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In Part 1 of his commentary, The Real News Network Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad tells us that when Senator Barack Obama finished his speech at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC, he got an applause more thunderous than there had been for McCain on the first day . Obama has come a long way from the days when Karl Rove called him a man of the far left. He no longer speaks of the “tragic plight of the Palestinians” and adds that postponing elections would have been the best way to deal with Hamas as they were sure to win a majority in free elections.

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MC, AIPAC CONFERENCE: Presumptive Democratic candidate for president, Senator Barack Obama.


AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Obama had just clinched his party’s presidential nomination when he spoke at AIPAC. He gave a speech so pleasing to his audience that when he finished speaking, he got an applause more thunderous than there had been for McCain on the first day of the conference. Barack Obama has come a long way from those early days of his campaign when he used to speak of the tragic plight of the Palestinians and Karl Rove called him a man of the far left. Obama now promises to help Israel achieve the goal of two states with secure, recognized, and defensible borders, and a Palestinian state that is contiguous and cohesive. This phrasing is significant, because the phrase “defensible borders for Israel” has long meant that Israel should retain parts of the occupied West Bank to expand the territory of the state of Israel, and thus achieve what it calls defensible borders. On the other hand, everyone knows that the West Bank and Gaza are not contiguous. The subtext of this proposal seems to be that a Palestinian mini-state might be created in some parts of the West Bank alone, leaving Gaza to languish in its present condition. Obama then reminds his audience:


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements. There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations. That is why I opposed holding elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot. The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority warned us at the time against holding these elections, but this administration pressed ahead, and the result is a Gaza controlled by Hamas.


In short, the elections of 2006, which have been certified by everyone as having been free and fair, should not have been held at all, since Hamas was expected to win, which it did. Having been elected by the Palestinians living in the occupied territories, Hamas had then formed a short-lived government, which was then dismissed under western pressure, with many of its legislators taken prisoner by Israel. Senator Obama’s recipe for such situations is simple: if a political party that you don’t like is popular enough to win a majority, the best thing is not to allow such a party to participate in elections. Dictators around the world would love this formula. Obama then goes on to say that he would never allow Hamas to be at the negotiating table either. So much for Carter’s initiative in talking to Hamas leaders. On May 7 this year, Carter appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and referred to a recent poll published in Haaretz, which showed that 64 percent of the Israelis were in favor of direct talks with Hamas. Carter’s logic is simple: if a majority of Palestinians have elected them, and if a majority of Israelis want to talk to them, well, talk to them. None of it is good enough for Senator Obama, however. Obama speaks again and again of Syria’s sponsorship of terror, alleges that Syria has taken dangerous steps in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and justifies recent Israeli bombings within Syrian territory on the pretext that Syria was building a nuclear facility. This allegation was dismissed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its chairman, Mr. ElBaradei, had said at the time that the agency had no such information, and if anyone had any evidence that Syria was running a clandestine nuclear facility, they should have forwarded that information to the IAEA, which is the only competent authority to take action in such matters. None of this distinguishes Obama from positions of the Bush administration itself. Even so, what Barack Obama said in the speech about Palestine or Syria or Lebanon was not half as scary as what he had to say on the question of Iran, which shall be the topic for part 2 of our commentary on Senator Obama’s speech at AIPAC.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.