Voters to Obama: Move Now on Palestine

by James M. Wall

Joy and relief are evident on the faces of the Obama family, shown here arriving back in Washingtonthe day after the election. Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney November 6, was also a moment of deep satisfaction for that segment of the American voting public that longed for a happy ending to what has been a bitter, contentious presidential campaign.

The “dark moon” that rose after Obama’s dismal first debate performance, was finally blown away.   The people had voted, many standing in Republican-engendered long lines, lines that in Florida continued until 1:30 a.m., several hours after Mitt Romney conceded. Except for North Carolina, every swing state went for Obama.

The voters wanted Obama to have a second term. They made him the first second-term Democratic president to win a majority of the popular vote since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Bill Clinton won his second term with less than a majority of the popular vote.

This strong election victory sent two message to the President: The majority of voters did not trust Romney’s economic policies, and they are tired of fighting Israel’s wars. Implied in that second message is a demand: Move now on Israel’s decades-old occupation of the Palestinian people. In short, move now on Palestine.

To those who would say, there was no mandate on Palestine in this election, let them listen to the music, not just to the words. Israel’s wars come directly from its Occupation of Palestine.  End the Occupation, and you end Israel’s embrace of military solutions. Now is the time to move on Palestine.

Israeli loyalist and casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson does not believe this, which is why he gambled on a Mitt Romney victory over Obama. Adelson also gambled with heavy spending on carefully chosen congressional races. He was a big loser in this election.

Adelson lost the $20 million investment he gave to Romney’s super PAC.  In addition, the  Jewish publication, Forward, lists other Adelson loses in targeted congressional races. Adelson gave $1.5 million to the campaign of Republican George Allen, who lost his bid for a Virginia Senate seat to Democrat Tim Kaine. Other Adelson Republican congressional bets included a $1 million contribution to Florida Republican Connie Mack, who lost in his attempt to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

In New Jersey, Democratic 9th District Congressman Bill Pascrell (shown here) faced a general election opponent, Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a Republican on a “fool’s errand” who chose to run against Pascrell in a district drawn as a Democratic district. Earlier this  year, Pascrell had won a primary race against his fellow Democrat and AIPAC–supported opponent, Steve Rothmand.

In spite of the unfavorable odds, Adelson gambled on Boteach in the general election, giving Boteach’s Patriot Prosperity PAC, $1 million. Adelson and his wife also gave Rabbi Boteach’s campaign, $10,000. Boteach lost to Congressman Pascrell.

These congressional races should be received as messages to President Obama. What these losses say to the President is that heavy spending from pro-Israel billionaires do not automatically produce election winners.

Another message to Obama comes in the dismal electoral failures of two Tea Party heroes, Joe Walsh and Allen West, two Republicans who drew criticism for implied and/or actual signs of Islamophobia.

In Illinois, Joe Walsh lost his Congressional seat to his Democratic opponent, Iraqi war veteran Tammy Duckworth.

Walsh received considerable outside Republican funding to hold on to his district seat.  His opponent lost both legs and a partial loss of one arm, after being shot down in her Apache helicopter in Iraq. Instead of acknowledging her sacrifice and moving on, Walsh criticized Duckworth’s references to her war experiences, not a good campaign move.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), reported on Walsh’s use of Islamophobic language in his campaign:

Earlier this year, when a town hall meeting attendee told him that he was “looking for some godly men and women in the Senate, in the Congress, who will stand in the face of the danger of Islam,” Walsh left the door open for suspicion of every Muslim living in Illinois when he responded saying radical Islam is more of a threat “now that it was right after 9/11”, and “it’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin. It’s here.”

A report on the Walsh charge, which he refused to withdraw, ran on a Chicago television station.(click to view.)

Congressman Allen West, an African-American Iraqi war veteran, is described in glowing terms in a book entitled, The Teavangelicals, written by conservative Christian journalist, David Brody. The title comes from an amalgamation of Tea Party and Christians evangelicals. Here Brody explains the appeal West has to evangelicals:

Specifically, evangelicals will be attracted to his strong defense of Israel and his absolute obliteration of radical Islam.  Be forewarned if you try to defend radical Islam through the Koran at a town meeting, you had better be ready to get a mouthful from West.  An employee for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) showed up at a Pompano Beach, Florida, event asking him to point to a spot in the Koran where it tells Muslims to kill Americans.

West swatted the question away, telling him that it wouldn’t say that because America wasn’t even around when the Koran existed. But that wasn’t the end of it . . . . not by a long shot. West continued to point out a series of Muslim aggressive acts over the centuries and concluded by telling the questioner, “Don’t come up here and try to criticize me!  Put the microphone down and go home” (page 153).

Congressman West was defeated in his attempt to return for a second term to the House of Representatives. West initially refused to concede, even though a 2500 vote margin enjoyed by his opponent, was outside the state’s mandated vote percentage recount. Friday afternoon, a Florida judge rejected West’s appeal for a recount.

There was also a notable example in a Wisconsin election that attacks against political opponents as “anti-Israel”  no longer produce the automatic silver bullet of certain defeat. In the race for a vacant Wisconsin Senate seat, former Republican Governor and Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, alleged that his Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, was “anti-Israel”.

It didn’t fly very far. The charge was reported in local media but it did not gain much additional traction. The allegation also did not reach national prominence. Why would it? Congresswoman Baldwin was already known in the national media as the candidate who might become the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator. Baldwin won the Senate seat, another indication that being called “anti-Israel” is losing its potency.

One election does not a movement make.  But this one election sent a series of messages to President Obama. His victory should enable him to “conduct policy with much more vigor”, as Palestinian Journalist Daoud Kuttab explains in a posting for Huffington Post.

Reelected U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to be able to conduct policy with much more vigor. While on domestic and economic issues he will need to work with a Republican House (the Senate will be Democratic), foreign relations is where the executive branch (the White House and the State Department) has the ability to apply his policies.

America’s first African American president who grew up in several parts of the world should be able to produce a foreign policy much closer to his heart and beliefs without having to worry about another election. Second-term U.S. presidents, who naturally care about their legacy, often look overseas to find ways for history to remember them.

War and peace cannot be addressed in any part of the world more than in the Middle East, where the U.S. is fighting a war in Afghanistan and will continue to need to win the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims. Obama’s win also signals a clear vote of confidence from American Jews who voted for him. More than 70 percent of U.S. Jews supported the president (unlike American Israelis who supported Romney).

President Obama no longer has any need to bend to the will of the Israel Lobby. His reelection and a second term removes him from ever again having to raise campaign funds or to be swayed from his core convictions by political expediency. Now is the time for this reelected President to make peace in the Middle East his highest foreign policy goal.

The voters have spoken: Mr. President, you are free to move now on Palestine.

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The picture of the Obama family, at top, is by Doug Mills of the New York Times.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Politics and Elections, Romney. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Voters to Obama: Move Now on Palestine

  1. Roy Hayes says:

    My sentiments exactly. Thanks, Jim.

  2. J. Martin Bailey says:

    A thoughtful and perceptive blog, Jim. I was very interested to see you pick up on Pascrell’s defeat of Boteach here in New Jersey. Bill Pascrell was our hardworking Representative until his district was redrawn. We were pleased with his refusal to be drawn into the spider web of the Israel-First lobby. Our old district had a significant number of American Jews and also a significant number of American’s of Arab descent. He was and is his own man. I enjoyed my contacts with him in the past and regret that we are no longer in the district of this courageous advocate for a just and democratic end to the occupation of Palestine.

  3. Jim – I truly hope President Obama heeds this sentiment, that unencumbered from the political calculus of another re-election, he is free to “do justice”. I also hope that I’m wrong in my lack of optimism that he will. According to Bloomberg, none other than Susan Rice is the frontrunner to succeed Secretary Clinton. Her derision of the Goldstone Report and her defense of Israel at all costs in the UN were reprehensible. That said, she reflects the policies of the commander in chief – maybe on Palestine, he will lead from the front.

  4. Awad Paul Sifri says:

    Jim, Thank you for your excellent review that illustrates that Zionist power is not to be taken for granted anymore. American representatives who place America First, above Israeli occupation and Apartheid, can also win, as did President Obama, himself.
    The first sign of what’s to come – Litmus Test, if you like – is US reaction to Abbas’s anticipated move at the UN very soon. If downgrading Palestinian objective from demanding an independent “State” to a lesser “Observer Status” does not win favor at this moment, then there is something mightily wrong with what goes on behind the scenes.
    One starts to wonder if Netanyahu’s (very) temporary silence on Iran from his UN September speech until the election day may have been at a huge price that Obama has to still pay.
    If, on the other hand, Obama gives Rice, his UN Representative, the green light to support the “humble” Palestinian step, then there is some genuine hope that a more positive US position is on its way.
    But, I won’t raise my hopes too much because AIPAC has chained and handcuffed both Republican and Democratic to some cowardly positions vis-a-vis supporting Israeli occupation. The US is NOT an independent country, when it comes to Israeli lust and goals for occupation, expansion, and Apartheid. Much, much more has to be done by the alert America Firsters and those who support the cause of justice and peace..
    But, for now, let us celebrate the fact that a bend in the river of tyranny, sourced by AIPAC and its ilk, has been passed with a good measure of success that brings us hope. We, the American people, particularly including Palestinian-Americans and progressive Jewish-Americans, have to work even harder at restoring American independence.

  5. Dean Lueking says:

    Jim, the best thing I know to do with your informative commentary is share it with my Jewish friends, here and abroad, which I’m doing with your current blog. . . Another thought: President Obama’s re-election will surely boost the J Street people – I think most of them are half our age – with new traction as they define a fresh version of what it means to be pro-Israel. Ground for that traction is where it’s always been when we’re at our Biblical best by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Dean Lueking

  6. Samia Khoury says:

    Of course we were relieved that Obama won the elections and not Mitt Romney for the sake of the US and for us the Palestinians. But I fully agree with Awad Sifri. The US vote on the issue of Palestine as a non Observer State is indeed a Litmus test of what the Obama new term would be like. The hope he spoke about after the election results were announced should be a global hope for justice, peace and security for all people should the US want to maintain its status as a super power.

  7. Patricia says:

    Letting Israel go can’t come soon enough. This insavory relationship has colored all American relationships in a negative manner.

  8. Robert Assaly says:

    As an outside observer, I would like to ask about the the President’s dependence upon the Israeli-owned Congress to move forward. In his victory speech he was unambiguous that compromise over differences was imperative. Would not the vast majority of Congress compromise on the very union before budging on Israel?

    Although I am not optimistic, I think the second litmus test will be how he deals with Netanyahu, having successfully snubbed him already, after the Israeli elections. A determined Obama would have no excuses to avoid confrontation with such an extremist.

  9. Bonnie Jones Shinneman says:

    9 Bonnie Jones Shinneman

    As usual, Jim, you are right on. I am so thankful that President Obama was selected and for many reasons. One of the highest reasons — I hope and pray that he can make headway for the Palestinians. They have suffered enough. It is time that the United States stand strong with principles of peace and justice. He is a Noble Prize winner for peace. Let us see principles of peace for the Palestinians now be put forward.

  10. Sami Joseph says:

    Sorry to be a pessimist, but the “Lobby” is very much in control of the corridors of power in DC irrespective of who is the incumbent in the Oval Office. Therefore, It will take a miracle to dislodge it; hence business as usual will remain the order of the day! One should never underestimate the power of the Zionists.

  11. Eugene Fitzpatrick says:

    Proponents for Palestine often, to my observation, come to erroneous conclusions with regards to the attitude of individuals toward the cause of justice for the Palestinian People. Two such examples in the above commentaries illustrate this. 1.) Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) is by no means a friend of Palestinian rights and justice, a conclusion that can be easily and unambiguously drawn by a perusal of his voting record in the last several Congresses. 2.) The pro-Israel organization J-Street is peopled by a coterie of Jewish supremacists who are and have been Israel’s enabler in its rape of the Holy Land.

    I’ve long ago concluded that this regrettable phenomenon results from an incomplete or non-existent effort to achieve a reasonably in-depth appreciation of the words and actions of these so called “friends” of Palestine.

  12. Fadwa says:

    Thanks to you Jim for your insight and courage in your endeavour to
    appeal to the Americans about the Just cause of the Palestinians in their
    search for freedom, justice, eqality, and full indepnedence in their homeland

    As America celebrates the Victory of President Obama for a second term
    as President of the fifty states (Israel is not included), the world welcomed
    this happening with great relief, so did we the Arab Americans.
    President Obama is a genuine human being coming from the people, to
    the people, by the people to fullfil his promises on the agenda he started.

    Congratulations Mr. President on your vicotry against those who wanted to
    establish tyranny, segregation, and division among the people of this great
    country. To them we say, the forty seven (47)% do really exisit and they
    do really vote, and they do really deserve to be reckoned with.

    The Arab Americans, the Arab Nation,and the World is looking up to you
    Mr. President to work forcefully and evenhandedly towards a peaceful, but
    meaningful solution to the Plaestinian Israeli conflict. You know more than
    others think of you, that the Plaestinians deserve a full, Independent State
    with East Jerusalem as its capitol, and peace with its neightbors.
    There should be no lobbying or swaying to your judgement in working
    towards an equitable and lasting peace in the Land of Peace. You won the
    Noble Peace Prize when you entered the corridor of the White House, and
    you will win another Noble Prize for Peace before you exit from the same
    corridor and History will record your good deeds, as a Man of Peace.

    May God bless you and those who advocate Peace and Justice for
    all mankind.


  13. Bob Hannum (Rev.) says:

    Thanks again, Jim, for some great insights in your article, as usual. But, I, too, am skeptical. As they look forward to 2016, will his advisors say, “No, no, Mr. President: we want to win again. Don’t hurt our chances by pushing Israel, to do anything!” Then, there is the Congress, which jumped up 29 times for standing ovations when the hard-liner Netanyahu spoke to them not long ago. These are tough nuts to crack. But, here’s hoping! After all, who would have believed the Berlin Wall would come down?

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