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Martin LeFevre: America and Israel

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

America and Israel

When a New York Times columnist and Nobel Laureate literally calls for “goo-goo” from the Obama Administration, you know America has gone completely round the bend.

As epic self-congratulatory celebrations are prepared for the millions of people descending on DC for the inauguration, Israel destroys Gaza with impunity, aping the United States in word and deed.

The goo-goo in question refers to ‘good government guys,’ a derisive term for reformers dating from the late 19th century, when politics was an all male sport. Though goo-goos have gone the way of Mugwumps in the American political lexicon, the childish hope that Obama will clean up the corruption and clean out patronage of the Bush Administration is reaching a fever pitch as the inauguration nears.

In the American mainstream media, hackneyed comparisons between Obama’s cabinet appointments and Abe Lincoln’s “team of rivals” have given way to hackneyed comparisons to Obama’s economic plans and Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Meanwhile, Israel is getting in one last, most murderous bombing spree in Gaza before its partner in these latest crimes against humanity, the Bush Administration, exits stage right.

It’s mind-boggling and heart wrenching. A nation formed by Holocaust survivors kills and wounds hundreds of people in a single day, reacting to rarely lethal rockets that Hamas fools have been launching into Jewish settlements along the border.

Proving that there is nothing more violent than an Israeli defense minister whose reputation is at stake, a surly Edmud Barak, citing the ‘global war on terror,’ said, “we will use our force as forcefully as needed to change the behavior of Hamas.” Regional wars, even world wars, have begun with much less provocation.

Of course, diabolical domestic political calculations are behind the attacks, with Israel wanting to present a new American president with a fait accompli in Gaza, while at the same time ‘doing something’ about the rocket attacks as elections in February approach in that country.

Obama gave his own green light to the Israeli atrocity last summer by saying in Israel, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”

How can a people that has historically endured so much suffering at the hands of power in so many places callously mete out so much suffering to the powerless people in their midst? Why has Israel become so evil?

As things stand, the United States absurdly calls “for rocket attacks against Israel to stop,” even as Israel bombs the hell out of the Gaza strip in a blatant act of collective punishment.

That is the kind of a shameful example of “moral leadership” that the world has had from the Bush Administration. Will Obama truly break with these policies, or do as he has done during the transition—paste over prejudices and put on a smiley face?

In short, what will Barack do with Barak? If a larger war is not triggered by Israel’s grossly disproportionate reaction, will Obama accept the “changed realities on the ground," according Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni?

Or will he attempt to be an honest broker between the nearly powerless Palestinians against the Israeli military machine, and insist on a minimal degree of fairness for the Palestinian people?

Of course Hamas will have to accept the Israeli state, and swear off terror attacks against civilians, even though Israel unleashes its own, much more massive terror campaign against the Palestinian people. That appears about as likely as Fatah and Hamas coming to an accord, and quit playing into Israeli hands. But this latest war, whether it remains confined to Gaza or not, may well force the issue.

I think it was Hegel who said, “All people get the government they deserve.” I can’t speak for other peoples, but it certainly is true of America. For the last eight years, we’ve had the government we deserve in the Bush-Cheney Administration.

When Americans re-elected Bush-Cheney in 2004, people knew what they were getting. Progressives have to quit blaming the corporate media, and start telling the truth and speaking directly to the people, since it’s condescending to assume that people are always duped.

There are indications that responsibility may be catching on. Addressing the American people, New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert, remarkably entitled his last column, “Stop Being Stupid.”

Especially for America, supposedly “the indispensable nation,” it’s no longer a question of, as Obama put it, “where we need to take the country;” it’s a question of where we need to take the world. Those who can sustain thinking and feeling in those terms—that is, in the context of humanity--will prevail.


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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