Monday, February 25, 2008

The New Republican Jewish Obama Smear: Return of the Big Lie, by Gidon D. Remba

A press release from the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) titled “Nader Calls Out Obama's ‘Pro-Palestinian’ Past” continues the pattern of attacks on Barack Obama using lies, baseless innuendo and guilt by association. Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks claimed that "Ralph Nader added to the debate on Senator Obama's views on Israel and the Middle East and raised serious doubts and questions about the true leanings of Senator Obama on these important issues." The RJC is continuing its long tradition of debasing political debate during presidential elections by avoiding real issues and engaging in slanderous attacks, much as it did against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and other Democrats in the 2004 election.

In my response to the RJC’s calumnies from that contest, “Republican Jewish Attack Ads Push Spinning into Sinning,” I pointed out that “A former top Republican strategist has said of President George W. Bush’s senior campaign advisor Karl Rove that his ‘goal is never just to win, it is to destroy your opponent, [use] character assassination, whatever it takes. There is almost nothing Karl would not do. For example, religion was not part of Karl’s life but he viewed it as a political tool to be manipulated.’ (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21, 2004) The Republican Jewish Coalition has followed the lead of its non-Jewish Republican mentors.”

The RJC now imagines that if it repeats fabrications and innuendos about Obama and Israel often enough, American Jews will start to believe its propaganda. The Republican Jewish Coalition continues to debase American electoral politics not only by repeating bald-faced lies about Obama, but by stirring up the bad odor of Jewish chauvinism, pushing American Jews to believe that to be pro-Israel one must be anti-Palestinian.

The RJC press release concludes with big-lie tactics which would have made Joseph Goebbels proud, shamelessly suggesting that “Obama supports Ralph Nader's policies, which consistently condemn Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism” and that Obama “shares this anti-Israel bias,” which “puts into doubt his commitment to the safety and security of Israel.”
In fact, neither the RJC nor Nader offer any evidence whatsoever that Barack Obama “supports Ralph Nader’s policies, which consistently condemn Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism,” as the RJC charges. Quite the contrary, given Obama’s long track record of whole-hearted support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, and his defense of Israel’s and the Jewish community’s rights and needs both in the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, the RJC’s libels don’t even pass the laugh test. Goebbels wrote that “when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” Precisely what kind of fools does the RJC take American Jews for?

Once again, the Republican Jewish Coalition, which calls itself “the “sole voice of Jewish Republicans to Republican decision makers and the Jewish community,” has set itself up as the Jewish Swift Boat Brigade. When the original Swift Boaters disseminated their smear campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Senator John McCain was among the first to condemn its ads and statements as “dishonest and dishonorable…very, very wrong.” Now that McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he should once again denounce Republican smear campaigns against his opponent, and insist that all groups participating in public discourse on the presidential campaign refrain from fear-mongering, slander and smear. We, the American Jewish community, are owed a far higher standard of debate than the political sewage being shoveled out by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

More examples from the RJC Press Release:

1. Fictions About Obama’s Positions on Israel: RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks now cites a comment from newly announced presidential aspirant Ralph Nader that “Sen. Obama had reversed his positions on Israel. Nader said Sen. Obama's ‘better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself’ and that Sen. Obama was ‘pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate’ and ‘during the state Senate.’ Yet Nader offers not a scintilla of evidence for his claims, which have been refuted before.

These claims originate with the Palestinian American one-state advocate and Electronic Intifada editor Ali Abunimah, who was described by right-winger Ed Lasky as “not the most reliable source” in his own mendacious assault on Obama in the American Thinker.

The New York Daily News reported that “Pro-Palestinian Prof. Rashid Khalidi denied a report that Obama used to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and had recently shifted his stance to pro-Israel.” [3/6/07] (Abunimah was a protégé of Khalidi, who is now the Edward Said Professor or Arab Studies at Columbia University, and then at the University of Chicago).

2. Twisting Obama Quotations to Convey the Opposite Meaning: The RJC continues its distortions by recycling a quote taken so far out of context as to convey the opposite of what Obama actually said: it claims that “Sen. Obama has caught criticism for pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel statements and sentiments before. In March 2007, Sen. Obama was criticized for saying that ‘Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinians.’ In fact, The Baltimore Jewish Times reported that Obama “went on to say that the cause of that suffering was the Palestinians' own terror-sponsoring leadership.”

Obama’s impeccable pro-Israel record as a legislator and public figure has been summarized here and here.

3. The Anti-Israel Advisor Smear: The RJC press release continues its mud-slinging by recycling discredited charges about “advisors” to Obama who have “controversial” positions on Israel: “Obama has also been criticized for stocking his campaign with several controversial advisors including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Malley, Samantha Power and Susan Rice.”

In fact, Obama has not “stocked his campaign” with Brzezinski and Malley, who are not advisors to Obama, and Power and Rice do not advise him on Israel and the Middle East; instead, well-known, respected pro-Israel policy mavens including Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro advise him on Israel.

For the real story on Obama’s foreign policy advisors, see “The Truth About Obama’s Foreign Policy Advisors,” by Obama friend and campaign insider Jack S. Levin.

1 comment:

Richard said...

I think you've got it mostly right. The RJC are certainly smearmongers who should be watched like a hawk as we shift into the general election phase of the campaign. They aren't done w. their dirty tricks.

But Nader has a good pt. Obama's views in the past were much more balanced than they are now. I understand why Obama has shifted to a much more one-sided position than he had in the past. And to a certain extent I can accept this as part of the price you pay for moving from local to national, & presidential politics.

But some of Obama's statements about Israel have been shamefully one-sided leaving no room for a balanced view of the conflict. He needs to be called on that even by those like me who support him.

I don't support Nader by any stretch. But here he's serving a useful purpose by pushing back against the AIPAC-like policy pronouncements Obama has been making over the past few months.