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Barack Obama Photo: AFP
Barack Obama Photo: AFP
 
 

Prepare for change

Barack Obama won’t be lying to us, but he won’t be telling us the truth either

Yair Lapid
Published: 07.23.08, 10:13 / Israel Opinion

Barack Obama will not be lying to us during his visit, but he won’t be telling us the truth either.

 

He will not be lying when he says that he is concerned about us, that America is our best friend, and that he is committed to assisting us at peaceful times and in wartime as well. Yet he won’t be telling us the truth – the fact that he has other concerns, which are more urgent; he has friends that he cares about more, and other people that he needs to help in their daily struggles.

 

Any Democratic presidential candidate knows that Florida is the key state that ruined Al Gore’s race to the White House. The Jews in Miami are exactly the three and a half percent Obama needs to win the state. So he will not be lying to us, because he has no reason to lie, and he won’t be telling us the truth either, because they are listening.

 

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Our problem with Obama is not his views – he has the right views, just like any liberal Democrat. Rather, his priorities are our problem. The Israeli issue is simply not urgent for him.

 

Ever since Jimmy Carter was kicked out of the White House we haven’t had the chance to meet an objective American president. Reagan viewed us as a Cold War asset, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. supported us as part of their religious belief (and personal friendship.) Obama is about to become the first objective president in 30 years.

 

For Obama, any dollar sent to us means one dollar less for Detroit’s poor neighborhoods. Any flak jacket sent to the IDF is taken from a US Marine in Iraq; any dispute with the Saudis will turn into inflated fuel prices at gas stations in Los Angeles.

 

What matters to Obama  

In the coming days, he will prove to us in many ways how much he likes us. Yet after that he will go and take care of the things that really matter to him.

 

One needs not look hard to realize what is important for him; he said it more than once. In the speech that boosted his stock in the Democratic Party convention in 2004 he said: “If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. that if there is a kid in south Chicago who cannot read, it is important to him even if it isn’t his own child.”

 

Since that time, there are many more kids in Chicago who cannot read, many more senior citizens who have no money for medicine, and many many more Arabs who have been held without a trial in Guantanamo and in Iraq.

 

In the coming days we will be exposed to Obama’s rhetorical abilities – few are able to deliver speeches like he does, and nobody does it better. Just like any great speaker, he will not be lying. He will simply spare us the truth – the fact that we are about to face a harsh rehabilitation process.

 

Should he be elected, he will have to take care of America’s weakness, the declining dollar, the energy crisis, China’s rise, the Iraq troop withdrawal, and the huge trade deficit. When he’s done with that (if he’s ever done with that) he will have to decide what is of greater interest to him: A group of loud Israelis who have become addicted to the attention of the world’s greatest superpower, or his hungry brothers and cousins in war-torn and AIDS-ridden Kenya, who are looking to him with pleading eyes and hoping that his America indeed believes in change.

 

A change will certainly be taking place; yet we might not like it.

 

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