Thanks to Philip Weiss for pointing out an interesting article in the current Newsweek about the Clinton campaign’s rather desperate and pathetic efforts to tar Obama as being soft on Israel. They’ve stooped to new lows in this one. The article notes that Ann Lewis, the veteran, otherwise shrewd Democratic campaign operative, complained that Zbignew Brzezinski, an alleged foe of Israel, was Obama’s chief foreign policy advisor. The claim is false. He is neither the chief foreign policy advisor nor is he anti-Israel:
Lewis energetically contrasted Clinton’s pro-Israel credentials with those of Barack Obama. To make her point, she said that Obama’s “chief foreign-policy adviser” is Zbigniew Brzezinski, says one participant who would talk about the call only if he were not identified.
Brzezinski—the former national-security adviser to Jimmy Carter—is not Obama’s “chief foreign-policy adviser.”
But it gets curiouser and curiouser. What are Clintonites doing quoting the sleazy Republican Jewish Coalition’s Matt Brooks in attacking Obama’s bona fides on Israel?
Daphna Ziman, a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton’s who has co-chaired several events for her, forwarded an e-mail from the Republican Jewish Coalition, a grass-roots GOP group, criticizing Obama for proposing a Muslim summit. In a Jan. 31 interview with Paris Match, Obama said he wanted “an honest discussion about ways to bridge the gap that grows between Muslims and the West.” Ziman, in her Feb. 2 e-mail, responded, “I am horrified at Mr. Obama’s point of view.” Her e-mail…contained a press release from RJC executive director Matt Brooks. “Nowhere in the Paris Match article does Senator Obama affirm Israel’s right to exist,” Brooks wrote. (Ziman says “the campaign had nothing to do with” her e-mail.)
Shouldn’t that be beyond treif? Do we Democrats need to resort to quoting the dreckiest among the Republican attack machine in order to cut our own down to size?
Finally, where does an official of the Clinton campaign get off quoting the extremist right-wing American Thinker shmate in attacking Obama’s Israel advisors (and Rob Malley, the victim, isn’t even a formal advisor to the campaign)?
Clinton finance official Annie Totah passed along a critical essay by Ed Lasky, a conservative blogger whose own anti-Obama e-mails have circulated in the U.S. Jewish community. Totah wrote: “Please read the attached important and very disturbing article on Barak Obama. Please vote wisely in the Primaries.” (She didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
Since when does this lying, scummy publication have any credibility in Democratic circles? Have we lost any standards? Have we lost all sense of decency?
Look, Hillary Clinton has a right to run as strong a campaign as she can mount against Obama. I don’t begrudge her that. But let’s have a campaign based on debate about real issues and critiques based on facts. Let’s get rid of the smearmongering. Obamaphobia, the irrational distrust and even hatred of Barack Obama based on his race or his purported softness toward Israel, has no place in this campaign. I call on the Clinton campaign to renounce this ugly feature of their campaign. I note with most severe censure that when the Newsweek journalists gave Howard Wolfson an opportunity to comment for the article he declined. A shande.
The Newsweek story quotes unnamed sources as claiming that some of the virulent anti-Obama smears are emanating from the Christian Zionists (groups like Christians United for Israel). It doesn’t note Gregory Levey’s TNR article in which he quotes an unnamed Obama staffer saying he believed that the e mail list for the Obama Muslim smear originated from “a Washington Jewish non-profit.” Which I assume is an oblique reference to AIPAC. Though AIPAC’s president has recently publicly said there is little difference between any of the presidential candidates on Israel and that all are pro-Israel, it wouldn’t surprise me if AIPAC pursued it’s own agenda behind the scenes. Part of such an agenda might include surreptitiously attempting to undermine Obama’s candidacy in the Jewish community.
If Malcolm Hoenlein, senior staffers at the American Jewish Committee, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, Abe Foxman, and other prominent figures are attacking Obama, it’s not too far-fetched to think that AIPAC might be as well. All this must be monitored carefully. Not so much for Clinton’s sake as her candidacy is in its closing moments. But we’ve got to be prepared for November. McCain, the national Republican party and Jewish Republicans will be preparing the Jewish version of Swift-Boating for Obama without any doubt. It’s important that we go on the record against such behavior and that we call any Jewish leader who colludes or refuses to name it publicly for what it is.