Bret Stephens warns against American Jewry spurning outreach by Barack Obama in an otherwise critical Wall Street Journal column about the presidential candidate and his views toward Israel.
As a matter of fact, there has been plenty of "Jewish outreach" toward Barack Obama. On the campaign trail he has spoken of the important role Chicago Jews have played in his rise. He has a slew of prominent Congressmen who profess that he is pro-Israel. He has Jewish advisers, prominent Jewish supporters (Newton Minow, Lester Crown, his campaign manager David Axelrod, Congressman Robert Wexler and others), has spoken before and been warmly welcomed before Jewish groups. The outreach includes a fawning Jewish press which has regularly criticized anyone who dared to question Barack Obama or who expressed qualms about him and boosterism by The New Republic's Martin Peretz, who willingly joined the spin game over the issue of Robert Malley.
Yet we have statements that indicate a Likud-led Israeli government would have problems with a President Barack Obama; we have statements that Jerusalem must be put on the plate in negotiations; we have unconditional outreach towards Iran; we have been told that Hezbollah has legitimate grievances; we have not been told that an Obama Administration would move the American Embassy to Jerusalem (even the undisputed area); we have a candidate who spoke about Israel's "separation barrier" (others use the less inflammatory and more accurate term "security fence").
Barack Obama has alluded to Israel being belligerent; his closest foreign policy adviser (until she was quoted calling Hillary Clinton a "monster") Samantha Power complain that criticism of Sen. Obama all revolved around "what is good for the Jews"; we have his campaign co-chair and chief military advisor Merrill McPeak complain that foreign policy is negatively impacted by "New York City. Miami. We have a large vote -- vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it."
We have both Power and Zbigniew Brzezenski speak negatively about the voice of pro-Israel supporters in America and its role in discussing foreign policy. We have Robert Malley -- a member of his Middle East Advisory Council (until it came out that he was meeting with Hamas) -- who has issued opinion after opinion that take a very harsh view toward Israel and promote outreach toward her enemies. We have Israel left out of a list of important American allies; we have Barack Obama stating that appropriate actions would be taken if Iran attacked Israel (whatever that means). We have an array of advisers who have routinely issued advice over the years that would weaken our ally and strengthen her and our enemies.
We have statements in Oregon just two days ago that Iran is not a serious threat to America, with no mention of its nuclear program or its threat to destroy Israel. (Obama had yet another makeover in Montana yesterday when he, miraculously, realized that Iran did pose a threat); that Iran is tiny with a miniscule defense budget compared to America's. Obama is ignoring all the attacks Iran has inflicted upon America and Israel, its role as the number one terror-supporting nation in the world, ignoring the fact that terror is cheap, and ignoring the role that Iran has played in destroying Lebanon, and empowering Hezbollah and Hamas.
He has stated that the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is a "constant sore" that harms America and our image in the world and stokes terrorism -- without mentions of the role of Islamic extremism or failures on the part of the Palestinians. He has called for the convening of a Muslim nation's summit so he can listen to their "grievances." He has said that he will honor the Holocaust-denying and Holocaust-planning President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a face-to-face meeting with him should he become President of the United States.
Obama initially refused to distance himself from his anti-Israel Pastor whom he has called his "moral compass", "sounding board" and "confidant" and with whom he had had a twenty-year relationship with until Wright attacked him personally. He has continued to obfuscate the closeness of their ties over two decades (and the fact that he has raised his daughters within the church). The same Pastor bestowed an award on Louis Farrakhan, one of the most infamous anti-Semites in America. The same Pastor who has repeatedly castigated Israel from his pulpit and in his church's magazine.
One might conclude that so far that Jewish outreach is not exactly working marvels. By all means, hope springs eternal and perhaps such Jewish outreach has had a positive impact which, in light of the problematic issues raised above, might reveal something about the depth of Barack Obama's feelings and his future plans towards our ally. I encourage continued efforts to work with Senator Obama. Maybe it is just a very, very long-term process. I wish them the best of luck.
Finally, the story about Senator Obama's quote about "nobody suffering more then the Palestinian people" is faithfully told. He stated his views just as Bret Stephens reports; he faced a fire storm of criticism, campaign manager David Axelrod did yet another makeover, and Barack Obama/David Axelrod clarified that he meant to say 'nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people from the failure of their leadership." Unfortunately (and tellingly), Barack Obama's version is that he said both statements simultaneously. "What I actually said was that "nobody was suffering more than the Palestinian people from the failure of their leadership". It has always disturbed me that the media bought this whopper.