Israelis for Obama video

No issue is more contentious than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. America's longstanding support of Israel - consistent through Democrat and Republican administrations - is well known, and stands in contrast to global public opinion which, while abhorring violence from both sides, generally has more sympathy for the suffering of Palestinians living under military occupation than does the mainstream of American opinion. American elections have long required politicians to compete in expressing unwavering support for Israel no matter what, and Senator Obama in particular has had to go out of his way to demonstrate this (given his partial Muslim heritage). However, he caused a stir in February when he said, referring to the Israeli political party that is generally the most hardline as regards Palestinians: "I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel." That statement is perfectly reasonable and uncontroversial when heard from Israel, or anywhere else in the world, but given the intensity and tone of Israelophilia in the US, it was an extremely bold thing to say. It demonstrate that, while remaining well within the US mainstream (as his speech to AIPAC later demonstrated), he has a more nuanced attitude than most senior US politicians - and many Israelis appreciate this. The recognise that if they are to eventual achieve a peaceful cohabitation with Palestinians, they need a more evenhanded approach from the US which encourages peacemakers on both sides, rather than bolstering the extremists - as Bush's disastrous policies have consistently done. Given this, it is no surprise that Obama is the favourite in Israel (and among Jewish people worldwide), while also attracting strong support among Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims. The YouTube video below gives an indication of the breadth of his support in Israel across the political and social spectrum.

From more, see coverage from Shmuel Rosner, Israeli paper Ha'aretz's Washington Correspondent. And for some opposing views, see JewsAgainstObama.org versus Israelis for Obama, jews4barack.com, rabbisforobama.org ("When 500 Rabbis agree on anything, you know that something is going on!"), jews4obama2008.net and jews4change.com

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