The Audacity of Questioning Obama's Commitment to Israel
Recently, American Thinker has published two articles exploring the issue of how firm the support might be for the American-Israel relationship in a Barack Obama Administration. The analysis delved into Obama's past and his very strong bond with Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr., his early and strong support from George Soros, and particularly, his foreign policy team. The articles have provoked a fierce response from certain Obama supporters.
Prominent Democrats have expressed qualms regarding his foreign policy choices -- including Martin Peretz and Alan Dershowitz (who called for Zbigniew Brzezinski, an ardent critic of Israel and the putative Israel lobby, to be replaced). These American Thinker articles were the culmination of hours of research and analysis, discussion and debate. What evolved reflected a concern among us regarding the future of the America-Israel relationship.
The articles prompted much discussion -- we were gratified by expressions of support for our inquiries; and took to heart some of the criticism that was also received. Perhaps the analysis could have mentioned some of the well-publicized positive steps Obama has taken in this area. As he began his Presidential campaign, Obama expressed support for Israel's right to defend herself. He stated:
"efforts to bring peace must begin with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy. That will be my starting point."
His recent actions -- speaking out against anti-Semitism during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and his drafting of a letter to the American Ambassador to the United Nations calling for the United Nations Security Council to take into account rocket attacks against Israel when dealing with the events in Gaza are also positive. So too, in his conference call on Monday with reporters from Haaretz and Jewish papers, Obama reiterated his support for Israel as a Jewish state, appeared to oppose a Palestinian right of return, and did not support talks with Hamas at this time.
The purpose of our inquiry was to bring to light information that had been given far less publicity. Certainly we have not been alone in wondering what the consequences would be for the American-Israel relationship should Barack Obama win the Presidency. As the Politico reported, his rhetoric has “chilled some supporters of Israel”
Widespread Concern Over Obama's Positions
Cohen is a liberal Democrat, and calling him a part of the vast right wing smear machine, as National Democratic Jewish Council Executive Director Ira Forman called Lasky in an ad hominum attack column released Monday won't work any better than labeling Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz as right wing smear artists for the deep concerns they have expressed about Obama's foreign policy team. Forman makes no attempt to offer any defense of that foreign policy team in his article. Nor has any other Obama defender who supports Israel made such a defense to this point. .
Former Israel Ambassador to America Daniel Ayalon (Who Are You Barack Obama?) wherein the Ambassador expressed concern regarding Obama's approach toward Iran and also, based on his own personal experience with Obama dealing on issues concerning the American-Israel relationship, stating that he was left with an "impression that he was not entirely forthright with his thinking";
Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who also took on Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul in this column;
Jerusalem Post Editorial Page editor Saul Singer (Obama's Mixed Record on Iran );
The New York Post;
Writer Hillel Halkin (Obama Gets Israel Wrong);
An American Jewish Committee internal memo questioned Obama's potential approach to Middle East policy;
Commentary Magazine writer Noah Pollak criticized Obama's appointment of Robert Malley and Samantha Power as foreign policy advisers. Pollak notes in a recent post that Power (a key and very public foreign adviser to Senator Obama) echoes the views of Zbigniew Brezenski in calling for "special interest groups" influence over foreign policy to be abolished. Power has also called for the elimination of foreign aid to Israel and its redirection to "Palestine", as well as the massive imposition of US military forces in the area to bring about and enforce a settlement (where, of course, they could find themselves easy targets and be subject to propaganda attacks as another imperial foray into the Middle East).
Slate magazine writer Mickey Kaus has long wondered why Obama and his close relationship with Pastor Wright has all but escaped any media scrutiny and has pointed out that Wright's racial divisiveness is in sharp contrast to Obama's campaign mantra of unity. Many other very credible commentators have raised these issues and others. Yet critics of Lasky's articles have all but ignored the criticism arising from these quarters.
The Democratic operative points to a lengthy article on the conservative American Thinker site highlighting Obama's ties to anyone holding anti-Israel positions and anything critical of Israel -- or suggestive of a willingness to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians - but dismissing any moves he's made in support of Israel.
"It's a blueprint for how they will go after Obama," he says. "It's all about fear-mongering. Is this person a Manchurian candidate? It's very crude."
He continues, "Does it hurt? Sure. But it's all lies ... We'll be able to show it for the lies it is, but it will take a lot of energy."
We don't think it is beyond the realm of fair play to question the close ties that have long existed between Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. This is not just anyone to Obama: Wright is his "spiritual mentor", his "sounding board", his "inspiration". Obama has credited Wright as being the source of many of his beliefs and thoughts. He was not just "anyone". Nor are Wright's statements regarding Israel mere criticism. They are harsh and unbalanced denunciations.
In the "Audacity of Criticism" Mr. Tobin rightly took a stand against the scurrilous emails circulating about Obama and his upbringing. But then he went further when he wrote in his concluding paragraphs:
"...when substantive questions were raised about Obama's associations, the reaction from some Jews was to treat them as being just as noxious as any lie."
"Novelist Michael Chabon wrote on HuffingtonPost.com that merely raising any questions about Obama and Farrakhan was itself illegitimate, even if the facts of this case were not Internet rumors. For Chabon, simply putting the words Obama and Farrakhan in the same article was "fear-mongering" and using the tactics of "propagandists of hatred." Chabon seemed to feel that anything written about a black that might alienate him from Jews was part of a racist mindset.
"So for all the distance we have traveled toward King's vision of a colorblind society, it appears that some view any questions about a black as inherently tainted by prejudice...."
"But if Barack Obama is to be elected president, he can't be regarded as a racial icon who must be treated with kid gloves and spared the examination to which other contenders must submit.
Tobin believes we should be probing of his takes on foreign policy and that we need to be:
"...asking about the presence of confirmed Israel-bashers among his advisers, such as Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brezhinski, and Robert Malley, a Clinton-administration staffer who's been a relentless apologist for Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. [....]
"Concern about racism should motivate us to speak out when Obama or any African-American is treated unfairly. But even though black-Jewish relations remain sensitive, that shouldn't silence questions about a man who may well become president."
Richard Baehr is political director of American Thinker.