Zahikim on 1 Dec 2000 21:06:24 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] New Editorial about Middle East, please post

Author Bio: Kim Jensen is a writer and editor who has lived and taught in the 
Middle East. She is a regular contributor to Aljadid Magazine, Boston Book 
Review, and other publications.

Discrimination and Racism: It's All Part of the Election Game

By Kim Jensen

As the presidential election continues to play out like a bad joke, we are 
all waiting, and some of us not so anxiously, for the terrible punch line: 
the corny, roll-the-eyes, "ha-ha"- inspiring President Elect as he attempts 
to prove that he has something new and wonderful to offer 'The American 
People.' It is a bad joke, indeed, a groaner-too predictable to even be funny.

Meanwhile, as the circus of bi-partisan clowns and chad-juggling acrobats 
plays on in Florida, the election is already over in the local, state, and 
congressional races. So it is not too early to start recounting, not the 
ballots, but the disgraceful tactics of the politicians as they ran their 
most expensive campaigns in history, buying votes in the time-honored 
American tradition of subverting democracy.

One of the most prominent races of the country was that of Hillary Clinton 
against Rick Lazio for the US Senate. They duked it out and fund-raised and 
courted special-interest groups like there was literally no tomorrow-the day 
when they might be held accountable. But of the many shameful events of the 
campaign there was one episode which symbolizes all the corruption, racism, 
and lack of fairness inherent to this process.

The story goes like this: In the month of June, The American Muslim Alliance 
held a fund raiser for Hillary Clinton. They raised $50,000 in a bid to enter 
the fray of mainstream politics. The Muslim Alliance hoped to exert a degree 
of influence upon US foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as to have a 
positive effect on the rampant discrimination against Muslims in this 
country.  But by the end of October, under pressure from virulent anti-Arab 
Lazio and powerful Jewish organizations, Hillary Clinton returned the $50,000 
of campaign contributions from these prominent Muslims.

Clinton claimed that she was offended by the 'outrageous' statements made by 
certain members of the Muslim Alliance. Apparently what these statements 
amounted to was a recognition that the Palestinian people (who have been 
enduring a 33 year illegal occupation) had the legitimate right to use armed 
resistance against the Israeli occupation. Since International law and 
numerous UN resolutions support this basic human right, it seems ludicrous to 
label such assertions as 'outrageous.' Of course, it goes without saying that 
hawkish Israeli settlers have no trouble finding a voice in the political 
process here.

Like George Bush and Al Gore during the presidential debates, these two 
senatorial candidates, Clinton and Lazio, were practically tripping over each 
other to prove their unfailing loyalty to the rogue state of Israel. Hilary 
Clinton, in a swing to the far right, and in defiance of her husband and the 
State Department, openly expressed her wish to move the US Embassy to 
Jerusalem, a move that would essentially legitimize the Israeli theft of East 
Jerusalem. Even the current pro-Israel US administration has been cautious 
about this highly charged issue. Hilary Clinton's rejection of Muslim money 
goes hand in hand with her obvious and obsequious desire to please the 
conservative Jewish establishment.

In a nut shell, by returning the 50,000 dollars Hillary Clinton was basically 
telling Muslims to go to hell. The message remains ever so clear: even when 
moderate and even conservative Muslims calmly try to play a part in 
conventional American politics, their opinions, money, and lives simply don't 
matter. Now that is outrageous. 

I have long argued that it is a waste of time to participate to a political 
process that is thoroughly corrupt. What we need desperately is to eliminate 
a campaign finance system which disenfranchises the poor, the working class, 
Muslims and all people of color. My own opinion is that the American Muslim 
Alliance's money would be better spent on grassroots campaigns to educate 
ordinary Americans who are woefully ignorant of Muslim issues, culture, and 
the legacy of colonial trauma. Nevertheless, I am again astounded by 
America's irrational preference for Israeli murder, occupation, and 
land-theft over rational Muslim demands for fair treatment and equality.

If Hillary Clinton's arrogant and racist act were an isolated event, rather 
than a part of a well-orchestrated campaign to discredit and de-humanize 
Arabs and Muslims, one might be able to let it pass. But there is blood in 
this issue. And right now-and as usual-it is Palestinian blood being spilled 
while these pro-Israel politicians smile and wave and turn a deaf ear to the 
desperate cries for justice in the Middle East.

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