Barack Obama, Jewish-Americans And Israel
From The Jerusalem Connection, International
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
By: David Bedein
The Philadelphia Bulletin
From a personal and professional perspective, this is the sixth American Presidential campaign that I have covered from Israel, concentrating on the "Israel aspect" of the story.
This time I not only have covered the campaign from Israel - This time, I was assigned by The [Philadelphia] Bulletin to fly over and cover the Obama campaign at the time of the Pennsylvania primary in April.
My observation of the "Jewish American view of Sen. Obama" was that there was an atmosphere of unreality surrounding Jewish advocacy and Jewish opposition to Sen. Barack Obama.
Both pro-Obama and anti- Obama forces in the Jewish world related to the senator with an attitude of superficiality, paying more attention paid to the company that he keeps than to the policies that he stands for.
Yet here is the rub: None one has really heard where Sen. Obama stands on Middle East issues.
When I interviewed three of Sen. Obama's staffers who specialize in Middle East issues, I presented them with 18 questions. Besides the issue of Palestinian incitement, which his staffers said that he abhors, they could not provide any answers whatsover to basic questions put forward by The Bulletin last April.
With the multi-billion dollar arms package to Saudi Arabia about to reach the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Sen. Obama is a member, his staffers could not even say what his position was on arms to Saudi Arabia, which remains in a state of active war with Israel.
Indeed, Saudi Arabia currently funds Hamas, the Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), all of which are Palestinian terror organizations that actively engaged in planning operations against the Jewish state.After Sen. Obama's formal nomination as democratic candidate for president in late August, The Bulletin resubmitted these 18 basic questions.
Sen. Obama's staffers promised answers this time. None were forthcoming.
Yet there is a way to gain insight into Sen. Obama's policies towards Israel. Not by tabulating votes on the Senate floor and not by counting how many superlatives that he uses on Israel.
Instead, by paying attention to the three high ranking former U.S. State Department officials whom the Senator has hired: Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer. The policy which characterizes all three of them is their consistent promotion of the PLO as a supposed peace partner with Israel for the past 20 years, no matter what the reality was.
This is the threesome that defined the PLO as a peace partner even after the PLO would not ratify the Oslo "declaration of principles" in October 1993.
This is the threeesome that attested to the fact that, in 1996, the PLO had cancelled its covenant to destroy Israel, when it had not done so.
This is the threesome who insisted on arming the PLO to fight Hamas even though the PLO made it clear from the outset that it would never engage Hamas in any full-scale war. And this is the threesome who promote a PLO state, come what may.
And this is the threesome who main committed to mobilizing Jewish Americans to support a PLO state, come what may.
From Sen. Obama's appointment of Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer, it is easy to discern where the Senator stands - for the renewal of the Oslo process once again, this time with the teeth of an American administration that would impose a Palestinian state, even though it remains at war with the State of Israel.
The role played by Daniel Kurtzer has not been forgotten - as the man who wrote tough speeches for former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker when he pressured Israel 20 years ago.
What about Sen. Obama's sensitivity to the consquences of Arab terror?
After all, during his visit to the shell-shocked Israeli town of Sderot near Gaza, he met families whose homes and lives have been devastated by Arab missile attacks.
It was in Sderot where Sen. Obama looked into the eyes of each of these families and told them that he would never forget the consequences of what terror had done to people in Israel.
Yet on the very next morning, Sen. Obama addressed a crowd in Berlin in which he depicted how nations around the world had suffered from the consequences of terror. The senator named each of these nations. Yet he forgot to name Israel.
A short term retention span which deleted Israel as a nation whose people suffered the conseqeunces of terror could not have been a coincidence.
Sen. Obama gives prepared speeches.
The time has come to put aside platitudes and to stop judging Sen. Obama's attitude towards Israel from those who have endorsed him. His choices of advisors speak for themselves.
David Bedein is The Philadelphia Bulletin's Middle East Correspondent