The media and liberals worldwide have been raving about Barack Obama's "historic speech" in Phildelphia (video below) on racism and America. It has been compared to Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech. But whilst Obama-mania rages, a few short sentences early in the speech really made me sit up and listen.
Speaking about the controversial sermons given by his former pastor Reverend Jeffrey Wright, whose comments have appeared to damage Obama's election campaign and that he describes as "not only wrong but divisive", Obama said the following:
"They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."
Did everyone manage to miss that Obama's position regarding the 'stalwart ally' Israel is far from even-handed and indeed is little different from that of Hillary Clinton - or for that matter, George W Bush?
If not, this shouldn't come as much as a surprise. Try to guess who might have told the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Forum held in March 2007 in Chicago that Israel is "our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy," whilst reassuring his audience that "we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs." Consider for a second who might have said that "such advanced multi-billion dollar systems would help Israel "deter missile attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza."
Yep, that was Obama again. who managed to avoid a single word of criticism of Israel, its relentless settlement expansion, the construction of the 'security wall', or the ecomonic blockade that has brought tmisery to millions of Palestinians. Still, at least the US armaments industry can sleep securely, they appear to have little to worry about from an Obama presidency. Little wonder, then that columnist Shmuel Rosner of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz concluded that Obama "sounded as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani. At least rhetorically, Obama passed any test anyone might have wanted him to pass. So, he is pro-Israel. Period."
POSTSCRIPT: Obama is also wrong when he says that describing white racism as endemic in the US is a distortion. Racism in the US most definietly is endemic and will remain so as long as the economic divisions that sustain it remain. But perhaps it's too much to expect that a Democrat, albeit a very eloquent one, would tackle the issue of race is a truly 'brave' way - by mentioning class.
THAT SPEECH IN FULL