Campaign Confidential

Is Obama Destined for the Campaign’s Israel Hot Seat?

By Jennifer Siegel

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When the three leading Democratic presidential contenders got together for a faith and politics forum this past Monday night, it was Illinois Senator Barack Obama who once again fielded a bonus round question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Asked whether the Palestinians are being treated morally, fairly, and justly by the Israelis, Obama told the audience at George Washington University: “There have been times when there’s no doubt that Palestinians have been placed in situations that we wouldn’t want our own families to be placed in.”

“I believe the Israelis want peace and they want security,” he said. “They’ve got bombs flying into their territories right now,” said Obama. “And we would expect them to act appropriately in defending themselves.”

That exchange reminds me of one of Obama’s questions during the first Democratic debate back in April.

After being asked to name “America’s three most important allies around the world” – he skipped Israel, but gave shout-outs to the European Union and Nato – Obama was stuck with this follow-up:

Brian Williams: Senator, thanks. I’ll give you a follow-up. I didn’t hear you mention Israel, and I ask because there is a quote attributed to your name. You said recently, [to Democratic activists in Muscatine, Iowa] “No one is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” Do you stand by that remark?

So between April and June, “Palestinian suffering” has turned into, in Obama-speak, “situations that we wouldn’t want our own families to be placed in.”

It’s worth noting that just as Obama’s earlier comments about Palestinian suffering cast a shadow over that first Democratic debate, Monday’s forum on faith came with a storm cloud sent by the Catholic League.

Earlier in the day, the league questioned Obama’s ties to several preachers who have allegedly denounced Zionism or have ties to the Nation of Islam.


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