April 10, 2008
REALITY: OBAMA IS “PRO-ISRAEL. PERIOD.”
Haaretz Columnist: “Obama Passed Any Test Anyone Might Have Wanted Him To Pass. So, He Is Pro-Israel. Period.”
Schmuel Rosner wrote, “Barack Obama’s big speech on Israel is now over, and as expected, the candidate made no secret of his support and dedication to the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. “My view is that the United States’ special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction,” were Obama’s words to Haaretz last week. Today, he sounded as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani. At least rhetorically, Obama passed any test anyone might have wanted him to pass. So, he is pro-Israel. Period.” [Haaretz, 3/07]
New York Sun: Obama’s “Commitment To Israel…Is Quite Moving” Which “Israel’s Friends In America…Can Warmly Welcome.”
The New York Sun wrote in an editorial, “At least by our lights, Mr. Obama’s commitment to Israel, as he has articulated it so far in his campaign, is quite moving and a tribute to the broad, bipartisan support that the Jewish state has in America…But as a candidate, he has chosen to put himself on the record in terms that Israel’s friends in America, at least those not motivated by pure political partisanship, can warmly welcome.” [New York Sun, 1/9/08]
The New York Sun reported, “On just the question of Mr. Obama’s support for Israel, however, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Howard Friedman, minimized any differences between the candidates. ‘All of the leading candidates, Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain, and Governor Huckabee, have demonstrated their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,’ Mr. Friedman said.” [New York Sun, 2/21/08]
Wexler: Obama Has “An A-Plus” On Israel.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported, “As he did in Iowa and Maryland, U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, an Obama adviser, addressed the Jewish community here Sunday afternoon at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. ‘Look at his record,’ the Florida congressman told a crowd of about 500, a handful of whom wore yarmulkes stamped with “Obama ’08.” ‘If you gave it a grade, it would be an A-plus.'” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 2/26/08]
Sheldon Schorer wrote, “What does this mean for Israel? The good news is that both in Hillary Clinton and in Barack Obama, the Democrats are proposing candidates who are good for Israel. Both candidates understand the importance of Israel as a strong and reliable ally in this volatile region, Israel’s need for security and the need for a Palestinian partner who earnestly desires peace and is capable of carrying out its commitments. Either candidate, if elected president, will offer a sympathetic ear and a helping hand to Israel. The excitement generated in the Democratic race thus far augurs well for a Democratic victory in November.” [Jerusalem Post, 2/11/08]
Cohen: Obama “Feels Israel In His Kishkas.”
Roger Cohen wrote, “Foreign policy will roar back once this is a straight Republican-Democrat fight. A Democrat who’s going to win has be strong on core American defense principles, which include Israel’s security. Obama feels Israel in his kishkas, all right. Equally, he feels dialogue, which has been his way of getting things done since he became a Chicago community organizer in the 1980s. There would be no six-year time-outs on Israel-Palestine under an Obama presidency. “He’d be actively involved from day one,” said Axelrod. Jews should get over the scaremongering: Obama is no Manchurian. Nor is he blind to the fact that backing Israel is not enough if such U.S. backing provides carte blanche for the subjugation of another people.” [New York Times, 2/11/08]
Pinkas: “If Barack Obama Is Not ‘Pro-Israel,’ Then Neither Are Most Israelis.”
Alon Pinkas wrote, “Trying to refute the ridiculous allegations on their merits is relatively easy: Obama’s voting record on issues pertaining to Israel is impeccable. Amongst his supporters and contributors are prominent Chicago and New York Jewish community and civic leaders, and I assume there are many more in Los Angeles, Miami and elsewhere. He has never outlined a policy that Israelis may find incompatible with what they believe a pro-Israeli Mid-East policy should be. In fact, Sen. Obama’s essay in Foreign Affairs is balanced and contains absolutely no policy prescriptions anyone in their right mind can define as ‘anti-Israeli’…The point is, an American president is ‘Pro-Israel’ when he profoundly appreciates the basic friendship with Israel, when he respects Israel as a democracy, when he truly believes in Israel as an idea and an enterprise. When his core value system and strategic outlook is similar to that of Israelis. In this respect, if Barack Obama is not ‘pro-Israel’, then neither are most Israelis.” [Jerusalem Post, Alon Pinkas, 1/16/08]
Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf: Obama “Offers What America, Israel, And The Jewish Community Need.” Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, a rabbi emeritus at Chicago’s KAM Isaiah Israel said, “I’ve worked with Obama for more than a decade, as has my son, a lawyer who represents children and people with disabilities. He has admired Obama’s dedication and skill as he worked on issues affecting our most vulnerable citizens. Obama is no anti-Semite. He is not anti-Israel. He is one of our own, the one figure on the political scene who remembers our past, and has a real vision for repairing our present. Barack Obama is brilliant and open-hearted; he is wiser and more thoughtful than his former minister. He offers what America, Israel, and the Jewish community need: a US President willing to ask hard questions, and grapple with difficult answers. I am very proud to be his neighbor. I hope someday to visit him in the White House.” [The Jewish Week, 3/19/08]
But because Obama is relatively new on the national political scene, and new to foreign policy questions such as the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides have been looking closely for clues to what role he would play in that dispute. [Los Angeles Times, 4/10/08]
REALITY: OBAMA HAS A LONG HISTORY OF SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
2000: Obama Said That The US Must Be Israel’s Ally In Her Quest For Peace And That “Israel Can Take Risks For Peace Only Because Of Unwavering American Support.”
A CityPAC questionnaire read in part, “Throughout its history, Israel has been anxious to make peace with its Arab neighbors. If successful, the current peace process is a potential opportunity for Israel to increase its security, normalize relations with its neighbors, and create a more stable and prosperous Middle East. Resolution of the conflict depends on direct negotiations between the parties based on mutual respect and recognition. The United States’ commitment to Israel must continue so Israel can negotiate with its former and current adversaries from a position of strength. Senator Obama believes that Israel can take risks for peace only because of unwavering American support.” [CityPAC Questionnaire, 2000 Congressional Primary]
2002: Obama Passed A Resolution That Condemned Terrorist Attacks Against Israel; Called On Arafat To Put An End To Terrorist Attacks “Which Emanate From Areas Under His Jurisdiction.”
Obama sponsored and passed a resolution that stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has entered a new phase of terrorism against Israeli civilians; and whereas The United States of America is committed to the safety and security of its citizens everywhere; and whereas the United States of America has made it a national priority to put an end to the scourge of such barbaric terror attacks; therefore, be it resolved that the Members of the Illinois State Senate wish a speedy recovery to the above-mentioned citizens as well as the others wounded in the recent barbaric attack; and be it further resolved that we express our collective outrage at the encouragement, support, and praise given to such terrorists and terror attacks; and be it further resolved that we call upon Palestinian Authority Chairman, Yassar Arafat, to put an end to all such encouragement, support, and praise for these terror attacks, which emanate from areas under his direct jurisdiction; and be it further resolved that the Members of the Illinois State Senate support the policy of the United States government in resisting terrorism throughout the world, and in seeking peace for Israel and its neighboring nations seeking a permanent peace accord; and be it further. [92nd GA, SR 346, Adopted 4/18/02]
2002: Obama Voted To Allow The State Of Illinois To Invest In Israeli Bonds. Obama voted to amend the Deposit of State Moneys Act to provide that the State Treasurer may invest in bonds, notes, debentures, or other similar obligations of a foreign government that are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of that government as to principal and interest, but only if the foreign government has not defaulted and has met its payment obligations in a timely manner on all similar obligations for a period of at least 25 years immediately before the time of acquiring those obligations. HB4159 gives the state treasurer increased flexibility in the investment of money in the state treasury that is not needed for current expenditures. According to a press release, “HB4159 provides more stringent requirements for foreign investments than domestic government investments, providing additional guides to the state treasurer while increasing the opportunity for the development of international economic partnerships. While the language of HB4159 allows investments in all foreign governments who meet the specified criteria, HB4159 was designed to provide the constitutional authority for the treasurer to invest in Israeli bonds. [92nd GA, HB 4159, 3R P 49-1-4, 5/8/02; PA 92-0546, 6/13/02; Press Release, 6/13/02]
2004: Obama Said “Our First And Immutable Commitment Must Be To The Security Of Israel.”
The Chicago Daily Herald reported, “‘Our first and immutable commitment must be to the security of Israel, our only true ally in the Middle East and the only democracy,’ Obama said in a July speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.” [Chicago Daily Herald, 10/18/04]
2006: Obama Cosponsored And Passed A Resolution Endorsing Israel’s Right To Self-Defense And Condemning Hamas And Hezbollah.
In 2006, Obama cosponsored a resolution condemning Hezbollah and Hamas and their state sponsors and supporting Israel’s exercise of its right to self-defense. The resolution (1) reaffirmed steadfast support for Israel, (2) supports Israel’s right of self-defense and its right to take appropriate action to deter aggression by terrorist groups and their state sponsors, (3) urges the President to continue to fully support Israel in exercising its right of self-defense in Lebanon and Gaza, (4) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli soldiers held captive by Hezbollah or Hamas, (5) condemns the governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas and holds these governments responsible for the acts of aggression carried out by Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel. [S. Res 534, Passed/agreed to in Senate, 7/18/06]
2006: Obama Cosponsored And Passed The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act Which Would Discourage International Aid To Hamas Unless It Recognizes Israel, Disarms And Renounces Violence. In 2006, Obama cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which: (1) States that it shall be U.S. policy to support a peaceful, two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in accordance with the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Roadmap), and oppose those organizations, individuals, and countries that support terrorism and violently reject such two-state solution; (2) provides assistance to the Hamas-controlled PA only during a period for which a presidential certification has determined that no PA ministry, agency, or instrumentality is controlled by Hamas unless the Hamas-controlled PA has publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist and the Hamas-controlled PA has made demonstrable progress toward purging from its security services individuals with ties to terrorism. [S. 2370, Became Public Law No: 109-446, 12/21/06]
2007: Obama Spoke With Prime Minister Olmert As Annapolis Talks Began, Reiterated His Commitment To Israel’s Security As The Basis For Peace Negotiations.
Obama said in a release, “Annapolis is a hopeful development because Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in serious discussions again and the countries of the region are involved, and I commend Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas for making the effort. I spoke with Prime Minister Olmert today, and assured him of my strong support for this effort and my unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security as a core principle as negotiations move forward. The Administration deserves credit for finally trying to use presidential diplomacy to bring the parties together. It’s a big change from the last six and a half years, when President Bush badly neglected this conflict. Recognizing the complexity of the issues under discussion and the importance of the conflict, it is my hope that this conference is just the start of a sustained push by the United States, the Israelis and the Palestinians to achieve the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.” [Press Release, 11/27/07]
2008: Obama Said Israel Was Among America’s “Most Important Allies And Their Security Is Sacrosanct.”
The Jerusalem Post reported, “While discussing issues of anti-Semitism, Obama said: ‘One of the reasons why so many of my supporters come from the Jewish community…is that I have been a stalwart friend of Israel and supported the special relationship we enjoy with it… They are among our most important allies and their security is sacrosanct.'” [Jerusalem Post, 2/27/08]
Last year, for example, Obama was quoted saying that ‘nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people.’ The candidate later said the remark had been taken out of context, and that he meant that the Palestinians were suffering “from the failure of the Palestinian leadership [in Gaza] to recognize Israel” and to renounce violence. [Los Angeles Times, 4/10/08]
REALITY: OBAMA DID NOT NEED TO CLARIFY HIS STATEMENTS BECAUSE WAS ACCURATE IN THE FIRST PLACE
Des Moines Register Published Full Obama Remark, Clarifying Context.
Obama said, “Now, in the interim, nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people from this whole process. And I would like to see – if we could get some movement from Palestinian leadership – what I’d like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people.” [Des Moines Register, 5/3/07]
Baltimore Sun: Obama Said That Cause Of Palestinian Suffering Was Their Own Leadership.
The Baltimore Jewish Times reported that Obama “went on to say that the cause of that suffering was the Palestinians’ own terror-sponsoring leadership. But the damage had been done…Mr. Obama, like so many others, is deemed a threat to Israel despite consistent support for the positions of pro-Israel groups. His sin: advocating other positions that may not be on the current talking points of pro-Israel groups, but which are consistent with official Israeli and U.S. policy.” [Baltimore Jewish Times, 3/23/07]
New York Times Issued A Correction On Obama’s Position On Middle East Peace, Saying That Obama Blamed Hamas, Not Israel.
The correction read, “An article yesterday about competition for Jewish support between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama incorrectly described Mr. Obama’s views about the culpability for stalled peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis. Mr. Obama blames Hamas, which controls much of the Palestinian government, for the stalled peace talks; he does not blame Israel.” [New York Times, 3/15/07]
Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian rights activist in Chicago who helps run Electronic Intifada, said that he met Obama several times at Palestinian and Arab American community events. At one, a 2000 fundraiser at a private home, Obama called for the U.S. to take an ‘even-handed’ approach toward Israel, Abunimah wrote in an article on the website last year. He did not cite Obama’s specific criticisms. Abunimah, in a Times interview and on his website, said Obama seemed sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but more circumspect as he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. At a dinner gathering that year, Abunimah said, Obama greeted him warmly and said privately that he needed to speak cautiously about the Middle East. Abunimah quoted Obama as saying that he was sorry he wasn’t talking more about the Palestinian cause, but that his primary campaign had constrained what he could say. Obama, through his aide Axelrod, denied he ever said those words, and Abunimah’s account could not be independently verified. [Los Angeles Times, 4/10/08]
REALITY: ED LASKY SAID ABUNIMAH WAS NOT A RELIABLE SOURCE, KHALIDI HIMSELF SAID OBAMA WAS NEVER SUPPORTIVE OF THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE
Ed Lasky: Abunimah Was Not “The Most Reliable Source.”
Lasky wrote, “True, Abunimah may not be the most reliable source…” [American Thinker, 3/22/07]
Rashid Khalidi: Obama Was Never Supportive Of The Palestinian Cause.
The New York Daily News reported, “Obama got help from an unlikely source yesterday when pro-Palestinian Prof. Rashid Khalidi denied a report that Obama used to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and had recently shifted his stance to pro-Israel. Khalidi spoke to the Daily News to rebut a report on a pro-Palestinian blog that was circulated by Clinton supporters. The blog, the Electronic Intifada, offered no evidence that Obama used to be supportive of the Palestinian cause, but cited private conversations, including one at a 2000 Obama fund-raiser hosted by Khalidi. Khalidi, now head of Columbia University’s Middle East Institute, said he hosted the fund-raiser because he was friends with Obama while the two lived in Chicago.” [New York Daily News, 3/6/07]
“Nationally, Obama continues to face skepticism from some Jewish leaders who are wary of his long association with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who had made racially incendiary comments during several sermons that recently became widely known. Questions have persisted about Wright in part because of the recent revelation that his church bulletin reprinted a Times op-ed written by a leader of Hamas.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/10/08]
REALITY: OBAMA “STRONGLY DISAGREES” WITH WRIGHT ON ISRAEL
Obama “Strongly Disagrees” With Wright Position On Israel.
“Wright remains Obama’s pastor and friend, [Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki] said, but they do not see eye to eye on every issue. Obama, she said, ‘strongly disagrees with any portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that advocates divestment from Israel or expresses anything less than strong support for Israel’s security.'” [Christian Science Monitor, 7/16/07]
Obama Said That Wright Had A “Profoundly Distorted” View Of America, Including The Incorrect View That The Problems In The Middle East Were Rooted In “Actions Of Stalwart Allies Like Israel” As Opposed To “Hateful Ideologies Of Radical Islam.”
Obama said, “But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.” [Speech, 3/18/08]