WASHINGTON - General Merrill "Tony" McPeak, Senator Barack Obama's military advisor and co-chair of his presidential campaign is a longtime anti-Israeli critic who has slammed Israel harshly during his career, according to an inquiry by conservative American media outlets.
McPeak, who served as the chief of staff o the US Air Force before retiring in 1994, made headlines over the past week after accusing former President Bill Clinton of McCarthyism. Yet as it turns out, over the years he has criticized Israel for failing to withdraw to the 1967 borders and charged American Jews were preventing American pressure that would lead to a Mideast peace agreement.
The examination of McPeak's career, undertaken by conservative magazine American Spectator among others, revealed that the general adopted a harsh anti-Israeli line in interviews he submitted to and articles he published. According to the magazine, beyond his affinity for alcohol, which saw him detained for drunk driving a year ago, McPeak also appears to take great pleasure in slamming Israel and pro-Israel Jews.
In an interview with The Oregonion about five years ago, McPeak argued that the influence exerted by American Jews is responsible for the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to the general the problem was New York and Miami.
"We have a large vote here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it," he said.
In the same interview, McPeak spoke of his personal experience with Israel.
"I've spent a lot of time in Israel, worked at one time very closely with the Israeli Air Force as a junior officer," he said, "but that's maybe the more cosmopolitan, liberal version of the Israeli population."
McPeak also charged that Jews and Christian Zionists manipulated American foreign policy in Iraq.
"Let's say that one of your abiding concerns is the security of Israel as opposed to a purely American self-interest, then it would make sense to build a dozen or so bases in Iraq," he said.
Following the latest revelations, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) called on Obama to remove McPeak as his military advisor and national campaign co-chairman.
"By choosing to have a military advisor and national campaign co-chairman like General McPeak, serious questions and doubts are once again being raised about Senator Obama's positions and judgment on Middle East issues," said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.
"Rather than putting the blame where it belongs - on the Palestinian leadership and their continued reliance on terror, General McPeak finds it more convenient to blame American Jewry and their perceived influence," said Brooks. "This is the same dangerous and disturbing canard being promoted by the likes of Jimmy Carter and authors Mearsheimer and Walt in their book, The Israel Lobby."
"Senator Obama continues to surround himself with advisors holding troubling and disturbing anti-Israel bias," Brooks said. "We call on Senator Obama to immediately remove General McPeak from his campaign leadership role and as a key advisor."