Republican Jews assailed U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for saying he wanted a summit of the United States and Muslim nations.
Obama, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a recent interview with Paris Match magazine that he wanted such a summit to start “honest discussion about ways to bridge the gap that grows between Muslims and the West.”
That prompted the Republican Jewish Coalition to say in a statement it was “deeply troubled by Senator Obama’s desire to ‘hold a summit in the Muslim world, with all heads of state’ – many of whom have yet to renounce terrorism or refrain from anti-Semitic incitement.”
The statement continued: “Nowhere in the Paris Match article does Senator Obama affirm Israel’s right to exist. Nor does he condemn the repeated terrorist strikes against Israel – the only stable democracy in the region. Further in his interview, Senator Obama said he wanted to listen to the ‘concerns’ of these nations. For many, their biggest concern is Israel’s existence.”
Obama in other forums repeatedly has upheld Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and condemned attacks on Israel. It was not clear from the short article published in Paris Match whether his remarks were edited.
Obama’s proposal is not much different from Bush administration outreach in recent years in which Karen Hughes, one of President Bush’s closest confidantes, conducted listening and outreach tours in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
One of the Republican candidates, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, cited the RJC statement in a Jerusalem Post op-ed, saying Obama’s proposal “deeply troubled” him.