In an election season, every candidate needs to appear pro-Israel — especially the Democratic candidates most beholden to Jewish donors in order to get elected. Snide words from a politically conservative Jew? Not really. The Arab-American and global Arab press has made this point repeatedly, in order to explain the “transformation” of Barack Obama — who as recently as the 2000 election cycle (when he failed in his bid for a congressional seat) “was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” and in 2004 called Israel’s security wall an “example of the neglect of this Administration in brokering peace” [demonstrating a lack of both global and domestic political knowledge in a single sentence]. Hamas “unendorsed” Obama after his AIPAC speech, although Obama backtracked on his commitment to an undivided Jerusalem a day later.
But there is a big difference between platitudes and positions, and the Jewish community cannot afford to be deceived. Obama offers up the glib generalities we want to hear while simultaneously raking in Arab cash as well (including tens of thousands of dollars illegally sent in from Gaza). McCain makes it very clear why Arab donors are notably absent from his FEC filings.
Case in point: Sderot. No cheating now — which candidate said which remark? Candidate A said: “I will work from the moment that I return to America, to tell the story of Sderot and to make sure that the good people who live here are enjoying a future of peace and security and hope.” Candidate B remarked: “Someone is going to have to answer me the question of how you are going to negotiate with an organization that is dedicated to your extinction… I can tell you that I believe that if rocket attacks came across the border of the United States of America, that the American people would probably demand pretty vigorous actions in response.”
I submit to you that the substantive difference between the two comments is no less obvious than the respective identities of the candidates who made them.
Against the obvious, the best arguments from Obama’s Jewish allies run no better than a telling letter from Maryland State Delegate Dr. Dan Morheim, arguing that we should vote for Obama because he’s got a better web site. “Obama’s web site… has an entire section devoted to Israel… McCain doesn’t feel it worthy of mention.”
Not only is this argument stunningly juvenile, it is also wrong. The link to McCain’s “Jewish Advisory Coalition” is available from his campaign home page, and Israel is the topic of the page. It is true that Obama has not only a “Jewish Americans for Obama” page (celebrating a host of similarities between his positions and those of the Tikkun Olam crowd), but an Israel section on his foreign policy page as well as an Israel Fact Sheet. It is therefore all the more notable that McCain in his brief statement manages something which Obama cannot bring himself to do in his sheaf of verbiage: label Hamas a terrorist organization on a par with Hizbollah, and commit himself to holding it equally accountable.
In this area as well as so many others, McCain clearly found a running mate of the same mind. In the face of an incredibly hostile set of questions from ABC’s Charlie Gibson, Sarah Palin more than held her own — and clearly and repeatedly endorsed Israeli military action to make the world a safer place. Gibson asked Palin three times over how McCain would react to Israeli action against Iran, and three times over Palin gave Israel a green light to do whatever it deems necessary.
GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?
PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.
GIBSON: So if we wouldn’t second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.
PALIN: I don’t think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.
GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.
PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.
Forget Israel — can anyone imagine Obama giving the United States a green light to defend itself, without the approval of the United Democracies, Dictatorships and Sheikdoms?
Obama not only makes broad generalizations while failing to deliver clear positions. His vague reassurances themselves are a facade, not nearly so reassuring upon closer examination. He offers us a metaphor on the aforementioned “Jewish Americans for Obama” page, which takes pains to point out the completely relevant qualification for high office to be found in the fact that his “name comes from the same root as the Hebrew word Baruch, or ‘blessed’.” Absent is any mention of the language in which Barack actually means “blessed,” namely Arabic. For obvious reasons.
Obama has stopped calling for “an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” — at least for the time being. But let’s not lose sight of what those words actually mean: an inability to discern between good and evil, as if humanity could regurgitate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and return to that brief time when evil was as foreign to humanity as extra-terrestrial life. We are no longer in that era, and urgently need world leaders who know that there is nothing to be gained by an “even-handed approach” between those who seek to live in peace and those who celebrate the murder of small children.