The Republican National Coalition has fired up both burners of their fax machine no doubt to inform the Jewish world of Barack Obama’s “perfidy” towards Israel and the Jewish people. His sin? He actually said BOTH SIDES were responsible for the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Imagine that? He didn’t say Israelis were saints and Palestinians demons as any right-thinking presidential candidate and AIPAC supplicant should do.
Here’s how Ben Smith reports it:
In Amman today, though, he suggested again that the fault in the region is not the Palestinians’ alone, something you’ll rarely hear from Republicans.
“It’s difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace,” he said, noting (generously) that the weak, scandal-tarred, deeply unpopular Israeli government is “unsettled,” while the Palestinians are “divided.”
“There’s a tendency for each side to focus on the faults of the other rather than look in the mirror,” he said.
Obama condemned today’s attack in Jerusalem, but he also cast it in tactical terms: “That’s why terrorism is so counterproductive as well as being immoral,” he said. Attacks make “the Israelis simply want to dig in and think about their security … the same would be true of any people when these kinds of things happened.”
And he stressed the role the desperate Palestinian economic situation plays in continuing the conflict.
“What I think can change is the ability of a United States government and a United States president to be actively engaged in the peace process,” part of which is to “recognize the legitimate difficulties that the Palestinian people are experiencing right now,” something he said would be “also in the interest of the Israeli people.”
These are differences of nuance, not dramatic ones…
Nonetheless, pro-Israel politics in this country is a game of inches and nuance. The fact that Obama has made such a careful and mutually sympathetic statement about the suffering of both sides speaks volumes about the kind of president he will be (and John McCain won’t be).
And thank God, Obama didn’t make the same mistake he did at the AIPAC conference when he used right-wing nationalist phraseology to characterize Israel’s eternal claim to Jerusalem:
A controversial statement last month from Mr. Obama that Jerusalem should remain Israeli and undivided was raised by Israeli reporters, but did not come up in public statements from officials. Mr. Obama said Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel, but added, “It is not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take.”
This is precisely what a president who is a real leader (as opposed to cheerleader) should say.
And when you hear the Republican war machine rev up the their anti-Obama engines with the “soft on Israel” claim just remember that not only do the majority of Americans want a foreign policy that is sympathetic, but balanced toward both parties; the majority of Jewish opinion wants that as well.
What concerns me is that with only 62% of the Jewish vote in the latest polls, AIPAC, ZOA, the RJC, and the Israel lobby may be able to plant enough doubt in peoples’ minds that they turn away from him in sufficient numbers to throw the election to McCain. In the last three elections won by Democrats, Clinton won by 78% and 80% and Carter won by 71%. 70% seems to be an important threshold and Obama isn’t there yet.
And if this chnyuk (roughly, “ignoramus”) who taunted Obama at the Kotel has anything to say about it, Obama won’t ever get there:
The moment unfolded as a lone man standing about 10 yards away yelled over and over, “Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale! Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!”
So we have to ask the question: are we going to appeal to the better angels of our Jewish nature come November; or are we going to live by our fears and paranoia?