By Gidon D. Remba
To win the affection of the American Jewish community, a candidate for President of the United States must, at minimum, demonstrate that he or she is a trusted friend of Israel who will ardently stand up for its rights and needs. Barack Obama, who has served for the last three years as my U.S. Senator, and before that for eight years as a state senator, has long enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the
Even the neoconservative New York Sun newspaper recently confessed: "We're no shills for Mr. Obama, but these Republicans [who are "preparing to attack Senator Obama for his supposed lack of support for
Yet a prominent Israeli official recently wrote an American friend, voicing a protest often heard in
The ranks of the diplo-warriors include US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the only Holocaust survivor in the U.S. Congress and the dean of
Obama's tough-guy critics on
Obama has also been at the forefront of the U.S. Senate in fashioning more aggressive economic measures against
While the American Jewish Committee has disavowed an internal memo expressing concern over Obama's calls for engagement with Iran, "and for negotiating with other rogue states, notably Syria," its rogue author ignored the fact that Israel's Prime Minister Olmert, backed by the Israeli defense establishment, has been seeking to resume peace talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite heat from the Bush Administration.
Since when did the neoconservative nostrum "wage only sanctions and war" on the "axis of evil" become the touchstone for defining "pro-Israel"? Apparently the Bush Administration has itself strayed from this failed doctrine—see
Similarly, the debate between fans and dissenters from the Bush Administration's Iraq strategy comes down to one side's blind faith that more military force will bring order to Iraq and the broader Middle East, while the other holds that we have failed to wield the full array of power at America's disposal, and what instruments we have used, we have played artlessly. Obama's Jewish critics bluster, with Philadelphia Jewish Exponent Editor Jonathan Tobin, that "a precipitous skedaddle from
Obama advocates the more sober and realistic view, endowing the U.S. with a stronger hand to play with the Iraqi government, leavened by hard-nosed diplomacy to encourage Iraq's neighbors to cooperate in a new regional stabilization effort:
"The stated purpose of [the Bush Administration's military] surge was to enable
"In a civil war where no military solution exists, [the phased] redeployment [of American forces from
"Removing our troops is part of applying real pressure on
Obama's critics rely on scare tactics, innuendo and guilt by association. They distort his positions, attacking only straw men, because they are afraid to debate his real proposals on their merits. Obama is the preferred candidate for those who want to turbo-charge American strength and unity at home and abroad. And that's truly good for
Gidon D. Remba is a veteran
Mr. Remba's commentaries on Israel, the Middle East and Jewish affairs have appeared widely in the Jewish and general press, including the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Nation, Ha'aretz, the Forward, the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, Tikkun, and the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, where he writes a monthly column on Israel.
Mr. Remba served as Senior Foreign Press Editor and Translator in the Israel Prime Minister's Office from 1977-1978 during the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David peace process. He translated the Knesset speeches of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, as well as Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and other Israeli leaders for the foreign press during the period from Egyptian President Sadat's visit to
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