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For sale to the highest bidder: the US presidency

July 10, 2015 at 10:46 am

The supposedly democratic process of electing a president of the United States is becoming increasingly depressing and decidedly undemocratic, because the next incumbent in the White House will have got there largely because money talks. Their campaign funds will match the GDP of a small European country.

Becoming the next US president will have little to do with political integrity, compassion, humanity or a sense of fair play and justice; all are qualities which you’d think would be essential to lead the most powerful country in the world.

Unsurprisingly, though, cash is king in the empire of capitalism and the pressure to bank as much as you can on the campaign trail is huge. So much so, in fact, that some might even be tempted to sell their soul, compromise future US foreign policies and cut unethical deals with the highest bidder. The seductive lure of power will undoubtedly see politicians flog their principles, beliefs and ethics for a few dollars more.

Some observers have already started to question Hillary Clinton’s motives behind an extremely critical letter targeting BDS (the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign aimed at Israel). In it, she promises an incredibly wealthy donor that she will work with the Republicans to fight BDS; it is without doubt an astonishing offer for a would-be Democratic presidential candidate to jump into bed with her opponents.

This will undoubtedly exert pressure on potential Republican candidates to out-tough Clinton in her determination to wreck the BDS campaign. The target of her filthy lucre charm offensive was billionaire Haim Saban, a leading Zionist and a megabucks donor to the Democrats. Once she had delivered her “Dear Haim” letter it was handed to the public relations company Puder, which then made sure it got a much wider audience. Puder, incidentally, serves a number of businesses that are embedded deeply in the occupation and work in the illegal West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements. It boasts on its website: “Puder PR is the only communications firm specialising in Jewish affairs that operates in the United States and Israel.”

Sadly, the mainstream media in America is either unable or unwilling to ask Clinton why she appears to be collaborating with a company which promotes businesses operating on stolen lands. Or does international law and order stop at the foot of Capitol Hill? At the very least, Clinton, who wants to become the first female US president, should be asked about her association with Haim Saban because of his links and support for companies operating in areas the Israeli occupation of which is deemed illegal under international law.

The global BDS campaign has the support of many church ministries and a diverse group of religious leaders; it is a non-violent movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to fall in line with international law and end its illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Surely, such a peaceful enterprise should be commended and celebrated by someone who has aspirations to be a world leader?

Those who founded BDS believe in the universal principles of human rights for everyone including the Palestinian people and their struggle for justice, equality and freedom. And yet BDS is feared and hated by the Zionists and loathed by their supporters, and has become incredibly effective in the same way as the anti-apartheid movement, which brought down the South African regime, was.

Searching for solutions via peaceful means in a volatile part of the world should be supported and not undermined, but it now seems that the woman who wants to be the next US president is determined to destroy BDS. She makes that perfectly clear in her grovelling letter to Saban, in which she describes UN resolutions calling on Israel to abide by international law and cease its illegal activity as “anti-Israel resolutions”. They’re actually “anti-illegal activity resolutions”, but that point is lost on Hillary Clinton.

Apart from boasting that she personally made sure America blocked Palestinian attempts for statehood at the UN, she told Saban that “America will always stand up for Israel.” Her letter makes it perfectly clear that BDS has become a thorn in the side of the Zionist state and that the next US president (assuming it is Clinton) will do her utmost to destroy the movement.

Only last month Yinon Magal, a member of the ultra-nationalist Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) Party in Israel, drew up a bill that would ban BDS supporters from visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. It would also bar foreign nationals of Jewish descent who support the movement from obtaining Israeli citizenship.

Israel’s “Law of Return”, passed in 1950, allows any Jew from around the world to move to the Zionist state, including the illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. By contrast, the millions of Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed from their homeland during the 1948 Nakba — the establishment of Israel — are banned from returning to their own land.

According to a Financial Times article published last month: “Though a decade old, BDS’s message — that Israel should be isolated economically for its occupation of Palestinian lands — has appeared to come into its own in recent weeks. A series of votes by overseas groups condemning Israel and a high-profile flap between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Orange, the French telecoms group, have contributed to the sense that BDS is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

“Israel’s leaders, who had largely ignored the BDS movement in the past, are fighting back, describing the battle against it in bellicose language befitting a military campaign. ‘Delegitimisation must be fought, and you are on the front lines,’ Mr Netanyahu told an anti-BDS summit in Las Vegas last weekend organised by the billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, which reportedly raised tens of millions of dollars.”

Just before the FT article was published an Israeli financial newspaper revealed that a leaked government report estimated that the BDS movement was costing Israel’s economy $1.4 billion dollars a year. Meanwhile, US think tank The Rand Corporation believes that the costs are triple that, costing $47 billion dollars over 10 years, according to this CNN TV report.

It is fairly clear, therefore, that the BDS campaign is very effective, to the extent that the person seeking to be the next president of the United States of America is prepared to place its destruction at the core of her election promises. It is also very clear that there are extremely wealthy individuals within the pro-Israel Lobby in the US who are prepared to pay to protect Israel in the highest echelons of American politics, no matter what the cost. That not only says a lot about how important and effective BDS is, but also how much it costs to buy the US presidency. Anyone for democracy?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.