US Senator Joe Lieberman was in the region recently raising a racket about the goings on in Syria. Having visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar, he concluded his visit to Leban-on. He expressed his deep concerns for the Syrians battling the government of Bashar Al Assad.
Following a meeting with the Lebanese Prime Minister Najeeb Mikati, he said, "I and a number of my colleagues in the US Senate are very concerned about the conflict in Syria and about the atrocities that are being carried out by the government forces. I'm also concerned that people in the region and throughout the world have not done enough to be supportive of the opposition in Syria to Al Assad," he said in reference to the Syrian president.
Escorted by the Lebanese Army, the senator also toured the Lebanese-Syrian border, meeting with some Syrian refugees who had escaped across the border. He inquired whether the aid reaching them was sufficient and promised further assistance. In speaking to the press he said that he ‘respects' the decision of the Lebanese ‘to disassociate' from the current conflict, adding that in his talks with the Lebanese premier, "I couldn't frankly make the same request to him as I made in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which is: please help these people in Syria that are fighting for their own freedom."
Perhaps those words may have seduced some politicians and government officials in the region to be appreciative of his apparent concerns for the demands of the people. But caution is the order of the day. Senator Lieberman is a wolf in sheep's clothing. For he is a staunch supporter of Zionism; a movement that has fuelled and encouraged the illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands by foreign Jews. Israel, the executor of Zionism and a rogue among regional nations, is arguably the Jewish Senator's most treasured priority in his political life. Mark Vogel, chairman of the pro-Israel National Action Committee, once said, "Joe Lieberman, without exception and no conditions is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman."
It is no political secret that this same senator who put on this show of concern towards Arabs is a committed believer of neoconservative ideology, evidenced by his aggressive support for wars against Israel's Muslim enemies. First it was Iraq, and then he shifted his attacks to Iran and now Syria. This same senator questioned President Barack Obama's patriotism when the president stated his reservations against the war on Iraq early on his presidency.
Lieberman led the bandwagon of US lawmakers who fought tooth and nail against Obama's health care reforms. One of his lawmaker supporters crowed, "If we're able to stop Obama on this proposal of his it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." And a broken Obama would be easier to manoeuvre into aggressive policies towards Iran and Syria, and reduce Israeli concern that Obama may pressure Israel into ‘making territorial and other concessions to the Palestinians and Syria to secure a peace agreement'.
As one analyst noted at the time, "A hobbled Obama won't be able to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt expansion of West Bank colonies or to take other steps that might lead to a Palestinian state. Obama also could be pushed around himself if Israel — itself an undeclared nuclear power — decides to launch air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities."
Not only is the state of Israel the cause that defines his political career, he has also displayed his animosity towards Islam and Muslim Americans on his own soil. In Lieberman's warped principles, while Israel can do no wrong, Islam fosters extremism. When news broke out that the Obama administration was removing religious references such as ‘Islamic extremism' from the US National Security Strategy document to address new ideological conflicts Lieberman went ballistic.
He denounced Obama for stripping the term ‘Islamic extremism' calling the move dishonest, and wrong-headed and said that failing to correctly identify ‘violent Islamist extremism' as the enemy is ‘offensive.' Appearing on Fox News, he stated that this wasn't the first time the Obama administration had tried to tiptoe around when it came to Islamic references in its security documents and that was time to ‘blow the whistle' on the administration's reluctance to do so. Late last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demanded that Congress stop targeting Muslim Americans. This was in response to hearings on ‘Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States,' led by Senator Lieberman and Representative Peter King and who once again singled out Islam and American Muslim communities as the focus of their terrorism inquiry.
There are far too many other examples of such bias by this American Israeli Public Affairs Committee card-carrying senator to capture in one column. While expressing such words of concern for Syrian refugees when on regional soil, is he so naive to believe that his shallow pretensions will continue to mask ongoing Israeli terrorism against the Palestinian people? Some politicians craftily shed tears with one eye while firmly shutting the other!
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.