The Hill cropped Obama's quote on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

››› ››› TOM ALLISON & MARK BOCHKIS

The Hill's Alexander Bolton cropped a statement from Sen. Barack Obama that Bolton said "[s]ome Jewish voters interpreted ... as a sign that Obama would be overly sympathetic to the Palestinian side in future peace negotiations with Israel." Bolton also did not note what Obama subsequently said about his comments.

In a June 11 article in The Hill, reporter Alexander Bolton cropped a statement from Sen. Barack Obama that Bolton said "[s]ome Jewish voters interpreted ... as a sign that Obama would be overly sympathetic to the Palestinian side in future peace negotiations with Israel." Bolton reported: "Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama for several reasons. While stumping in Iowa last year, Obama told Democratic activists, 'Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.' " However, according to a transcript of Obama's remarks, after asserting that the "biggest impediment that we've got right now" to peace is the lack of "a partner on the Palestinian side that is willing to, both willing to enter into peace talks and is able to execute," and stating that Israel is also "going to have some stones to carry in the road to peace," Obama said: "Now, in the interim, nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people from this whole process. And I would like to see -- if we could get some movement from Palestinian leadership -- what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people."

From Obama's remarks at a March 11, 2007, campaign stop in Muscatine, Iowa, as published by The Des Moines Register in a May 3, 2007, article (accessed via the Nexis database):

Q. What will you do that will be different, that will address the humanitarian as well as the human rights crisis for the Palestinians now?

A. Well, look, I think that the U.S. has a special relationship with Israel that is both strategic and historical and cultural. Israel is a long-standing democracy, a powerful ally of the United States There are a lot of connections between us that go back a long way. And I think that our willingness to ensure their survival is always going to be a central aspect of, of our Middle East policy.

There's also no doubt that we have a huge strategic stake in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict there. And the truth is the road map process that we're on, or the road map process that had been laid out starting in the Clinton term and continuing through the Bush administration, is basically a sound one. I think both sides acknowledge now that if there's going to be peace it's going to be centered on a two-state solution.

The sticking point that we have at this point is -- there are a range of sticking points. There are all kinds of complications in terms of what's the final status of Jerusalem, what are the exact boundaries of this -- of these two states.

The biggest impediment that we've got right now is that in the Palestinian territories you have on the one hand some moderates like (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud) Abbas who would like to move forward on peace process but they don't have the capacity. And Fatah, the organization he was a part of, was corrupt in a fundamental way. So it wasn't even an ideological. The problem was that they couldn't deliver basic services to the people. On the other hand you've got Hamas, which is a better organization -- is better organized, and in some ways closer to the ground, but won't acknowledge Israel's right to exist, won't renounce violence and abide by previous agreements. So what you need is a partner on the Palestinian side that is willing to, both willing to enter into peace talks and is able to execute.

Now, once we have that partner, Israel's going to have, you know in my speech to AIPAC (foreign policy council in Chicago) last week, I said they're going to have some stones to carry in the road to peace. In particular, they are going to have to look at some of the settlements in the West Bank, which it's going to be very painful for them politically to do. But they're not going to take that extraordinarily difficult political step until they feel that they've got a partner on the other side.

Now, in the interim, nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people from this whole process. And I would like to see -- if we could get some movement from Palestinian leadership -- what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people.

I was in the West Bank and Ramallah, and it's very challenging. And I think you can get a sympathetic perspective both within Israel and from the U.S. and the Europeans if you have Hamas acknowledge that the road to peace is not going go through -- it's not going to go through terrorism and other violence.

In addition, while reporting how "[s]ome Jewish voters interpreted" Obama's remark, Bolton did not note what Obama subsequently said about his comments. When asked by NBC's Brian Williams in an April 26, 2007, Democratic presidential debate if he stood by the remark that "[n]o one is suffering more than the Palestinian people," Obama responded: "Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you have the whole thing, said. What I said is, nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region."

From the June 11 Hill article:

Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama for several reasons. While stumping in Iowa last year, Obama told Democratic activists, "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people."

Some Jewish voters interpreted the statement as a sign that Obama would be overly sympathetic to the Palestinian side in future peace negotiations with Israel. And some are concerned about a senior Obama adviser's comments regarding the influence of American Jews on foreign policy. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff, told the Portland Oregonian newspaper in 2003 that the political influence of the Jewish community had hampered efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, International Conflicts
Network/Outlet
The Hill
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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