Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “disagrees” with a top adviser who appeared to blame Jewish voters for U.S. Mideast policy failures. In a 2003 interview with the Oregonian, Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, now the co-chairman of Obama’s presidential campaign, critiqued the Bush administration for its handling of the Iraq war. In part, he said, the Bush administration lacked a broader Middle East strategy, particularly in the area of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. The reporters asked him whether the State Department or the White House was to blame. McPeak answered, “New York City. Miami. We have a large vote — vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.” The reporters pressed him again to assess whether the State Department or the White House was responsible, but he persisted: “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.” In a statement to JTA, the Obama campaign noted the senator’s pro-Israel record and added, “Neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama agrees with every position their advisors take, and in this case Senator Obama disagrees with General McPeak’s comments.” McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff, has lent Obama’s campaign substantial defense credibility and has appeared frequently as its surrogate on military matters. The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, uncovered the Oregonian interview this week.
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