Hillary to Pounce on Obama’s Comments to 100 Cleveland Jews (Hallelujah!)

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 34 Comments

The great editor Gene Roberts used to say that big stories don’t break, they ooze. Certainly this is the case with Obama’s meeting with 100 Cleveland Jews a week back, which I believe was merely monumental. The New York Jewish Week now echoes my view, saying 1, that Obama made some important shifts–

… “there was a sense that this is not
business as usual,” said Seymour Reich, president of the Israel Policy
Forum (IPF), a group that advocates a stronger U.S. peacemaking role.
“There was a new awareness of the issues, of the fact that the Bush
administration came into the conflict very late and that a possible new
approach may be necessary in 2009.”

Dan Fleshler said… Obama “showed
that…. he will
not pander to Jews who are only comfortable with confrontational

and 2, that Hillary may now jump on Obama’s statements to ramp up her campaign in Pennsylvania.


A revived Clinton campaign is “not going to be afraid to press very
hard on the issues the Jewish community cares about,” said a top
Democratic strategist.  “They have seven weeks to work the big Jewish
communities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. That’s a lot of time.”

I can’t wait for all this to bust loose! This is a big reason I’m for Obama. He says he wants to "end the mindset" that got us into war. To me that means we are finally going to have a discussion of the Israel lobby and the ways that Israel’s brutalized relationship with its neighbors has infected our relationship with the Arab world…

34 Responses

  1. americangoy
    March 5, 2008, 11:39 pm

    Great now Obama's in the s**t.

    Let the dirty tricks begin.

    What's behind Hillary's "surge" in TX, OH, RI wins?

  2. Madrid
    March 6, 2008, 1:07 am

    I really hope you're right Phil, but I have a feeling you are once again being too optimistic.

    Did you by any chance get voted most likely to be a motivational speaker in your senior year of high school?

  3. cogit8
    March 6, 2008, 2:57 am

    Phil, after observing how 'your people' operate for lo a half century, I rather doubt that anything close to a candid discussion about The Jews (or their lobby) will ever occur. The Russerts and Wolf Blitzers are drooling in wait for Obama, who hasn't inspired much hope to the majority of Americans who want us out of Iraq.

    What will happen instead is that Hillary will demagogue the issue into one of "Do you support our little ally Israel, or don't you? Pulling out of Iraq will leave poor little Israel all alone, etc etc etc."

    If you want a foretaste of the sophistry to come, merely observe how the recent killing of 120 Palestinians by a sophisticated war-machine has not produced even a ripple of empathy in America, whereas the death of one Jew by a crudely made rocket is trumpeted about the mother-land. Proof indeed of The Jewing of America – because most of 'your people' really don't give a rip about other human life.

  4. Jim Haygood
    March 6, 2008, 6:27 am

    Too much is being made of Obama's anti-Likudnik comments (which really were something new and different), while the so-called Jewish doves pay no attention to Obama's business-as-usual stances: endorsement of targeted assassination; rejection of Hamas as a negotiating partner; support for Israel's war on Lebabon; and (in other venues) his promises to escalate the Afghan war.

    This is the same old nonsense. The dam of lies has not broken.

    In fairness, if Obama was obliged to reject and denounce Farrakhan's endorsement, then McCain should be asked to reject and denounce HIS endorsement by the war criminal Bush.

  5. The Fanonite
    March 6, 2008, 8:36 am

    I have no doubt Hillary will pounce on Obama on this issue. I also have no doubt Obama will bend over backwards to prove Hillary wrong. Obama let Hillary walk all over him on an issue — Nafta — for which she bore higher responsibility; there's little chance that he will be able to hold his line on this far more trickier issue.

    And yeah, don't forget to check out what a fine job 'liberals' are doing of defending Obama. Presumably the Likud position is sacrosanct even among US liberals.
    link to mediamatters.org

  6. Jim Haygood
    March 6, 2008, 8:47 am


    All you need to know about Hillary is summed up in her servile May 2005 address to AIPAC, which is still posted on her website. Excerpts:


    Our future here in this country is intertwined with the future of Israel and the Middle East. Israel is not only, however, a friend and ally for us, it is a beacon of what democracy can and should mean.

    There is no doubt that America has started down a path, with blood and treasure, to try to create the condition for democracy and freedom in the Middle East — which has consequences for the entire region, for our security, and certainly for Israel's.

    link to senate.gov


    Horrifying. Our future is "entwined with Israel and the Middle East" only because the Israeli Firsters of Congress have made it so. If it weren't for parliamentary immunity, Hillary would be risking treason charges for this speech.

  7. liberal white boy
    March 6, 2008, 9:12 am

    All is not in favor of Israel Phil. Arab terrorists are far more likely to be tortured by America than their Israeli terrorist counterparts.

    Are Americas New Torture Practices Discriminatory?

    link to homo-sapien-underground.blogspot.com

  8. samuel burke
    March 6, 2008, 9:48 am

    because most of 'your people' really don't give a rip about other human life.

    they just care about vengeance.

    i second that emotion….the nation within a nation will continnue to operate in its underhanded style.

    you can take the jew out of the shtetl but you cant take the shtetl out of the jew.

  9. bob f.
    March 6, 2008, 11:15 am

    Ralph Nader criticized Obama for shifting his position away from support for Palestinian self-determination rights [after Obama became a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee] on the Meet The Press show a few weeks ago. And, as a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama hasn't called for the same type of hearing about the special influence of the Lobby that were held in the 1960s when Senator Fulbright was on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In addition, despite Obama's apparent pro-Israeli Labor Party/anti-Likud position, he apparently is still unwilling to talk with Hamas activists. So I wouldn't be too optimistic about an Obama administration actually being able to change U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Middle East very much.

  10. David Seaton
    March 6, 2008, 12:34 pm

    I think the only hope that America ever change its support of Israel by even a jot or tittle, and it is a very slim one indeed, is John McCain aided by James (ftJ) Baker.

    Certainly no Democrat is ever going to do it.

  11. Teddy
    March 6, 2008, 3:19 pm

    "most of 'your people' really don't give a rip about other human life."

    What follows is an excerpt from comment that closed off a thread a few days ago. I wrote it in response to a predictable claim from MM that Zionist was NOTHING except colonialism and racism, nothing else. I include the first part so you will understand the context of the comment at the end. Some of you are unwittingly doing a wonderful job of promoting Zionism and confirming the suspicions of the most paranoid Jews:


    And there was nothing else to Zionism? No other reason for it? Just colonialism and imperialism? No pogroms and raw discrimination that made Eastern and Central European Jew believe assimilation was impossible? No desparation in the 1930s and '40s because the gates of the world were closed (and don't give me the infernal, conspiratorial line that somehow the Zionists caused the Holocaust or were glad that it happened, which I used to read all the time on Phil's blog)?…

    That said, many of the Zionist pioneers were racist, and orientalist, and the entire saga does not resemble the golden myths American Jews learned in their childhood about the founding of Israel. But let me tell ya, MM and all your compadres, much of the bile on this blog is reminiscent of the attitudes that convinced Jews in the late 19th century that Zionism was the only solution available to them.

    So keep it up, as someone else wrote awhile ago. You're doing AIPAC's work for it!

  12. Jim Haygood
    March 6, 2008, 3:46 pm

    Even if one accepts everything Teddy says about the pogroms Jews faced in Europe — what does that have to do with the U.S.?

    Like the Palestinians, Americans wonder why we have to pay and pay and pay for sins committed by Europeans decades ago. We even have to pay $35 million a year for the Holocaust Museum, to explain what one group of Europeans did to another group of Europeans. Why?

    Now there IS a zionist state, which enjoys a southern European standard of living. So WHY, again, is the U.S. obliged to spend billions a year, and distort its entire foreign policy — in perpetuity — to help this exclusively Jewish project along?

    Is this like Catholic indulgences or carbon credits, where paying $5 billion a year will earn us "philosemitic credits" and expiate our eternal liberal guilt? It takes a lot of chutzpah to think that the Shoah can continue to milked for this purpose, in the seventh decade after it happened.

    Give it a rest, man! Find a new hustle that actually adds some value to peoples' lives, rather than just shaking them down and denouncing them as antisemites if they dare to object to having their pockets picked. Some of us are getting rather tired of being abused, after generously contributing all our lives via income tax. Some gratitude, huh!

  13. Teddy
    March 6, 2008, 4:08 pm

    Sorry, jumped the gun:

    You don't seem to get it, Jim. I wasn't defending all that the Zionists did or justifying blind U.S. support for Israel. I was pointing out that the rhetoric on this site, or some of it, blames THE JOOS as a people for all sorts of nefarious crimes, and refuses to make a distinction between right wing Zionists and everyone else who calls himself or herself a Jew. Anti-Zionism and blunt, angry criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. "Most of 'your people' don't really give a rip about human life' is anti-Semitic according to any reasonable definition of the word. If you and yours would denounce grotesque generalizations about the Jewish people and focus on AIPAC, the ZOA and the groups that I, as Jew, also despise, you might attract reasonable people to your arguments

  14. Charles Keating
    March 6, 2008, 5:22 pm

    Silence is everything.
    Just ask Goldhagen.

  15. Michael Blaine
    March 6, 2008, 10:10 pm

    "To me that means we are finally going to have a discussion of the Israel lobby and the ways that Israel's brutalized relationship with its neighbors has infected our relationship with the Arab world…"

    Yeah, and in 1998 I thought Columbine would unleash a serious national debate on gun control . . .

    Michael Blaine

  16. Michael Blaine
    March 6, 2008, 10:26 pm

    Americangoy (I don't like that name, BTW):

    I just visited your post on the Tuesday primaries, and left this comment:

    "If Obama wins the nomination, I likely will vote for him.

    If war-monger Hillary wins it, I will vote for Nader.

    Democrats had better get smart and vote for the fresh, intelligent voice in their party: Obama.

    Michael Blaine

  17. Madrid
    March 6, 2008, 10:31 pm

    Unfortunately, a "discussion" will only occur when the US economy collapses, which may be happening before our eyes. And when the "discussion" comes, it will come such that everyone's basest instincts are let loose. There is an enormous number of American gentiles who think American support for Israel is responsible for American wealth, good fortune, etc. When there is 12 % unemployment and families being evicted from their houses, this idea that Israel is a magic talisman will reverse itself like Coleridge's The Ancient Mariner, and the result may be a very dangerous backlash. Interesting times– unfortunately there will be no rational discussion of Israel. Only emotional, epiphanic or angry, anti-semitic, I fear.

  18. uk
    March 7, 2008, 12:43 am

    That's why it would be better to burst the bubble of the Israel Lobby/Network before a crisis–not during one.

    I've seen some scary comments here but also awful stuff from pro-Zionist, JDL types like sword of gideon.

    And BTW Teddy, re organized Zionism and the Holocaust, I suggest you see what the Satmar Chasidim and Neturei Karta Haredim have to say about how the folks at the Jewish Agency responded when Rabbi Michael Weissmandl of the Bratislava Working Group told them he had negotiated a deal with the SS to get a Million Jews out of Nazi occupied Europe (the Europa Plan). And then there's the business of the Kastner deal–hardly a conspiracy (see Ben Hecht's 'Perfidy').

    If you have any specific facts that would contradict what these very credible folks say I'd love to hear them.

  19. cogit8
    March 7, 2008, 1:43 am

    Teddy, I regret that you limited your critique to just a few of my words, because I'm talking about a much larger issue (its the same issue that Phil is pondering also, and that is the question of Jewish culpability in the disaster which is Iraq).

    If the Dreyfus Affair can be called "one of the greatest iniquities of the last century" and it only concerned one individual, pray tell what will Iraq and Lebanon be called some day? In addition, what will the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians be called?

    So yes, "J'Accuse!" is where I'm coming from, and I accuse "most of 'your people'" of having committed or supported major war-crimes against humanity.

  20. Teddy
    March 7, 2008, 8:24 am

    The Dreyfus Affair was your entry in the compare-whose-pain-is-greater debate, not mine.

    You have a Star Wars, black and white vision of the conflict and, apparently, the universe. I learned a long time ago that it is useless to try to explain the complexities and nuances of the ongoing tragedy to people like you. But just a few notes and then I need to return to the world where people understand there are two sides to most stories and neither has a monopoly on truth or goodness.

    I don't believe Israel and its lobbyists were a decisive factor in the Bushies decision to get us into Iraq. But even if they were, what about the high percentage of American Jews who opposed the invasion and the higher percentage that turned agains the war? Are they part of the "people" who should be blamed for Iraq? Weren't American Jews prominent leaders of the anti-war movement (e.g., Leslie Cagan)?

    I don't believe what happened in 1948 (or the 30s) can be reduced to the single, fashionable phrase of "ethnic cleansing," unless that phrase is applied to both sides of the conflict. There was a war between two national movements and atrocities were commmited by both sides. What do you think were the intentions of the Arab armies that invaded in '48? The entire area would have been Judenrein if they had gotten their way. But even if your Star Wars vision is correct, an entire "people" did not "support" ethnic cleansing. Most Jews who followed the conflict believed in the propaganda they were fed about why the Palestinians left. Only in the last few decades have the revisionist historians showed that there was another side of the story. You can't blame an entire "people" for supporting ethnic cleansing if they did not believe that is what happened.

    For that matter, even if you think the Zionists were the scum of the earth from the very start, realize that they were a minority movement among Jews around the world even in the early 1930s. An entire "people" did not support them. For most Jews. the need for the Jewish homeland only sunk during the Second World and its immediate aftermath.

    As for Lebanon and Gaza, I am outraged at the passivity of most American Jewish organizations in the face of Israel's disproportionate response. But one of the reasons for the passivity among moderate Jews who are horrified by the deaths of Palestinian children is utter despair and hopelessness; they don't have a practical answer that will help both sides escape from this nightmare. So, as usual, those with the easy, extreme answers –targeted assasinations—win the day. That's no excuse. I share your anger at what is happening and so do the organizations I support, like Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. So, where does that put me in your cartography of the Jewish people?

  21. sim
    March 7, 2008, 9:19 am

    "Interesting times– unfortunately there will be no rational discussion of Israel. Only emotional, epiphanic or angry, anti-semitic, I fear"

    He fears this? Madrid begins and ends every day praying for this! It is the only reason he drags his fat ass out of bed in the morning–the distant hope that Jews may, someday, be killed for being Jews.

  22. Richard Witty
    March 7, 2008, 9:29 am

    Hopefully powerful enough to fight through the noise to actually enhance the possibility of a good neighbor to good neighbor peace.

    But, if powerless to accomplish real change, then we both are complicit.

    But, what does it make the ideological left/right, if the result of their solidarity is the blood-bath that is emerging.

    Hamas yesterday "blessed" the murder of 8 14 and 15 year-olds. Targeted because they were defenseless, beneficiaries of the security for Jews that Zionism proposes.

    Hamas as disciplined, guided by religious values.

    Even if they didn't organize the action (which is likely as it doesn't fit their routine: suicide "martyr" operations, video tapes of martyr's statements, taking full credit), to BLESS murder.

  23. MM
    March 7, 2008, 9:39 am

    Teddy, you're fine by me as soon as you can admit that the real form that Zionism has taken has been essentially expansionist and colonialist, despite the protests of "progressive" Zionists like you and Witty.

    (Maybe you can even bring yourself to acknowledge that establishing a state that excludes all non-Jews from full civil rights and liberties is also a little bit, umm, racist?)

    I respect that some lite Zionists are against the settlements, but I don't respect that the lite Zionists don't seem to understand that their opinion in this regard is completely ignored by the militarist Israeli leadership, the IDF, the American Congress, and the Jewish billionaires who fund the Lobby.

    It is like claiming the United States is not a hegemonic rogue power because one went and protested the Iraq war a couple of times. I would be a complete fool to claim that.

  24. Madrid
    March 7, 2008, 10:45 am


    No one here supports Hamas. They are the John Hagee's of the Muslim community. And just like Hagee "blessed" the destruction of New Orleans as God's wrath for the iniquity in that city, and also saw God behind the 9/11 attacks, avenging NYC for its sins, Hamas has blessed this savage and inescusable attack.

    But Hamas, however repulsive it is, is a phenomenon that occurs when humans are pushed to the limits of their endurance. A day before this latest attack, all the reputable human rights organizations said Gaza was on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. Solve the problem– the occupation– and Hamas will moderate itself.

    As for Sim's comment: I have never ever written anything even remotely anti-semitic on this website or said anything anti-semitic anywhere else in my life, if that is what you are implying. I have been watching US gov't support of Israel during the past 15 years– nothing has changed, nothing will change, until Americans are forced by their circumstances to change. The American economy is in its worst crisis during my lifetime: oil prices are going through the rough, the dollar is tanking, financial institutions and markets are in real turmoil. Part of the reason we are in this mess has to do with spending way more than we can afford on the military, and pursuing military adventures like the invasion of Iraq, that are financially unsustainable. Now that invasion was done to protect Israel (even the war's supporters have claimed this), and Israel's neocon supporters from Richard Perle to James Wolsey have supported US military spending to the limit.

    I am not going to apologize to you or anyone else for not supporting Israel. I hope that Jews are able to remain in perpetuity in Palestine as part of a secular state or in as part of a just two-state solution, but the way things are going, the only future I see for both Israel and Palestinians is catastrophe, and Israel and its supporters here are very much implicated in that catastrophic future.

  25. Richard Witty
    March 7, 2008, 11:00 am

    "No one here supports Hamas. "

    Better that you speak only for yourself, and clearly. There are ranges of "supporting Hamas", that are worth clarifying.

    As far as your last statement, to regard peace-activists as complicit in racism is ludicrous and ultimately cruel, as it leads to oil/water condition of very cruel war.

    That military "solution" will result in the Begin strategy succeeding. When Israelis have no other choice but fighting, they will fight, and win.

    To create a real option that is NOT all-out warfare is in the interest of BOTH Israel and Palestine, and anyone that values humanity.

  26. Madrid
    March 7, 2008, 11:29 am


    Israel may win by fighting in the short term, but Arabs and Iran have the resource, oil, on which the entire Western economy depends. Now, Israel may ultimately nuke one Arab or Iranian city, but what happens afterwards? At that point, there will be no oil for anyone, let alone for the US military and Israel.

    The US contemplate forcing the Arabs and Iran to pump oil, but can the US occupy all of the Arab countries and Iran at the same time, in such a situation, and also keep the oil infrastructure going? I doubt it, and in the aftermath of such an event, we will finally see how important oil is to the geopolitical situation.

  27. Richard Witty
    March 7, 2008, 11:45 am

    Shortly, there will also be no oil.

    Israel, like the Arab world, has sunlight.
    Israel, unlike the Arab world, HAS a photovoltaic industry, a hydrolization industry, and a water desalinization industry.

    The US is dependant on Arab, Venzezuelan, Nigerian, Indonesian, Russian, Mexican, British/Norway oil.

    The Arab world is dependant on US, European, Jewish money.

    You may propose an anti-Zionist end-game. I don't see it.

  28. MM
    March 7, 2008, 4:22 pm

    But Richard, the cost of your organic blooming technological technocratic Jewish utopian fortress imposed on the people already living there, has been genocide.

    The definition of genocide according to Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, who coined the term in 1943:

    "Generally speaking, genocide does NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THE IMMEDIATE DESTRUCTION of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify A COORDINATED PLAN OF DIFFERENT ACTIONS AIMING AT THE DESTRUCTION OF ESSENTIAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE LIFE OF NATIONAL GROUPS, WITH THE AIM OF ANNIHILATING THE GROUPS THEMSELVES. The objectives of such a plan would be the DISINTEGRATION OF THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS, of culture, language, NATIONAL FEELINGS, religion, and the ECONOMIC EXISTANCE of national groups, and the DESTRUCTION OF THE PERSONAL SECURITY, LIBERTY, HEALTH, DIGNITY, and even THE LIVES OF THE INDIVIDUALS belonging to such groups."

    So, can I cue the Valkyries or is there something a little, umm, IMMORAL about the Zionist endgame here?

    You want to psychoanalyze Phil, guilt and shame him–have you examined yourself? Your position here is one of providing cover for genocide. Never again ey? Powerful words.

  29. Charles Keating
    March 7, 2008, 4:30 pm

    In the end it will come to troops on the ground, hence Vietnam all over again. Wurmser needs goy troops.

  30. MM
    March 7, 2008, 4:32 pm

    About supporting Hamas, I get so confused how I am supposed to answer, tell me, Richard, since you're an historian on this subject:

    What was the nature of Israeli PM Golda Meir's relationship with Hamas founder Shiek Yassin and his organization?

  31. cogit8
    March 8, 2008, 2:48 am

    Your reply would not be the first time I have been accused of seeing in terms of black and white (Star Wars? oh I get it), but I think the times require strong opinions. Especially now that most of the powerful Jews are pushing for even more war in the Middle east. Bear in mind that the word 'most' covers 51-99%.

    We'll have to disagree about what happened during the fog of war in late '47 and '48, but the history I witnessed firdthand since 2001 convinces me that the Jewish community aided and abetted the fracturing of Iraq. And I believe that Israel knew full well what the outcome would be in Iraq (I refer you to Oded Yinon's seminal 1980 paper calling for the fracturing of adjacent Arab countries. Pretty black and white stuff wouldn't you say?)

    As to your "high percentage of American Jews who opposed the invasion and the higher percentage that turned agains the war", I classify this statement as 'spin', a revisionist look back in sorrow at what might have been. When the Jewish community has strong feelings it gets out in the street and demonstrates. I only observed isolated examples of this, certainly ineffectual to the outcome we now have. Move-on.org was a particular example of sophism with repect to Iraqi blood flowing in the streets: led by Jews who channel anti-war anger for their own political ends.

    Now an organization like Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is a good sign, however, they have far to go to reach the truths of old Uri Avnery and Gush-Shalom. And frankly, it looks to me like the war-mongers against Iran are winning the media tug of war.

    "where does that put me in your cartography of the Jewish people?": that makes you #5 of the good guys, after Amy, Seymour, Uri, and Phil of course.

  32. Richard Witty
    March 8, 2008, 7:02 am

    "I classify this statement as 'spin', a revisionist look back in sorrow at what might have been. "

    There is YOUR spin, your attempt to revise reality to fit your presumption.

  33. Richard Witty
    March 8, 2008, 10:25 am

    "About supporting Hamas, I get so confused how I am supposed to answer, tell me, Richard, since you're an historian on this subject:

    What was the nature of Israeli PM Golda Meir's relationship with Hamas founder Shiek Yassin and his organization?"

    I don't know. I'm sure that it changed over time.

    I've heard that early, Yassin promoted self-help and cooperation with Israel. That obviously changed.

    Sometimes you seem gullible, MM, taking in and digesting propaganda without questioning or further research.

    I don't "know" much. Frankly its impossible to know what Golda Meir was thinking, or David Ben Gurion, or anyone as much as the left/right assert certainty of their motives and range of actions. I've read histories from Palestinian perspectives, leftist Israeli, middle Zionist, less right-wing Zionist.

    I know enough to add some bull-shit detection, and to identify when strong "certain" assertions are more repititions, than study.

    Study of history IS important. The consequences of repeating falsehood unquestioned, is a willingness to harm others. A willingness to mislead. A willingness to neglect responsibility.

    All in the name of "justice", "humanity", "responsibility".

  34. Charles Keating
    March 8, 2008, 11:29 am

    Clean Break: The means: So 20 or so American Jewish soldiers have died over there? what % of nearing 4,000 is that? That's great odds; I guess only Congress and the neocons in BushCo
    can beat it.

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