Anyone who has spent any time around politics knows that there are various paths to power. Most of these paths lie between the high road and the low road. The lowest road is the one that leads to power through destruction of one's opponent. That road is also the path to the garden of cynicism. But if the goal is power, what does a little cynicism matter. The Devil may help you get power. But he'll collect your soul in return.
Over recent weeks, and particularly in recent days, rumors circulate questioning Senator Barack Obama's commitment to a free and democratic Israel. Most recently, the rumor is that Senator Obama's strongest supporters in the Jewish community were defecting to his opponent because he had endorsed former President Carter's decision to meet with representatives of Hamas, generally recognized as a Palestinian group organizing terrorist attacks on Israel. The fact is that Senator Obama immediately and without being challenged to do so stated his disagreement with such meetings. Meeting with heads of state or heads of government is one thing; meeting with groups advocating terror is another.
One does not enter the hornets-nest of the Middle Eastern debate without armor. In my case that armor includes consistent and unwavering support for the U.S.-Israeli partnership and it includes participation in tank maneuvers on the Golan Heights, flights in the back seat of Israeli high performance aircraft, and night naval patrols off the Israeli coast. I have been honored to be the guest of former Israeli prime ministers and have carried out serious discussions regarding mutual security concerns.
Having established that, I can now say that I find it outrageous and the height of political cynicism for any other candidate or campaign, Democratic or Republican, to question Senator Obama's commitment to continuation of the U.S.-Israeli partnership and particularly to do so in a sinister, duplicitous, and scurrilous manner by spreading false rumors. When he campaigns against the politics of the past, and attracts hundreds of thousands of young people and independents as a result, that is the kind of politics he means.
I personally know the leaders of the Jewish American community to be intelligent enough, thoughtful enough, and most of all fair enough to categorically reject the path of cynicism and those cowardly enough to promote it by whisper and innuendo. Perhaps above all others, they know what it is like to be the victims of hateful rumors. In the final analysis, the issue isn't Israel. The issue is honesty, justice, and fairness in American politics.