If registered Jewish voters in America were thoughtless enough to vote their conscience and emotions on November 4th, they would vote overwhelming for Barack Obama over John McCain. The latest Gallup Poll shows 74 percent of Jewish voters, anxious about such issues as climate change, makeup of the Supreme Court, health care reform, and progressive taxation, would vote for Obama. Only 22 percent favor McCain, based on concerns for lower taxation, national security, energy independence, defense of liberty, and Senator Obama's immaturity and inexperience. The recent "spread the wealth" gaffe has gained tremendous mileage because it captures a sound bite that betrays the essence of Obama's socialist and statist leanings. But these are not the issues that will sway Jewish voters.
The one issue that transcends all others is the existential threat to Israel of a nuclear armed Iran. Israel is the front line of the War on Terror, and all American voters, not only Jews, should be concerned about the fate of our oldest democratic ally in the region (one of only two, with Iraq the other). In this, there is a stark contrast on how the issue is viewed – from inside Israel.
In a recent presidential poll of Jerusalem Post readers, 80 percent believe McCain would better serve Israel's interests while 19 percent favor Obama. More important to this election, American citizens who voted from Israel have supported John McCain by a three-to-one margin; an estimated 40,000 Americans who live in Israel are expected to cast their ballots from the Middle East. That may stem from the strong support of Israeli leaders, who are aware of his strong anti-terrorism stance and Obama's belief that Iran is "tiny" and poses little threat to the world. In a reversal of Sarah Silverman's "Great Schlep," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal sent a message to American Jews: "If you care about Israel's security, vote for McCain."
Not everyone is listening. Alan Dershowitz, an influential member of the American Jewish community0 writes in a Daily News op-ed that Obama is a true friend of Israel. That is arguable. But he is certainly wrong that "voting for President is not a referendum on support for Israel." Safe inside his academic womb, he doesn't see something Israelis on the ground do: the foreign policy of the American president has a pronounced effect on Israel.
At this junction, that includes whether Israel survives. In January 2009, the new administration will be sitting on top of a powder keg in the Middle East about to explode. Alana Goodman writes in The Jewish Post, that a nuclear-armed Iran is just around the corner, and Israeli sources are saying that Iran is close enough to producing enough enriched uranium for fission bombs within a few months. Iran not only seeks the destruction of Israel through nuclear arms, but sponsors terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah who act as its proxies in an overall strategy designed to destroy Israel in a pincer movement from the northern and southern flanks. Meanwhile in September, Iranian President Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations condemning the "bullying powers" that support the "criminal and occupying Zionists" as he delivered a symbolic call for another Holocaust invoking the "The Promised One" and the coming of a perfect community devoid of Israel. This is only the latest incarnation of his stated threat to wipe out all the Jews living in Israel.
In an interview with Middle East writer Jeffrey Goldberg, John McCain said the defense of Israel is a central tenet of American foreign policy, not only concerning the annihilation of Israel by Iran and its armed proxies, but the destruction of the United States through its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead of criticizing Israel over the issue of the settlements in the West Bank, McCain identifies the Hamas rockets reigning down on the Israeli town of Sderot as the major issue. He said in the interview, "The United States of America has committed itself to never allowing another Holocaust."
Goldberg, considered to be a fair and balanced writer for The Atlantic, interviewed both McCain and Obama – and he found stark differences between the two candidates and their platforms on the Middle East. While McCain views Islamic extremism as the most pressing issue, Obama names the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as the most pressing challenge in the Middle East, and sees the Jewish settlements as "not helpful" to the peace process. Obama said in the interview that that this Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a "constant sore" that "infect(s) all of our foreign policy" and "provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists." At an AIPAC conference in March 2007 ,Obama told his Jewish audience that the reason the conflict remains unresolved, is because they were "too cynical" and blamed the failure to achieve peace on the "cycle of violence," which casts equal blame on Israel and the Palestinian terrorists who murder civilians.
But McCain believes we would still face the massive threat from radical Islamic ideology and the terrorist groups that crave our destruction even if the Israeli-Palestinian issue were solved. Obama displays a naiveté and a lack of experience "when he talks about sitting down opposite Hugo Chavez or Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad." That is why such evil tyrants praise him. Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef recently said: "We like Mr. Obama and we hope that he will win the election." Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi said: "All the people in the Arab and Muslim world and in Africa applauded this man. They welcome him and prayed for his success." Ahmadinejad, tyrants and terrorists alike love The Obama-Biden Plan which states: "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." While Obama sits opposite them in dialogue, their minions will be plotting the destruction of Israel. Their minions, Ahmadinejad's executioners, are the 80 percent of the populace of the West Bank and 99 percent of Hamas ruled Gaza Strip, who support Obama and pray for his victory.
Obama, remains an enigma since he has locked and sealed all his past college, medical, and birth records from public scrutiny and we know precious little about him except for his written and spoken words. But we do know his friends and associates. Looking at his record, hardly inspires confidence. One of Obama's close friends is PLO operative and anti-Israel professor from Columbia, Rashid Khalidi. Most now know that The LA Times is concealing a video showing Obama celebrating with a group of Palestinians, toasting and praising Khalidi at a farewell dinner in his honor; it has not even released a transcript of the event. The Obamas attended this dinner to show appreciation to their friend Khalidi for holding fundraisers in his home for Obama's senatorial campaigns. Khalidi, a former director of the PLO press agency, WAFA, has stated that Israel is a "racist" state with an "apartheid" system. He founded the American Arab Action Network (AAAN), which holds anti-Israel events calling the creation of Israel "Nakba," or catastrophe. When Obama served on the Woods Fund board, along with Weatherman terrorist William Ayers he gave grants of $75,000 to the AAAN, following a Khalidi fundraiser for Obama.
Columnist Debbie Schlussel has investigated Obama's associates and has revealed an Obama insider's disclosures. Although Obama may denounce Louis Farrakhan, Schlussel found that he has placed notable Nation of Islam followers of Farrakhan in high staff positions. She reports on Obama's attendance at Arab fundraisers with close friend, Ali Abunimah, Palestinian radical Islamic activist, rubbing elbows with the late Edward Said, who pioneered the Middle East Studies embrace of the mantra that Zionism equals colonialism. Abunimah revealed that Obama changed his private negative views on Israel to be more palatable to woo Jewish money and voters. Bettylu Saltzman, far-left Peace Now activist, is a major Obama supporter and donor, who also praised Jimmy Carter's book claiming Israel is an apartheid state. Schlussel reported that the Obama insider said Saltzman "has Obama's ear on the Mideast and ‘will be a major policy person for Barack. Very dangerous.'"
More than his friendships, Obama's pick of advisors reveal where he stands on Israel. Ever since 1993 when Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Olso Accords on the White House lawn, Palestinian terrorism has increased. Although the Oslo peace process failed and caused the killing of more Israelis since 1993 than all killed since Israel's birth in 1948, Obama has hired Olso-era State Department veterans, Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and Daniel Kurtzer as policy advisors. They consistently blamed Israel and promoted the PLO as a partner for peace for the past 20 years. An Obama administration will revive the failed Oslo talks while the enemy plots the demise of Israel. No policy could be more out of touch with the reality of the Middle East today.
The advisors and associations that Obama surrounds himself with, reveal his own policy positions on Israel. These are the kind of people he will staff the government with. The laundry list of present and former policy advisors show that Obama is no friend of Israel. Venerated foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign, Zbigniew Brzezinski who was national security advisor under Carter, shares Carter's anti-Israel views that the Jewish lobby controls U.S. Middle East policy, and defends Carter's anti-Semitic book Peace, Not Apartheid. Obama's national campaign co-chairman, General Merrill McPeak and likely pick for Obama's secretary of defense, agrees with Brzezinski that U.S. Middle East policy is being controlled by the Jewish lobby based in "New York" and "Miami" and criticizes Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights. Robert Malley, who served on Clinton's National Security Council, "represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism." He heads a think-tank of Middle East policy advisers funded by anti-Israel billionaire George Soros and wrote a plethora of articles blaming Israel for the failure of the Camp David peace talks. He urges disengagement from Israel and engagement with our enemies Syria, Moqtada al-Sadr, Hezbollah and Hamas. Malley served on Obama's foreign policy staff until he was fired after the media revealed his regular meetings with Hamas. Samantha Powers served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Obama until she was dismissed for calling Senator Clinton a "monster." Her policy proposals include placing U.S. troops on the ground to protect Palestinians against "human rights abuses" and cutting aid to Israel.
Israel is our first line of defense in the war that Iran and its radical Islamic proxies have declared on the West. Obama and his staff of advisors do not understand the daily threats Israeli citizens face nor do they have Israel's survival and security at heart. Now is not the time to engage in talks with our enemies. With threats from an impending nuclear-armed Iran, presently nuclear armed Pakistan, terrorist groups, and a murderous brand of radical Islamic ideology fueled by petro-dollars, we must stand up for our only ally in the Middle East, taking all the blows of terrorism upon herself, while we deny the reality of the existential threat.
Barack Obama tells Jews that he's a true friend of Israel. He declared to the AIPAC conference in July that he supported an undivided Jerusalem – and then backed down the next day after pressure from Palestinians. If he would back down on campaign rhetoric after mild pressure, what would he do when pressed by a nuclear-armed Ahmadinejad?
Phil Orenstein is a manufacturing systems manager at Orics Industries Inc. based in Queens, NY, and formerly an adjunct lecturer of Computer Aided Manufacturing at Queensborough Community College and Farmingdale State University.