A key part of being a strong leader is the ability to a definitive stand when the occasion arises. Senator Barack Obama, democratic candidate for leader of the free world consistently ignores chances to make his voice heard on key issues. Even his stance on the war is less a leadership stance on a key issue and more of a riding a tide of Democratic Party sentiment.
Obama constantly says what a huge “friend of Israel” he will be if he gets elected. Yet twice in the last few days he had a chance to speak out against biased resolutions by a “liberal” church groups he kept quiet. Why is it up to Obama to speak out ? Because he is a member of the Church in question. While there is a number of church groups that take an anti Israel stance, probably the most vehement is United Church of Christ (UCC), where Barack Worships.
Just a few weeks ago this group was publicly rebuked by the ADL:
In reaction to a statement by the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Disciples of Christ (DoC) on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called it “unfair and one-sided” and asked, “As people of God, how can you justify ignoring that Israelis…have suffered from decades of suicide bombings?” “In focusing on Palestinian suffering, you demonstrate that you place the onus for the Arab-Israeli conflict solely on Israel. By emphasizing the effects of the conflict on the Palestinians, you devalue the loss of Israeli life and the suffering inflicted on the people of Israel as a result of years of unrelenting terror attacks.” The UCC/DoC message stated that for the last 40 years, “the Palestinian people have lived under occupation, while “the Israeli people have lived with an ongoing debate…” It discussed the suffering of generations of Palestinians, referring to checkpoints, curfews, home demolition, but in referring to any effect on Israelis said, “Generations of Israelis have experienced mandatory military service in the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights.” “As people of God, how can you justify ignoring that Israelis, young and old, women and children, have suffered from decades of suicide bombings — suicide bombings on public transportation as they commute to school and work, in the middle of their cities — at shopping malls and restaurants?” asked the ADL “How can you discount the events that led to the Six-Day War and the unsuccessful attempts by the State of Israel to negotiate a peace treaty after the war that would have meant the return of Gaza and the much of the West Bank decades ago?””At a time when Israeli citizens are targeted by rockets and the elected Palestinian leadership supports the eradication of the State of Israel and the use of terrorism to this end, it is particularly unfortunate that a religious organization which says it is committed to a resolution to this conflict has abandoned the course of objective, credible advocacy for the protection of all parties, which is so essential to a constructive and lasting path to peace.”
Obama has made political hay from emphasizing the role that his church and his faith have played in his life and career. He has credited his Pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, for being his inspiration and spiritual mentor.But now that Obama is in the midst of his political campaign and raising money and support from prominent Jews among many others, he has tried to bury this relationship, because Wright’s philosophy and teachings have a very pronounced anti-Israel bias and are divisive on the issue of black-white relations in America. These views of Obama’s church would have significant political repercussions for Obama, if they were more widely known. Even Pastor Wright recognizes that this history would be a problem, noting that he has been temporarily shunted aside because his views and relationship with Obama would hurt Obama’s image.
This past Saturday, Obama spoke to a group of 300 delegates at the United Church of Christ state convention in Iowa.
He delivered his usual bromides, including an attack on the “Christian Right.” He did not mention Israel or the controversial anti-Israel positions that the United Church of Christ has taken. Not a word. Here is a man who preaches tolerance and the coming together of people, a man whose voice is a powerful instrument and can be used to heal wounds. He chose to remain silent about the bias within his own church.
Obama again had a chance to try to heal the rupture between the United Church of Christ and supporters of Israel when he addressed the important 26th annual synod of the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut. This event was attended by thousands of members and will help to set church policy in the years ahead (comparable to “platforms” established by political parties). So enthusiastic was his welcome that one UCC member called it “a Democratic pep rally.”
However, it is important to note that Obama never touched upon the issue of the UCC’s approach toward Israel, despite having numerous opportunities to do so; he never took the opportunity to address the bias towards Israel either when he spoke before UCC groups or otherwise. Only when the UCC was on the verge of passing a milder version of the resolution regarding Israel did the Obama campaign issue a statement,“Senator Obama has been a consistent and stalwart supporter of Israel, our strongest ally and only democracy in the Middle East, throughout his career in public service and his entire life,” a spokeswoman for the campaign, Jennifer Psaki, said. “While he is a proud member of the UCC church and values its tradition of openness and diversity, he strongly disagrees with the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict presented by individual members of the church.”In the speeches he has given over the last year or so, in the written statements his campaign issued, he voiced no criticism about his church’s anti-Israel resolution before. Only after the church was well on its way in passing a milder resolution towards Israel, did Obama see fit to issue a statement about the church’s position towards Israel. He also phrased it in an odd way that could be subject to various interpretations. He never specifically stated that he opposed the previous harsh denunciation of Israel embodied in official church resolutions, he merely stated that he “strongly disagrees with the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by individual members of the church.”Individual members”? That is meaningless. The Church has over a million members. With which individuals’ views does Obama have a problem? This is such a wishy-washy statement that it verges on blather. For all anyone knows, he found the prior official UCC resolutions acceptable, since he never specifically denounced them. There are certainly individual members whose view he may disagree with but so what? I imagine if Obama stated that there are those individual members of Hamas whose views he disagrees with? What would that mean? Is that a courageous statement? Of course not.
The same spokesman had previously issued a statement in Obama’s name criticizing George Soros’ approach towards Israel after Soros issued particularly fierce denunciations of Israel and its supporters here in America that generated a lot of airplay; it did not prevent Obama from shortly thereafter attending high-powered fundraising parties with Soros; Obama also refused to return donations from a basketball player notorious for previous anti-Semitic outbursts.
During his weekend speeches to chucrch groups did he bring up, did he even touch upon, the issue of the church’s views towards Israel? Did he touch upon the church’s silence regarding Palestinian Muslim violence against its own Christian community? Did he use his powerful voice to appeal to the church members to listen to the concerns of their fellow Americans who were so upset that they issued a public letter to express their sorrow that the church would so single-mindedly attack Israel-a nation besieged by enemies and threatened by an Iranian dictator with a genocidal dream? Did he use his gifts of oratory to ask the church to reconsider its positions and to reach out to those it has harmed-to help heal wounds? In a word, No.