Obama and Carter and Israel
By Roman Brackman
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report and a supporter of Israel, in his January 30, 2008 MSNBC interview stated that he did not yet know who among the three leading presidential candidates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, is best for Israel. It is common for candidates to proclaim their strong support for Israel. Obama is no exception. On February 25, 2008, in a closed-door meeting with several members of Cleveland‘s Jewish community, Obama said:
I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel[i]
Obama did not say how friendly to Israel his policy would be if Israelis elect a Likud government. Obama expressed his sympathy for Palestinians, stating: "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people. I hope for loosening up aid restrictions to the Palestinian people."[ii]
Senator Edward Kennedy endorsed Obama in a highly emotional speech. Earlier "Kennedy was the keynote speaker at a gala dinner for the Arab-American Institute that was sponsored in part by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." He was greeted "with enthusiastic applause." Among the guests was Congressman James Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, who had earlier declared that "without the support of the Jews, America would not have gone to war in Iraq." Moran was also "greeted "with enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation." One of the guests, Charlotte Kates, a Rutgers University law student and a leader of the National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, declared:
Israel is an apartheid colonial-settler state. I do not believe that apartheid colonial-settler state has a right to exist.[iii]
John Kerry also endorsed Obama. During the 2004 election campaign he also proclaimed his commitment to Israeli security. But in a speech at the Arab-American Institute in October 2004 he declared:
I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier, thus increasing the hardship of the Palestinian people. We do not need another barrier to peace.[iv]
Paul Krugman in his column "Don't Rerun That ‘70s Show" starts it by asking: "Will the next president be the second coming of Jimmy Carter" and he ended his column with quoting Carters "words of uplift" at the start of his administration: "let us create together a new national spirit of unity and trust."[v] Sounds familiar? Like Carter, Obama promises to terminate polices of the "oldWashington insiders."
The next prominent endorsement of Obama will probably come from the former President Jimmy Carter. While Obama promises to end our "nightmare" in Iraq and offers the hope for a change, Carter used to promises to heal the nation of "Vietnam and Watergate traumas." Carter presidency was Israel's nightmare.[vi] Carter and the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko issued the October 1, 1977 Joint Soviet-American Declaration that declared "terms of settlement" of the Arab-Israeli conflict and offered joint "guarantees" to implement these terms. This was an ultimatum. Carter initially described the statement as "an achievement of unprecedented significance," but when confronted with an uproar of protests in the United States and in Israel, he attempted to explain it as an "innocuous document." On October 5, 1977 Carter told a group of Jewish members of Congress who had visited him:
I'd rather commit suicide, political or otherwise, than hurt Israel![vii]
The press reports declared that Carter's statement was "strong," and that it underscored Carter's "unwavering dedication to the security of Israel." The statement was strong, in fact much too strong to be real, especially in view of Carter's ever-escalating hostility towards Israel. If anything, it had all the earmarks of a "reaction formation" - that is, the outwardly strong expression of a strong, but hidden, opposite impulse. Carter presented himself to the American public as a "born-again Christian" and often spoke of his closeness to God. It is worthwhile to consider Ernest Jones's observation:
God-complex types vary according to the particular God with whom the person identifies himself, and that in the West, the most common identification is with Christ. With this Christ type there invariably goes an anti-Semitic tendency.[viii]
On November 6, 1977 The New York Times Editorial stated:
The confrontation now brewing between Carter and the Jews seems transcend any single issue relating to the Middle Eastnegotiations. What is unspoken is the further fear of a revival of anti-Semitism and of the charge of ‘dual loyalty.'[ix]
In 1976 election 87% of the Jewish vote went for Carter but his presidency turned out to be Israel's nightmare.[x]
Probably, it is a wishful thinking to expect liberal American Jews to abandon their ossified devotion to the Democratic Party and hold their noses while voting in 2008 election for the Republican John McCain, a strong supporter of Israel and the best defender of the Free World, which, like Israel, faces the threat of the radical Islam. Obama's mesmerizing, glib and meaningless protestations of support for Israel makes him Carter's copycat.
Obama seemed to channel Jimmy Carter when he used the term separation barrier to describe the security fence or security barrier (as this system of defense is almost universally called). His use of the term separation barrier evokes the type of racist imagery that Carter directly evokes when he accuses Israel of becoming an apartheid state. It is also a term than tends to be used by those who are not supporters of Israel. Obama used this terminology in his podcast from Israel. For a man who uses words as he does -- as weapons -- this is significant. This is, by the way, the same trip that Robert Wexler said generated "love for Israel" for Obama.
In glibness, Carter has a strong competitor. In a speech to 350 Jews, who paid $1,000 per person to break bread with him at a fundraising dinner in Toronto, Clinton declared:
If Iraq came across the Jordan River I'd grab a rifle and fight and die for Israel.
350 gullible Jewish donors rewarded this glib statement with wild applause. A newspaper headline read, "G.I. Bill - Bubba: I'd fight and die for Israel." [xi] Clinton‘s eight-year involvement in what he used to call "peace process," but later renamed into a "political process," did much harm to Israel. Clinton wrestled exorbitant concessions from Ehud Barak whom Israelis kicked out of office and elected Ariel Sharon, at that time the leader of Likud, in the greatest landslide in Israeli history. But many Jews still believe that Clinton was friendly to Israel.
Media reports often point to an amazing phenomenon of Barack Obama's sudden emergence from obscurity to the prominence of front runner in 2008 presidential election. Explanations for this phenomenon began to emerge. Paul Krugman in his column "Hate Springs Eternal" states, "The Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality."[xii] D. Murphy, one of the readers, wrote, "Cult of personality, indeed. Barack Obama has style, but no substance. He has been in national politics only a couple of years."[xiii] Sue Roupp, another reader, wrote, "Senator Barack Obama's campaign reminds me of a series of revival meetings. There's the charismatic speaker who uses emotional words to raise the audience to fever pitch, followed by conversion to his ideas and the passing of the hat. Supporters, who wrap themselves in these emotional promises, find that it works for a while. But then it grows quiet, and looking around, the converts see the revival tent has moved on and everyday life intervenes. Where is the crucial thinking here about how to get out of Iraq? To help the economy? To solve the health care crisis? There's just the emptiness of the emotional words, ringing hollow in the air.[xiv] Nevertheless, millions of dollars keep dropping into Obama's "hat."
David Brooks in his column "When the Magic Fades" describes the "phases of Obama-mania - fainting at rallies..., experiencing intense surges of hope-amine, the brain chemical that fuels euphoric sensations of historic change and personal salvation." This affliction at some point comes to a predictable end, which David Brooks calls "Osama Comedown Syndrome" - the afflicted come to realize that most of Obama's "hope-mongering is vaporous" and "Obama's hype comes from exaggeration of his powers and his virtues...."[xv] Nathaniel Hernandez in his article "Statue of Obama as Jesus Stirs Ire, Attracts Buyers" provides David Cordero's explained that his sculpture of Senator Obama "wearing Jesus' robes and a neon blue halo" was "a response to what I have been witnessing and hearing is that Barack is a sort of a potential savior that might come and absolve the country of all its sins."[xvi] The most striking example of this ridiculous hype was exposed on the TV screen when Obama in the middle of his speech suddenly interrupted it to blow his nose. The converted audience responded by a wild applause.
Obama's often repeated promises to end the culture of corruption by the "old Washington insiders" reminds one of the old TV documentaries about a family of baboons living on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The aging father of the family sits on the top of a hill watching the peaceful scene. Suddenly a lonely Baboon appears. As he walks along the shore toward the family its members become visibly agitated. Two baboons confront the stranger to protect their aging father. The stranger bares his teeth and the two baboons run for their lives while the stranger chases the aging father away and takes possession of all the females in the family. This story must have been repeated for thousands of years.
[i] Jerusalem Post , February 26, 2008
[ii] New York Post, March 24, 2007, p.17
[iii] New York Post, July 9, 2003, p. 2.
[iv] Jewish Week, February 13, 2004, p. 28.
[v] New York Times, February 22, 2008)
[vi] See Roman Brackman "Jimmy Carter Provocateur-in-Chief" (1980) - Chapter VI "I'd Rather Commit Suicide, Political or Otherwise, Than Hurt Israel" and "Israel at High Noon"(2006) - Chapter 9 "Israel's Nightmare: The Carter Presidency'
[vii] New York Times, October 6, 1977
[viii] Ernest Jones, M.D., Psycho Myth, Psych-History, Op. sit. Volume Two, pp. 263-64.
[ix] New York Times, November 6, 1977
[x] Roman Brackman "Jimmy Carter Provocateur-in-Chief" (1980) - Chapter VI "I'd Rather Commit Suicide, Political or Otherwise, Than Hurt Israel" and "Israel at High Noon"(2006) - Chapter 9 "Israel's Nightmare: The Carter Presidency'
[xi] New York Post, August 2, 2002, pp. 1-6.
[xii] The New York Times, Op-Ed column February 11, 2008
[xiii] The New York Times, Letter to the Editor, February 13, 2008)
[xv] The New York Times, February 18, 2008, p.A25, David Brooks, "When the Magic Fades"
[xvi] The New York Sun, April 4, 2007, p.6