News Release

The Presidential Candidates and Israel


Sen. Barack Obama lives across the street from Rabbi Wolf’s synagogue, KAM Isaiah Israel, Chicago’s oldest Jewish congregation. Wolf, who has known Obama for about 10 years, said today: “Some of what has been ascribed to Obama is ridiculous. He takes very cautious positions on the Mideast. I am a supporter of Peace Now and I think that the U.S. needs to lean on the Israeli government to achieve a peace agreement. Obama disagrees — he says that the Israelis and Palestinians should negotiate an agreement. I think without U.S. pressure on Israel, no real agreement is possible.”

Wolf is rabbi emeritus at KAM Isaiah Israel. He is author of Unfinished Rabbi: Selected Writings of Arnold Jacob Wolf.

A former U.S. Senator from South Dakota, Abourezk said today: “There’s something seriously missing when we see virtual silence from all the [leading] presidential candidates –McCain, Clinton and Obama — in the face of outright slaughter of Palestinian civilians by Israel.

“The candidates for president — with exceptions like Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney — bow and scrape to Israel and continue to support its objectives. They unfortunately back the continued funneling of billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money for Israel, allowing it to continue its brutal attacks.”

The Boston Globe reports: “Democrats Barack Obama [and] Hillary Clinton both [said] Israel had the right to defend itself and [blamed] the Islamic fundamentalists of Hamas for the violence.” Said Obama: “The violence in Gaza is the result of Hamas’ decision to launch rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel has a right to defend itself.” Clinton said: “I deplore and condemn the Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel, including the city of Ashkelon. Israel has the right to defend its citizens.”
McCain stated: “I believe that any nation has the right to respond to attacks. We obviously want a cease-fire. We want negotiations.” When later asked by the New York Sun whether McCain was calling for negotiations with Hamas, his foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said he was not.

Niva, a professor of international and Middle East studies at The Evergreen State College, wrote the recent piece “Some Questions and Answers About the Current Israeli Escalation in Gaza,” which states: “If Israel’s goal is to end rocket attacks from Gaza, the most logical and beneficial step it could take would be to respond positively to Hamas’ repeated cease-fire proposals for a complete end to rocket fire on Israel, most recently, on Feb. 23, when Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas will consider any initiative that will bring about a cease-fire. Hamas claims it has secured the agreement of all factions to halt rocket fire and promised to impose the cease-fire provided that Israel reciprocates. Israel’s Prime Miniser Ehud Olmert immediately rejected the cease-fire offer, even though a growing number of Israeli politicians and security officials are calling for Israel to accept a cease-fire.”
More Information

AP reported last week:

“Israel deployed thousands of troops and police along the volatile border with the Gaza Strip on Monday [Feb. 25] but a Hamas demonstration against Israel’s blockade of the territory appeared to pass without incident. Organizers had hoped to form a human chain running the length of the 25-mile strip but turnout was well below expectations. About 5,000 people, many of them schoolchildren and university students, joined the chain outside the town of Beit Hanoun, about four miles from the border.”

“The latest wave of violence began on Wednesday [Feb. 27] when an Israeli airstrike killed five Hamas militants traveling in a van. … Hamas retaliated by firing more than 40 rockets into Israel, one of the heaviest barrages in months. One rocket landed on an Israeli college campus in the southern town of Sderot, killing a 47-year-old father of four.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167