Jews for Obama
Obama 08
Hillary's Militant Mideast Policy is "Reckless" --
Former Reagan Aide
Jews for Obama Newsletter - Issue # 2    April 22, 2008


Just last week I wrote in an op-ed in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that "The less a candidate has sound mooring for his policies the more apt is he to manipulate us by invoking our cherished symbols and comforting slogans.    Those who promise that they will keep 'Jerusalem as the eternal united capital of Israel,' or pulverize 'Ahmadinejad's nuclear sites' may be telling us what we want to hear, but not what we can sustain in the world in which we must live."  And I explained why such threats and promises are folly. 


The ink wasn't dry before Senator Hillary Clinton promised in the Democratic debate in Philadelphia that she "would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States, but I would do the same with other countries in the region."    In one fell swoop, she had unequivocally committed the U.S. to wage full-scale war against Iran on behalf not only of Israel but of all our Mideast Arab allies should Iran attack any of these nations.   Nor was she limiting the conditions under which this threat would be realized to an unconventional attack (with nuclear or other WMD's).  Any attack would do to embroil the US in a "massive" military campaign against Iran.   Nor was she limiting the countries against whom an Iranian attack would trigger an automatic large-scale US counter-attack.    Not just Israel.  Any Mideastern country would do to get us good and mired neck deep in another full-scale war in the Middle East. 


Senator Clinton's gonzo "deterrence" looked like nothing so much as an attempt to turn the Democratic primary into little more than a Billy Crystal Saturday Night Live Skit:  Qui est muy macho?  Fernando Lamas or Ricardo Montalban?  Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?   


When a former aide to conservative icon President Ronald Reagan can make a cogent case against a politician's uber-hawk panaceas, it's a sure sign that a politico is playing to the crowd's reptilian instincts.  That, of course, means that the intent is to get us to stop thinking and reading and to cast our ballot with our fists clenched for the toughest talking "mofo"--man or woman. 


Senator Obama's measured, thoughtful and responsible but strong reply to the same question was downright, well, presidential, compared to Senator Clinton's.  Obama responded in part:   "I think it is very important that Iran understands that an attack on Israel is an attack on our strongest ally in the region, one that we -- one whose security we consider paramount, and that -- that would be an act of aggression that we -- that I would -- consider an attack that is unacceptable, and the United States would take appropriate action."  


Effective deterrence, in short, does not bluster about with extravagant promises or threats that are unlikely to be fulfilled, undermining a leader's--and America's--credibility.  Nor should deterrence tie American hands to a single response on a scale that is just half-cocked enough to scare some voters into the voting booth chanting your mantra--or to be acted upon, with all the frightful consequences.  Sen. Obama made clear that he will exercise his judgment, and that of his military and political advisors, to determine what the proper response to any Iranian attack should be, including a range of forceful responses which do not commit the US in advance to far-reaching reckless military escapades.   As I wrote last week in JTA, what we need now is a sober strategy and a cool hand. 


In this issue, the strengths of Sen. Obama's approach to Israel and the Middle East become even more apparent.   They are highlighted in a revealing exchange with the Philadelphia Jewish leadership, as well as in the passionate yet thoughtful endorsements he receives from Jewish Pennsylvania legislators and Members of Congress, from Clinton's former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to Pennsylvania Jewish Democrats like David Broida.    Los Angeles Jewish leader Glenn Gottlieb delivers a striking critique of the demagoguery and character assassination that passes for politics in our country far too much of the time.   His talk, a d'var Torah delivered recently at an American Jewish University retreat, is published here for the first time.  If you live in a primary state, be sure to get out and vote today.   And do the right thing!


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Obama speaks to Philadelphia Jewish Leaders
Senator Obama conducted a wide-ranging conversation with 70 Philadelphia Jewish leaders at Rodeph Shalom Synagogue on April 16.  After strong endorsements were delivered by two Jewish Pennsylvania state legislators and two Jewish Members of Congress who introduced him, Sen. Obama showed why so many American Jews have come to believe he is the leader who will best protect both America and Israel.
Here, for example, is an excerpt from Sen. Obama on Iran and Israel:

"The gravest threat to Israel today comes from Iran.  The threat from Iran is real, and my goal as President will be to eliminate it. Ending the war in Iraq will be an important step toward achieving this goal, because it will increase our flexibility and our ability to deal with Iran. Make no mistake - Iran has been a strategic beneficiary of this war, and I intend to change that.


"My approach to Iran will be based upon aggressive diplomacy. Under this Administration, the threat has grown worse. I will change course. The time has come to talk directly to the Iranians, and to lay out our clear terms: an end to their pursuit of nuclear weapons; an end to their support of terrorism; and an end to their threats against Israel and other countries. To achieve this goal, I believe that we must offer incentives - like the prospect of better relations and integration in the international community; as well as disincentives - like the prospect of increased sanctions.


"My interest in meeting with Iran is a practical assessment in terms of how we can best achieve our ultimate goal which is an Iran that is not threatening its neighbors, is not threatening Israel, is not testing nuclear weapons, is not funding organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.  And so, in that sense, I view Iran the same way I view North Korea. The same way that I view Syria. In the same way that historically, Presidents like FDR viewed Stalin, or Kennedy viewed Kruschev, or Nixon viewed Mao, or Reagan viewed Gorbachev."


To read or listen to more from Sen. Obama's exchange with Philadelphia Jewish leaders click here


Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich:  "Why I am Endorsing Obama for President"

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich

"I believe that Barack Obama should be elected President of the United States.


"Although Hillary Clinton has offered solid and sensible policy proposals, Obama's strike me as even more so. His plans for reforming Social Security and health care have a better chance of succeeding. His approaches to the housing crisis and the failures of our financial markets are sounder than hers. His ideas for improving our public schools and confronting the problems of poverty and inequality are more coherent and compelling. He has put forward the more enlightened foreign policy and the more thoughtful plan for controlling global warming.  He also presents the best chance of creating a new politics in which citizens become active participants rather than cynical spectators."


Prophets and Demagogues--Rev. Wright Revisited:  D'var Torah Parshat Metzorah, Glenn Gottlieb

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.

"I ask you: was Jeremiah Wright so wrong when he cautioned his congregation that for the sins we are committing as a country - right now, in our day - we may very well be damned by an avenging God of justice and righteousness?  Was his message so divergent from that of our own prophets we hear railing at our ancestors every week in our Haftarah readings? Do we need to be reminded that, although it may be in his faith tradition's own style, Reverend Wright is actually preaching from that very same source?"


"Just last week we marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.   On this Shabbat - just one week later, may we be reminded of the dangers of 'character assassination.'  Let us remind ourselves not to fall victim to the appeal to our baser instincts by demagogues who would play on our fears for their own cynical, political ends.  May we be reminded to judge others, as Reverend King exhorted us, "not by the color of their skin" - or, forgive me Rabbi, by the ravings of their spiritual leaders - but solely by what it is that they believe and do, and most importantly, by the content of their character."

Obama Faults Bush, Clinton on Mideast

 Bush, Olmert, Abbas


"White House hopeful Barack Obama on Sunday criticized both President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton for waiting too long to make a big push to achieve Middle East peace.  Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, said he would pursue an active diplomacy from the beginning to try to reach a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. 

"Obama said the Annapolis process has initiated some useful discussions but, "why didn't they start at the beginning of the term instead of at the end of the term?"  The peace conference launched in Annapolis, Maryland, in November marked a shift for Republican Bush, who previously had avoided a hands-on role in Middle East peace negotiations."

Jews for Obama is a grassroots American Jewish initiative and not affiliated with the Obama Campaign. 
Wishing you a chag kasher v'sameach!   Happy Passover!
Gidon D. Remba
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher

In This Issue
1. Read or Listen to Sen. Obama's Conversation with Philadelphia Jewish Leaders
2. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich: Why I'm Endorsing Obama for President
3. Prophets & Demagogues--Rev. Wright Revisited: D'var Torah Parshat Metzorah, Glenn Gottlieb
4. Obama Faults Bush, Clinton on Late Arab-Israeli Diplomatic Push
Featured Web Clip
If you think the Bush-Cheney-McCain Iraq adventure has handed Persian Gulf hegemony to Iran on a silver platter,
wreaking havoc on Israel's security and America's Sunni Arab allies, just wait till you see the new fiascoes Hillary promises.
Featured Article

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama, by David Broida 

Obama Hebrew poster
A Pennsylvania Democrat explains
why the evidence is clear: "The US-Israel relationship has been and remains the centerpiece of Barack Obama's Middle East policy."
Web Clip of the Week
McCain still confuses Shiites and Sunnis
Sen. John McCain was still confused last week about Shia and Sunnis when questioning Gen. Petraeus about Iraq.

Last month in the Middle East he repeatedly mixed the two up, claiming falsely that Iran was training Al Qaeda extremists and sending them back to Iraq.

McCain repeatedly confuses Shia (Iran) & Sunni (Al Qaeda)
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