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Barack Obama claims Jewish "kinship"

His racial makeup, his middle name and "scurrilous e-mails" about him are partly responsible for the discomfort some people have with him, Barack Obama told Jewish leaders during a private meeting in the Philadelphia area today.

He also told his audience of about 75 people at a synagogue that he feels a sense of "kinship" with the Jewish community, and that he has been influenced in his life by Jewish writers, philosophers and friends.

"There is a kinship and a sense of shared community that predates my political career and will extend beyond this particular election," Obama said, according to the pool report from the closed-door event. "Know that I will be there for you, just as I believe that you will be there for me."

Stressing the point, he added: "My links to the Jewish community are not political. They preceded my entry into politics."

Before Obama showed up, several of his supporters spoke to the assembly at Rodeph Shalom synagogue, according to Larry Eichel, the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who filed the account for the traveling press corps.

All of the speakers offered assurances that Obama is a friend of Israel and of the American Jewish community.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) told the group that Obama "unequivocally rejects the Palestinian right of return" because he understands that Israel must remain a Jewish state, according to Eichel's report.

Also from the report:

  • Obama was asked why he favors meeting with Iranian leaders but criticized President Carter's recent meeting with Hamas. He responded: "Hamas is not a state, Hamas is a terrorist organization ... so I think here is a very clear distinction."
  • Asked under what circumstances he'd use force against Iran, he declined to specify.
  • He pledged to continue the U.S. practice of vetoing anti-Israeli resolutions at the U.N. and said that he would be "uniquely positioned" to do so due to his background. "That kind of blunt talk is something I can deliver with more credibility than some other presidents might," he said.
  • Asked if he ever talked to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright about his ex-pastor's controversial remarks, Obama said he had done so privately. He also said that there was nothing in his own background that shows anything but a love of country and an understanding of the importance of the relationship between blacks and Jews.

-- Christi Parsons

Christi Parsons writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau

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A clarification

David Coleman wrote:

"Last Sunday evening I attended the San Francisco fundraiser that has been the center of recent political jousting. The next day, when asked about the talk Obama delivered, I too commented about his answer to a question he was asked about Pennsylvania. Over the past week, though, I have had a Rashomon-like experience concerning those remarks.

Clinton, McCain, and media pundits have parsed a blogger's audio tape of Obama's remarks and criticized a sentence or two characterizing some parts of Pennsylvania and the attitudes of some Pennsylvanians. In context and in person, Senator Obama's remarks about Pennsylvania voters left an impression diametrically opposed to that being trumpeted by his competitor's campaigns.

At the end of Obama's remarks standing between two rooms of guests -- the fourth appearance in California after traveling earlier in the day from Montana -- a questioner asked, "some of us are going to Pennsylvania to campaign for you. What should we be telling the voters we encounter?"

Obama's response to the questioner was that there are many, many different sections in Pennsylvania comprised of a range of racial, geographic, class, and economic groupings from Appalachia to Philadelphia. So there was not one thing to say to such diverse constituencies in Pennsylvania. But having said that, Obama went on say that his campaign staff in Pennsylvania could provide the questioner (an imminent Pennsylvania volunteer) with all the talking points he needed. But Obama cautioned that such talking points were really not what should be stressed with Pennsylvania voters.

Instead he urged the volunteer to tell Pennsylvania voters he encountered that Obama's campaign is about something more than programs and talking points. It was at this point that Obama began to talk about addressing the bitter feelings that many in some rural communities in Pennsylvania have about being brushed aside in the wake of the global economy. Senator Obama appeared to theorize, perhaps improvidently given the coverage this week, that some of the people in those communities take refuge in political concerns about guns, religion and immigration. But what has not so far been reported is that those statements preceded and were joined with additional observations that black youth in urban areas are told they are no longer "relevant" in the global economy and, feeling marginalized, they engage in destructive behavior. Unlike the week's commentators who have seized upon the remarks about "bitter feelings" in some depressed communities in Pennsylvania, I gleaned a different meaning from the entire answer.

First, I noted immediately how dismissive his answer had been about "talking points" and ten point programs and how he used the question to urge the future volunteer to put forward a larger message central to his campaign. That pivot, I thought, was remarkable and unique. Rather than his seizing the opportunity to recite stump-worn talking points at that time to the audience -- as I believe Senator Clinton, Senator McCain and most other more conventional (or more disciplined) politicians at such an appearance might do -- Senator Obama took a different political course in that moment, one that symbolizes important differences about his candidacy.

The response that followed sounded unscripted, in the moment, as if he were really trying to answer a question with intelligent conversation that explained more about what was going on in the Pennsylvania communities than what was germane to his political agenda. I had never heard him or any politician ever give such insightful, analytical responses. The statements were neither didactic nor contrived to convince. They were simply hypotheses (not unlike the kind made by de Tocqueville three centuries ago ) offered by an observer familiar with American communities. And that kind of thoughtfulness was quite unexpected in the middle of a political event. In my view, the way he answered the question was more important than the sociological accuracy or the cause and effect hypotheses contained in the answer. It was a moment of authenticity demonstrating informed intelligence, and the speaker's desire to have the audience join him in a deeper understanding of American politics.

There has been little or no reaction to the part of the answer that was addressed to the hopelessness of inner city youth who have been rendered "irrelevant" to the global economy. No one has seized upon those words as "talking down" to the inner city youth whose plight he was addressing. If extracted from an audio tape HuffPost Blogger Fowler, those remarks could (and may yet) be taken out of context as "Obama excuses alienation and violence by urban youth." But in context, Senator Obama's response sounded like empathetic conclusions and opinions of a keen observer: more like Margaret Mead than Machiavelli.

As the week's firestorm evolved over these remarks at which I was an accidental observer, I have reflected upon the regrettable irony that has emerged from Senator Obama's response to a friendly question: no good effort at intelligent analysis, candor -- and what I heard as an attempt to convey a profound understanding of both what people feel and why they feel it - goes unpunished. Such insights by a political candidate might otherwise be valued. In a national campaign subject to opposition research, his analytical musing has instead created an immense amount of political flak.

Now and "in this time," to invoke one of the candidate's favorite riffs, such observations and remarks shared among supporters are just a push of a record button on a tape recorder away from being spread across the internet to be dissected by political nabobs. What struck me immediately after the fundraiser as so refreshing turned out to be a moment Senator Obama is forced to regret. Today we marvel at de Tocqueville insights about American communities. Apparently, such commentary is valued as long as it is three centuries old and doesn't come from the mouth of a contemporary observer who might be elected president.

So much for the political ironies. But there is one more personal observation that was missed.

I happened to be on the balcony when Senator Obama's vehicles arrived and he emerged from the Secret Service SUV. Obama shouted the friendly greeting "How are you guys up there doing?" to the group of us looking down from the balcony and then said, "You have to excuse me, I need to call my kids in Chicago now." All of us stood and watched the leading candidate for the Democratic party nomination for president have a short conversation with his kids before he entered a fundraiser to make his remarks.

No tape of that conversation has emerged as yet. Who knows how casual remarks of a father to his children or his wife on a cell phone could be spun to support the argument that as a father speaking to his kids two time zones away before they go to bed, his comments sounded as if he "looked down" upon them. Given his relative height and the age of his kids, he probably does. But that would be precisely as relevant to his capacity to unite and lead this country as were the remarks at the fundraiser that have been so deconstructed over this past week."

Give me a break!!! This makes me sick. I am so tired of Obama's resurrection of identity politics into the Democratic Party. It is patronizing, insulting, and reductive.

Huh? Why should the truth make you sick? What is reductive about it? Rather than reductive it demonstrates a very complete understanding of how the alienated (a big swath of this country) feels. What is insulting about understanding people? You just want everyone lumped together into a big Democratic party? The politics of the lowest common denominator? Now THAT is reductive.

What I found insulting is the way this was taken out of context and broadcast all over the universe.

I have to admit, I am completely amazed at both the political process and myself.

I started this election cycle a FIRM supporter of Hillary and practically cried along with her in New Hampshire.

And I proudly voted for her in the CA primary.

Then came the moment when Obama won a string of primaries and Clinton couldn't...just couldn't get her brain to force her tongue to utter the word "congratulations."

The moment hit me like a whip.

Since then, as the Controversies of Obama have swirled around his candidacy like tempests in teapots, my admiration for him has become profound. Here is a candidate who refuses to play the modern political games that make my head explode with frustration at their inanity. Here is a candidate that is truly trying to change the political landscape of the country. It is the karma of landscapers to be forced to deal with large mounds of manure.

Listening to Clinton speak now is like listening to fingernails scrape against a blackboard. Every sentence calculated to prove, every nuance suggested to convince, every word structured to move the demographic of the moment. It is a politics of the old we can no longer afford because the results are always so unsatisfactory.

And listening to McCain is an exercise in political surgery guided by the hand of Lewis Carroll. Up is down, old is new, and what he used to stand against he now stands for. It is a gruesome sight, and should come with a rating like the movies...GRR.

There are many older Americans who say they refuse to vote for an African-American of any substantial degree of percentage, my parents among them. I ask them "Is that the country you want for your grandchildren? Is that why you fought World War II?" They demur.

Obama is certainly not the most experienced. He certainly is not the most experienced candidate. But in times of need, this country has often turned to the less-experienced, like Lincoln and T Roosevelt to get us through and on the right track again.

To David Coleman......If it was different at the fundraiser WHY DID OBAMA REGRET SAYING IT???? The man is a egotistical snob and im tired of it! If Hillary loses to Obama i'll vote Mcain! Atleast with Mcain i feel our country will be SAFE!...........VOTE HILLARY

He didn't regret saying it. He said that several times -- that he believes it to be true. What he said was excised from his remarks and then taken out of context. Hillary chose to try to make hay out of this even though she could easily have checked the facts (and probably was aware of the full content). Obama apologized if his choice of words offended people. Stick to the facts, why don't you?

To 'Vote HIllary'

There is a disclaimer on this site saying that while you may read this message board, you may not participate if you are under 13 years of age.

Does your mother know you are here?

anyone informed about obama's cfr involvement and aipac, bilderberg etc will hardly be surprised at his pledge of unconditional and blind support to any israeli/zionist policies/directives. he does not intend to break the fatal pattern of america being ruled by proxy, buying into the delusional dream of a 'new world order' and a
'brotherhood of man' that really attempts to cheat mankind out of its natural
inalienable rights in return for slavery and terror sold to the world in a caricature of freedom, security, peace and empowerment.
in readily confusing jewish ethnicity and a misguided political agenda, obama shows his unwillingness to think for himself and to stand up for the american people (of various ethnic backgrounds), the american republic, the values of the constitution.

Obama and the Jewish Problem?

- Mr. McPeaks is Obama’s military adviser and national campaign co-chairman who publicly states that American Jews are the "problem." and “Christian Zionists were driving America's policy in Iraq to benefit Israel.”

- Robert Malley a close senior adviser to Obama who advocates negotiations with Hamas and providing international assistance to the terrorist group.

- Abongo “Roy” Obama is the older half brother to Senator Obama. Roy Obama is a militant Muslim activist in Kenya who according to a report from the Investor’s Business Daily has repeatedly urged his brother Senator Obama to embrace African heritage and supports implementation of Sharia law.

- Rashid Khalidi a fundraiser for Obama and is one of Obama’s close friends. Khalidis claim Israel as a "catastrophe", and supports Palestinian terrorist groups.

It must be perfectly obvious to everyone that Barack Obama is a glib, articulate ultra-left wing ideologue who is driven by anti-American advisers,criminals, black racist extremists, terrorist sympathizers, and is being financed by the Soros-led enemies of America, and thousands of private citizens who should know better.

He is not qualified to be President, or a Senator, and his agenda is hidden, but with record of illogic, evasion, lies, how could anyone vote for him?

Obama is a great patriot, but unfortunately, he is not very left-wing.

Left wingers have always been the greatest American patriots and lovers of liberty -- unlike today's Republican party -- which has morphed into a freakish far-right group-think cult -- it is a hideous Frankenstein monster, stitched together from guns, crucifixes, fetuses and dollar signs -- and it is working to transform the U.S. into a corporate-run police state. Republican are about as anti-American as it is possible to be.

Bush, McCain and all their supporters are traitors to the flag, who should move to Saudi Arabia since they love dictatorship so much. They should leave America to those of us who love freedom and will fight to protect it from the corporate cult known as the Republican party.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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