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I have received many emails and seen many articles espousing the patently erroneous view that Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisors are anti-Israel, frequently listing a string of 4 or 5 so-called Obama foreign policy advisors and then asserting loudly that they are anti-Israel.
These assertions could not be further from the truth!
Here are the true facts so you can judge for yourself.
(1) The first allegation on almost every list is that Zbigniew Brzezinski is anti-Israel and is Barack’s chief foreign policy advisor.
The fact is that Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to a former president, called Barack and volunteered his endorsement of Barack’s campaign because Brzezinski agrees with Barack’s Iraq policy. While Barack briefly discussed Iraq with Brzezinski, Barack has never discussed, and will not discuss, Israel or Palestinian issues with Brzezinski. Indeed, Barack has no plans to talk further with Brzezinski about anything.
So to call Brzezinski a Barack foreign policy advisor of any kind is incorrect. And to call him Barack’s chief foreign policy advisor is a ludicrous misstatement.
(2) The second allegation on most every list is that Robert Malley is anti-Israel and is a Barack foreign policy advisor.
The fact is that Malley, who served on former President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy staff, emailed some of his writings and views to Barack’s staff as well as (we believe) to all (or most) of the other presidential candidates’ staffs. Barack has had, and plans to have, no conversations with Malley.
So Malley is not an advisor to Barack. Indeed, Martin Peretz (in a Jerusalem Post article entitled “Trust Obama on Israel”) unequivocally stated “Malley is not and has never been Middle East advisor to Barack Obama.”
(3) The third allegation on many lists is that Tony Lake is anti-Israel and is a Barack advisor. At last we have an allegation that is half correct: Tony Lake is a Barack advisor, but Tony Lake is not anti-Israel.
Tony was National Security Advisor to former President Bill Clinton (whose administration is clearly viewed as pro-Israel). Tony’s wife is Jewish and Tony himself converted to Judaism. Tony is pro-Israel and openly so, e.g., he is very well received when he speaks on U.S. foreign policy at synagogues and Jewish gatherings.
(Are you beginning to get the drift that you cannot believe everything you read on the Internet? Read on, please.)
(4) The fourth allegation on many lists is that Susan Rice is anti-Israel and is advising Barack.
Susan was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Bill Clinton and Secretary Madeline Albright (again an administration clearly viewed as pro-Israel). She is not in any way anti-Israel. But in any event, her only involvement with Barack is on African affairs and she is not advising Barack on Israel or the Middle East at all.
(5) Another frequently mentioned character is George Soros. Whatever George’s views, he is merely a contributor (one out of 500,000 contributors so far and growing) to Barack’s excellent campaign. George is not an Obama advisor in any way.
(6) So finally we come to the key question: Who are Barack’s Israel advisors? Here the answers are all true and all good.
- Dennis Ross, former President Bill Clinton’s chief Middle East advisor for 8 years, the world’s top recognized expert on the Middle East, a noted author of numerous books and countless articles, all of which are realistic and fair-minded, and himself a Jew.
While Dennis has not endorsed Barack, Dennis frequently confers with Barack and his team, and we all hope that whoever is elected president will call on Dennis to play a lead, crucial and fair-minded role on future Middle East policy.
- Former President Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor Tony Lake, discussed in (3) above.
- Representative Robert Wexler (D – FL), one of our country’s most outspoken advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
- Dennis McDonough, foreign policy advisor to former Senator Tom Daschle (D – SD), who consistently advocates a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
- Dan Shapiro, a member of former President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council and a former aide to Senator Bill Nelson (D – FL), another consistent advocate of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
- Eric Lynn, former foreign policy advisor to Rep. Peter Deutsch (D – FL), one of the House’s strongest supporters of Israel.
(The latter 3 – McDonough, Shapiro, and Lynn – currently serve as full-time Barack staff people.)
(7) Wait a minute, the real question is, putting side who are and who are not Barack’s advisors, what are Barack’s actual views on Israel?
Here are a few quotes from Barack’s position papers and speeches on Israel (several of which are here and here):
- “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged.”
- “Our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel…[from whom] the U.S. would never distance itself.”
- “Israel [has] the right to protect its citizens” and “defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rockets.”
- “A clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy…, will always be my starting point.”
- “The U.S. [will] never recognize Hamas unless it renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel,…recognizes Israel, abandons violence, and abides by previous agreements made between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”
- We need “stronger international sanctions against Iran to persuade it to halt uranium enrichment.”
- We must “consistently support [U.S.] foreign assistance to Israel.”
- “Terrorist groups must either disarm or be barred from the political process.”
Toward these ends Barack has authored, sponsored, and/or supported many, many pieces of important pro-Israel legislation, including:
- co-author and primary sponsor of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act
- co-sponsor of the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act
- co-sponsor of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act
- strong supporter of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act
I have known Barack for 15 years and the actual facts as I recount above are clear and convincing.