Obama courting lobbyists

Barack Obama, who claims to reject Washington lobbyists, three days ago addressed the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — probably the most powerful lobby group in the US.

He pledged to “eliminate” the threat of Iran and do everything in his power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He also promised $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade. To a rousing ovation, he declared he would always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend Israel.

It is certainly a sight to see the future leader of the most powerful nation on earth grovelling at group of lobbyists who represent the narrow interests of a small foreign state.

To be fair to Obama, this is the default position of any American politician who aspires to be elected to high office. John McCain is even more hawkish when it comes to defending Israel and attacking Iran (recall his “Bomb, bomb, Iran” rendition of the Beach Boys’ song).

Fortunately, Obama in his speech signalled his commitment to realising an independent, contiguous Palestinian state at peace with Israel. One could hear a pin drop in the auditorium when he said that. I hope that as president, Obama will honour this commitment.

I support Israel’s right to exist and to defend its borders. But I do not support a US policy that provides unconditional support to Israel while ignoring the plight of Palestinians who are subject to such appalling injustice in their own land.

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Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.