A pro-Hamas op-ed printed in his church’s bulletin is “outrageously wrong,” Barack Obama said.
In an issue dated July 22, 2007, in a section titled “Pastor’s Page,” the church reprinted an article by Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook in which he justifies Hamas’ withholding of recognition of Israel’s right to exist. The article originally appeared as an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
The church’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who retired this year, has already stirred controversy for the U.S. senator campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with earlier statements likening Israel to colonialists and blaming attacks on the United States in part on its support for Israel.
“I have already condemned my former pastor’s views on Israel in the strongest possible terms, and I certainly wasn’t in church when that outrageously wrong Los Angeles Times piece was re-printed in the bulletin,” Obama said in a statement emailed to JTA late Thursday, and referring to critics who noted that Obama had been in church when Wright had made controversial statements. “Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel’s destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot in recent months. I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community’s conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor.”
Obama, who has consistently condemned Hamas and defended Israel’s military responses to rocket attacks, separately issued a statement timed for the Jewish holiday of Purim – a holiday that has rarely if ever been commemorated by any other candidate or Congress member.
“The story of Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai saving the Jews of ancient Persia from destruction,” his statement said. “Even as the parties are held, the songs are sung, and the noisemakers are rattled, the history of a people that has had to fight for its survival, remains at the heart of the Purim story. In our day, the celebration is mingled with a determination to ensure that Israel remains safe and strong, that we fight anti-Semitism wherever it occurs, and that the American Jewish community continues to play such an active and vital role in the life of our nation.”