May 15, 2008
The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg conducted what he’s calling an "interview" with Barack Obama regarding Israel, but it sounded much more like an inquisition. Goldberg repeatedly demanded that Obama swear his devotion to Israel and affirm prevailing orthodoxies ("I’m curious to hear you talk about the Zionist idea. Do you believe that it has justice on its side?"; "Go to the kishke question, the gut question: the idea that if Jews know that you love them, then you can say whatever you want about Israel, but if we don’t know you –- Jim Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski –- then everything is suspect. There seems to be in some quarters, in Florida and other places, a sense that you don’t feel Jewish worry the way a senator from New York would feel it"; "Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?"; "If you become President, will you denounce settlements publicly?"). Afterwards, Goldberg pronounced himself satisfied: "Obama expressed — in twelve different ways — his support for Israel to me."
Marty Peretz, after a telephone conversation with Obama devoted primarily to Israel, similarly clears Obama of any suspicions of disloyalty, approvingly noting that Obama "recognizes" that Israeli settlements of the West Bank are not "the core problem" for the conflict with the Palestinians (to Peretz, such settlements "are very much a side-issue"). Peretz further decrees that Obama’s "exhilarating experience with American Jews and with their bonds to the dream and realities of Israel" was evident in both Goldberg’s interview and in Obama’s call with Peretz.
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