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JTA PODCAST: Obama addresses Jewish concerns

Barack Obama just finished a conference call with Jewish reporters (read the news brief). He took four questions, the first from JTA’s own Ron Kampeas. But while questions dealt with the Middle East, and the recent controversy about Obama’s church, what the candidate really wanted to talk about was the smear campaign that has circulated by email among Jewish leaders in recent weeks.

The allegations – that Obama is a Muslim and took his oath of office on a Koran – have been thoroughly, and repeatedly, refuted. Still, Obama said he wanted folks to hear the refutation from the “horse’s mouth.”

Before the call broke up, Obama urged reporters to use their “megaphone” to let readers know “that there’s no substance there and that my strong and deep commitment and connection to the Jewish community should not be questioned.”

Asked why it was sufficient for him to denounce his church’s recent praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan but not resign from the church itself, Obama repeated his condemnation of Farrakhan’s “reprehensible” anti-Semitic views. Then he added what sounds like a promise: “My church has never issued anti-Semitic statements, nor have I heard my pastor utter anything anti-Semitic. If I have, I would have left the church.”

Obama also took questions on the peace process, the situation in Gaza, and how he would deal with Iranian nukes.

Click the play button below to listen.

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