Sunday, March 02, 2008

Who is good for Israel?

I've been hearing from various family members that they are voting for John McCain because he is a better friend of Israel. I've decided to research a bit to see the positions of both candidates (McCain and Barack Obama). For the purposes of this post I will not focus on Hillary Clinton.

Louis Farrakhan has endorsed Barack Obama. He denounced Minister Farrakhan at a recent debate in Ohio. What does this endorsement mean though? Does an endorsement come with strings? It might. Let's look at the 2004 election as an example. The Ku Klux Klan endorsed George W. Bush. While that doesn't surprise me, it helps to prove my point. An endorsement from a fringe figure, or group does not mean that that group would have influence on said candidate.

While I disagree with almost everything George Bush does, I do not believe he pushes the agenda of the KKK. For instance, if Osama Bin Laden gets on Al Jazeera and endorses John McCain, because this war has been great for recruitment to Al Quaeda, then maybe we shouldn't vote for McCain. That is absurd.

What is more telling about a candidate's stance is not necessarily who would endorse them, but who would they appoint. Who are the members of the Middle East policy teams for each candidate? Here is a list of the policy team for each of the candidates. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to draw a couple of names from each candidates lists, to see how they might be influential; in relation to Israel.

There is however, one addition. I will be adding James Baker to McCain's list. Why might I do that, dear reader? Because when interviewed by Ha'aretz, an Israeli mainstream paper, McCain stated that Baker might be his choice for Middle East envoy. The other name he mentioned was Brent Scowcroft. In a later interview he stated that this was not a real interview, but appears to be caught in mid spin.Now, what does this mean?

Well, let me do a quick google on Scowcroft, and Baker in relation to Israel and see what it turns up. First, let's see what kind of supporter of Israel James Baker would be. McCain said he might be the Middle East Peace envoy, if McCain becomes President.
Well, Baker is on reported as saying "F@#$ the Jews". To find the full story click here. I don't know that I have to go any further with this guy. But for the sake of argument, what does he think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Baker gave a speech concerning Arab Israeli relations in 1989. In part he stated that Israel was at fault for the conflict with the Arabs. Here is the website. I would guess that it could be understood James Baker is not the biggest supporter of Israel.

What about Brent Scowcroft? He has been in Washington for quite some time but it appears that his views are a bit more moderated. Here is one of the clearest examples of his view... after a quick google search. This talks about a

In the article, he argued that an invasion of Iraq would deflect American attention from the war on terrorism, and that it would do nothing to solve the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, which he has long believed is the primary source of unhappiness in the Middle East. Unlike the current Bush Administration, which is unambiguously pro-Israel, Scowcroft, James Baker, and others associated with the elder George Bush believe that Israel's settlement policies arouse Arab anger, and that American foreign policy should reflect the fact that there are far more Arabs than Israelis in the world.

I'm not sure if this is an anti-Semitic view, an anti-Israel view, or if it is just a pragmatic view. To see the full article I pulled this from click here.
I would suggest that neither of these individuals is necessarily, pro-Israel. Scowcroft's Wall Street Journal editorial in it's entirety is here. So now that we know the two people McCain mentions, as his go to Middle East advisors, are not exactly pro Israel, let's look at Obama's.

Anthony Lake and Dennis Ross have both been mentioned as top foreign policy consultants for Obama. Let me do a quick google search on each of them and we will see who has the ear of Senator Obama .

Anthony Lake is Jewish. The main complaint appears to be that he earned his stripes in the Carter Administration. The same Administration secured a lasting peace treaty between the Israelis and the Egyptians. Guilt by association is a terrible thing. I'm not quite clear on what the Carter Administration did but it upset a lot of people. This man converted to Judaism, and I've not been able to find anything that could be remotely, anti-Israel. He might not believe in giving Israel carte blanche in all security matters, but he definitely does appear to support Israel in general.

I don't see any problem with Dennis Ross. I believe he is also Jewish. In a 2006 Washington Post opinion, he lays out what should be expected of Hamas. It all seems very reasonable to me. I don't see anything glaring that says anti-Israel.

Honestly, I would say the Democratic team appears to be more supportive of Israel. I'll finish up with a quote:

"On just the question of Mr. Obama's support for Israel, however, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Howard Friedman, minimized any differences between the candidates. "All of the leading candidates, Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain, and Governor Huckabee, have demonstrated their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," Mr. Friedman said."

Oh wait.... did you know Obama's middle name is Hussein.


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