April 6, 2012
Obama's anti-Israel 'hot mic' moment
Anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah in 2008
"Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"
But Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency."
As Charles Krauthammer and others have warned: Obama's second term will likely be one where Israel is pressured as never before by an American administration (and I might add, Iran is ignored, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to be welcomed at the WH, etc).
We have already seen the flexibility doctrine in action-just look at statements made before AIPAC audiences and elsewhere that have been retracted within 48 hours (status of Jerusalem; having "Israel's back").
Stanley Kurtz called Obama "Senator Stealth" back in 2008 after reviewing Obama's history of concealing his agenda. Now we have President Stealth.