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This past Sunday Barak Obama got it half right he spoke out against anti-Semitism at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to mark Martin Luther King Day. :

He noted that African Americans “have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man,” then went on to say that the community “has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

“We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them,” Obama said. “The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.”

I applaud the Senator for speaking out against the horrors of anti-Semitism. I just wish he did it where it would have done the most good–at his own church and speaking out against his mentor the anti-Semitic Reverend Wright who it has been reported, has called Jews “Blood Suckers” Until he calls out Jeremiah Wright at his own Church, saying the venom Wright spews about Jews and Israel is just plain wrong, it will be hard to take Senator Obama seriously. This is not about Anti-Semitism, it is about whether Obama has the guts to be president. To prove that he must first prove that, he must speak out against evil at its source, not in the safety of Martin Luther King’s Church.

Obama Gets Israel Wrong Even before the recent brouhaha about Barack Obama’s membership in a church whose minister is openly pro-Farrakhan and anti-Israel, I found the thought of his becoming the next president of America unnerving — and not just because his rhetoric, general outlook, and location in the Democratic Party did not encourage one to think that he would tend if elected to be a particularly strong backer of Israel. Perhaps I’ve grown cynical and jaded, but I’ve never been able to understand what the excitement generated by Mr. Obama in his supporters is all about. Although he is constantly being called by them “dynamic” and “charismatic,” every time I’ve watched him on TV has made me feel that I was looking at a stick-figure politician who spoke entirely in clichés. That his trite phrases were laced with verbal stimulants like “hope” and “change” hardly made them any less tired-sounding to my ears, even if they seemed to work like a shot of adrenalin on millions of Americans. (Why so many millions of people in a country that has changed more in the last 50 years than any other society in history in a similar period should want still more change is something I have trouble fathoming too, but that’s a subject for a different column.) Politicians are rarely spontaneous animals and can’t usually afford to be, but I’ve rarely seen one who strikes me as more calculated or programmed than Mr. Obama. Watch his eyes when he raises his arms and lifts his voice with emotion at a dramatic moment in a speech; they remain cool and appraising, as if they were standing back from the rest of him to rate himself and his audience. You can see him assessing his effect on his listeners as he speaks. In my book, that’s working a crowd, not charisma. I don’t deny that it’s impressive that less than 50 years after the fall of racial segregation, America seems capable of electing its first black president. (Who is, of course, half-white. It’s a curious fact about liberal America that it continues to accept the old white supremacist notion that any amount of African blood in a man makes him “black” — but that’s a subject for another column, too.) This is something America can justifiably feel proud of. And indeed it does feel proud of it — to the point, one suspects, that the only racism at work in Mr. Obama’s campaign is the kind that is in his favor. To ask a politically incorrect question: If the junior senator from Illinois, with two years of undistinguished service in the Senate behind him, were white, could he ever have succeeded in making himself a serious presidential contender? Who would have taken the slightest interest in him? Mr. Obama is, as Brutus said of Cassius, a lean and hungry man. But does that qualify him to run the most powerful country on earth? Of course it doesn’t, although lack of qualifications is not always a crucial defect. What’s crucial is to appreciate that one lacks them. Mr. Obama has been compared with Abraham Lincoln, another inexperienced IllinoisLincoln was only too well aware of his own inadequacies — it was that which helped to make him great. politician who ran for president. But The knowledge that he was nevertheless the man who would have to see AmericaLincoln’s humility, he’d understand that it wouldn’t have hurt him to finish out his term in Congress before applying for the world’s most important job. through the terrible crisis that he was elected to deal with was a source of anguish to him. If Mr. Obama had Of course, 2008 is not 1860. While the America of the Civil War years might not have survived any president other than Lincoln, the America of today will certainly survive Mr. Obama if it has to. In the unlikely eventuality that he ends up in the White House, one imagines that he will upset those who voted against him far less than he will disappoint those who voted for him. You can run in an election, as he is doing, on the basis of substanceless rhetoric, but you can’t govern a country with it, let alone a country on which much of the world depends for leadership and support. After four years of President Obama, one imagines, America might really be ready for change. All this is before one considers the sorry case of Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Mr. Obama’s congregation in the United Church of Christ who has reportedly called Jews “bloodsuckers” and who recently presented Louis Farrakhan with a “lifetime achievement” award in a gala ceremony. A prominent Jewish communal leader from Chicago whom I talked to the other day tried to reassure me that this wasn’t so serious. He can vouch for the fact, he said, that Mr. Obama has nothing against Jews or Israel. I daresay he’s probably right. But the problem, as has been observed, is not that Mr. Obama needs to be suspected of agreeing with Pastor Wright. It’s that he didn’t think it sufficiently important to disagree with him by getting up and leaving his church. Israel is fighting a losing battle in the world arena precisely because the great majority of the world’s politicians, intellectuals, and media figures, though not necessarily against the Jewish state, think like Mr. Obama that the attack now taking place on its legitimacy isn’t worrisome enough to warrant their doing anything about it. This isn’t so much a question of Mr. Obama’s public relations as it is one of his private understanding and conscience. Perhaps four more years in the Senate will help these to mature some more.

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