Obama: Sandwiched Between Emanuel and AIPAC

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Will President-elect Obama be guided by Rahm Emanuel, his White House chief of staff or by the candid views of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the question of Israel? This is but one of the frequent questions raised alongside the other being whether Obama is being pushed to opt for a military strike against Iran.

Since the Bush administration’s failure to produce any meaningful respite for Palestinian suffering, now in its sixth decade of occupation, some pundits within the US and outside have foolishly been predicting that an Obama administration may break out of the neocon logjam.

Expectations of change vis-à-vis Israel, fuelled by the electoral platform of a “need for change” have been dampened since Obama’s appointment of Emanuel, who apart from being a close ally of the leading Zionist lobby is also directly linked to the Jewish colonial enterprise. Emaneul served in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1991 Gulf War and has been described as “a super-Likudnik hawk” by Alexander Cockburn.

In addition, he has been described as a fanatical Zionist –” no different from neocon hardliners such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Though billed as a “golden boy” of the Democratic Party, Emanuel’s voluntary physical deployment in the service of the Israeli Defence Force has raised questions about Obama’s ability to chart a new course in the Middle East.

Also incredible is the appointment of Dennis Ross, an old guard pro-Israeli, as Middle East advisor of Obama. Ross is well known for his hawkish views and having backed the US invasion of Iraq, has been endorsing similar military options regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. Apart from articulating his right-wing views on Fox News as a “foreign policy” analyst, Ross has been involved in the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israeli think-tank.

These behind the scene appointments of unelected people have been setting the stage for a dramatic escalation of military conflict with Iran as soon as the new administration takes office. An interesting article in the New York Times entitled “New Beltway Debate: What to do about Iran” warned that it is not just the trigger-happy Bush administration discussing the possibility of military action against Iran. It goes on to warn that Obama’s team is also “examining the so-called military option”.

Obama’s pre-victory commitment to AIPAC –” America’s most powerful pro-Israeli lobby- is thus viewed as an early warning of the direction he is likely to pursue in securing Israel at the expense of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. The announcement of key appointments suggest that though “Change” was Obama’s electoral platform no such change is imminent!

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