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Barack Obama gained the support of one of the Jewish world's most prominent leaders Friday, when Canadian philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman gave the Democratic presidential candidate his endorsement.

In a column on the Huffingtonpost, Bronfman asserted that Obama is the candidate who will act in the best interest of Israel. Of Obama's Republican rival, the philanthropist said: "As an American Jew who loves Israel, I cannot support John McCain."

Bronfman, a former head of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in the piece titled "Israel's Best Interest is a Morally Strong America" that an honest broker was needed to push Israelis and Palestinians toward a two-state solution.

He said the Illinois senator could fill this role, being "a tough idealist who has the courage to imagine an America that may inspire hope, not fear, in the Middle East and around the world."

Conversely, Bronfman scathingly criticized President George W. Bush's policies in the region, which he said McCain would continue, as only increasing the dangers Israel faces from its enemies. The philanthropist said the most immediate of them was from a nuclear Iran, adding that, "Under the Bush administration, conversations with the Iranians began only at the end of May 2007 and have been badly mishandled."

Bronfman, 79, is best known in the financial world as the owner for many years of Seagram's Whiskey. He recently published a book, "Hope, Not Fear," in which he preaches for comprehensive reform of the content of Jewish life, and calls for changes in the conduct of its religious streams - particularly in the relationships between them.