The closer the election looms, the greater my concern regarding our choices.
I believe McCain has no illusions regarding our enemies, and would clearly be more supportive of Israel than Obama. However, his impulsive behavior during the campaign, coupled with his reputation for a short fuse, could be a recipe for disaster in our dangerous world. And, although Sarah Palin is a quick study, she’s far from ready to be a step away from the most powerful position in the world.
Although Obama’s temperament and approach are more conducive to mending fences with our allies, I fear it may come at Israel’s expense. It’s not just his early pattern of relying on foreign policy advisers who have not looked kindly on Israel, but some of his lesser publicized friendships that are cause for concern. For instance, his 2004 comments, while running his primary campaign for the Senate, to Ali Abunimah, founder of The Electronic Intifada Website. “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front. Keep up the good work!” Or, as reported this past August in the UK’s Daily Mail, his very close friendship with George Clooney, who is pro-Palestinian and, according to a Democratic Party insider, has been pushing Obama to be more “balanced” on the issue of U.S. relations with Israel (friendships can create great influence – just think George Bush and Ariel Sharon). Obama’s comment in a meeting with members of Cleveland’s Jewish community earlier this year “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you’re anti-Israel” is a bit ominous-sounding as well.
Then there’s Joe Biden, who claimed during the vice presidential debate that no one in the Senate is a better friend to Israel than him. That’s the same Joe Biden who angrily threatened Menachem Begin in 1982 that if Israel didn’t immediately withdraw from the territories, the U.S. would cut its economic aid, the same Joe Biden who blasted AIPAC last month during a press conference, the same Joe Biden who was seen sitting and laughing alongside Jimmy Carter during the Democratic convention, and the same Joe Biden who down-played Iran’s nuclear threat during the debate with the bizarre statement that Pakistan has nuclear weapons that could hit Israel but Iran is not close to getting a nuclear weapon that can be deployed. If nothing else, it telegraphed the Obama/Biden plans in regard to Iran.
I hope I’m wrong, but I see it as a choice between an impulsive firecracker with a running mate who’s in way over her head, or a pair of Neville Chamberlain types with suspect feelings regarding Israel whose potential inaction in confronting the realities of our world could prove very costly.
The editor notes: We cannot fact-check every letter, but the 2004 quote, purportedly from Sen. Barack Obama, appears in a March 2007 Web posting – electronicintifada.net/v2/article6619.shtml – headed “How Barack Obama learned to love Israel.” The quotation is hearsay from an interested party, who goes on to bemoan Obama’s support of Israel.
As for the Biden quote re Begin, the reality is a little more complicated than this letter indicates. Begin actually praised Biden, though he differed with him on the settlements. Harry Hurwitz, founder and president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, writes (http://begincenterdiary.blogspot.com/2008/09/begin-vs-biden-by-harry-hurwitz.html) that the Information Resources team at the Begin Center had “found the official report of a press conference that Begin gave on his return from that particular visit to the US on June 23, 1982 in which he enumerated various important meetings he had with the president and other personalities and House of Representatives and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. Begin said that in the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate a young senator rose and delivered a very impassioned speech – ‘I must say that it’s been a while since I’ve heard such a talented speaker – and he actually supported Operation “Peace for the Galilee.” He even went further, and said that if someone from Canada were to infiltrate into the United States, and kill its citizens, all of us (and thus he indicated a circle) would demand attacking them, and we wouldn’t pay attention as to whether men, women, or children were killedâ€¦.
“‘[T]he same senator supported our operation in Lebanon – with all his heart, he said. What he doesn’t like are our settlements in Judea and Samariaâ€¦. He hinted – more than hinted – that if we continue with this policy, it is possible that he will propose cutting our financial aidâ€¦.'”