U.S. President Barack Obama's domestic and foreign policies pose "a clear and present danger to Israel," says the driving force behind the campaign to prove Obama was not born in the United States and therefore ineligible to serve as president.
The so-called "birther" movement that alleges that Obama was born in Kenya found fertile ground for publicity during the perennially slow news days of late July and early August. As cable and online news outlets devoted more and more time to the phenomenon, Israeli-American activist Orly Taitz emerged at the forefront of the campaign, and her star steadily rose until a fateful MSNBC interview in which she referred to her detractors as "Obama's brownshirts."
Last month, state officials in Hawaii said they have once again checked and confirmed that Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.
Speaking to Haaretz on Monday, Taitz slammed what she calls Obama's support for Hamas, citing an executive order signed by the U.S. president shortly after taking office, which funneled $900 million to the Gaza Strip. To Taitz, the executive order was a form of political subterfuge meant to prop up the enemies of the United States and Israel, in spite of widespread American Jewish support for the new president.
"During the campaign, Obama was telling American Jews that he is for Israel... but sure enough, just as he was elected, look at his first actions, he issued an executive order to give $900 million to Gaza with no preconditions."
Taitz says that the money given to Hamas, which "has declared war on Israel and the United States," will not be used to help the people of the Gaza Strip but rather to build Qassam rockets, posing a serious threat to the State of Israel.
She believes Obama poses a threat to Israel not only because of his support of radical Islamic groups such as Hamas, but also because of his "radical socialist" policies, that will bring the United States to "totalitarianism and Stalinism." According to Taitz, these policies "pose a threat to all democracies, not only Israel."
Since her explosive MSNBC appearance, the "birther" movement has largely faded, supplanted by the health care debate and a new, more-vocal stream of detractors swarming the town hall meetings on health care, leaving Taitz and her movement as yesterday's news; outside of Israel that is.
Over the last two weeks, Taitz has been featured in a segment on Channel 10 television's popular nightly news show "London and Kirschenbaum," filmed a segment for the far-right Arutz 7 Web site and recorded a show for their radio channel, was featured in a three-page article in mass circulation daily Ma'ariv, and was the subject of a feature on Channel 1 TV.
Israel's Russian press has also taken notice, and interviewed Taitz for a feature for Russian radio and Israel's Russian-language Channel 9. Taitz will also be the subject of a lengthy article in "Vesty," Israel's largest Russian-language newspaper.
When asked if her reception has been more positive in Israel, the polyglot Taitz (she speaks English, Russian, Hebrew, Romanian, and Spanish) said in both the United States and Israel she has been met by widespread support, albeit most of it expressed privately.
"I think the vast majority of the population [in Israel] is supportive. There are some leftists, and some people in the media who are pro-Obama, but even they in private will say they're with me."
In Israel on a month-long vacation to celebrate her parents' 50th wedding anniversary, Taitz has watched from afar as the "birther" phenomenon gained steam in the United States, only to be largely supplanted by the debate over health care.
While on vacation, Taitz took her family to pay a visit to her native Moldova, where they saw where she grew up as well as the cemetery that houses some of her ancestors. Taitz spoke of how her grandmother witnessed the famous Kishniev pogrom of 1903, where 43 Jews were slaughtered and dozens wounded.
Taitz found motivation in this kernel of family history, saying that "the women and children murdered and the houses ransacked" during the pogrom have proved to her "why it's important for citizens to have their second amendment right to bear arms."
Taitz, who argues that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is building internment camps for "anti-Obama dissidents," said that on the road in the United States "people have shown me they want to have guns so they aren't rounded up into FEMA camps," a scenario which she says the Obama administration is planning.
Taitz's recent brush with fame and Google infamy (she says for a short period of time last month she and the birther movement placed in the top two of Google queries behind Obama himself) seem to have inspired her to campaign against a series of threats she feels are facing the United States, from FEMA-run interment camps for dissidents to Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's bulk investment in voting machines in Obama's home state, Illinois. Taitz sees as no coincidence in these events.
In a classic, Americana twist, the matriarch of the birthers has not ruled out her own stint in politics. "You know I never ran for office, but I would not exclude this as a possibility."
Of course, she knows that the highest office of all is not an option. "I wasn't born in the United States, so I can't run for president."
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