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A Promise Obama Can Make Good on Now

During a visit to the Gaza town of Sderot in July this year then presidential candidate Barack Obama offered his opinion of the terrorist bombings and rocket attacks carried out by Hamas against neighboring Israeli citizens,

"If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that," he told reporters in Sderot, a small city on the edge of Gaza that has been hit repeatedly by rocket fire. "And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

Well, the Israelis are doing just that and the New York Times is not quite sure what to make of this. Alternating between admonishing Obama to respond "harshly" to Israel's "policies" (such as condoning settlements in disputed territories) and suggesting Obama "pressure surrogates to lean on Hamas", the Times is offering the same tired, failed ideas that have been served up by every statesman from George Schultz to Madeline Albright to Condoleezza Rice.

However, David Axelrod said yesterday that,

"the president-elect stood by the remarks he made in the summer and, when asked, noted the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel."

Is this perhaps evidence that the new administration will somehow demonstrate some resistance to what has historically been, at least in the Middle East, the foreign policy equivalent of Einstein's definition of insanity?

President elect Obama has an historic opportunity to put a serious foreign policy problem behind him by offering open support for Israel to destroy Hamas. In doing so he can also send a clear message to Iran that the US will not tolerate foreign sponsors of terror in Israel. The political risks in this policy are manifest: Obama must deal with not only the ignorant anti semitic fringe on the Left but also the knee jerk appeasers that will never favor a robust millitary response to any problem.

Obama's refusal to press such an opportunity would present an opening for Republicans to openly support Israel's response and make this an issue in the confirmation hearings of several Obama cabinet appointees.


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Comments (18)

Hugh, I think your's is a s... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Hugh, I think your's is a simple view of who is sending a clear message about terror. You do realize it was the Israelis who initially funded and sponsored Hamas (who always believed in the armed struggle) as a counterweight to the PLO, or have you conviently forgot this because it was one of the failed tired ideas... of the right, the Israeli right?

According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism." "The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer."

"They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said.

Speaking of tired ideas of the right of course the Bush administration not to be undone, has been funding and arming El Fatah and its strongman Dahlan covertly and illegally since the Hamas won the December 2006 elections, which Bush insisted on.

SteveDo you mean S... (Below threshold)


Do you mean Scary Larry of the Michelle Obama whitey tape?

You and Bob Beckel are birds of a feather.

As for Vanity Fair, they are way out of their league. They need to stick with pedophile photo shots of Hannah Montana.

I am sincere. I truly wish ... (Below threshold)

I am sincere. I truly wish Obama well. That being said, he IS a politician from Chicago. He said what he said in order to get the Jewish vote. Not sure when, but I fear he will throw Israel under the bus. He will shrug his shoulders and say, "not the Israel I used to know".

Hugh,Whatever you ... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


Whatever you may think of Larry Johnson and Vanity Fair, two questions:

Did Israel support Hamas as a counterbalance to the PLO, or not?

Who specifically on the "ignorant anti semitic fringe on the left" are you referring to?

Hugh is making the same stu... (Below threshold)

Hugh is making the same stupid equivocation between those who dislike the Likudnik wing of the Israeli government, and those who dislike Jews.

I have said it a few times on this blog: all of my Jewish friends--Israeli or otherwise--think the Palestinians are treated unfairly. And at the same time, they all think that firing rockets into Israel is a stupid tactic that deserves violent retribution.

But I guess they're just leftard anti-Semites. Or something.

Aren't you smarter than that, Hugh?

There is no equivocation in... (Below threshold)

There is no equivocation in my post, HB. There are left wing anti semites and they occupy quite a lot of the media's attention. Two come to mind:

Cynthia McKinney and Noam Chomsky (and yes, you can be jewish by birth and an anti semite.)

McKinney is already in the saddle:


Ask Allan Dershowitz what he thinks of Ckomosky.


Israel has used a great many strategies in fighting the Palestinians. Using Hamas was obviously a mistake. How does that change what is happening now?

Hugh,Actually supp... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


Actually supporting Hamas is not the relevant action that applies to what the Israelis are doing now. The debacle of the recent Lebanon incursion is. That action strengthened rather than weakened Hezbollah. Israel's current course will likely do the same for Hamas. As with our invasion of Iraq, Iran is the ultimate winner. And at the cost of so much death and destruction.

Thank you for answering both of my questions. Please provide an example of an anti-semitic comment,as opposed to comments crtical of Israel, by either Cynthia McKinney or Noam Chomsky.

It is tedious commenting on... (Below threshold)

It is tedious commenting on this subject anymore. Not really much more complicated than one side(Israel)wants to live in peace and has traded land for peace. The other side(Hamas, Hezbolah, PLO, Iran, Syria, et al. wants all the land and Israel gone as if it never existed. How Obamalala deals with the problem should be interesting given his past associates support of Hamas.
To his credit Clinton tried to prop up Arafat to bring the PLO along in a peaceful co-existence but, Arafat had his own interest at heart giving Clinton the table-for-one hand signal while setting up his wife and daughter in Paris with billion dollar bank accounts. At the same time "his" people languished in abject poverty and unrest.
Bush ignored him but, had people in his State dept. that pressured Israel for more concessions despite no meaningful concessions from it's neighbors. It may be that no matter what Obamalala does he will just be the next in line of American presidents unable to deal with those that want nothing less than Israel's destruction.

Chomsky speaks for exactly ... (Below threshold)

Chomsky speaks for exactly which segment of the population? Grad students in philology/linguistics?

I'm left-wing, loves me the Jews, and think Zionism is a poisonous ideology much the same way as radical Islam. I don't think the state of Israel has a right to exist, but then I don't think that right can coherently be attributed to any state. I feel exactly the same way about the state of Palestine. (Nations, on the other hand, are a different matter altogether.) Chomsky does not share these views. So if you want to characterize the left based on what Chomsky thinks about certain goings-on in the world, that's your business. It's a pretty stupid/sloppy characterization, though.

DaveHere is a very... (Below threshold)


Here is a very sympathetic description of Chomsky's Holocaust comments:


Here is what Alan Dershowitz says:


I side with Dershowitz on this. That's about the only thing I agree on with Dershowitz.

I'll find some McKinney gems later.

Hugh,I sincerely b... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


I sincerely believe you are making an honest effort to respond, and I appreciate that. But you still have not provided me with an example of an anti-semitic statement by Noam Chomsky.
He is admittedly an intellectual provocateur, an unequivocal supporter of intellectual freedom (hence, the Faurrison affair) and a vehement critic of Israel, but that does not make him an anti-semite.

I have little doubt your attempts with respect to Cynthia McKinney will be equally unproductive.

Both individuals are critics of Israeli policies and supporters of Palestinian rights.
That does not make them anti-semites.

"President elect Obama has ... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

"President elect Obama has an historic opportunity to put a serious foreign policy problem behind him by offering open support for Israel to destroy Hamas. "

Respectfully, this is not the road to peace, Hugh. Israel pulled no punches with Hezbollah, was supported by the Bush Administration, and only strengthened Hezbollah and its state sponsor Iran.

DaveNoam Chomsky is ... (Below threshold)

Noam Chomsky is more than an intellectual provocateur.

I offered you two arguments about his introduction to a Holocaust denier's tome. One was an intellectual exercise in linguistic gymnastics; the other was an indictment of Chomsky for refusing to acknowledge the obvious.

Chomsky is recognized on the left as a scholar. No true scholar would let pass a denial of the Holocaust. If you can't gather that from the links I provided then perhaps you are too long lost in the Modern Language Association's excuse for what passes as reasonable writing and logic.

Hitler killed millions of Jews. Chomsksy refuses the opportunity to refute a writer that says it isn't so. In fact, Chomsky writes an introduction to said denier's book and passes on the subject. End of discussion.

As for Israel and Hezbollah, it appears that Israel has learned something from that experience. Hopefully Iran and the Bush adminstration are paying attention.

DaveI'm working on... (Below threshold)


I'm working on McKinney. Need a little more time but promise to respond.

"President elect ... (Below threshold)
"President elect Obama has an historic opportunity to put a serious foreign policy problem behind him by offering open support for Israel to destroy Hamas. "

I would add.

Unless, Hamas renounces parts of ">http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html"> Hamas Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel, Anti-Semitic language, that ignores land concessions, and does not reconginze peace with Israel as legitimate outcome.

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: "Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware." From time to time a clamoring is voiced, to hold an International Conference in search for a solution to the problem. ...
Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the nonbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam. Since when did the Unbelievers do justice to the Believers? "And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the Christians, till thou follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of Allah [himself] is the Guidance. And if you should follow their desires after the knowledge which has come unto thee, then you would have from Allah no protecting friend nor helper." Sura 2 (the Cow), verse 120 There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

The above is just a few of the gems in Hamas Charter. Unless Hamas is willing to change that then Israel must seek the elimination of Hamas.

When the enemy tells you who they are you must listen, to do otherwise is to comfort a pit viper and act surprise when you die of a snake bite.

Hugh,"Hitler kille... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


"Hitler killed millions of Jews. Chomsksy refuses the opportunity to refute a writer that says it isn't so. In fact, Chomsky writes an introduction to said denier's book and passes on the subject. End of discussion."

Actually, that is not the end of a discussion as to whether Noam Chomsky is an anti-semtite.
What you have provided is at most proof that he is an irresponsible scholar. That's not the same thing. I could not, and would not, have walked the fine intellectual tightrope that he has, but that does not make him an anti-semite.

"As for Israel and Hezbollah, it appears that Israel has learned something from that experience."

That does not at all appear to be the case. How is what they're doing now any different from what they did in Lebanon?

Israel gives up Gaza.... (Below threshold)

Israel gives up Gaza.
Israel left Green houses in Gaza intact for the Palestinians to grow food.
Does Hamas privatize the green houses in Gaza and create business for the people?
Does Hamas national the green houses for work public works project?
Do they take money and buy food, clothing medicine?
Nope they destroy the green houses and buy weapons to rain rockets down on Israel.
The only lesson that needs to be learned, is that the Palestinians need leadership that will loves them more than they hate Israel.
Only then can there be any long term hope.

hcddbz,"the Palest... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


"the Palestinians need leadership that will loves them more than they hate Israel."

With respect to Gaza, I agree.






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