Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

December 31, 2008


Jonathan Wright, Reuters - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, with his silence on Israel's attacks in Gaza, has confirmed Arab expectations that foreign policy changes will come small and slow when he moves into the White House next month.

On the fourth day of Israeli air strikes which have killed more than 380 people in Gaza, the U.S. President-elect has yet to take a position, though he spoke out after militants' attacks in Mumbai and has made detailed statements on the U.S. economy.

"He wants to be cautious and I think he will remain cautious because the Arab-Israeli conflict is not one of his priorities," said Hassan Nafaa, an Egyptian political scientist and secretary-general of the Arab Thought Forum in Amman.

"Obama's position is very precarious. The Jewish lobby warned against his election, so he has chosen to remain silent (on Gaza)," added Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut.

"If Obama continues to remain silent . . . his silence will be seen and will have the operational effect of providing an endorsement for Israel's war on Gaza," said Paul Woodward of Conflicts Forum, an organization aimed at changing Western policy toward Islamist movements such as Hamas.

The Arab world was largely enthusiastic about Obama's election victory in November, in the belief that a fresh face in the White House must be better than outgoing President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq and gave strong support to Israel.

But his choice of a foreign policy team, especially Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, have raised doubts that much will change.

Mustapha el-Sayed of Cairo University said: "I am really pessimistic ... because when I see the kind of people who surround President-elect Obama I find they are the best friends of Israel who do not dare to distance themselves from the positions of the Israeli government."

Al Jazeera - "Silence sounds like complicity," Mark Perry, the Washington Director of the Conflicts Forum group, told Al Jazeera. "Obama has said that Israel has the right to defend itself from rocket attacks but my question to him is 'does he believe that Palestinians also have the right of self-defense?'. . . And Obama repeatedly spoke out in support for Israel during his election campaign, describing the country as one of the US' greatest allies and has vowed to ensure its security.

Robert Naiman, Huffington Post - Expressing views that are surely representative of American Jews as a whole, here's what some American Jews are saying about the violence in Gaza.

J Street has a petition demanding that the U.S. intervene to bring about an immediate resumption of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; the petition also calls for lifting the blockade of Gaza. . .

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom has an action alert asking folks to write to President-elect Obama, insisting that he speak out now and call for an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian aid to Gaza, noting that he has spoken out on other issues. As Representative Barney Frank pointed out, "Obama says we have one President at a time, but I'm afraid that seriously overstates the number of Presidents we have right now.". . .

Americans for Peace Now is asking its supporters to write to President Bush and President-elect Obama in support of a ceasefire and humanitarian relief for Gaza.

Jewish Voice for Peace condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza, calling for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, and noting that the blockade of Gaza is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world. Meanwhile they have been organizing support for Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinian Territories.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good ol' wishy washy Status Quobama!

December 31, 2008 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some one who sells his ass to the highest bidder might be called Hoebama, except that would unfairly insult the working girls.

December 31, 2008 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

google what happened in Damascus in 1982.

December 31, 2008 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To know why Obama is silent, check this out:


January 1, 2009 1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President-elect Obama has not been silent on Israel.
He's spoken volumes with his selection of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff--as once stated before on this blog, it was Barry's juicy wet kiss to AIPAC.
So why all of the feigned surprise now?

January 1, 2009 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow.. Who does this remind you of?

Click Here

January 1, 2009 11:55 AM  
Anonymous robbie said...

I agree wholeheartedly with 1:56AM...Palestinians were most likely ecstatic abou the election of Barack Obama, and what does he do first thing? Selecet Rahm Emanuel as COS. There was a collective "ahhh, shit" in Gaza.

January 1, 2009 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Let us get one thing perfectly straight. If the wholesale mutilation and degradation of the Gaza Strip is going to continue; if Israel’s will is at one with that of the United States; if the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and all the international legal agencies and organizations spread across the globe are going to continue to sit by like hollow mannequins doing nothing but making repeated “calls” for a “ceasefire” on “both sides”; if the cowardly, obsequious and supine Arab States are going to stand by watching their brethren get slaughtered by the hour while the world’s bullying Superpower eyes them threateningly from Washington lest they say something a little to their disliking; then let us at least tell the truth why this hell on earth is taking place.

The state terror unleashed from the skies and on the ground against the Gaza Strip as we speak has nothing to do with Hamas. It has nothing to do with “Terror”. It has nothing to do with the long-term “security” of the Jewish State or with Hizbullah or Syria or Iran except insofar as it is aggravating the conditions that have led up to this crisis today. It has nothing to do with some conjured-up “war” – a cynical and overused euphemism that amounts to little more the wholesale enslavement of any nation that dares claim its sovereign rights; that dares assert that its resources are its own; that doesn’t want one of the Empire’s obscene military bases sitting on its cherished land.

This crisis has nothing to do with freedom, democracy, justice or peace. It is not about Mahmoud Zahhar or Khalid Mash’al or Ismail Haniyeh. It is not about Hassan Nasrallah or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are all circumstantial players who have gained a role in the current tempest only now that the situation has been allowed for 61 years to develop into the catastrophe that it is today. The Islamist factor has colored and will continue to color the atmosphere of the crisis; it has enlisted the current leaders and mobilized wide sectors of the world’s population. The primary symbols today are Islamic – the mosques, the Qur’an, the references to the Prophet Muhammad and to Jihad. But these symbols could disappear and the impasse would continue.

There was a time when Fatah and the PFLP held the day; when few Palestinians wanted anything to do with Islamist policies and politics. Such politics have nothing to do with primitive rockets being fired over the border, or smuggling tunnels and black-market weapons; just as Arafat’s Fatah had little to do with stones and suicide bombings. The associations are coincidental; the creations of a given political environment. They are the result of something entirely different than what the lying politicians and their analysts are telling you. They have become part of the landscape of human events in the modern Middle East today; but incidentals wholly as lethal, or as recalcitrant, deadly, angry or incorrigible could just as soon have been in their places.

Strip away the clichés and the vacuous newspeak blaring out across the servile media and its pathetic corps of voluntary state servants in the Western world and what you will find is the naked desire for hegemony; for power over the weak and dominion over the world’s wealth. Worse yet you will find that the selfishness, the hatred and indifference, the racism and bigotry, the egotism and hedonism that we try so hard to cover up with our sophisticated jargon, our refined academic theories and models actually help to guide our basest and ugliest desires. The callousness with which we in indulge in them all are endemic to our very culture; thriving here like flies on a corpse.

Strip away the current symbols and language of the victims of our selfish and devastating whims and you will find the simple, impassioned and unaffected cries of the downtrodden; of the ‘wretched of the earth’ begging you to cease your cold aggression against their children and their homes; their families and their villages; begging you to leave them alone to have their fish and their bread, their oranges, their olives and their thyme; asking you first politely and then with increasing disbelief why you cannot let them live undisturbed on the land of their ancestors; unexploited, free of the fear of expulsion; of ravishment and devastation; free of permits and roadblocks and checkpoints and crossings; of monstrous concrete walls, guard towers, concrete bunkers, and barbed wire; of tanks and prisons and torture and death. Why is life without these policies and instruments of hell impossible?

The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders."
Israel Has No Intention of Granting a Palestinian State
If Hamas Did Not Exist

January 2, 2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well we all know the the Zionist Isreal runs the world - therefore the US is saying nothing because they are puppets just like Britain - Innocent women and children are dying but it's ok because they are Muslims!!! Yeah right if it was the other way round then I'm sure the world would've said & done a lot more than they are now!! I hope the Isreal zionist government goes to hell!!

January 2, 2009 3:05 PM  
OpenID hippasus said...

Israel's constant repetition of its propaganda line about rockets being fired into southern Israel as a justification for its latest atrocity needs to be firmly challenged.
Hamas and the other Palestinian factions maintained the ceasefire until after Israel's own breach of the ceasefire on Tuesday 4 November with an incursion which appears to have left seven dead and homes bulldozed... largely unreported in the US and the west.
Haaretz confirmed this in an analysis this week, revealing planning for this war has been in process for at least six months.
The Gaza-based The Ma'an News Agency has detailed reports describing the incursions and the Hamas response.
From Occupied Palestine similarly gives an on-the-spot account.
Israeli prime minister Olmert emphasized the rockets in a statement in the days following the incursion, but made no mention of the initial Isaeli incursion into Gaza.
The November Israeli incursion was a set-up to create the basis for their propaganda onslaught and their excuse for what we now see.
The western media has largely bought this whole Israeli charade hook line and sinker. Israel invaded Gaza at the beginning of November.

January 2, 2009 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top 5 Lies About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Jeremy R. Hammond
Dissident Voice
Monday, Jan 5, 2008

Lie #1) Israel is only targeting legitimate military sites and is seeking to protect innocent lives. Israel never targets civilians.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated pieces of property in the world. The presence of militants within a civilian population does not, under international law, deprive that population of their protected status, and hence any assault upon that population under the guise of targeting militants is, in fact, a war crime.

Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization. Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Israel. These rockets are extremely inaccurate and thus, even if Hamas intended to hit military targets within Israel, are indiscriminate by nature. When rockets from Gaza kill Israeli civilians, it is a war crime.

Hamas has a military wing. However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one. Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge. Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official. To kill Rayan, Israel targeted a residential apartment building. The strike not only killed Rayan but two of his wives and four of his children, along with six others. There is no justification for such an attack under international law. This was a war crime.

Other of Israel’s bombardment with protected status under international law have included a mosque, a prison, police stations, and a university, in addition to residential buildings.

Moreover, Israel has long held Gaza under siege, allowing only the most minimal amounts of humanitarian supplies to enter. Israel is bombing and killing Palestinian civilians. Countless more have been wounded, and cannot receive medical attention. Hospitals running on generators have little or no fuel. Doctors have no proper equipment or medical supplies to treat the injured. These people, too, are the victims of Israeli policies targeted not at Hamas or legitimate military targets, but directly designed to punish the civilian population.

Lie #2) Hamas violated the cease-fire. The Israeli bombardment is a response to Palestinian rocket fire and is designed to end such rocket attacks.

Israel never observed the cease-fire to begin with. From the beginning, it announced a “special security zone” within the Gaza Strip and announced that Palestinians who enter this zone will be fired upon. In other words, Israel announced its intention that Israeli soldiers would shoot at farmers and other individuals attempting to reach their own land in direct violation of not only the cease-fire but international law.

Despite shooting incidents, including ones resulting in Palestinians getting injured, Hamas still held to the cease-fire from the time it went into effect on June 19 until Israel effectively ended the truce on November 4 by launching an airstrike into Gaza that killed five and injured several others.

Israel’s violation of the cease-fire predictably resulted in retaliation from militants in Gaza who fired rockets into Israel in response. The increased barrage of rocket fire at the end of December is being used as justification for the continued Israeli bombardment, but is a direct response by militants to the Israeli attacks.

Israel’s actions, including its violation of the cease-fire, predictably resulted in an escalation of rocket attacks against its own population.

Lie #3) Hamas is using human shields, a war crime.

There has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields. The fact is, as previously noted, Gaza is a small piece of property that is densely populated. Israel engages in indiscriminate warfare such as the assassination of Nizar Rayan, in which members of his family were also murdered. It is victims like his dead children that Israel defines as “human shields” in its propaganda. There is no legitimacy for this interpretation under international law. In circumstances such as these, Hamas is not using human shields, Israel is committing war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law.

Lie #4) Arab nations have not condemned Israel’s actions because they understand Israel’s justification for its assault.

The populations of those Arab countries are outraged at Israel’s actions and at their own governments for not condemning Israel’s assault and acting to end the violence. Simply stated, the Arab governments do not represent their respective Arab populations. The populations of the Arab nations have staged mass protests in opposition to not only Israel’s actions but also the inaction of their own governments and what they view as either complacency or complicity in Israel’s crimes.

Moreover, the refusal of Arab nations to take action to come to the aid of the Palestinians is not because they agree with Israel’s actions, but because they are submissive to the will of the US, which fully supports Israel. Egypt, for instance, which refused to open the border to allow Palestinians wounded in the attacks to get medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals, is heavily dependent upon US aid, and is being widely criticized within the population of the Arab countries for what is viewed as an absolute betrayal of the Gaza Palestinians.

Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been regarded as a traitor to his own people for blaming Hamas for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Palestinians are also well aware of Abbas’ past perceived betrayals in conniving with Israel and the US to sideline the democratically elected Hamas government, culminating in a counter-coup by Hamas in which it expelled Fatah (the military wing of Abbas’ Palestine Authority) from the Gaza Strip. While his apparent goal was to weaken Hamas and strengthen his own position, the Palestinians and other Arabs in the Middle East are so outraged at Abbas that it is unlikely he will be able to govern effectively.

Lie #5) Israel is not responsible for civilian deaths because it warned the Palestinians of Gaza to flee areas that might be targeted.

Israel claims it sent radio and telephone text messages to residents of Gaza warning them to flee from the coming bombardment. But the people of Gaza have nowhere to flee to. They are trapped within the Gaza Strip. It is by Israeli design that they cannot escape across the border. It is by Israeli design that they have no food, water, or fuel by which to survive. It is by Israeli design that hospitals in Gaza have no electricity and few medical supplies with which to treat the injured and save lives. And Israel has bombed vast areas of Gaza, targeting civilian infrastructure and other sites with protected status under international law. No place is safe within the Gaza Strip.

January 5, 2009 10:02 PM  
Blogger Elderlady said...

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies - but the silence of our friends."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 6, 2009 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

obama can't comment, not because he is pro-Israel, because he has crisis at home. First of all, he is NOT president yet, if he has the same position as bush, he is free to say so. If he has different position as Bush, it's inappropriate to speak out. Yes we have only one president at a time, like it or not, that's the right thing to do.

Israel government is upset on his silence, not just the Muslim. Obama even refuse to listen to Israel government's brief on the war, that really make Israel anxious. However this is not make headline only among Jewish community.

The senate apparently upset about his position on the Gaza conflict, they already go ahead a voted support Israel yesterday to pressure him change his position. My guess is his adviser tell him one thing but he has different opinion. We will see if he can overcome the inner pressure to speak his mind, or he has to dance with the wolf.

You need to understand American politic, Obama is NOT the boss, he is one of the three power branches runs USA.

To be honest, as an American I wish he does not get involved in this issue, more than 70% of American voice their opinion on poll prefer over government stay out of this conflict.

Israel want disarm Hamas before Obama get into the office, fear of Obama won't support Israel as much as Bush, it's very clear.

January 10, 2009 6:13 PM  
Blogger Nana Baakan said...

The United States is occupied territory. So, until the United States comes to terms with its own crimes against humanity, i.e., the massacre of the millions of indigenous people who were already there, the enslavement of millions of African people who were transported across international borders to serve as slave labor; the subsequent wars in the North and South of the so called Americas; and the numerous wars and aggressions that the US hosted around the globe to perpetrate its hegemony; the raping of rain forests, natural resources and the polluting of lands; the incursions and ousting of millions upon millions of refugees due to the in-fighting were both sides are supplied arms by the US; and the dropping of two hydrogen bombs on millions of innocent Japanese people. The imposition of Christianity, Democracy, Torture, and Capitalism which fostered racism, bigotry, and established a military and prison industrial complex on cultures around the world.

Only when the United States of America admits its role in the imperial imposition of one country's will over another, can the United States of America begin to speak of the humanity that another country should show to another.

The USA stands by because it is complicit and just as guilty. It stands as a role model decadent and corrupt national and international policies giving license to all who follow in its footsteps.

The world stands by because to stand up against Israel is to stand against their own atrocities perpetrated against their own people.

This is all too apparent in Israel's reference to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, stating it has the same rights as the USA to protect itself. With the broad brush of who to designate a terrorist and an even broader brush of how to rid the world of terrorism, all options are on the table. The USA's silence, while poignant and irresponsible, is symptomatic of its on stand on how the powerful should wield its power over its own people and then to the peoples of the world. History will show how single handedly the USA, one of the youngest so-called democracies in the world has feasted on the humanity it has broken through its most inhumane of acts.

So silence is the only option for the USA unless it is ready to face its own denial and its own complicity and take pro-active steps to deconstruct its own myth of tyranny and inhumanity to man.

January 18, 2009 12:06 AM  

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