. One chapter was on Africa.
I chose to summarize the chapter in one sentence:
Chapter 7(South Africa and the End of Colonialism).
Colonialism, corruption, tribalism, an unsustainable birthrate and poor soil conditions have turned Africa into the biggest continental train wreck on the planet.

Chapter 8(Eternal Warfare in the Holy Land)
I learned that Britain loved to redraw maps and plant flags, see Eddie Izzard for more. For more on Empires, because of course Britain wasn't the only one with one, here's more Eddie on Empires.

The prof wants more on chapter 8. Ugh.

Ridwan said...

Thanks for looking in Nunya. I am going to take a look at that MJ link right now.

Congrats on your A!

Peace to you,