Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is currently hiding his anti-Israel views in order to get elected, according to a well-known anti-Israel activist. The activist, Ali Abunimah, claimed to know Obama well and to have met him on numerous occasions at pro-Palestinian events in Chicago.
In an article he penned for the anti-Israeli website Electronic Intifada, Abunimah wrote:
"The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
"As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, 'Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race.
'Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race.'
I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.' He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy 'Keep up the good work!'"
Barack, Michelle, Edward and Mariam
Abunimah's report included a photo of Obama with his wife Michelle seated at a table with virulently anti-Israeli Professor Edward Said and his wife Mariam, in what Abunimah said was a May 1998 Arab community event in Chicago at which Said gave the keynote speech.
In an interview earlier this year for the leftist radio show "Democracy Now!," a daily TV and radio news program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Abunimah said he knew Obama for many years as his state senator "when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time."
"I remember personally introducing him onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank," he recounted. "And that's just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation."
About face 'to get elected'
Abunimah's report included a photo of Obama with his wife Michelle seated at a table with virulently anti-Israeli Professor Edward Said and his wife Mariam.
The Arab-American activist went on to say: "In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
"Obama's about-face is not surprising," Abunimah wrote. "He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power."
When Obama first ran for the Senate in 2004, the Chicago Jewish News interviewed him on his stance regarding Israel's security fence. He accused the Bush administration of neglecting the "Israeli-Palestinian" situation and criticized the security fence built by Israel to prevent terror attacks: "The creation of a wall dividing the two nations is yet another example of the neglect of this Administration in brokering peace," Obama was quoted as saying.