Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Israel...

It doesnt help his trustworthiness in my mind, when Obama's statements on U.S.-Israel relations have also been anything but clear. His Israel positions follow an increasingly confusing pattern of obfuscation and double-talk that clouds his positions on many relevant policy issues.

At the 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference, Obama said "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." One day later, after being criticized by Arab leaders, Obama backtracked, saying, "Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations." This is more than a simple slip-up. The status of Jerusalem is an incredibly sensitive topic on both sides.

Forget the fact that a Hamas spokesman first endorsed and then un-endorsed Obama's candidacy. I can quote Mohamed Habib, second in command over at the Muslim Brotherhood, aka, the Hamas of Egypt, on what he thinks of the choices in this Presidential election.

"We would naturally like to see the end of the current regime and that their practices are not to be repeated by the coming administration. We don't anticipate such change taking place if Senator John McCain wins, for he seems to be following the same line as the current American President George Bush. We are not so sure about Senator Obama either, because of his Israel visit, him saying that Israel is a democracy, and his visit to AIPAC, but we are withholding judgment because maybe he needs to do this to win. That being said, any change away from the criminal practices of the current administration is a good thing, and we would be happy with whatever candidate would put a stop to it."

Looks like Mohamed and I see eye to eye on one issue, thinking that "maybe he needs to do this to win."

One seemingly consistent theme running throughout Obama's career is his comfortable association with people who are anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic radicals. Early on in his career, some 20 years ago, he chose Trinity United as his place of worship and adopted Reverend Jeremiah Wright as his spiritual mentor. Aside from some of his other outlandish anti-American rants, Wright equates Zionism with racism, talks of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, floated an accusation that the South Africans and Israelis conspired to create an "ethnic bomb" to kill blacks and Arabs and calls for his church's divestment in companies doing business with Israel in the July 2005 issue of the Trinity United Trumpet.

It's wildly hypocritical for a guy who donated $22,000 to Trinity United in 2006, to say "One of the things that is frustrating about the recent conversations on Israel is the loss of what I think is the natural affinity between the African-American community and the Jewish community, one that was deeply understood by Jewish and black leaders in the early civil-rights movement but has been estranged for a whole host of reasons that you and I don’t need to elaborate."

Obama claims that he never sat in the pews during Wright's anti-Israel or anti-American sermons. He says that had he known about them, he would have hastened his departure from the church and ended his two decade friendship with the man who presided over his wedding and baptized his two children.

Even more confusing were his two conflicting speeches within weeks of each other where he first defended and excused Wright for his radical words, saying that he could not "disown" Wright any more than he could "disown his white grandmother." Obama did forcefully renounce Wright on April 30, but only after the Reverend called Obama's integrity into question, by saying, "We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected."

Such sordid associations and double-talk regarding Israel-U.S. relations make me unable to believe in his sincerity on this issue or his ability to be a competent broker in negotiations between the two parties. Neither do his statements during a Democratic primary debate, when Obama said "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people."

Despite having a host of liberal Jewish personal friends and close advisers to his campaign, I continue to doubt Obama's sincerity and question his ties to the growing radical wing within the Democrat party that espouses a more critical and condescending American policy toward Israel.

Ali Abunimah, a Hyde Park Palestinian-American activist, said that until a few years ago, Obama was "quite frank that the U.S. needed to be more evenhanded, that it leaned too much toward Israel." It was vivid in his memory, said Abunimah, because "these were the kind of statements I'd never heard from a U.S. politician who seemed like he was going somewhere rather than at the end of his career. He convinced me he was very aware of the issues [and] critical of U.S. bias toward Israel and lack of sensitivity to Arabs. ... He was very supportive of U.S. pressure on Israel."

But leave it to Jesse Jackson to open his mouth on this topic, who said that with Obama in the White House, "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" will remain strong, but they'll lose a great deal of their clout, and "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.

There is little doubt in my mind why Israelis favor McCain over Obama by more than 20 percentage points, or why the Israel is the only nation in the world with a favorable opinion of President Bush. It's simply because both men abide by a common-sense U.S.-Israel policy that recognizes our close ties with the only liberal Democracy in the middle east and favors our strongest regional ally in the fight against radical Islamic extremism.

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