The Democratic candidate Barack Obama is campaigning with the help of America’s Jewish lobby. In so doing, he is going further than any presidential candidate before him has ever gone. Obama has called for an “undivided Jerusalem” and threatened Iran with unlimited measures if they persist in their production of nuclear weapons.
Among Democrats, unpleasant scenes are being played out in both the Clinton and Obama camps. A close advisor to the Clinton campaign returned to London from the primaries and poured out her heart about the “betrayal” by the couple’s old friends, secret lists of “turncoats” and the arrogant behavior of the old Clintonians toward their younger offspring.
In complete seriousness, many see an encouraging candidate 16 years from now in their beloved daughter, Chelsea. One of the main reasons for the official reconciliation between Clinton and Obama appears to be that Clinton’s campaign debts may be paid off by Obama, something that is completely legitimate.
Many voters are confused by Obama’s contradictory statements on the most controversial foreign policy topics. On the most difficult question, “What to do about Iran,” Obama gives ambiguous answers. Speaking to liberal students, he plays the deliberate pacifist. Speaking to the pro-Israeli lobby group AIPAC, both eulogized and criticized as the Jewish lobby, he explained with utter conviction that he set no limits concerning the prevention of Iran’s production of nuclear weapons.
He also called for an undivided Jerusalem, something even Israel’s closest supporters have not dared to express so unequivocally. Obama’s staff later tried to downplay the highpoints of his positive, pro-Israeli speech but in the Arab world the storm of indignation was enormous.
Commentary from the Arab world, lead stories in the Syrian, Egyptian and, above all, the Iranian press accused him of duplicity and a Hamas spokesman went to far as to characterize Obama as a creation of the Israelis, a “Zionist poodle” and a traitor to Arab concerns. Such ambivalence might be unavoidable during the primary elections but they can present considerable difficulties should Obama become president.
In Europe, much more importance is given to the power of the much over-rated American Jewish lobby than it actually has. Arab propaganda has meanwhile become very active, especially on university campuses.
Centers for Middle East studies and Islamic culture at elite universities in the English-speaking world enjoy generous financial support. In the last decade, 270 million Euros (Trans. note: about 425 million dollars) have been spent on them. In addition there are the religious schools, the madrasses, that above all are inspired and led by the radical Saudi-Arabian Wahabis.
In addition, academic boycotts have sprung up against scientific cooperation with Israeli universities and technology institutes.
Such things infringe on the basic principles of academic freedom. The next US president will have to deal with this intellectual decontamination regardless of whatever was said or not said during the turmoil of a bitter campaign.