Obama's Jewish problem: Redux UPDATED
by shergald, Fri Mar 14, 2008 at 03:53:36 AM EDT
Barak Obama's "Jewish problem" is back again.
Cecilie Surasky of Muzzlewatch, a subsidiary of Jewish Voice for Peace, posted this re-assessment of Barak Obama's presidential candidacy by members of right wing Zionist organizations, all strongly supported by AIPAC, in the United States this morning. Jewish Voice for Peace is a grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law, while Muzzlewatch seeks to create an open atmosphere for debate about US-Israeli foreign policy by counteracting censorship and intimidation concerning the publication of Israeli-Palestinian news in the US.
In (Some) Jews Against Obama, Cecile Sarasky notes: "the Nation's Eric Alterman has the most in-depth roundup I've seen yet of charges leveled against Obama by various American Likudnik Jewish leaders including Mort Klein of the the Zionist Organization of America, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and a counsel at the American Jewish Committee."
During the past few months a small group of neoconservative Jews, many of whom hold key positions in the world of official Jewish institutions, have been working to undermine the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama with a series of carefully planted character assassinations and deliberately misleading innuendo. I noticed this trend when Debra Feuer, a counsel for the American Jewish Committee, sent a confidential memo to her counterparts at other organizations criticizing Obama's views on the Middle East, Iran and Syria and attacking him for having once appeared at a fundraiser headlined by the late Edward Said. The memo, reported by the Forward, was immediately disowned, but not denied, by AJC executive director David Harris.
Also throwing his hatchet into the ring was Morton Klein, who heads up the Likud-loving Zionist Organization of America, complaining that "Barack Obama doesn't understand the continuing Arab war against Israel" and terming the notion of an Obama presidency "frightening." He was joined by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group that professes to speak for all American Jews. Hoenlein told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz that Obama's talk of "change" could prove "an opening for all kinds of mischief" and gave voice to what he termed "a legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign." The Tennessee Republican Party issued a news release noting what it claimed was "a growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States."
Alterman quotes Matthew Yglesias:
"First Obama was an anti-Semite because Zbigniew Brzezinski is an anti-Semite. Then Obama was an anti-semite because Robert Malley is an anti-semite. And now according to [Commentary's Noah] Pollack [sic] it's Samantha Power who's tainted by Jew-hatred."
As usual, says Surasky, attempts at painting Obama as anti-Israel have had almost no traction with the majority of American Jews, whose liberal views comport with Obama's with quite nicely.
What exactly are they so scared of? Alterman writes:
Perhaps it is honesty about the issue. Speaking to a largely Jewish audience in Cleveland, Obama explained, "There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel." Then came his kicker: "One of the things that struck me when I went to Israel was how much more open the debate was around these issues in Israel than they are sometimes here in the United States." No wonder he scares them so...
The key term in these concerns for Obama's candidacy is "Likudnik," represented by a small but highly vocal and powerful group of right wing pro-Israel religious and secular nationalist organizations, followers of the Likud party in Israel, whose intent is to completely disenfranchise the Palestinian people of any claim to a state on the land of original Palestine, their ancestral home for over a thousand years.
Bush's recent pronouncement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Ramallah, January 10) is alien to the Likudniks:
There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.
However, none of the presidential candidates have ventured as far as Bush. Except for Obama, who made clear that his foreign policy agenda is anti-Likud, Hillary and McCain have only avoided questions about solutions, or have given silence to the matter. For that pro-AIPAC positioning alone, they should be avoided.
UPDATE: This article from the Nation appeared recently as well:
The Media Repeats Stream of Lies About Obama", by Ari Berman:
He's been defended by AIPAC on his Israel views, made it clear that he's Christian, yet the media keeps swallowing right-wing lies.
He's a Muslim. He was sworn into office on the Koran. He doesn't say the Pledge of Allegiance. His pastor is an anti-Semite. He's a tool of Louis Farrakhan. He's anti-Israel. His advisers are anti-Israel. He's friends with terrorists. The terrorists want him to win. He's the Antichrist.
By now you've probably seen at least some of these e-mails and articles about Barack Obama bouncing around the Internet. They distort Obama's religious faith, question his support for Israel, warp the identity and positions of his campaign advisers and defame his friends and allies from Chicago. The purpose of the smear is to paint him as an Arab-loving, Israel-hating, terrorist-coddling, radical black nationalist. That picture couldn't be further from the truth, but you'd be surprised how many people have fallen for it. The American Jewish community, one of the most important pillars of the Democratic Party and US politics, has been specifically targeted [see Eric Alterman's column in the March 24 issue, "(Some) Jews Against Obama"]. What started as a largely overlooked fringe attack has been thrust into the mainstream -- used as GOP talking points, pushed by the Clinton campaign, echoed by the likes of Meet the Press host Tim Russert. Falsehoods are repeated as fact, and bits of evidence become "elaborate constructions of malicious fantasy," as the Jewish Week, America's largest Jewish newspaper, editorialized.
The phrase, pushed by the Clinton campaign, stands out. No question that a Hillary presidency is bad for Middle East peace.