Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Jewish Imperative

It's well known that Jews in America are far more inclined to vote Democrat than Republican. Various reasons abound to explain this allegiance, one of which is the common belief that Democrats are more likely to sympathize with the oppressed and to accept all comers, regardless of nationality, religion, sexual orientation, etc. History may play a factor- the Nazi party, after all, was a far right political organization.

But in America 2008, the Jewish population cannot ignore a glaring difference between the two candidiates running for President of the United States. On one hand, the Republican, John McCain, is a military hero and a staunch supporter of Israel. He would no sooner let Iran or terrorist organizations annihilate the Jewish homeland without repurcussions than he would allow an attack on our own soil to go unpunished. He has made this clear, and there is nobody, on the left or right, who could dismiss or confuse his intentions to protect Israel.

On the other hand, Barack Obama, while he expresses his support of Israel, has a far more questionable past in regards to his intentions to maintain strong pro-Israel US policy than he would like us to believe. His association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an anti-semetic black liberation theologian gives some pro-Israel supporters pause. But it is his friendship, recently come to light, with PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, that demonstrates his true allegiance.

An LA Times article states that his many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table," but around "this entire world."

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.Their belief is not drawn from Obama's speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.At Khalidi's 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, "then you will never see a day of peace."One speaker likened "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been "blinded by ideology."

The LA Times refuses to release a tape of this farewell dinner at which Obama toasted his friend, Rashid, (and which purportedly Bill Ayers and his wife attended), despite requests from Fox News and the McCain campaign. One wonders what they are hiding.

The protection of Israel is more than just a Jewish imperative. Israel is our staunchest ally in the Middle East, a bastion of democracy in a largely theocratic and unpredictable area of the globe. Without strong US backing, the region could easily erupt into war, which would drag the rest of the developed world into the chaos. When violent neighbors are intent on your destruction, your only hope of survival is for someone even stronger to have your back. Dear Israel, does Barack really have your back?

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