Ask them whom will they serve, and all of them will say, â€œpeople.â€ But when they assume power, they all become pawns in the hands of big businesses, lobbyists and some invisible hands that often guide our policies in Congress and White House. The media, through organizing presidential debates, is trying to bring in added enthusiasm in the forthcoming elections, but it has not succeeded in creating a serious debate on the real issues this country is being challenged with.
The debate about our interests in the Middle East is almost non-existent.
Almost every presidential aspirant has aligned himself or herself with the position that American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC) has prepared on behalf of Israel. Justice and human rights are of least concern as far as Palestinians or Muslims in general are concerned. It is unlikely that the new president of the United States or the new Congress will ever look at the issue in the Middle East with a balanced understanding. Israel will always be given preference. There are several reasons for that.
Foremost is the one that is rarely said in public. The existence of Israel is paramount to the return of Jesus leading to 1000 years of peace as asserted by the fanatic Christian right that has gained substantial support in Republican and Democratic circles. In the Pentagon and State Department as well as among top bureaucrats, the belief that is often dominant in the political thinking is that without the current situation in the Middle East worsening further, Jesus (as) would be hesitant to return.
So strong is this belief that not only the present President and his top aides but many in the Pentagon and State Department seek constant guidance in these matters from Christian right priests who visit the White House and Congress regularly to conduct religious services. The discussion in Bible Classes that take place on the Hill regularly, attended by many Congressmen provide a clear testimony to that.
The second factor that influences the US decision to support Israel blindly is the sale of arms to Middle Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, and Kuwait have spent billions of dollars on buying US or European arms knowing full well that they would not used in any military confrontation against Israel. Their only use would be against their citizens or neighboring Muslim countries. The existence of conflict creates a sense of insecurity among the gulf states who are forced to spend beyond their means on defense.
Needless to say, such spending helps those who manufacture arms and who have their own representatives sitting in European and US capitals.
No matter who wins the next presidential election, the policy of supporting Israel blindly, and selling arms to the Gulf countries will remain the same.
On the domestic front, the gun lobby, the alcohol lobby, the banking lobby and many others will continue to exert influence on those who claim to represent the interests of the people.
People and their interests will be given the least priority. Issues such as medical coverage, homelessness, increasing the standards of education, reducing the national debt and cutting down on taxes will be raised only to give a glimmer of hope to the people without any concrete action. Obviously, when lobbies take care of the bulk of election expenses, they want to reap all the benefit. For instance, in the last general election, the pro Israel PACs contributed some 55 million dollars to candidates, while the Arab Americans contributed only 800,000 dollars. It is obvious that the Pro-Israeli lobby exerted its influence in proportion to its purchasing power.
What is that we Muslims can do in this situation? The first step for all of us is to understand the process through which nominations are filed, delegates are selected, manifestos are written, public debates are created. Unfortunately, not many among Muslims can claim that they have developed a sound understanding of the process. The absence of knowledge often leads to steps that are counter productive.
Perhaps we need to invest a little of our financial and intellectual resources on this aspect of our life in the US.