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Ira Forman

Ira Forman

Posted: October 31, 2008 04:20 PM

Grasping at Straws


As the clock ticks down to November 4th, polls of the nationwide constituency and polls targeting American Jews predict a disastrous loss for the McCain-Palin ticket. In response, some Republican Jewish activists are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a few more ways to smear Senator Barack Obama.

Typical of this genre of attack pieces is a recent column in the National Review Online written by Mona Charen. Charen uses all of the tools in her arsenal-- guilt by association, half truths, and out right falsehoods-- to incite fear among Jewish voters and to express her disappointment in them.

A partial review of Charen's tawdry tactics, accompanied by some factual responses, illustrates how desperate some McCain supporters have become.

1) Charen begins her column by describing a twenty-three-year-old Gazan who is "excited about the prospect of an Obama presidency."

If she believes that such anecdotal stories provide American Jews with hard evidence of Obama's own sympathies, then perhaps she should also write about the support from an Al Qaeda web site for Senator John McCain. According to this radical Islamist platform, "Al Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election."

2) Charen tells her readers that Obama has anti-Israel sentiments.

Charen and her fellow right-wing smear mongers cannot find one single public statement in Obama's long career that supports her contention that Obama has "anti-Israel sentiments." Instead, they piece together snippets of Obama's statements to make pro-Israel sentiments appear anti-Israel (see below).

3) Charen quotes Obama as saying, "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people."

Obama made these remarks in the context of saying that the suffering of the Palestinians could be eased if the Palestinian leadership renounces terrorism. He believes "that in the end, the Palestinian people are suffering from the Hamas-led government's refusal to renounce terrorism and join as a real partner in the peace process."

4) Charen implies that Columbia University professor and Palestinian activist, Rashid Khalidi, is a political ally of Obama's. Charen also charges that a non-profit board on which Obama served awarded a $75,000 grant to one of Khalidi's foundations.

According to a CNN's "Fact Check," "...the two men strongly disagree over the Israeli-Palestinian issue and there's no evidence of a continuing political relationship."

Moreover, Charen is well aware that McCain served as the Chair of the International Republican Institute when that non-profit made several grants to a Khalidi foundation. For example, a 1998 filing showed this McCain-led group gave a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank.

5) Charen ends her hit piece by returning to Farrakhan and Wright to highlight Obama's associations.

Guilt by association is the cheapest trick in the political hit man's arsenal. Guilt by association is a very poor measuring stick by which to judge a candidate's pro-Israel bona fides; there are literally thousands of individuals who are associated with a modern American presidential campaign. This makes it incredibly easy for an opposition researcher to sift through these supporters and come up with a handful of objectionable individuals.

If McCain supporters in the Jewish community level guilt by association charges at Obama, then how do they explain McCain's choice of James Baker as the person who he'd pick as his Middle East envoy? How do they address McCain's statement that he would turn to James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, or Zbigniew Brezinski as foreign policy advisors? How do they square McCain's appointment of Fred Malek, the individual who helped President Nixon target for firing Jewish employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as his campaign's National Finance Co-Chair?

Alluding to Jewish voter naïveté, Charen concludes her piece by saying, "Someone is making a big mistake." The big mistake this election cycle was made by many Jewish supporters of McCain. They believed that repeating one lie after another would sway the Jewish vote. If we can believe the latest polls, their gambit has failed and probably has backfired.

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