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Barack Obama said President Bush’s remarks to the Knesset about appeasing terrorists were a smear against Obama’s candidacy. “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Bush said in remarks delivered Thursday to mark Irsael’s 60th anniversary. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’

“We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” Obama, an Illinois U.S. senator and the front-runner in the race to be the Democratic presidential candidate in November, has said that as president he would meet with leaders of pariah states, but has rejected meeting with terrorist groups. Republicans, however, have characterized Obama’s stance as including outreach to terrorists, and the candidate took Bush’s remarks as a swipe at him. “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack,” Obama said in a statement. “Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power — including tough, principled and direct diplomacy — to pressure countries like Iran and Syria.

“George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.” A White House spokeswoman denied that Obama was the target. However, MSNBC quoted a senior administration official as saying the remarks would apply to Obama as well as to former President Jimmy Carter, who recently met with Hamas officials. Obama criticized Carter for that meeting.

The Democratic National Committee called on U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the presumptive Republican Party nominee, to repudiate Bush’s comments.

“Bush’s outrageous comments are an embarrassment to our country, not based in fact and bring us no closer to our goal of ending terrorist attacks against Israel and bringing peace to the region,” said DNC chairman Howard Dean.

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