Clarifications –i.e., light, as opposed to heat– about Obama’s Middle East advisors are provided by Jack Levin, an Obama friend and campaign insider quoted in Gidon Remba’s Tough Dove Israel. Almost the exact same language can be found on a blog called The Sunny Side, which quotes Eric Lynn, who is on Obama’s staff.
Here is an excerpt from Levin:
(1) The first allegation on almost every list is that Zbigniew Brzezinski is anti-Israel and is Barackâ€™s chief foreign policy advisor.
The fact is that Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to a former president, called Barack and volunteered his endorsement of Barackâ€™s campaign because Brzezinski agrees with Barackâ€™s Iraq policy. While Barack briefly discussed Iraq with Brzezinski, Barack has never discussed, and will not discuss, Israel or Palestinian issues with Brzezinski. Indeed, Barack has no plans to talk further with Brzezinski about anything.
So to call Brzezinski a Barack foreign policy advisor of any kind is incorrect. And to call him Barackâ€™s chief foreign policy advisor is a ludicrous misstatement.
(2) The second allegation on most every list is that Robert Malley is anti-Israel and is a Barack foreign policy advisor.
The fact is that Malley, who served on former President Bill Clintonâ€™s foreign policy staff, emailed some of his writings and views to Barackâ€™s staff as well as (we believe) to all (or most) of the other presidential candidatesâ€™ staffs. Barack has had, and plans to have, no conversations with Malley.
So Malley is not an advisor to Barack. Indeed, Martin Peretz (in a Jerusalem Post article entitled â€œTrust Obama on Israelâ€) unequivocally stated â€œMalley is not and has never been Middle East advisor to Barack Obama.â€
(3) The third allegation on many lists is that Tony Lake is anti-Israel and is a Barack advisor. At last we have an allegation that is half correct: Tony Lake is a Barack advisor, but Tony Lake is not anti-Israel.
Tony was National Security Advisor to former President Bill Clinton (whose administration is clearly viewed as pro-Israel). Tonyâ€™s wife is Jewish and Tony himself converted to Judaism. Tony is pro-Israel and openly so, e.g., he is very well received when he speaks on U.S. foreign policy at synagogues and Jewish gatherings.
(Are you beginning to get the drift that you cannot believe everything you read on the Internet? Read on, please.)
(4) The fourth allegation on many lists is that Susan Rice is anti-Israel and is advising Barack.
Susan was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Bill Clinton and Secretary Madeline Albright (again an administration clearly viewed as pro-Israel). She is not in any way anti-Israel. But in any event, her only involvement with Barack is on African affairs and she is not advising Barack on Israel or the Middle East at all.
(5) Another frequently mentioned character is George Soros. Whatever Georgeâ€™s views, he is merely a contributor (one out of 500,000 contributors so far and growing) to Barackâ€™s excellent campaign. George is not an Obama advisor in any way.
(6) So finally we come to the key question: Who are Barackâ€™s Israel advisors? Here the answers are all true and all good.
Dennis Ross, former President Bill Clintonâ€™s chief Middle East advisor for 8 years, the worldâ€™s top recognized expert on the Middle East, a noted author of numerous books and countless articles, all of which are realistic and fair-minded, and himself a Jew.
While Dennis has not endorsed Barack, Dennis frequently confers with Barack and his team, and we all hope that whoever is elected president will call on Dennis to play a lead, crucial and fair-minded role on future Middle East policy.
Former President Bill Clintonâ€™s National Security Advisor Tony Lake, discussed in (3) above.
Representative Robert Wexler (D â€“ FL), one of our countryâ€™s most outspoken advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Dennis McDonough, foreign policy advisor to former Senator Tom Daschle (D â€“ SD), who consistently advocates a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Dan Shapiro, a member of former President Bill Clintonâ€™s National Security Council and a former aide to Senator Bill Nelson (D â€“ FL), another consistent advocate of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Eric Lynn, former foreign policy advisor to Rep. Peter Deutsch (D â€“ FL), one of the Houseâ€™s strongest supporters of Israel.
(The latter 3 â€“ McDonough, Shapiro, and Lynn â€“ currently serve as full-time Barack staff people.)
I am disturbed that Obama’s people rely entirely on obsolete, narrow definitions of what it means to be pro-Israel and that they don’t defend Malley. Read a little more of Levin’s comments and you will see what I mean. But that’s the game they are forced to play, alas, given the dumbed-down version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that must be presented on the campaign trail, so I don’t blame them.