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By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse - Obama's election was no surprise here at home and has already been received with the approval and heightened expectations of the entire planet. This was partly because he is, in fact, the personification of hope, whether misperceived or not, but mostly because he promises a change from everything that was abominable about the Bush administration, particularly with regard to America's bellicose global policies.


But, let us not kid ourselves. The gigantic ship of state cannot turn on a dime, and many or most expectations of a rapid and meaningful change in our foreign policies, especially pertaining to the Middle East, will be in vain. Clearly, the first order of business for the new administration will have to be the state of the economy, regardless of what is happening meantime in Pakistan or Iraq.


This is not to say that serious attention would not be extended to our foreign engagements, the so-called war on terror, the Israeli-Palestinian issues, security agreements with the Iraqis, and the concerns over Iran or Pakistan. But before the new administration is subjected to critical scrutiny, praised or condemned for its foreign policy successes or failures, one point should be kept in mind.


It is no exaggeration to say that America's Middle East policies have been, and continue to be, Israel-centric. This means that no policy shift has thus far been possible if Israel's objectives and agendas are not accommodated. Regardless of the justifications, rationale, or arguments for or against this trend, the fact remains that Israel's interests, whether ill-perceived or not, have dominated this aspect of America's foreign policy.


Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

In most of my writings and addresses, I have maintained that this Israel-first foreign policy agenda has not only been detrimental to Israel's own global image, safety and security, but catastrophic for America's best interests in the Middle East. But even though the subject of American versus Israeli national interests are lately receiving more open coverage in the media and academic circles, hoping for this trend to change anytime soon would be foolish, to say the least.


This brings me to Obama's choice of his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.


Ever since his selection as Obama's Chief of Staff, dissident and anti-war web sites have been flushing out Emanuel's family background, personal history and political record, alarmed that he is among the most hawkish pro Israel activists in the US Congress, has Israeli citizenship and has served in the Israeli army. The Arab world, meantime, is now dismayed that hopes for a more compassionate or at least a more balanced new American administration under Barack Hussein Obama have been quite premature. Some observers and critics go as far as claiming that an Obama administration will prove to be more pro Israel than the Zionist-Neocon run Bush administration.


What has been equally alarming is the great likelihood that another zealot Zionist and pro Israel activist, Dennis Ross, will be Obama's advisor and front man in dealing with the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issues.


No one could deny that Mr. Obama's appointees with regard to his foreign policy objectives in the Middle East have extreme pro Israel profiles and track record. At the same time, setting prejudice aside, neither Dennis Ross nor Rahm Emanuel could be classified as political ignoramuses bent on wreaking havoc for the sake of some blind passion for the Jewish state; they must know as much as the best of us, and perhaps more.


So, what is it that we critics know and Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross must also know?


The power and influence of the Israel lobby over any American administration, whether Democrat or Republican, cannot be denied, over exaggerated, ignored or neutralized anytime soon.


Sentiment for Israel is so deeply entrenched within the American consciousness that any open criticism of Israel or its policies is viewed with suspicions of bigotry and anti-Semitism.


Being a Moslem or showing any sympathy toward the Islamic world, especially by any politician seeking a position or attempting to implement national policies is tantamount to political suicide.


Israel can, if its leaders so choose, rationalize and ultimately legitimize any act of aggression, as it has numerous times, in the name of self-defense, all with impunity from international condemnations, as long as it can find sanctuary under the protection of the United States.


Any Israeli aggression in the Middle East will automatically implicate and involve the United States; the Israeli leadership is counting on that, and the American administration is fully aware of all the ramifications thereto.


As we have heard, the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process has no chance of reaching any positive milestones before the end of the current American administration. To actually believe that the process was even seriously pursued - ever - requires the cognitive faculties of an average tadpole. Of, course, one could always blame the Palestinians for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity; The latest example being the "belligerent" Hamas torpedoing an accord with the more "cooperative" Fatah. What a pitiful joke that is!


The fact is that a Two-State solution has been a no-starter from the get-go as far as the Palestinians are concerned and as the Israelis have always expected, since many of their fundamental demands cannot ever be accommodated by the Israelis. A One-State solution, something that the Palestinians and, indeed, the Arab and the Islamic world would consider a legitimate and fair resolution of the crisis, where Jew, Moslem and Christian share in a democracy under one banner, be it called Israel or Palestine, would mean the end of the Zionist dreams of a Jewish state.


Meanwhile, the charade will go on indefinitely as the Palestinians continue their struggle under false hopes of statehood, and the Israeli regime adopts more draconian measures to "defend itself" while spreading its illegal settlements in the occupied lands. The United States government as the arbiter of the Palestinian-Israeli peace accord has, in its part, masterfully paraded as an honest and sincere broker in the minds of a majority of Americans by portraying the defiant Palestinians as terrorists who are supported by Israel's enemies opposed to a fair settlement of the crisis.


All told, no peace accord is or will be in the making anytime soon. The prolongation of the status quo accommodates Israel's agendas quite handsomely; thank you. With Israel successfully parading as a state under siege and supposedly threatened by monstrous regimes that intend to wipe it off the face of the map with nuclear weapons, not only is the United States obligated to extend any and all financial, military and diplomatic support for the beleaguered state, forcing it to make any concessions toward a settlement with the Palestinians in such dire circumstances would be expecting too much.


What a conveniently convincing scenario this is!


It now becomes abundantly clear why the appointment of the likes of Rahm Emanuel or Dennis Ross in positions of influence in steering America's policies in the Middle East is of such vital importance. Just think: without such watchdogs to guarantee Israel's interests, the Jewish state has all the prepackaged pretexts at hand to strike preemptively at Iran's nuclear facilities or other sensitive targets. And, by doing so, the United States would be dragged into another quagmire with tragic consequences for the entire region and the world. This makes for a perfect stage for blackmail in the grandest scale: Israel will rightfully defend itself against an imminent existential threat unless, of course, we continue to feed Israel's insatiable appetite to protect America's own best interests.


We certainly do not want that to happen; do we?


It doesn't take much of a brain to see that attacking Iran would spell disaster for the Jewish state as well. The Israelis know as do the American intelligence agencies that Iran does not have access to nuclear arms and, even if it did, has absolutely no reason or incentive to launch a suicidal attack on Israel. So, why would Israel want to launch a preemptive assault on Iran's nuclear facilities if such an action is not necessary and, if carried out with or without America's support, would prove catastrophic for Israel itself? The answer is, It certainly does not.


Admittedly, this charade might appear to be too Machiavellian at first. But if there is any merit in the old axiom that perceptions are more convincing than realities, Obama's own statements regarding Iran, which sound even harsher than those of the current administration, and his appointment of Zionist hawks to deal with the Middle East, could be a masterful job of window dressing to justify and facilitate the White House and Congress's policies favoring the Jewish state, even at the cost of abandoning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which had been programmed from its very inception with planned obsolescence!


If the analysis outlined above is correct, there remain only two workable real-world alternatives in dealing with Iran, and no, they do not include waging war.  I hope to elaborate on that subject in the next installment.


Kam Zarrabi

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:


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