Robin Yassin-Kassab

A Plague on Both their Houses

with 9 comments

The great thing about the forthcoming American presidential election is that Hillary Clinton won’t be the winner. The lamentable thing is that either Barack Obama or John McCain will be.

I have detested Hillary Clinton since she led a New York demonstration against ‘Arab terror’ in the first days of the second Intifada. This was before the Intifada became militarised, when it still centred around stone-throwing crowds and peaceful demonstrations, and when the zionist occupation was murdering dozens of Palestinians every day. This year her campaign website stated: “Hillary Clinton believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned.” Just run your eyes over that again. Hillary Clinton doesn’t just believe that the citizens of Israel should be safe, but that Israel “as a Jewish state”, as an apartheid state for Jews only, not for its citizens or for those it has driven out, should be safe. She believes that illegally occupied and illegally colonised east Jerusalem, an ancient Arab city originally built by Canaanite Jebusites, should remain under eternal zionist occupation. And she believes not only that her immoral and stupid positions are right, but that they should never be questioned. Such is the weight of zionism on American political life – as heavy a taboo as God is in the east.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq invasion, which has killed a million Iraqis, destroyed Iraq’s social fabric, flooded Syria and Jordan with refugees, vastly expanded the power of Wahhabi-nihilist groups, and led to atrocities in London and Madrid. She also voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Resolution which categorises the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian army, not a shadowy non-state actor, and its role is to defend the second most democratic (after Turkey) society in the Middle East – a society which, unlike the zionist settler state, has never attacked its neighbours. Here is Clinton’s open hand to seventy million Iranians: “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” When Ahmadinejad expressed the opinion that the zionist regime would one day be wiped from the page of history, he was mistranslated and misinterpreted as calling for the obliteration of five million Israeli Jews. The western world collapsed into rolling orgasms of righteous fury. But Clinton threatening to “obliterate” the Iranian people, that’s fine.

The Republican McCain’s claim to decency and manliness arises from his participation in the American imperialist massacre of 2 million Vietnamese men, women and children. He chose for his running mate Sarah Palin, a Christian Zionist who believes that creationism should be taught in science classes, that ungodly books should be banned from public libraries, and that environmentalism is a leftist plot. When Obama won the Democratic nomination, Palin allegedly reported the news thus: “So Sambo beat the bitch.”

Why would anyone vote Republican this year? Bush is, as Gore Vidal predicted, the least popular president ever. Under Republican rule America has galloped towards economic, military and diplomatic disaster. For anyone with faith in the American democratic theatre (not me), voting for Obama is the only logical option.

So the Republicans must rely for their votes on deep wells of illogicality and hatred. Hysterical racism has passed largely unchallenged at Republican rallies. Sarah Palin has encouraged it by talking about how “different” Obama is. McCain was praised for bringing an end to this when a supporter described Obama as an Arab, and McCain responded, “No, Ma’am. He’s a decent family man and citizen.” This is bringing racism to an end? If a supporter had shouted “Obama’s a Jew!” would McCain have said, “No, Ma’am. He’s a decent family man” ? Today McCain is saying that Obama attended a “neo-Nazi” meeting with tame Palestinian-American academic Rashid Khalidi.

America is probably about to experience its first black president. Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice have already reached very high office. There are black millionaires and executives. This shows that there is greater social mobility in America than before, and that the ideological overhang of an obsolete economic model – slavery – has lost most of its relevance for most people. Nevertheless, America is still sick with racism. Black people are still much more likely to be poor, imprisoned and badly housed than whites. And there are new-old targets to fit the new imperial age.

A month or so ago 28 million copies of an Islamophobic and racist DVD called “Obsession” were distributed free with 74 newspapers in American swing states, presumably to encourage votes for the ‘security-conscious’ Republicans. The DVD was sponsored by the Clarion Fund, a neo-con and zionist front. Neo-conservatives and zionists, and the potently ignorant Christian Zionists, have shaped and developed American racism for their own ends.

Then there’s Obama. I have to admit Obama excites me. He’s not only very intelligent but, unusually for an American presidential candidate, he’s not afraid to show it. He knows how to use language to good effect. And he’s black, with all the sad knowledge that entails. The world needs a black president of the USA, because it’s difficult for a black American to have a simplistic view of his own country or, therefore, of the world. That Obama is aware there are human beings walking around in Kenya and Indonesia also helps.

Obama once had a meal with Edward Said. He once attended an interesting church (the Reverend Jeremiah Wright does look like a man worth voting for). He didn’t vote for the Iraq war. He once said something favourable about negotiating with Iran and Syria (but not with the democratic representatives of the Palestinians). He’ll close Guantanamo Bay.

Another thing in Obama’s favour is that he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Or is he?

Obama said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had “rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.” He’s promised $30 billion in military ‘assistance’ to Israel. And he told AIPAC “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

He described last year’s unprovoked Israeli raid on a Syrian military site as an “entirely justified” attempt to stop Syria’s “weapons of mass destruction” program – although anybody who knows anything knows the US-Israeli story about a North Korean reactor in the desert is pure fabrication. The IAEA’s preliminary reports from the bombed site confirm this. No word from Obama on Israel’s real nuclear weapons.

Obama could have fought it over Iran and empire if he’d wanted to. He could have linked the Bush administration’s lies about Syria to its lies about Iraq. Just as he’s managed to reclaim some religiosity from the Republicans, he could have someway reclaimed patriotism from aggressive imperialism. People say Israel and Arabs are subjects too touchy to discuss honestly in America, that Obama has to go through the motions, say the right thing. But what, ultimately, is the point of a democratic election if not to have an honest, informed national conversation?

And Obama hasn’t merely toed the (decadent) imperial line on the ‘War on Terror’; he’s pushed the line rightwards. Obama recommended bombing Pakistan before McCain agreed and Bush made it policy. Does he know what he’s playing with? Shaky, angry, collapsing Pakistan, with its hundreds of thousands of displaced and dead. A vote for Obama is a vote against the concept of national sovereignty. What kind of a system makes decent, progressive people invest energy in a man who wants more war?

People say the man has to do what it takes to be elected, then he can be himself. But what kind of system is it when we have to assume a man is a good liar in order to elect him? And even if Obama is lying through his teeth, that’s not how it works. Obama has made his promises, he’s chosen his friends. Like Joe Biden. Here’s a quote from the running mates’ debate:

Biden: No one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.

Palin: But I’m so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that.

Passion and love, you see. The American-Israel relationship is something quite beyond geo-strategic.

Whether McCain or Obama wins, foreign policy will be about the same: a drawdown of troops from Iraq but no end to the occupation, an expansion of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The key to the development of American foreign and military policy in coming years is not the man at the top but what happens to American economic power relative to China, Russia and others.

I wouldn’t use the word ‘democracy’ to describe American society, but America is dynamic, fluid, and has great democratic potential. It may be that the energies unleashed by the Obama phenomenon will have long term positive effects. Still, if I were an American, I would vote for Ralph Nader, on the basis that every vote for Nader means a hundred more people have engaged in real conversation, actually thought about the system that enthralls them. I’d vote for Ron Paul too, if he were to run as an independent.

I may just be too cynical. I may be pleasantly surprised. I’ll finish with what Angry Arab (see link top left) imagines we’ll hear in Obama’s acceptance speech:

“My real name is Hasan Husayn Obama, and I am really a Muslim Arab, but did not want to admit that because I would not have been elected. I hereby announce that William Ayers shall be appointed as Director of FBI, and Dennis Kucinich will be appointed as Secretary of Defense. As for Rev. Wright, he shall serve as director of CIA. I would also like to appoint Angry Arab as my special Tsar for the Dismantlement of the Zionist Entity. And Immanuel Wallterstein will serve as Secretary of Treasury. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have been a committed Marxist-Leninist all my life. Good night.”



Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

November 1, 2008 at 1:49 am

9 Responses

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  1. Qunfuz,

    Hillary is the ultimate political opportunist. She turned from being a supporter of Palestinian to a kiss-ass Zionist sympathizer when she had to get the Jewish vote in her run for the senate from New York state.

    It is the two-party system in the US that limits the scope of political discussions and the possibility of real transformative change in American policies.

    Abu Kareem

    November 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm

  2. We can hope for change from the bottom, but there probably isn’t time for that given the sorry state of our world. The only realistic hope is for a lucky change from the top and Obama is the only man around who might be able to pull it off.

    So let’s at least make ourselves hope he’s the man for the job. Hope is dirty work nowadays, but somebody has to do it.


    November 4, 2008 at 9:21 pm

  3. Anonymous – I don’t think your hope is realistic at all. It’s a pleasant illusion, one of the illusions necessary to the continuation of the system. Taking heroin is dirty work, but somebody has to do it.


    November 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm

  4. I mean, he’s expressed love for the apartheid state, wants to bomb Pakistan and intensify the occupation of Afghanistan, and you want me to make myself hope he’s the man for the job? I’d rather make myself hope that pixies will save us.


    November 4, 2008 at 10:27 pm

  5. It appears you have predicted correctly, Qunfuz. Obama’s first appointment to his cabinet is Rahm Emanuel, a hardline zionist and son of an Irgun terrorist. As the Angry Arab wrote today: “Remember me when Obama will endorse an Israeli war on a refugee camp and on a Lebanese village, and he will call that justified self-defense.”

    Jeff Wode

    November 6, 2008 at 9:02 am


    Emanuel… represents the worst of the Clinton years. His profile as regards Israel is explored well on this site by lawyer John Whitbeck. He’s a former Israeli citizen, who volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians. Dad’s unreconstructed ethnic outlook has been memorably embodied in his recent remark to the Ma’ariv newspaper that “Obviously he [Rahm] will influence the president to be pro-Israel… Why wouldn’t he be [influential]? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

    Working in the Clinton White House, Emanuel … He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates. On this site in October and November, 2006, John Walsh documented both the efforts and Emanuel’s role in losing the Democrats seats they would otherwise have won.

    In 2006 Emanuel had just published a book with Bruce Reed called The Plan: Big Ideas for America, with one section focused on “the war on terror”. Emanuel and Reed wrote, “We need to fortify the military’s ‘thin green line ‘around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops. …Finally we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain’s MI5.” Recall that Obama has been calling throughout his recent campaign for an addition of 92,000 to the US Army and US Marine Corps.


    November 9, 2008 at 1:07 pm

  7. Qunfuz said: I wouldn’t use the word ‘democracy’ to describe American society, but America is dynamic, fluid, and has great democratic potential.

    that’s an interesting way of looking at it. Bush had no interest in democracy, and the neo-cons are thugs, but I always felt that social, political and cultural resistance to the Iraq war was greater in America than in any other western country.

    by the way, what country would you consider to be democratic?


    November 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  8. corkoniense – I was in Dublin yesterday.

    Anyway, I haven’t been in the West (until now) since the invasion of Iraq, so I don’t know which country resisted the war most. None resisted very well, but Spain seems to me to have done better than the US.

    I don’t consider any country to be democratic. The word is one of those tools of illusion – like ‘terrorism.’


    November 11, 2008 at 5:37 pm

  9. […] a comment » The hope invested by many in Barack Obama has dissolved. Dare I sing ‘I told you so’? I do. The audacious hope of Obamamania was always faith-based, founded on the believer’s premise […]

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