Commentary Magazine


Topic: Republican Jewish Coalition

More On Malley

Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition responds:

“Regrettably, Robert Malley is but one of many people with troubling views advising Sen. Obama. We are still waiting for Obama to take principled action and remove Gen. McPeak – who has made disturbing and anti-Semitic comments about the American Jewish community. If Obama really wants to be a uniter, he should examine all the past associations and public comments of his advisors, and act accordingly.”

McPeak remains an advisor to Obama. As for Malley, the mainstream media has now at least restated the basic facts of Obama’s endorsement by Ahemd Yousef. But will anyone in the media pack following Obama today see fit to question him on the Malley connection with Hamas or on why he was receiving advice from Malley in the first place? You don’t even have to read the accounts to know the answer to that one.

Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition responds:

“Regrettably, Robert Malley is but one of many people with troubling views advising Sen. Obama. We are still waiting for Obama to take principled action and remove Gen. McPeak – who has made disturbing and anti-Semitic comments about the American Jewish community. If Obama really wants to be a uniter, he should examine all the past associations and public comments of his advisors, and act accordingly.”

McPeak remains an advisor to Obama. As for Malley, the mainstream media has now at least restated the basic facts of Obama’s endorsement by Ahemd Yousef. But will anyone in the media pack following Obama today see fit to question him on the Malley connection with Hamas or on why he was receiving advice from Malley in the first place? You don’t even have to read the accounts to know the answer to that one.

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A Peek At What We’ll See

Barack Obama accused John McCain of “smearing him” by claiming that Hamas wants Obama to be President. But this isn’t a smear, it is fact. A spokesman for Hamas, you will recall, did endorse Obama. This report is fairly straightforward:

During an interview on WABC radio Sunday, top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef said the terrorist group supports Obama’s foreign policy vision. “We don’t mind – actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will [win] the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance,” Yousef said in response to a question about the group’s willingness to meet with either of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition had this comment:

It’s understandable that Obama would like to make this go away. However, the reality is, Hamas is comfortable with Obama and they endorsed him. It’s the truth, not a ‘smear.’

As for the McCain camp, this will be an early test of their willingness to go toe-to-toe with Obama. Will they let this Obama remark pass? Or set the record straight and make clear Obama is, as he did in the “100 year” fight, fudging the facts? And we can expect more of this. Every bad fact for Obama or questionable association is a “smear” and every attempt by the McCain camp to set the record straight is “gutter politics.” It is up to McCain’s team to decide whether they will play along or call foul.

Barack Obama accused John McCain of “smearing him” by claiming that Hamas wants Obama to be President. But this isn’t a smear, it is fact. A spokesman for Hamas, you will recall, did endorse Obama. This report is fairly straightforward:

During an interview on WABC radio Sunday, top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef said the terrorist group supports Obama’s foreign policy vision. “We don’t mind – actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will [win] the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance,” Yousef said in response to a question about the group’s willingness to meet with either of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition had this comment:

It’s understandable that Obama would like to make this go away. However, the reality is, Hamas is comfortable with Obama and they endorsed him. It’s the truth, not a ‘smear.’

As for the McCain camp, this will be an early test of their willingness to go toe-to-toe with Obama. Will they let this Obama remark pass? Or set the record straight and make clear Obama is, as he did in the “100 year” fight, fudging the facts? And we can expect more of this. Every bad fact for Obama or questionable association is a “smear” and every attempt by the McCain camp to set the record straight is “gutter politics.” It is up to McCain’s team to decide whether they will play along or call foul.

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No Hard Feelings

Hamas holds no grudges apparently against Barack Obama for his aversion to meeting with them. Carl Cameron reports:

During an interview on WABC radio Sunday, top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef said the terrorist group supports Obama’s foreign policy vision. “We don’t mind – actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will [win] the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance,” Yousef said in response to a question about the group’s willingness to meet with either of the Democratic presidential candidates.

That is the problem with telling people only what they want to hear — some of them believe you.

Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition had offered rare praise for two Democratic congressmen:

“We commend the decision of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Howard Berman and Committee Member Rep. Gary Ackerman to take a principled stance and ask former President Carter to cancel his planned meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “Now more than ever, Senator Barack Obama must explain why he will not join the growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers demanding that President Carter stop undermining the Middle East peace process. Senator Obama’s silence speaks volumes about his weak support of Israel.”

And therein lies the problem: the Middle East does not lead itself to telling everyone what he wants to hear. Sometimes you have to say “no” to be the most “stalwart ally of Israel.”

Hamas holds no grudges apparently against Barack Obama for his aversion to meeting with them. Carl Cameron reports:

During an interview on WABC radio Sunday, top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef said the terrorist group supports Obama’s foreign policy vision. “We don’t mind – actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will [win] the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance,” Yousef said in response to a question about the group’s willingness to meet with either of the Democratic presidential candidates.

That is the problem with telling people only what they want to hear — some of them believe you.

Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition had offered rare praise for two Democratic congressmen:

“We commend the decision of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Howard Berman and Committee Member Rep. Gary Ackerman to take a principled stance and ask former President Carter to cancel his planned meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “Now more than ever, Senator Barack Obama must explain why he will not join the growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers demanding that President Carter stop undermining the Middle East peace process. Senator Obama’s silence speaks volumes about his weak support of Israel.”

And therein lies the problem: the Middle East does not lead itself to telling everyone what he wants to hear. Sometimes you have to say “no” to be the most “stalwart ally of Israel.”

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Nader Raises Obama’s Israel Issue

Ralph Nader finagled airtime on Meet the Press to announce he is mounting another presidential run, which certainly will garner even less attention than last time. He also contributed this analysis of Barack Obama:

But his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself. And I give you the example, the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which is a real off the table issue for the candidates. So don’t touch that, even though it’s central to our security and to, to the situation in the Middle East. He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate, during he ran–during the state Senate. Now he’s, he’s supporting the Israeli destruction of the tiny section called Gaza with a million and a half people. He doesn’t have any sympathy for a civilian death ratio of about 300-to-1; 300 Palestinians to one Israeli. He’s not taking a leadership position in supporting the Israeli peace movement, which represents former Cabinet ministers, people in the Knesset, former generals, former security officials, in addition to mayors and leading intellectuals. One would think he would at least say, “Let’s have a hearing for the Israeli peace movement in the Congress,” so we don’t just have a monotone support of the Israeli government’s attitude toward the Palestinians and their illegal occupation of Palestine.
The Republican Jewish Coalition responded with a press release which read, in part:
“People should be very skeptical of Barack Obama’s shaky Middle East policies. When a long-time political activist like Ralph Nader, with a well-documented, anti-Israel bias, claims that Senator Obama shares this anti-Israel bias, that is alarming,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “If Senator Obama supports Ralph Nader’s policies, which consistently condemn Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, and if Sen. Obama has only reversed his positions to run for president, it once again raises serious questions about his grasp of the geo-political realities of the Middle East and puts into doubt his commitment to the safety and security of Israel. These are important questions we in the Jewish community will be asking.”
Now Ralph Nader is not exactly a keen or accurate political observer, but the problematic issue of Obama’s views and advisors on Israel, explored at length here, here and here, is not something the Obama camp can ignore. He recently had this to say in Cleveland:
“Well here’s my starting orientation is A – Israel’s security is sacrosanct, is non negotiable. That’s point number one. Point number two is that the status quo I believe is unsustainable over time. So we’re going to have to make a shift from the current deadlock that we’re in. Number three that Israel has to remain a Jewish state and what I believe that means is that any negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to have to involve the Palestinians relinquishing the right of return as it has been understood in the past. And that doesn’t mean that there may not be conversations about compensation issues. It also means the Israelis will have to figure out how do we work with a legitimate Palestinian government to create a Palestinian state that is sustainable. It’s going to have to be contiguous, its going to have to work its going to have to function in some way. That’s in Israel’s interest by the way. If you have a balkanized unsustainable state, it will break down and we will be back in the same boat. So those are the starting points of my orientation. My goal then would be to solicit as many practical opinions as possible in terms of how we’re going to move forward on a improvement of relations and a sustainable peace.”
He also sought to distance himself from association with Zbigniew Brzezinski:

“I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally,” Obama said. “He’s not one of my key advisers. I’ve had lunch with him once. I’ve exchanged e-mails with him maybe three times. He came to Iowa to introduce . . . for a speech on Iraq.”

No word as yet on whether he is having second thoughts about advice from Samantha Power or whether his “talking to our enemies” mantra includes Hamas and Hezbollah. This certainly will be a general election issue. It remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will raise this as an example of the risk of getting an “unknown quantity” with an Obama presidency (perhaps it would be a more effective argument for her than desperation moves like this).

Ralph Nader finagled airtime on Meet the Press to announce he is mounting another presidential run, which certainly will garner even less attention than last time. He also contributed this analysis of Barack Obama:

But his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself. And I give you the example, the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which is a real off the table issue for the candidates. So don’t touch that, even though it’s central to our security and to, to the situation in the Middle East. He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate, during he ran–during the state Senate. Now he’s, he’s supporting the Israeli destruction of the tiny section called Gaza with a million and a half people. He doesn’t have any sympathy for a civilian death ratio of about 300-to-1; 300 Palestinians to one Israeli. He’s not taking a leadership position in supporting the Israeli peace movement, which represents former Cabinet ministers, people in the Knesset, former generals, former security officials, in addition to mayors and leading intellectuals. One would think he would at least say, “Let’s have a hearing for the Israeli peace movement in the Congress,” so we don’t just have a monotone support of the Israeli government’s attitude toward the Palestinians and their illegal occupation of Palestine.
The Republican Jewish Coalition responded with a press release which read, in part:
“People should be very skeptical of Barack Obama’s shaky Middle East policies. When a long-time political activist like Ralph Nader, with a well-documented, anti-Israel bias, claims that Senator Obama shares this anti-Israel bias, that is alarming,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “If Senator Obama supports Ralph Nader’s policies, which consistently condemn Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, and if Sen. Obama has only reversed his positions to run for president, it once again raises serious questions about his grasp of the geo-political realities of the Middle East and puts into doubt his commitment to the safety and security of Israel. These are important questions we in the Jewish community will be asking.”
Now Ralph Nader is not exactly a keen or accurate political observer, but the problematic issue of Obama’s views and advisors on Israel, explored at length here, here and here, is not something the Obama camp can ignore. He recently had this to say in Cleveland:
“Well here’s my starting orientation is A – Israel’s security is sacrosanct, is non negotiable. That’s point number one. Point number two is that the status quo I believe is unsustainable over time. So we’re going to have to make a shift from the current deadlock that we’re in. Number three that Israel has to remain a Jewish state and what I believe that means is that any negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to have to involve the Palestinians relinquishing the right of return as it has been understood in the past. And that doesn’t mean that there may not be conversations about compensation issues. It also means the Israelis will have to figure out how do we work with a legitimate Palestinian government to create a Palestinian state that is sustainable. It’s going to have to be contiguous, its going to have to work its going to have to function in some way. That’s in Israel’s interest by the way. If you have a balkanized unsustainable state, it will break down and we will be back in the same boat. So those are the starting points of my orientation. My goal then would be to solicit as many practical opinions as possible in terms of how we’re going to move forward on a improvement of relations and a sustainable peace.”
He also sought to distance himself from association with Zbigniew Brzezinski:

“I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally,” Obama said. “He’s not one of my key advisers. I’ve had lunch with him once. I’ve exchanged e-mails with him maybe three times. He came to Iowa to introduce . . . for a speech on Iraq.”

No word as yet on whether he is having second thoughts about advice from Samantha Power or whether his “talking to our enemies” mantra includes Hamas and Hezbollah. This certainly will be a general election issue. It remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will raise this as an example of the risk of getting an “unknown quantity” with an Obama presidency (perhaps it would be a more effective argument for her than desperation moves like this).

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Reform Judaism and the War

I have always laughed at the old joke about how Reform Judaism is “the Democratic party with holidays.” But at the moment, watching the spiritual leaders of the Reform movement repackage left-wing anti-war boilerplate language in the trappings of Judaism, it isn’t so funny.

To see why, pay a quick visit to the Union of Reform Judaism’s website and read the statement that the movement’s leadership wishes to have ratified today at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the URJ’s board of trustees.

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I have always laughed at the old joke about how Reform Judaism is “the Democratic party with holidays.” But at the moment, watching the spiritual leaders of the Reform movement repackage left-wing anti-war boilerplate language in the trappings of Judaism, it isn’t so funny.

To see why, pay a quick visit to the Union of Reform Judaism’s website and read the statement that the movement’s leadership wishes to have ratified today at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the URJ’s board of trustees.

In case its thirteen pages are a little turgid for you, let me summarize: We were opposed to this from the start, even though you could make a “just war” case for deposing Saddam. In 2005 we said it was time to leave. We are upset about the “surge.” We want President Bush to announce a timetable for withdrawal. And, of course, we must ensure that the cost of the war does not fall only on the poor and future generations.

The URJ, a religious organization, justifies taking this expressly political position, replete with policy suggestions, on rather thin grounds: in a Gallup Poll which the organization cites, 77 percent of the 303 Jews polled agreed that “the war is a mistake.” And what of the significant minority of Jews affiliated with Reform congregations who disagree with these views? Republican Jewish Coalition leader Adam Cohen argues forcefully that this is an illegitimate use of power by Reform leaders putting politics ahead of religion.

Given that there is no end in sight to the global war on terror, and given that Jews—even peace-loving Reform Jews—are a targeted population in this war, the URJ’s statement sends a message of utter lack of seriousness to both allies and enemies.

In case it’s still unclear why a religious movement believes so fervently that the world awaits its evaluation of the war and of U.S. policy and strategy, the URJ’s website helpfully includes a long essay: “Why Advocacy Is Central to Reform Judaism.” And no, it doesn’t come out and admit, “because politics is more fun than spiritual self-improvement.”

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