jpost: Barack Obama the Zionist

Here's a refreshing opinion and a dramatic observation: Obama embraces the Zionist idea.

Obama the Zionist

With Barack Obama close to clinching the Democratic nomination, Republicans have stepped up their efforts to woo Jewish voters who have doubts about the senator's support for Israel and his overall Middle East policy. Using fear tactics, groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition have played the "Israel card" to tip the balance come November. Four years ago, I would have been persuaded. Not this time.

Yes, back then the fear tactics worked, and they made me prefer President Bush over Senator Kerry. I was a college pro-Israel activist - needless to say in a very difficult time for Israel advocacy - and I needed some moral comfort, some moral clarity. While I recognized that Kerry was a smart guy, and I did like him overall, Bush's black and white clarity was more comforting. I was convinced that such beliefs were essential for a post-9/11 world and an unrelenting war against terror. Since Jewish voters whose main concern was Israel were telling me they supported Bush, I decided to join the club.

That was a huge mistake, but an eye-opening experience about campaigns and fear tactics. Today, neoconservatives are trying to do the same, but this time I am supporting whoever gets the Democratic nomination. I already know that Senator Clinton is a staunch supporter of Israel, and I have become convinced that Senator Obama would be as well. This time, using the "Israel card" will not work for the Republicans in attracting the Jewish vote.

SENATOR OBAMA's interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic represents some of the most reassuring words I have heard from the Democratic front-runner regarding his Middle East policy, and especially his support for Israel. Rather than only seeing Israel as a "strategic ally" or as the "only democracy in the Middle East" - the standard clichés of support - Senator Obama identifies with the "Zionist idea" and believes that a secure Jewish state is "fundamentally just."

Now, that is refreshing. When was the last time we had heard the word "Zionist" being used in a positive way and described as "fundamentally just" by a non-Jew? Senator Obama evoked the Zionist idea because he does not think of Israel only as a geopolitical ally, and does not base his support on a cost-benefit analysis of the "special relationship." Rather, his support for Israel is anchored in a true understanding of the need for the Jewish people to have a homeland where Jews "can take care of themselves no matter what happens," where we can feel rooted, where our culture can be preserved, and where the Jewish values of social justice can flourish. He especially identified with Zionism's quest "to start over and to repair the breaches of the past."

Obama's connection to Israel is much more personal and, therefore, much stronger, genuine and uncompromising than your traditional candidates. It is not a support based on interests, politics, or a quid pro quo with the Jewish state. It is a support based on identity, on a genuine understanding of the needs of a people to have self-determination, and a conviction that regardless of day-to-day policies, the idea of a Jewish state is fundamentally just.

This is much more reassuring than a candidate that repeats the traditional catch phrases of "strategic ally" and "only democracy in the Middle East." These phrases always make me feel like I constantly have to "make the case" for Israel because, if I cannot prove Israel's "worthiness" to the US, then support will diminish. On the other hand, Obama's rationale for supporting Israel is much simpler. He respects, understands and identifies with the desire of the Jewish people to be a fulfilled and independent nation in their own homeland. In his eyes, Israel and the Zionist idea are important and fundamentally just in their own right.

Therefore, come November, I am confident that both Clinton and Obama represent hope and change for the future, and I am certain they both possess the knowledge and skills to grasp the complex issues much better than the Republican nominee. I had initial concerns about Obama, but I have come to realize that my doubts were just another product of the traditional "fear tactics" employed by neoconservatives. I have learned my lesson over the past four years and will not make the same mistake again. This time I support either Democratic nominee, and I am more convinced than ever. Undecided no more - if nominated, Obama is right for the job, right for Israel.

The writer is a long-time pro-Israel activist and a former Legacy Heritage Fellow.


Anonymous said...

"Here's a refreshing opinion and a dramatic observation: Obama embraces the Zionist idea."

It's about time you delve into Obama's advisors, Tzvee.

Here's a starter:

Here's an excerpt:

"Martin Peretz of The New Republic -- a supporter of Obama and of Israel -- had this to say about Obama's Foreign Policy team:

"I have my qualms, as you may know, about Barack Obama, and most especially about what his foreign policy might be. If elected (and actually before he were to be elected), the first decision he would have to make would be who would represent him in the transition to power from early November to January 20. And, frankly, I get the shudders since he has indicated that, among others, they would be Zbigniew Bzrezinski (I don't know much about his son, listed as Mark, but I can guess), Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and Robert O. Malley."
Lake and Brzezenski both earned their spurs in the Carter Administration. The Carter era led to the fall of the Shah of Iran (a stalwart ally of both America and Israel), which gave birth to the Iranian revolution. We all know how well that has turned out. Jimmy Carter, of course, has led a very public campaign of vilification against Israel-defaming it as an apartheid state (a view that Obama's Pastor would concur with).

Anthony Lake has been all but retired for the last dozen years-living on a farm in the Berkshires. This makes one wonder what he is bringing to the table, other than his Carter-era pedigree and beliefs. He has been reactivated though-one of his roles seems to be as ambassador to the Arab-American community .

The appointment of Brzezenski elicited much dismay among supporters of Israel since Brzezinski is well known for his aggressive dislike of Israel. . He has been an ardent foe of Israel for over three decades and newspaper files are littered with his screeds against Israel. Brzezinski has publicly defended the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis that the relationship between America and Israel is based not on shared values and common threats but is the product of Jewish pressure. Brzezinski also signed a letter demanding dialogue with Hamas-a group whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and is filled with threats to Jews around the world.

After Hezbollah launched attacks against Israel in the summer of 2006, murdered Israelis and took hostages, Israel tried to get its citizens back by moving into Lebanon. Warfare resulted. Brzezinski wrote that Israel's actions amounted to the "killing of hostages" (the hostages being Lebanese caught in the battles). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/zbig-brzezinski-israel_b_25821.html

Brzezinski's son, Mark, is also on Obama's foreign policy team. Evidently the apple does not fall far from the tree. Mark recently co-wrote an op-ed advocating that America forge ties with Iran.

Susan Rice was John Kerry's chief foreign policy adviser when he ran for President. One of the major steps Kerry suggested for dealing with the Middle East was to appoint James Baker and Jimmy Carter as negotiators. When furor erupted at the prospect of two of the most ardent foes of Israel being suggested to basically ride "roughshod" over Israel, Kerry backtracked and blamed his staff for the idea. His staff was Susan Rice.

Drilling down further we have Robert Malley. He was part of the American negotiating team that dealt with Yasser Arafat at Camp David. He has presented a revisionist history of those negotiations since then: presenting a view that blames Israel for the failures of the negotiations. His version has been radically at odds with the views of Americans and Israelis (including the views of American Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross-also an adviser to Obama- and President Clinton).

He has spent years representing the Palestinian point of view, co-writing a series of anti-Israel articles with Hussein Agha-a former Arafat adviser. Palestinian advocate. These have appeared in the New York Review of Books a publication that has served as a platform for a slew of anti-Israel advocates from Tony Judt to the aforementioned George Soros to the authors of the Israeli Lobby book Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. Malley has also called settlements "colonies" -- implicitly condemning Israel as a "colonial" state. His writings have been so critical of Israel that the media-monitoring group CAMERA has a "dossier" on him. (CAMERA also has a listing for Brzezinski). "

Tzvee Zahavy said...

i have examined him and them and the realities of world politics and i conclude that obama is the best course for the US and for Israel

Anonymous said...

I am with Tzvee on this. On the other hand there's John Hagee, the controversial pastor who has endorsed John McCain, who argued in a late 1990s sermon that God sent Hitler to help the Jews get to the promised land. Note that McCain specifically sought out this man's endorsement and hasn't renounced him. With friends like this....

See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20080522/cm_thenation/15322778

Tzvee Zahavy said...

in fact hagee's view re: hitler is merely a variation on a theme in biblical theology - the prophets say clearly that g-d will send armies down upon the sinning israelites. the objection to hagee is that he has the chutzpah to assume the mantle of prophecy - not that he is wrong about the theological logic of his statements

John D. Enright said...

BREAKING NEWS: John McCain jettisons the Rev. John Hagee's endorsement Of course, I predicted this in a comment to Hagee Apologizes to the Catholic League:
"I doubt his sincerity. McCain, in order to attract conservative Catholic voters, is still going to have to distance himself from this nitwit.
5/13/2008 8:51 PM "

Anonymous said...

"i have examined him and them and the realities of world politics "

Why not share your thoughts on them here on your blog?

Tzvee Zahavy said...

stay tuned. he's not even the nominee yet. there will be plenty of time to define the candidates.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that right now, Obama is running against Hilary, not just McCain.