Read Stephen's bio and previous columns
March 3, 2008
Nonsense Aside, Barack
Obama Strongly Supports Israel
the past week, for some reason, the idea has emerged – everywhere from
newspaper op-ed pages to e-mail lists – that voters who strongly support
Israel have something to fear from Barack Obama.
The candidate would be a “disaster for Israel,” we’re told, mostly
because he’s got some advisors around him who have said and written
certain skeptical things about the Jewish state. Based on the claims
coming from both Jews and non-Jews, there are doubts raised because
Obama is “close to” Louis Farrakhan, and because – after all – he’s got
that third-world pedigree, his grandfather was a Muslim and his middle
name is Hussein.
with all smears directed at Barack Obama, it is wise to apply what I
like to call the “SWV Test.” Is the position Obama is accused of holding
consistent with everything he’s ever Said, Written and Voted For? In
this case, the record makes clear that, just as Obama is not a black
separatist, a Madrassah alum, a radical leftist or any of the other
outlandish things he has been accused of, he is not a hater of Jews or
an opponent of Israel.
The truth is this: Obama has been clear from the beginning of his career
that he is a strong supporter of Israel. His voting record in Congress
in regard to the Jewish state is sterling and spotless – not a common
thing among the Congressional Black Caucus – and he has always been
strongly supported, in contested campaigns for both the Illinois
legislature and U.S. Senate, by Chicago’s large Jewish community.
his campaign web site, under the “foreign policy” section, Obama lists
three positions under “On Israel”: The idea that “our
first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the
security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle East”;
support of Israel’s right to self-defense – including a defense of the
Jewish State’s war against Hezbollah and support of continued U.S. aid
to Israel. If Obama believes in pure evenhandedness, or subscribes to
the Mearsheimer/Walt “Israel Lobby” view of things, he has a funny way
of showing it.
for all those anti-Israel people around Obama? He has about 10
foreign-policy advisors, and only one or two of them have ever said
anything critical of Israel. Obama, for instance, has made it clear that
former Carter advisor and frequent Israel-basher Zbigniew Brezinski has
only tangential connection to the campaign and is not, as Clinton
surrogates described him, Obama’s chief adviser.
for Louis Farrakhan, now that Tim Russert has borrowed the “will you
condemn this” game from Sean Hannity in the presidential campaign, Obama
has now denounced and rejected Farrakhan as much as one man can publicly
denounce and reject another.
Obama’s quote from the spring of last year that “nobody
is suffering more than the Palestinian people” has also been oft-cited –
except for the omission of the rest of the quote, in which Obama blamed
that suffering squarely on the Palestinians’ corrupt and criminal
What’s causing this? Dirty politics, of course, are the norm these days.
As the Swift Boat business in 2004 taught us, accusations no longer need
truth or validity to gain currency.
But there’s something else at work here. The truth is that relations
between Jews and African-Americans in this country are not anywhere
close to where they should be, with much distrust running in both
directions. And there are many Jewish voters, especially those of the
older generation, who think of black politicians as anti-Semites. Having
heard the likes of Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Cynthia McKinney make
anti-Jewish slurs and worse, these Jews simply believe that Obama must
be just like them.
Like other Jewish Obama supporters, I have tried to knock this down as
often as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rebutted these
claims in arguments with friends or relatives, yet the B.S. persists.
But it’s clear from the record that, as with most baseless accusations
against Obama and other politicians, the “Israel hater” accusation is
completely refuted by the candidate’s entire paper trail of writings,
speeches and votes.
North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback
about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column #
Request permission to publish here.