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February 07, 2008 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-02-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

t4ATIOrai. COUNCIL OF J MICH WOMEN

GR EAT Eli DETROIT SECTION

PRESENTS

Former Israeli envoys debate
Obama's attitude on Israel.

Ben Harris

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York

I

srael's former ambassador to the
United States is taking credit for
Barack Obama's recent statement
to the Jewish news media that he was
committed to ensuring Israel's qualita-
tive military superiority over its Arab
neighbors.
Danny Ayalon said that the Obama
campaign had reached out to him after
the ambassador wrote a Jan. 23 col-
umn in the Jerusalem Post arguing that
Israelis should greet the prospect of an
Obama presidency with some degree
of concern.
In the column, titled "Who are you
Barack Obama?" Ayalon wrote that he
had met with the Illinois senator on
two occasions and found that he was
not entirely forthright
with his thinking about
Israel. Ayalon's column
triggered swift criti-
cism from his succes-
sor, Sallai Meridor, and
a Ha'aretz editorial.
Earlier in the month,
Israeli news reports
cited anonymous gov-
ernment sources claim-
ing that they do not
want Obama elected.
That ()prompted Alon
Pinkas, Israel's former
high-profile consul
general in New York, to
write a column defend-
ing Obama.
The spat comes amid continuing
concern in some Jewish circles about
Obama's attitude toward the Jewish
state — a concern sparked in part by
an e-mail smear, since discredited,
alleging that Obama is a Muslim, stud-
ied in an Islamic academy, took his
Senate oath of office on a Koran and
refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jewish communal leaders from
across the political and religious
spectrum signed a letter condemn-
ing the false allegations, while seven
Jewish Democratic senators, including
Michigan's Carl Levin, put out their

own statement defending Obama on
Israel.
Still, the Obama campaign is work-
ing to shore up the Candidate's stand-
ing in the Jewish community.
Rudi Shenk, Obama's New York state
director, sent out a mass e-mail in
advance of the Super Tuesday prima-
ries this week to set the record straight
about Obama's religion and his views
on Israel. "Even if you do not plan to
endorse Senator Obama, please coun-
ter these false rumors that have been
specifically targeted at our commu-
nity," Shenk wrote.
Obama himself spent more than
20 minutes on the phone with the
Jewish media last week in which he
took pains to stress his commitment
to Israel. During the call, he discussed
his 2006 visit to Israel and his tour of
the country's northern region, not-
ing how he had been affected in his
meetings with civil-
ians who had suffered
from Hezbollah rocket
attacks.
"It drove home for
me the vulnerability
of so many Israeli resi-
dents and stiffened my
resolve to ensure that
Kassam rockets were
not being fired into
civilian targets, wheth-
er from the north or
the south;' he said.
"We're going to ensure
Israel's qualitative

THE

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bickforciseniortiving.corn

"Horne is where
you lay your
head."

"Obarn a has
yet to s uggest
specific
measur es he
would enact
regardi ng the
Jewish state."

- Danny Ayalon

LOG

military superiority in

this difficult neighbor-
hood."
In his column, Ayalon asserted that
"Obama has yet to suggest specific
measures he would enact regarding
the Jewish state's qualitative military
edge that allows us to defend ourselves
against our current and future enemies."
In his interview with JTA, Ayalon
said that his comments were being
misconstrued by the critics. Ayalon
maintains that he was neither endors-
ing nor opposing Obama's candidacy,
nor was he suggesting, as the e-mail
smears implicitly do, that Obama was
not being fully honest with his state-
ments of support for Israel. ❑

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February 7 • 2008

A23

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