Not a year has passed since Danny Ayalon completed his term as Israel's ambassador in Washington, but he has already seen fit to criticize Barack Obama, who may well be the next U.S. president or vice president. In an article published in The Jerusalem Post, Ayalon wrote that during his two meetings with Obama, he got the impression that the Democratic candidate was "not entirely forthright" regarding Israel. Similar and even worse smears can be found in abundance in American blogs and e-mail chain letters.
While Obama was taking advantage of Martin Luther King Day to speak out against anti-Semitism among blacks, Jewish spokesmen were using racist language against him, solely because his father was Muslim. Since it is hard to find so much as a single anti-Jewish statement in Obama's political record, or even support for anti-Israel policies, his defamers base their arguments on the fact that his positions on the Middle East conflict are "leftist" - solely because he rejects the right's positions, which are more acceptable to some Jewish-American leaders.
Obama, Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate John McCain have very similar views on the Middle East, and their Senate votes confirm this. Obama has been smeared by the right because of his ties with international relations experts Zbigniew Brzezinksi and Robert Malley, as well as his support for a two-state solution and a withdrawal from most of the settlements. Billionaire George Soros, who has contributed to both the Obama and Clinton campaigns, is also seen by the Jewish right as hostile to Israel, because he is too leftist.
The U.S. elections are important to Israel because of the two countries' special relationship and America's support for Israel, whose value cannot be overstated. There is a major contradiction between this fact and a smear campaign against a candidate with a Muslim name, which risks causing many Americans, and especially blacks, to feel alienated from Israel and Jews. Obama is sensitive to Israel's security needs, and he proved this through his Senate votes, his visit to northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War, and his unequivocal statements against both Hezbollah, which violated Israel's sovereignty in the North, and Hamas, which violated Israel's sovereignty in the South.
Obama does not support the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, but believes that the need to solve the refugee problem must be recognized. He supports Israel as the state of the Jews, and does not accept the view, which has struck roots in the global left, that Israel should be a state of all its citizens, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. He speaks out openly on these issues, as he does about the threat to Israel posed by Iran's nuclear program, and he did so even before becoming a presidential candidate.
Racist attacks against a black American candidate could cause Israel and American Jews a great deal of damage - not to mention shame and disgrace. Obama has been forced to defend himself over things such as nonexistent ties with elements hostile to Israel, an appearance at an event at which Edward Said spoke, and praying at one church rather than another.
Great damage has already been caused because Obama announced that an ugly campaign was being waged against him in the Jewish community. That alone ought to be enough at least to make Israel's leaders say something about Jews who preach against anti-Semitism while employing similar tactics against other minorities.
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