Here’s a thought experiment: What would the reaction be if a journalist (or god forbid a CNN editor!) were to say that Barack Obama was elected to the Senate or White House because of his closeness to Jews? Anyone care to ask Helen Thomas?
Now, what would happen if the person who said this happened to be Obama himself? Here he is talking to Israel’s Channel 2 reporter Yonit Levy (as reported in Haaretz):
During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that "some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion."
"Ironically, I’ve got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate," Obama said.
Abe Foxman, get on the case!
The interview seemed to be part of Obama’s charm offensive directed at Israeli Jews following his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu. He goes in to the interview to explain that his entire outreach to the Muslim world is "designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West." That’s funny because in his famous Cairo speech Obama said he was there to "seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Hmmm, his explanation to Channel 2 doesn’t sound very "respectful." But then again as Ali Abunimah pointed out over twitter: "Other than that one speech, can anyone think of any Obama "outreach" to Muslims that does not involve drones?"