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May 12, 2008
Obama: Israel a 'constant sore' that 'infects...foreign policy'
Interviewed in The Atlantic, Barack Obama tells us that Israel is a "constant wound... a constant sore..." and an infection. Gateway Pundit caught Obama's latest inflammatory remarks.
Jeff Goldberg:--- Do you think that Israel is a drag on America's reputation overseas?
Barack Obama:--- No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I'm not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that's the safest ground politically.
Note: Obama partisans are claiming that he said that the Midle East conflict is a constant sore. But quite clearly the antecedent to "this constant wound, that this constant sore" in the question is "Israel." Perhaps the Harvard-trained lawyer who tells us that words are important wants us to believe he was just sloppy. Or maybe words don't matter when he doesn't want them to?
Update from Ed Lasky:
David Frum at National Review Online adds some additional commentary
Obama: [S]ome of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we’re going to be stuck in the same status quo that we’ve been stuck in for decades now, and that won’t lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in your article.
Notice what is embedded here:
(1) a condescending assumption that the so-called hawkish position on the Arab-Israeli dispute is "blind" and adopted by US politicians only because they seek political safety - there's no acknowledgement that the dovish position was ever tried or that it in fact produced a terrible war in 2000-2003;
(2) the attitude, common on the Democratic left, that real friendship to Israel consists in compelling Israeli governments to do things that most Israelis regard as dangerous;
(3) acceptance of the red herring that it is "settlements" that are the source of the Arab-Israeli dispute;
(4) enormous and unexplained confidence that he can solve a problem through his personal intervention.
He was asked if he was “flummoxed” by Hamas’ endorsement. The answer is not likely to set your mind as ease:
I wasn’t flummoxed. I think what is going on there is the same reason why there are some suspicions of me in the Jewish community. Look, we don’t do nuance well in politics and especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy. We look at things as black and white, and not gray. It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, “This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,” and that’s something they’re hopeful about. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel’s security.
No one is right or wrong, it’s all “gray” and he’s just the guy to let everyone know. What is jaw-dropping, however, is his assumption that Hamas might be impressed with his “worldly” outlook. That’s what Hamas has been searching for: someone who is worldly. And notice the evasion he employs (”talks with people”) to escape stating the obvious: they are thrilled he’s offered direct talks with their sponsor and Holocaust denier Ahmejinidad.