Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clearing Up the Mystery of Barak Obama's Support of Israel

Why is Barak Obama's stance on the Middle East such a mystery? From the BarakObama campaign website, it appears Mr. Obama will support a strong U.S.-Israel partnership:
Barack Obama strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship, believes that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel . . . Obama supports this closeness, stating that the United States would never distance itself from Israel.

Concerning Israel's right to defend itself against enemy attack, the policy making Obama headquarters states:

During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He believes strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.

From Barak's website, his commitment to Israel as primary ally of the U.S. is a done deal. However, on Sunday (February 24, 2008), Ralph Nadar made several remarks on "Meet the Press" that brings Obama's stand on Israel into question.

According to the Republican Jewish Coalition website, Nader remarked that Sen. Obama had reversed his positions on Israel. Nader said Sen. Obama's "better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself" and that Sen. Obama was "pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate" and "during the state Senate."

In March 2007 Obama told voters in Iowa, that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." From The Nation we learn Obama has spoken highly of the Palestinian people and the calamities they have faced. Obviously, these statements made back in March 2007 have not endeared Obama to the Jewish pro-Israel bloc.

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks warns that "people should be very skeptical of Barack Obama's shaky Middle East policies. When a long-time political activist like Ralph Nader, with a well-documented, anti-Israel bias, claims that Senator Obama shares this anti-Israel bias, that is alarming."

However,with all due respect to Barak Obama, if he has truly reversed his position on Israel out of sincere convictions, I applaude his change of heart. Perhaps in preparing for his presidential run, he looked further into the issues of the Middle East and made a genuine change of policy. Perhaps he was more anti-Israel in the past. The words that come out of his mouth on his website today and in other situations sound as though he has come to a new understanding on Israel's tough situation.

If Barak Obama has altered his position on Israel only to garner Jewish votes, shame on him.

If he becomes president, and is forced to deal with the Middle East conflict, will he stand by Israel and condemn Palestinian terrorist aggression? That is a gamble Obama supporters will have to take, especially his Jewish advocates. The question we must ask is whether he truly understands the complexities of the Middle East dilemma and will he stand by Israel to protect and secure America's longtime democratic ally?

Tonight on the presidential debate Mr. Obama was asked about the fact earlier this week Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan threw in his support of Barak for president. Minister Farrakhan called the democratic presidential candidate, the "hope of the entire world." When asked about Farrakhan, Obama described in no uncertain terms that he views the Minister's comments as antisemitic-repugnant and reprehensible. Yet when pressed whether he rejects the support of Farrakhan, Obama faltered a bit and said he had no control over who supports him. In the debate format Mrs. Clinton pressed further, and Obama conceded that he rejects the support of Louis Farrakhan. It's too bad and also alarming that Obama had to falter at all in rejecting Farrakhan's support.

No person-white or black-claiming to want the Jewish vote can do so without disavowing any connection with the racism of Louis Farrakhan.

Regarding Obama's position on Israel, in June 2007 he was asked by Jim Wallis' Sojourners where he stands on Israel. The question posed by Wallis gave every opportunity to Obama to clarify where he stands: "Do you think the Palestinians and the occupied territories are being treated morally, and fairly, and justly by the Israelis?"

Obama replied:
"I believe that the Israelis want peace, and they want security. And oftentimes, in the midst of achieving security, there have been times when there's no doubt that Palestinians have been placed in situations that we wouldn't want our own families to be placed in. Israelis have been killed. They've got bombs flying into their territories right now. And we would expect them to act appropriately in defending themselves. . . Is there a way for us to reconcile the claims of both sides of the conflict in a way that leads to resolution and a better life for all people? And that, I think, is something that can be achieved, but it's going to require some soul-searching on the Palestinian side. They have to recognize Israel's right to exist; they have to renounce violence and terrorism as a tool to achieve their political ends; they have to abide by agreements. In that context, I think the Israelis will gladly say, 'Let's move forward negotiations that would allow them to live side by side with the Palestinians in peace and security.'

While I have yet to see Obama's position on whether he believes in a one state or two state solution to the Middle East conflict, I am squeamish to admit he seems committed to the security of Israel and is willing to challenge Palestinian terrorism as a counterfeit and fruitless means of achieving "peace in the Middle East."

If Obama's support of Israel is simply the necessary rhetoric of a man who needs to say what's expedient for the moment to grab the Jewish vote, then the U.S., the Israelis and the Jewish community have been duped by a man who would prove himself to be no better than Louis Farrakhan. I say that with deep grief in my heart hoping that Barak Obama is a man of integrity and a man of his word.

1 comment:

Rita Summers said...

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