As predicted, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the right-wing blogosphere were quick on the draw regarding anything sounding the least bit even-handed or sympathetic toward the Palestinians during Obama’s trip to Israel.
Well, the RJC didn’t even have to wait for Obama to arrive in Israel. The group issued a released blasting Obama for saying in Jordan that terrorism makes “Israelis want to dig in and simply think about their own security regardless of what’s going on beyond their borders.”
What Senator Obama fails to recognize is that the safety and security of its citizenry is the primary obligation of a country’s leadership. In essence, Senator Obama is asking Israelis and the American Jewish community to put terrorism in context. Senator Obama continues his rhetoric of moral equivalence by implying that measures taken by Israel to protect its citizens are on par with the Palestinians’ frustration at border checkpoints. Senator Obama’s attempt at even-handed diplomacy fails to hold Palestinians accountable for using terrorist tactics against innocent Israeli citizens as a means to achieve their ends.
Again, the Obama line as quoted in the RJC press release: “Israelis want to dig in and simply think about their own security regardless of what’s going on beyond their borders.”
Now here’s the line in context:
So one of the things I think the United States is going to have to do is to help build capacity, make sure that Israel feels secure. And obviously the tragedy that happened with the bulldozer does not help with their security. That breeds a sense of insecurity.
And that’s why terrorism is so counterproductive, as well as being immoral, because it makes, I believe, the Israelis want to dig in and simply think about their own security regardless of what’s going on beyond their borders. I think the same would be true of any people when these kinds of things happen and innocent people are injured.
On the other hand, I think that the Palestinians have to feel some sense of progress in terms of their economic situation, you know, whether it’s on the West Bank or Gaza, if people continually feel pressed, where they can’t get to their job or they can’t make a living, they get frustrated….
And it’s hard for them if they see no glimmer of hope to then want to take a leap in order to make impressions.
Not surprisingly, Ira Forman of the National Jewish Democratic Council thinks the RJC is guilty of … well, um, read the description yourself:
After reading Senator Barack Obama’s statement and then the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) “interpretation” of that statement I am totally baffled. I can only imagine that the head of the RJC put on one of those hats with horns on it that Shamans might wear. Then they must have proceeded to whip themselves into a fury dancing around a fire pit stoked with acacia wood. Then by pouring the blood of a red newt over the Obama statement and reading the statement by the light of the acacia fire they could somehow divine an anti-Israel message out of what appears, to everybody else, to be a pro-Israel statement.
This is typical of the drivel that Republican operatives have been churning out in a frantic attempt to take a pro-Israel Senator like Barack Obama and demonize him as an anti-Israel activist.
Over at Commentary’s Contentions blog, Jennifer Rubin also jumps on Obama’s comments, but zeros on what he said after the line that got the RJC all hyped up. In particular, she has problems with this quote:
And so, I think what the United States can do is — is to help to create more — a greater sense of security among the Israelis, a greater sense that economic progress and increased freedom of movement is something that can be accomplished in the Palestinian territories.
(Is that so different than the Bush administration line?)