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FACTS ABOUT BARACK OBAMA – FIGHT THE SMEARS



         JewishOutreach@barackobama.com


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama is surrounded by advisers who hold strong anti-Israel views.

THE TRUTH:

All of Barack Obama’s key advisers on the Middle East share his strong commitment to Israel’s security and have worked to advance it throughout their careers. Among these are former Middle East special envoy Dennis Ross, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, (D-FL), Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-IL). Individuals who hold views unfriendly to Israel are not advising Barack Obama or his campaign on the Middle East.


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama was never a friend of Israel until he decided to run for President.

THE TRUTH:

Sen. Obama has always been a stalwart friend and defender of Israel. Even as a State Senator in the 1990’s, Senator Obama voted to invest Illinois in State of Israel Bonds. In 2000, Sen. Obama wrote that “The United States’ commitment to Israel must continue so Israel can negotiate with its former and current adversaries from a position of strength.” In 2002, Senator Obama sponsored and worked to pass a resolution in the Illinois Senate that called on Yasser Arafat to crack down on terrorist attacks in 2002. Sen. Obama has spoken about his exposure to Zionism as a youth and of his great admiration for Israeli pioneers.

At a town hall meeting at a synagogue in May, Senator Obama said the following: “Go to the source. But the bottom line is this: nobody can find any statement that I’ve ever made that is anything less than unequivocally pro-Israel, that says that Israel’s security is paramount, in fact as Robert [Wexler] said, I’ve gone in Ramallah, spoke to a group of Palestinian students, and told them that they had to change their mindset because we can never, they will never be able to peel away the United States from Israel.” (Town Hall at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, 5/22/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama has said he will talk to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, agreeing with former President Jimmy Carter’s recent decision to meet with Hamas leaders.

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama believes that the United States should not engage in talks with terrorist groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah. Senator Obama has stated very clearly: “I will work on behalf of peace with the full knowledge that Israel still has bitter enemies. …That is why I have a fundamental difference with President Carter, and disagreed with his decision to meet with Hamas. We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel's destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements.” (Meeting with Philadelphia Jewish Leaders, 4/16/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama recently backtracked after declaring his belief in a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This demonstrates that his support for Israel is questionable.

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama’s position on Jerusalem has not changed at all. Jerusalem, which is one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict, is a final status issue, which means that both parties have agreed its status will be resolved in the negotiations. But he believes certain principles should apply to any agreement on Jerusalem. Jerusalem will always be Israel’s capital. And Jerusalem should never be re-divided by barbed wire and check points, as it was from 1948 to 1967. Beyond that, the parties will have to agree on arrangements that they both can live with.


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama sat on the board of an Arab-American foundation in Chicago, which funded anti-Israel activities.

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama has never sat on the board of any anti-Israel organizations. Senator Obama did sit on the board of the Woods Fund, a non-profit that disbursed money to many charitable groups in Chicago. One of the groups that received a grant from the Woods Fund the board was the Arab-American Action Network (AAAN), which used grant money to educate Arab-Americans about their civil liberties and how to recognize and report hate-crimes. The St. Petersburg Times reported, “There is no evidence the AAAN used any of the Woods Fund money to promote an anti-Israel foreign policy agenda. In fact, the AAAN focus is on local initiatives and, has no foreign policy.” (Source: St. Petersburg Times/CQ, 3/14/08)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama secretly told Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah in 2004: “Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more upfront.” Isn’t Barack Obama close friends with anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi also?

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama has always been a stalwart friend and defender of Israel. This alleged remark is completely fabricated, cannot be corroborated by anyone, and even Rashid Khalidi, who was on the faculty with Senator Obama at the University of Chicago, denied that Obama had previously been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and shifted his stance to be pro-Israel. (Source: New York Daily News, 3/6/07)

Additionally, Senator Obama openly addressed this question about Rashid Khalidi when asked himself at the Town Hall in Boca Raton, Florida: “The irony is that when I was in Chicago, one of the raps on me when I first ran for Congress, in the African American community, was 'he's too close to the Jewish community.' Seriously. You can look this up in the newspapers. 'All his friends are Jews,' 'he's from Hyde Park,' 'he's from the University of Chicago,' and so that's part of why this kind of conversation is frustrating. Now it is true, for example, you mentioned Rashid Khalidi, who is a professor at Columbia. I do know him because he taught at the University of Chicago. And he is Palestinian, and I do know him, and I have had conversations. He is not one of my advisers. He is not one of my foreign policy people. His kids went to the Lab School where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel's policies. To pluck out one person who I know, and who I've had a conversation with, who has very different views that nine other of my friends, and then to suggest that that somehow shows that maybe I'm not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think is a very problematic stand to take.

“So, anyway, I just want to make one large point on this, because this is probably the time to raise a larger issue. See, part of my philosophy growing up with a diverse background is I believe in listen to people even when I we disagree with them… Now, that does not mean that if they say something I object to that I will not be crystal clear in my objections. And part of the reason that the Jewish community in Chicago is so close to me is because they know that on many occasions I have spoken out vigorously against anti-Semitism even in my own community, even when it's not convenient. But that doesn't mean that I'm not listening to different perspectives on a whole host of issues. That's part of my job as an elected official. That will be part of my job as President…We’ve got to be careful about guilt by association.” (Town Hall at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, 5/22/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama has little support from the Jewish community.

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama has had close, strong ties to the Jewish community in his home state of Illinois for years. The leadership of the Chicago Jewish Community has uniformly expressed their closeness with and support of Senator Obama, consistently praising his support for Israel and issues important to the Jewish community in both Springfield and Washington.

Senator Obama said recently in an interview: “The point is, if you look at my writings and my history, my commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is more than skin-deep and it’s more than political expediency. When it comes to the gut issue, I have such ardent defenders among my Jewish friends in Chicago. I don’t think people have noticed how fiercely they defend me, and how central they are to my success, because they’ve interacted with me long enough to know that I've got it in my gut.” (Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, TheAtlantic.com, 5/12/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama’s military adviser, Ret. Air Force General Merrill “Tony” McPeak, is anti-Israel and has made anti-Semitic comments in the past.

THE TRUTH:

Gen. McPeak is a respected leader in the defense community, and he was among the American military figures who were instrumental in defending Israel from SCUD missiles during the first Gulf War in 1991. Gen. McPeak himself wrote recently: “I am a long-time admirer (and think myself a friend) of Israel. In the early 1970s, I played a key role in getting advanced weaponry released to the Israeli Air Force -- capabilities it later put to active use. During that period, I made many official visits to Israel and established close relationships there. These contacts turned out to be useful during Operation Desert Storm, when, as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, I worked with my Israeli counterparts to help defend Israel from Iraqi Scud missile attacks.” (Foreign Affairs, “How to Secure Israel,” 3/31/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama has called for a summit of Muslim nations to improve our relations with the Middle East, but he will not allow Israel as a participant.

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama explained the rather evident reason why it would be counterintuitive to include Israel in a summit of Muslim nations. “The reason is because Israel is a Jewish state and is one of our strongest allies in the world, so we don’t need to improve relations with Israel. We have really good relations with Israel. We’re trying to figure out how to get these other countries to start focusing more effectively on terrorism prevention. …I would think that would be a pretty obvious point.” (Town Hall at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, 5/22/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama recently recruited the former anti-Israel Congressman David E. Bonior as a member of his foreign policy team and is advising Senator Obama on the Middle East.

THE TRUTH:

Rep. Bonior is not an adviser to the Senator or the campaign on the Middle East or any foreign policy. He was chosen to represent the campaign at the DNC Rules and Bylaws meeting regarding the Michigan vote meeting because he is a senior party figure in that state and was John Edwards’s campaign manager. This is just the latest attack against Sen. Obama using "guilt by association" to individuals who are not even involved with the campaign's foreign policy team.


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama opposed the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which would have designated the Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist group, because he does not take seriously the threat from Iran and does not believe the Republican Guard should be designated as such.

THE TRUTH:

Barack Obama supported calling the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He is a sponsor of S. 970, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which calls for that designation. And Barack Obama consistently made clear that he supported the designation of the IRGC throughout this campaign. He has reiterated this point as recently as June 4, 2008 in his speech to AIPAC.

He opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment because it went far beyond that designation. Instead, it gave President Bush another reason to keep our troops indefinitely in Iraq, claiming that high troop levels in Iraq should be maintained to counter the threat from Iran. Senator Obama, since his initial opposition to the war in 2002, believes that we should bring our troops home from Iraq, a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged, and which has only strengthened Iran. He has proposed a responsible, phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, stating that we will get out as carefully as were careless getting in.

Senator Obama clearly recognizes the threat posed by Iran and will work to eliminate it: “The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race, and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its President denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”

“But just as we are clear-eyed about the threat, we must be clear about the failure of today's policy. We knew, in 2002, that Iran supported terrorism. We knew Iran had an illicit nuclear program. We knew Iran posed a grave threat to Israel. But instead of pursuing a strategy to address this threat, we ignored it and instead invaded and occupied Iraq. When I opposed the war, I warned that it would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East. That is precisely what happened in Iran – the hardliners tightened their grip, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President in 2005. And the United States and Israel are less secure…”

“We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have tried limited, piecemeal talks while we outsource the sustained work to our European allies. It is time for the United States to lead.” (Senator Barack Obama, Speech to AIPAC, 6/4/08)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama is quoted as saying that "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people."

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama explained that: "Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said. And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region. Israel has been one of our most important allies around the world. It's the only established democracy in the Middle East. It's the linchpin of much of our efforts in the Middle East. But the United States has to get engaged in this region. And that's something that this president has not done. That's something that I intend to do." (NBC South Carolina Democratic Debate, 4/26/2007)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama belongs to a radical church whose pastor has denounced the United States of America.

THE TRUTH:

The Trinity United Church of Christ is one of the largest mainstream African-American churches on Chicago’s South Side, with over 8,000 members. Senator Obama and his family left the church because he sharply disagreed with the views of the former pastor, of whom Senator Obama said: “His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and…[t]hey certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs.”(Press Conference in Winston-Salem, 4/29/2008)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama is close with Louis Farrakhan. Didn’t his church magazine honor Farrakhan?

THE TRUTH:

Senator Obama said himself, “I have always denounced the abhorrent anti-Semitic views of Louis Farrakhan. I have done so since I was a community organizer on the South side of Chicago 20 years ago. And so I don’t think that’s in question… I think they made a mistake in judgment, the magazine that was affiliated with the church, in praising Farrakhan primarily for the work that he’s done on ex-offenders…that often draws attention that is separate from some of these previous remarks. I think that it doesn’t excuse in any way the fact that [what] Mr. Farrakhan said in the past is unacceptable. …As I said before… there are times when people don’t understand the pain that those [reprehensible] statements originally have caused, and I will continue to strongly speak out anti-Semitism in all its forms. That’s part of the reason why I’ve always had such strong support in the Jewish community that is familiar with my track record because they know that I don’t tolerate that stuff, and I’m willing to say it right away in front of other audiences.” (Interview with JTA, 1/28/08)

“You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think they are unacceptable and reprehensible.” (Cleveland Debate, 2/26/08)


THE SMEAR:

Barack Obama refused to condemn the controversial remarks by the former pastor at Trinity United, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

THE TRUTH:

In his historic speech, “A More Perfect Union,” in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008, Senator Obama declared, “I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy…

“But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.”

“As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.”


THE SMEAR:

According to an Israeli Army Radio report, Senator Joe Biden told "senior Israeli officials behind closed doors that the Jewish state will have to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran.”

THE TRUTH:

This alleged “statement” of his was never uttered. Senator Biden’s Press Secretary, David Wade, set the record straight: This is a lie peddled by partisan opponents of Senators Obama and Biden and we will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden’s 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel. Joe Biden’s first trip as a Senator was to Israel, he has worked with every Israeli leader from Golda Meir to Prime Minister Olmert, and he takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting the relationship between Israel and the US. Senator Biden has consistently stated – publicly and privately -- that a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat to Israel and the United States and that we must prevent a nuclear Iran. As recently as July 2008 in a Foreign Relations hearing, Senator Biden reiterated his long-held view on this subject and stated that: "Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon would dramatically destabilize an already unstable region and probably fuel a nuclear arms race in the region. It is profoundly in our interest to prevent that from happening.” [Biden statement, 7/9/08]


THE SMEAR:

Senator Joe Biden argued with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in the 1980s over U.S. aid to Israel, threatening to cut of assistance if Israel did not halt settlement activity.

THE TRUTH:

This never happened. Senator Biden has never threatened to cut off foreign aid, and he has, in fact, opposed proposals to reduce U.S. assistance to Israel. His commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad, and he has stood up for Israel’s security and the United States’ moral obligation to ensure it, time and again. Senator Biden was a leading opponent of proposed sales of advanced weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the 1970s and 1980s, such as F-15 fighters and AWACS radar aircraft.

Senator Biden has received much acclaim and many honors for his steadfast support of American-Israeli friendship and for his consistent efforts to strengthen the security interests of both nations in the Middle East. In 1980, he was honored by the Jewish National Fund in his home state with the dedication of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Forest in Israel. In 1984, he received the prestigious Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award, presented by the Baltimore District of the Zionist Organization of America. In 1998, he received the Friend of Zion award, presented by the Aish HaTorah Jewish educational network, and presented by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Barack Obama | Jewish Americans for Obama Fight the Smears
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