Photo: AP
Senator Barack Obama
Photo: AP

Obama looking for Jewish support

Democratic Senator Barack Obama scheduled to speak before AIPAC in attempt to lessen qualms among American Jews regarding his views on Israel, Middle East

WASHINGTON - Senator Barack Obama's mystifying position about Israel will be explained on Friday, when the young legislator and candidate for the 2008 presidential election, speaks before American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists in Chicago.


Obama, along with the other candidates, will also address the annual AIPAC conference in Washington later this month, but he though it important to make a few statements to the American Jewry before then, possibly due to concerns raised about his attitude towards Israel.


45-year-old Obama is getting stronger in the polls, and is considered a serious candidate although he has only been in the Senate for two years and has not yet left his mark on matters related to foreign policy.


Since he was voted into the Senate, Obama has backed the Palestinian anti-terrorism bill, voted to defend Israel during the war and supported the foreign-aid bill.


Despite these pro-Israel deeds, Jews in the US are concerned about his standpoint on Israel. Among his democratic supporters are left-wing bloggers who tend to criticize Israel.


Dan Shapiro, Obama's Middle East advisor told Ynet that his speech in Chicago will answer everyone's questions. "They will find out," explained Shapiro, "that his views are mainstream on the security dilemmas and how to solve them. Like everybody he is a supporter of the Two State Solution but he realizes that if you don't have a legitimate Palestinian partner who can meet the conditions of the Quartet and deliver on the agreements, you are not going to get there."


Officials from Obama's campaign headquarters also believe he will probably talk about the US commitment to help Israel reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and he will also pledge to stand by Israel until a reliable partner is found on the other side.


His stance on the Iranian nuclear issue is stern. He has already implied that war is an option in stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Obama believes that the US cannot stand by while a fundamentalist regime is developing weapons of mass destruction.


He does not try to conceal his desire to jump into discussions with Iran about Iraq, and that part of the dialogue will be about the nuclear program. His position is clear: no compromise when it comes to nuclear weapons. He supports imposing heavy sanctions on Iran "even if the Russians and Chinese do not comply."


His views are also very clear about Iraq. He has already said that he would like to bring home the American soldiers by March 2008. Leaving Iraq would give America more flexibility in handling Iran and more diplomatic credibility. He believes the US is a strong enough country to get its message through to all countries, including Iran, without having to compromise.


Obama thinks that America's influence in the Middle East is at a low point and it would be better for Israel if America leaves Iraq and rehabilitates its position in the region.


Obama visited Israel in January 2006 as part of a trip of senators to the region. He met with Palestinian students. He told them: "you have legitimate aspirations but you will not gain anything through violence." He told them not to expect the US to turn its back on Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 03.02.07, 02:28
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