Wednesday, December 03, 2008

BBC anti-Zionism on display

From the BBC website, by their diplomatic and defense editor, Mark Urban:
The global honeymoon that accompanied Barack Obama's election was never going to last forever, but there are some people for whom it already appears to be over - even though the president elect will not take power until 21st January. The Illinois senator's desire to name his administration, in order to 'hit the ground running' has already been the cause of some political sniping, and so have his meagre foreign policy pronouncements to date.

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel in October as White House Chief of Staff nettled many. There were his former Republican opponents in the House of Representatives, who consider him abrasively partisan, but I am not talking about them. Put his name and 'Zionist' into Google and you will see what I mean. The brickbats are already flying on certain Islamic, 'progressive', and far right websites.

With the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the plot thickens for those who wish to imply that a good man - President-elect Obama - is surrounding himself with 'zionists' who will prevent any fresh thinking about Middle East peace. Ms Clinton is not of course Jewish, unlike Mr Emanuel, but she has been a two-term senator for New York state.

"She's had a certain position which has not been very friendly toward the Palestinians", said Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner General of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency on the Today programme this morning, adding, "we hope that there'll be a broader view once she comes into office". Ms AbuZayd's job involves daily dealing with the dismal humanitarian consequences of Israel's blockade of Gaza, so I'm not surprised she longs for a different US foreign policy in the region. But the implication from an international civil servant - who must get on with all the relevant players - that an incoming US Secretary of State is bringing too much political baggage to the job is unusual, to put it mildly.
Up until this point, Urban appears to dissociate himself from those "progressive" websites he mentions. But from here on in, he makes it clear that he agrees with their anti-Zionist philosophy:
Is it not obvious that Secretary Clinton, representing the US national interest, will serve quite different political imperatives to Senator Clinton, representing one of the largest Jewish democratic constituencies in the world?
In other words, "chill out, progressives, Obama and his team may very well still turn out to be as anti-Israel as you and I want him to be."
The response to the appointment of the new foreign policy team shows something else. In the first place, the president-elect's campaign promise of change was always going to look less exciting once he put in place the people with the necessary political experience to run their departments. If you think Ms Clinton comes with political baggage - what about Robert Gates, who will switch from being President Bush's defence secretary for the past to [sic] years to the new president's administration?

Secondly, there are certain laws of political gravity that cannot be defied, whatever the brand of a new administration. The anti-American imperative is so central to certain ideologies - in this case militant Islam - that any Jewish appointees or appeals to Jewish voters will be used to argue the administration is pro-Zionist. It might turn out to be, but shouldn't everyone wait until the new president has been sworn in and set out some Middle East policies before jumping to that conclusion?
Urban pointedly does not say that the anti-Zionism of the "certain Islamic, 'progressive', and far right websites" is wrong. No, their crime is not being against the existence of the state of Israel - that is a valid and laudatory goal. Their only mistake is that they are jumping to conclusions that Obama is not sufficiently anti-Israel enough.

Just wait, our BBC editor is saying: All of us anti-Zionists may still be pleasantly surprised by Obama's "fresh thinking" on how to dismantle Israel.