Most of the country now knows Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak as the Obama adviser who called Bill Clinton a McCarthyite.
Well, now, the Republican Jewish Coalition is raising a new complaint about McPeak, Obama’s military adviser campaign co-chair: In a 2003 interview, the general suggested that the pro-Israel lobby was to blame for America’s failure to do more to advance the peace process:
So where’s the problem? State? White House?
New York City. Miami. We have a large vote – vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.
Actually I was thinking of the larger lack of a Middle East strategy. Does that emanate out of the State Department or out of the White House, combination of both, is it a personality struggle, what’s – what’s going on?
I think that everybody understands that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli problem would require the Israelis to stop settling the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and maybe even withdraw some of the settlements that’ve already been put there. And nobody wants to take on that problem. It’s just too tough politically. So that means we can’t . . . you can’t develop a Middle East strategy. It’s impossible.
Do you think . . . there’s an element within Hamas, Hezbollah, that doesn’t want Israel to exist at all and always will be there?
Yeah. So this is – this is multilateral.
. . . There’s an element in Oregon, you know, that’s always going to be radical in some pernicious way, and likely to clothe it in religious garments, so it makes it harder to attack. So there’s craziness all over the place. I think there is enough good will on the Israeli side – I’ve spent a lot of time in Israel, worked at one time very closely with the Israeli air force as a junior officer, and so – but that’s maybe the more cosmopolitan, liberal version of the Israeli population – I think there’s enough good will there – I don’t know if there is still on the Palestinian side, because they’ve been radicalized pretty well. But there’s enough good will, I would hope, on both sides that you can get the majority into some kind of a big tent, and make something better than what you’ve got now. If you do that, you’ll still have radicals on both sides doing stupid things, but that is basically a problem in internal security. Hopefully. You can handle it with police. But if you don’t do that, I don’t see any way to put together a strategy for the Middle East. I mean it’s just kind of a linchpin . . .
Judging from the transcript, it sure feels like McPeak couldn’t help but steer the conversation back to his beef with Israel’s supporters.
Here’s the full RJC statement calling for Obama to drop McPeak:
Washington, D.C. (March 25, 2008) – The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today called on Sen. Barack Obama to remove Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak as his military advisor and national campaign co-chairman.
“By choosing to have a military advisor and national campaign co-chairman like General McPeak, serious questions and doubts are once again being raised about Senator Obama’s positions and judgment on Middle East issues,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.
In a 2003 interview with the Oregonian, Gen. McPeak resorted to old stereotypes and unfortunate language by blaming the lack of progress with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on the undue political influence of American Jewry. The problem, said McPeak is “New York City. Miami. We have a large vote – vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.”
“Rather than putting the blame where it belongs – on the Palestinian leadership and their continued reliance on terror, General McPeak finds it more convenient to blame American Jewry and their perceived influence,” said Brooks. “This is the same dangerous and disturbing canard being promoted by the likes of Jimmy Carter and authors Mearsheimer and Walt in their book, The Israel Lobby.”
In addition, Gen. McPeak has a long history of criticizing Israel for not returning to the 1967 borders or returning the Golan Heights to Syria, as he wrote in Foreign Affairs in April 1976.
“Senator Obama continues to surround himself with advisors holding troubling and disturbing anti-Israel bias. General McPeak’s views are alarming. We call on Senator Obama to immediately remove General McPeak from his campaign leadership role and as a key advisor,” said Brooks.