Saturday, January 03, 2009

He could at least stop playing golf

President-elect Barack Obama plays a little golf during his vacation last week in Hawaii. Al Jazeera contrasted footage of Obama on vacation with scenes of the carnage in Gaza, noting what it called "the deafening silence of the Obama team." (Tim Sloan / Getty-AFP / December 29, 2008)

bombs bursting in airIsraeli ground troops have started to enter the Gaza Strip, Israeli military officials have confirmed, a week after the offensive against Hamas began.(...) Earlier, Israel intensified air and artillery attacks on the territory. (...) The UN has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis, and believes 25% of more than 400 Palestinians killed by Israel so far were civilians.(...) there are said to be some 10,000 Israeli troops and hundreds of tanks massed on the border with Gaza. The office of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has also announced that the government has ordered the urgent call-up of "tens of thousands" of extra military reservists. BBC News

"We want him to say something at least to stop the bloodshed," said Suhail Natour, a Palestinian activist who lives in the Mar Elias Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. "Waiting until the 20th, with the bloodshed continuing, I don't think is an acceptable way of confirming a new policy in the Middle East. Silence on this means complicity."
Chicago Tribune

David Seaton's News Links
Readers of mine will know that I am no fan of Barack Obama's, but I confess that I never expected him to prove me right by defining himself so quickly... even before being sworn in as President.

What is happening in Gaza is huge, grotesquely tragic... It is like watching a cat play with a small animal before killing it... endlessly mauling it... warming to its work.

People all over the world have placed great hopes in Barack Obama and his "yes we can - change we can believe in" and they are waiting for a word... only a word... and while people are dying horribly,
he is playing golf.

Being photographed playing golf at a moment like this is as tone deaf as Bush looking out of plane at the ruins of New Orleans was... much more tone deaf in my opinion.

I'm sorry, but the "one president at a time" thing is not good enough. He had a lot to say about the Mumbai attacks:
"President-Elect Obama strongly condemns today's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and his thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of India. These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism." Brooke Anderson, Obama's Chief National Security Spokesperson
And he was positively loquacious when it come to the economy:
President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday said the struggling U.S. economy could face more challenges and urged lawmakers to act quickly on recovery proposals even as some Republicans expressed concerns about plans for a huge stimulus package. "As we mark the beginning of a new year, we also know that America faces great and growing challenges -- challenges that threaten our nation's economy and our dreams for the future," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. Reuters
But, when in their moment of agony, the Palestinians waited for a word from Obama and the word finally was:
They say that first impressions are the most important... I doubt whether anyone in the Middle East will forget this one anytime soon. DS


Jose Goldstein said...

Mr. Seaton:

I love your blog, and agree wholeheartedly with you about Obama not being change we can believe in. As an avid non-golfer, I hate to nitpick, but it's "FORE!" not "FOUR!"

Best regards,


RC said...

I believe sir, that you are not a golfer.
On the links we say "Fore". Perhaps you intended an arcane Joycean construct that I failed to grasp.
I think it is just fine that Obama is on vacation, golfing and surfing and Generally Slacking.
But yes, he should release a statement. One may expect that if he does, however, it will have zero effect on the Semitic Strife. God himself {presumably while not golfing, but one never knows} has made Pronouncements and they have been sloughed off by the Semites, Arabs and Hebrews alike, so the smart money is on more pain, torture, injustice and, in general,
more centuries of embarrassing tribal brutalities on the intramural and extramural fields within Israel and amongst the factions there, and equally so within the Palestinian sectors that are coveted by Hamas, Fatah, and the more obscure Palestinian contestants in the never ending jockeying to lead the Palestinian Authority, a questionable prize at best. Quite obviously, the Israelis have calculated that they should take care of the Hamas influence before Obama sends Hillary over there to employ her special happily vicious rhetorics and even possibly a little bit of the old girl type of 'in yer face' that she, likeable enough as she may be, can demonstrate so well.
She may even bring a golf club and do some teeing off during the twin seat photo ops.
The lady is no pushover.
What I am really waiting to see is this: During the inauguration speech, will Obama fess up and admit we are facing a Depression?
Why else is there a trillion dollar
works projects administration bill going to his desk on January 20?
I say, "let's you and him fight" in terms of the Semitic Strife, and let's pay attention to the local USA vortex and I don't just mean that comments about it will be enough.
{OK, you live in Spain and I live in a colony with bizarre factions too, but this is academics here.}
Hey, the oil bubble has burst, so general interest in the sandy realms is now greatly diminished and I cannot honestly claim that upsets me. "FORE".

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

All this is being done with American weapons and diplomatic cover... any American citizen anywhere is dirtied by this. And, as we saw on 9/11, what goes around comes around.

stunted said...

Palestinians are the terrorists, Gazans egregiously so because they elected Hamas to rule them, so Obama's silence is very much on-focus. He only proffers an official condemnation when it is terrorists who attack, and any American citizen anywhere knows Israelis are not the terrorists. For the rest of the world, or those banking on change from an Obama administration, the deafening silence will just be an initial clue that they, like a lot of U.S. progressives, may have confused their desires for Obama's.

As RC's comments amply illustrate, Americans don't care about Palestine because they cannot see how a non-country in a sandy realm can possibly have any reach that will affect them and their pocketbooks. The problem with wanting to focus uniquely on the local U.S.A. vortex is that the myopia required to do so can't see that the vortex is swirling in the same toilet bowl as the rest of the world. I can only refer RC to your New Year's post and to Juan Cole's recent posts in Informed Comment.

RC said...

You're right Dave, and I was a Vietnam era draft resister. So after a lifetime of this, I am beyond cynical.

Mike Doyle said...

I don't think it's a matter of Obama and his advisors being a little tone deaf, his indifference is deliberate and calculated.

The Palestinians are under the bus.

earthsmile said...

What I want to know is why the tacit 'double standard' ? What I mean is this: we require Israel to consider 'giving back' lands to it's avowed enemies... yet we do not require this of ourselves. It all seems very 'double-standard' and very racist to me.(ie: requiring this of the Jews and not of others)

When do we acknowledge, once and for all, that the Palestinian 'Intifada' is an undeclared War on the state of israel with one objective... to end Israel as a nation ? The Arab states were mortified by their losses to Israel in open armed conflict in 1948, 1967 & 1973. So they found a different way, one that wouldn't cause them such embarrassment and the loss of their expensive military hardware. This 'way' is using the Palestinians as proxies in an undeclared War on Israel.

THIS is what is really underway

Pre 1930 'Palestine' was briefly a part of a larger entity called 'TransJordan' or 'TransJordania'. Today... there are more 'Palestinians' in Jordan than anywhere else. So it's arguable that Jordan is the real Palestinian 'homeland'. Yeah... it used to be Israel, when Israel was 'Palestine'... but them's the breaks people !

And now back to my first point. I believe that a chronological approach to this 'giving back' of lands to their former occupants is only 'fair'... if there's ever going to be a 'giving back' of lands agreed to. So when the USA gives back the contennental USA to the American Indian Tribes... then... and only then, might we require Israel to 'give back' lands it has won over the years as well.

Do we have a deal here ?

And by the way... Obama will have very little leisure time once he's inaugurated as president. He's worked hard and set up a great team of qualified people who are working diligently on creating a new agenda. I think that he's very wise to get what rest and relaxation he can right now. He will be in for an unmerciful grind very soon. Fore !

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think it is fair for you to compare what the Zionists have done to the Palestinians to our genocide of the Native Americans, however we did that by ourselves without the help of anyone and many of us are ashamed of it. The Israelis however are perpetrating their crimes using American money, weapons and diplomatic cover,without which it wouldn't be possible, which makes the USA responsible for what is happening.

forensic economist said...

From Obama's "Audacity of Hope"

"I carry few illusions about our enemies and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on... victimhood.... I am new enough on the political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views....
But at times, in arguments with some of my friends on the left, I would find myself in the curious position of defending aspects of Reagan's worldview..."

The book has a long, thoughtful chapter on foreign policy, with no discussion of Israel. There is not even an entry for Israel in the index.

I don't think this was by chance. I think he knows exactly what he is doing. I don't think he is slacking on the golf course, I think he is making a very clear statement that Israel can do what it wants with no criticism from him.

What may be good politically for Obama in the short run in the United States will only cause more hatred over seas and more terrorist attacks on us.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think you've got Obama down cold. I think he's going to be a disastrous president... worse than Bush, less readable... empty.

RC said...

Re: having Obama down cold, as per Forensic -- I have heard the international crisis argument from Paulson about the economic disorder for some time now, and from the Israel and the anti-Israel lobby since I can remember {around 1957}.
I don't think these events are the end of the world. I just don't share that view and I am fairly sure that Obama doesn't think that way either.
This is not to say repercussions will be minimal, yet, the way one chooses to observe these conflicts often depends upon how invested in certain outcomes one might be, or in how politically removed by geographical distance one might be.
Let's also weigh the Obama attitude, which is in fact an attitude we are so far surmising, against the Bush Doctrine or the Bush Invasion of Iraq, or perhaps against the Reagan decision to leave Lebanon immediately after the barracks bombing.
This week's events in Gaza are just the opening bars of what will be a long, complicated, and hard to listen to piece of very sad music orchestrated in such a way that each section of the orchestra will be not quite in the same key as the section next to it. There are so many sides and so many possible justifications for each side.
Maybe what this is all about is that Fatah has made a deal.
Again, really, this is not my problem or my concern, and maybe silence as a strategy is not so evil a politicl weapon.
Not all silence is complicity, even though that knee jerk concept is popular.
And please do not believe for one minute that I view President {to be} Obama as Mr. Wonderful or saintly in any way.
Indeed, I sincerely hope he is Machiavellian as hell. Otherwise, all hope is lost.
Finally, I had a Mossad roommate in 1971 {he had a UN cover} and his read on what was really going on at any given time vs. what the press related or the opinionators were concerned with was so vastly different, and most likely more valid, that ever since, without information I now have no access to, I know my opinion, if based on public knowledge, is worthless.

earthsmile said...

Dear Dave,

The hypocrisy of the Arab world is legend. Just ask the question: Where does israel get the OIL/Gasoline/Kerosine it uses to power it's tanks, jets and other military craft ? If Israel has 'help' from the USA, it also has 'Help' from Arab oil producing countries as well.

If you reread my post, you'll see that I did not use the term genocide to describe what was done to the American Indians, nor to the Palestinians.

Christopher Columbus killed ALL the Taino Indians. Darfur, Rwanda & Nazi Germany. These were/are examples of genocide. What the Israelis are up to doesn't even remotely come close to meeting the criteria of genocide. And claiming that what they've done does actually meets the criteria of being labeled genocide, seems to make my point in a way.

Apparently it's okay to hold the Jews to a harsher standard than everyone else is held to ? And if this is true... isn't it discriminatory, and an example of racism ?

At the end of the day... more people will be dead as a result of the scandalous derivatives nightmare in the world economy, than have died in all the Israeli/Arab wars. So is the worldwide financial crisis 'genocide' ?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I am not holding the Israelis to any standard more rigorous than that used on the Serbs in Kosovo or Bosnia.

I think that what the Zionists have been doing to the Palestinians for decades fully qualifies as "genocide", but lets not quibble over terms

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

The USA has its fingerprints all over something that is worse than the siege of Sarajevo... The crisis the USA is facing in all areas, not just financial, is credibility... This is all part of that crisis and finally it will be those who live on fixed incomes in dollars that will pay the price, when the dollar, which represents American credibility, collapses.

bailey alexander said...

8 yrs ago, prior to leaving the states the Seattle Times'e editorial read something like, 'if you don't support Israel, you're anti-semitic'.

Well, having spent a month in Malta amongst 400,000 semites, 98% Catholic, the logic of this argument can be argued on too many levels to be addressed in the comments section.

Americans have three pathological strains that work against them today, a litigious disease, an evangelical disease and a martyrdom disease. The Israeli’s work the last so well.

This mission makes as much sense as when they blew Lebanon back to the stone age and mirrors much of the Iraq nonsense as well. I see that CNN is blocked from even going into Gaza to report, well, there you go....sometimes I wish I had the international version of Al Jazeera here in Paris, but either side of the propaganda war is pointless.

Israel=Irrational. They've been treated like shit forever, I get that and they’re venting their frustrations on another scapegoat.

David’s correct about the taxes, I recall reading yrs ago that every American has paid about 4,000$ each towards Israel. And the other guy’s right to be cynical, there is no justice, but ironic that Germany is probably the only country that has learned to apologize for its sins.

I have an Israeli brother-in-law. He comes to the family home near Cannes and has much fun with the European in-laws, sometimes he even implies that French should be bombed because of, I don’t know, fill in the blank. It’s all such reactionary crap...then one gets to view those pics of the young Israeli children writing insane messages on the bombs we send prior to blowing up people locked up, without any refugee status, etc.

Welll, the EU is now the largest economy, the US has had its day and now it gets Obama.

You get what you deserve, always.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"You get what you deserve, always."

Are the little children of Gaza getting what they deserve? Why do they deserve that? Because of something that some Europeans did to other Europeans decades ago?

earthsmile said...

If the Israeli's were smart... they'd build 2 desalination plants, and create pipeline networks to distribute this fresh-desalinated water throughout Gaza. They could solicit worldwide aid for this as well. It would be a hell of a great project ! They could also help get the agriculture systems in Gaza to a better place. THEN they could leave.

I wonder if Hamas would DARE to fire missiles at Israel if this kind of project was completed ?

This would be the smartest move the Israelis have ever made as regards the Arab world and Israel.I wonder if this has ever been discussed within the halls of the Israeli government ?

It would be very smart for Israel to piggy back this kind of a project upon their recent foray.

earthsmile said...

I did some quick research after my last post... and was very surprised to see that israel had already contributed towards a desalination effort in Gaza !

< >


Why doesn't Israeli efforts like these get any press or recognition ? We hear plenty about 'Zionists' and 'genocide'. Why not more about efforts like this one ?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Gee, for some reason the Israeli desalination plant in Gaza reminds me of the prisoner's orchestra that the Germans organized at Auschwitz, "Arbeit macht frei". You are really reaching for it in the hasbara department.

Anonymous said...

The American Indians never had anything working for them like A.I.P.A.C. Every politician in America is afraid to discuss this
issue...they literally live in terror of the IDF, AIPAC and other zionist organizations that fund the campaigns of American political candidates.

One wrong word and the money dries up quicker than a random drop of rain in a desert.

The American Indian never had the power and the money of the American Jewish lobby.

It's a good comparison, and I understand why it's relevant but it doesn't change the facts. It costs so much money to fund any election in this country, from the smallest municipality to the presidency's obscene 1.5 billion dollars.

The American citizen is increasingly irrelevent. And so is the ordinary American politician.

charles said...

There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.