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AJCongress, ZOA officials: The problem with Obama…

First a former Israeli ambassador tot he United States writes an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post raising questions about Barack Obama (at least one turned out to be based on an inaccurate premise). Now ZOA’s Mort Klein and an officer at the American Jewish Congress are going even further in raising concerns. [UPDATE: JTA's Ron Kampeas reports that the AJCongress has repudiated the letter and is considering disciplinary action against the officer who sent it.]

Check out the quotes in this New Republic article attributed to Klein (it’s worth pointing out that, when it comes to the stuff about the Palestinians, he’s essentially said the same thing about the Bush administration):

A little while ago, I told Mort Klein, president of the influential Zionist Organization of America, that I was writing an article about Barack Obama.

“You mean Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama?” he asked, laughing.

Klein quickly stressed that he was joking, and that he didn’t put any stock in the anonymous e-mail circulating that claims Obama is not only a closet Muslim–and that his middle name is Mohammed–but also that the senator from Illinois is part of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy the U.S. by winning its highest office. He had, however, certainly received the defamatory e-mail, as well as another that alleges that Obama’s church is a racist and anti-Semitic institution that is more committed to Africa than to the United States. …

With regards to the AIPAC bigwigs, one former AIPAC official recently said to me that he believes that Obama’s stated willingness to diplomatically engage with some of Israel’s most avowed enemies makes much of the organization’s leadership “uncomfortable”–though they would never say so publicly because of a reluctance to sour their relationship with a potential future president.

Mort Klein, whose ZOA is far to the right of AIPAC, is much less tight-lipped.

“Obama doesn’t understand that the Palestinians are more interested in Israel’s destruction than in establishing a Palestinian state,” he told me. “He makes general comments supporting the security of Israel, but makes no specific comments, like that Abbas must end incitement or confiscate weapons.”

And this letter in the New York Jewish Week from an official at the American Jewish Congress:

The joint Jewish leaders’ letter debunking various myths concerning Barack Obama’s origins is principled and correct, but it misses the point (“Campaign Of Falsehoods On Obama Seen Sticking,” Jan. 25).

Americans should be long past innuendo and ought to examine troubling facts. I am far more concerned that in the liberal spirit that everyone can get along better through “communication,” Obama would sit with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Pray tell, what would they discuss? And would he bring along Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to former President Jimmy Carter?

Moreover, Obama’s comfort with anti-Israel advocates, including his pastor and a church whose board has taken a series of anti-Israel actions, and with George Soros, is disturbing. Obama has not called for any change in his church’s anti-Semitic views. Were Obama’s Pastor Wright an Evangelical, press scrutiny would be far harsher.

He also harshly attacked his political opponents for voting to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, even though they have murdered Jews in Buenos Aires and bolstered Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Obama advocates “world nuclear disarmament.” How shockingly naive. He believes that if “America leads the way … countries like Iran and North Korea won’t have an excuse.”

For these and other substantive reasons, I submit that the superfluous public discourse misses the point.

[Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld]
Metropolitan Region Co-President
American Jewish Congress
Manhattan

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