HOME May-June 2008 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web



by Sultan Knish


Bottom lining Obama's AIPAC speech, it's an incredibly condescending speech that manages to set a world record for retracting campaign promises and which pours on phony sentimentality for civil rights and uses the Holocaust as a vehicle for delivering his real platform: appeasing Iran.

The Obama campaign has already retracted the splashiest part of Obama's speech, his supposed commitment to an undivided Jerusalem. Not that anyone with half a cup of common sense should have taken it seriously.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem when he called for Israel's capital to remain "undivided," his campaign told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

The way to work with politician's campaign speeches is to multiply by 10. Bush promises to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Instead he's currently dividing Jerusalem. Obama is promising a contiguous Palestinian state, a focus on a two state solution from the start, aid for Fatah, lots of diplomacy with Iran. Change everywhere but not in America's relationship with Israel. Yeah right.

Brushing through an Obama speech for any actual meaning is always hard work because it requires clearing away tangles and false trails. Premises are advanced, vague rhetoric is offered that never actually leads anyway. But to break it down, this is the semantic analysis of Obama's speech.

  1. Hi AIPAC. I really love AIPAC.

  2. I really love Israel based on my personal experiences as a black man. Great uncle. Holocaust.

  3. Our current foreign policy has made Israel less safe. How do we move forward. (Obama conveniently fails to specify what actions he disagrees with at this stage or how he will move forward and instead switches over to condemning Israel bashers. This is typical of the bait and switch premises in Obama's speeches.)

  4. Israel is America's ally. Israel bashers are wrong.

  5. Blah blah shared values, allies, alliance boilerplate

  6. Military aid for Israel. This is the upfront giveaway meant to dampen the effects of what he says next.

  7. Security through peace. Obama vows to focus on creating a Palestinian state from the start of his administration, instead of waiting until the end to crack down on Israel like Bush did.

  8. Isolate Hamas. Elections were a mistake. No deals with terrorists, except with Fatah. No actual change from Bush Admin policy, despite a shot taken at the Bush Admin.

  9. Support Fatah and Egypt. Aid to terrorists. Israel must improve freedom of movement, open borders, no settlements. Supports Annapolis.

  10. Israel's security is non-negotiable. Will carve up Israel to make a contiguous cohesive Palestinian state. Promises not to divide Jerusalem.

  11. Difficult decisions will be required. Israel is strong enough to make them. Promises not to pressure Israel, just help Israel make difficult decisions and avoid not making decisions and prevent Israel from ending negotiations because of terrorist violence.

  12. Syria is bad.

  13. Supports negotiating with Syria, promises not to use force on Israel. Full enforcement of UN Resolution 1701.

  14. Iran is bad.

  15. Iran is really bad.

  16. Fighting Iran only makes it stronger.

  17. Negotiating with Iran is the only answer.

  18. Running away from Iraq and turning it over to Iran will weaken Iran. Somehow.

  19. Aggressive diplomacy with Iran.

  20. More diplomacy with lines of communication.

  21. Diplomacy can be tough. My diplomacy will be tough. Really tough. Very very tough. There will be lines of communication involved. Also agendas and allies.

  22. If our diplomacy doesn't work, Iran will look bad and China and Russia will support UN sanctions, (even though they're Iran's allies)

  23. Divestment from Iran. Obama's Iran divestment bill blocked by mysterious anonymous Senator.

  24. Reduce price of oil. New technologies. Bush State of the Union speech regurgitated.

  25. Joint research with Israel. Thanks.

  26. Military action will be somewhere on the table too. Probably under all the diplomacy folders.

  27. Change. Change. Change everywhere. But no change for America's relationship with Israel. Uh?

  28. AIPAC is great. Mention my name when you talk to Congresspeople. I haven't been there in a while.

  29. Israel is great. Ethiopia. Holocaust. Tikkun Olam.

  30. I like Jews. Civil Rights. Other black people may hate Jews but I still remember that whole Mississippi civil rights workers thing.

  31. We must vigilantly face down every foe. (With aggressive diplomacy)


AIPAC AND BNAI BRIT SPEECHES BY CANDIDATES, particularly Democratic candidates, follow a pretty typical pattern. A pattern that makes one virtually a carbon copy of the other. Obama's AIPAC speech is just a carbon copy of all the other speeches given at AIPAC dinners over the years, including Bush's own AIPAC speech.

There's a very specific pattern to these speeches. In the opening the candidate praises AIPAC for all their great work with stock phrases combined with namedropping.

Here's an excerpt from how Bush did it in 2004

I want to thank Amy for her leadership. I appreciate you taking time to serve a cause that –– in which you believe deeply. I want to thank Bernice for her willingness to serve, as well. I've known Howard for a long time. He's effective. I want to thank the AIPAC board –– AIPAC board members for their friendship and leadership.

Here's how Obama did it

It's great to see so many friends from across the country. I want to congratulate Howard Friedman, David Victor and Howard Kohr on a successful conference, and on the completion of a new headquarters just a few blocks away.

Then you praise AIPAC and mention the shared values and bonds that bring Israel and America together. Here's how Bush did it in 2004.

I'm honored to be here at AIPAC, thank you for such a warm welcome. It's good to be with so many friends –– friends of mine and friends of Israel. For more than 50 years, the United States and Israel have been steadfast allies. AIPAC is one of the reasons why. You've worked tirelessly to strengthen the ties that bind our nations –– our shared values, our strong commitment to freedom.

Here's how Obama did it 4 years later in 2008.

One of the many things that I admire about AIPAC is that you fight for this common cause from the bottom up. The lifeblood of AIPAC is here in this room –– grass-roots activists of all ages, from all parts of the country, who come to Washington year after year to make your voices heard. Nothing reflects the face of AIPAC more than the 1,200 students who have traveled here to make it clear to the world that the bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interests –– it's rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people. And as president, I will work with you to ensure that this bond is strengthened.

Step after that involves forging a "personal connection" to Israel through personal anecdotes. Bush did this in 04 with mentions of his visits to Israel because Bush had plenty of visits. Obama was short in that department so he went light on his visit and instead babbled about his camp counselor who inspired in him a love of now blowing up Israel. Then he goes whole hog throwing in his Grandfather/Greatuncle who can give him an excuse to introduce the Holocaust.

Obama drags this on working overtime to forge that personal connection but the actual semantic content here is nil; it's typical of Obama's hollow speeches as he attempts to get his audience to identify with him. It's a particularly effective tactic with the young, the weak minded and the gullible.

Both speeches are full of boilerplate rhetoric about "Peace" and "Security" and "Freedom." Bush mentions Security 6 times. Obama mentioned Security twice as often with 14 mentions and mentioned Peace 15 times. Bush mentioned it 26 times. 9 mentions of Freedom for Bush, Obama only mentioned it 3 times, usually in a Palestinian context. There are the usual repeated mentions of Israel and America's alliance. More boilerplate.

In the end all Obama did at AIPAC was mirror the same old campaign rhetoric so typical of AIPAC dinners. His speech when boiled down proposes lots of negotiations, a military giveaway and lots of attention to push a peace deal while appeasing Iran. Strip away all the hollow compliments and that's all you have.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Aipac held its annual meeting in Washington D.C. June 2-4 this year. And all three candidates for the Presidency spoke there. Frankly I was more dazzled by AIPAC's splendid use of TV technology –– enormous screens mirroring (and dwarfing) the speaker on the podium –– than by the speakers themselves. Senator McCain spoke on the morning of June 2 at the Plenary Session; Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both spoke in the June 4th Plenary session. June 4th was the morning after Obama was officially declared the Democratic candidate, so he got top billing –– he got to speak before Hillary, so that he could rush off to attend to other matters involved in getting elected. Busy. busy.

Comparing the candidates? McCain was plain-speaking. He isn't speech-making challenged like the Bushes, father and son, but he's diffident. He made me suspect he has principles and moral anchors that are important to him, but he didn't make me understand what he cares about down deep. I had to admire Hillary –– she's been through years of embarrassment and jeering and private hell, thanks to Billy Boy, always keeping her eye on her goal in life. She's devoted years working to gain the presidency in her own right and just hours before she came to Aipac, she was forced to concede she'd lost. But she came –– she was even wearing the same slacksuit she wore to give her concession speech. And spoke well. Obama was elocution-class perfect but an Abraham Lincoln he isn't. It was a Santa Claus of a speech, saying everything an audience that cared about Israel would want to hear. At one point, he said "the Blue Line", when he obviously should have said, "the Green Line." But few seemed to notice –– and he wasn't among the few. On the whole, he did a good job reading a memorized script, where the themes as well as the language were someone else's. He makes me nervous –– he is so obviously the messenger, the guy who delivers the goods. But who is the sender? Who is running him?

Did any of the politicians who came speak from the heart? One, I think. Surprisingly, it was Harry Reid, a fellow I'm not particularly fond of. When he spoke of his concern for Israel, I believed him.]


This was written by Sultan Knish and it appeared June 6, 2008 on his website at
Contact him at


Return_________________________End of Story___________________________Return

HOME May-June 2008 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web