21 March 2008 - Thank you, Electronic Intifada
It's not a site I visit often--especially since co-founder Arjan El-Fassed wrote the fake Nelson Mandela letter that still circulates as "proof" that Madiba thinks Israel is an apartheid state. But earlier this month, Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah spilled the beans on Barack Obama:
"Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. [Bill Ayers, perhaps? John Mearsheimer? - ed.] 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.
"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. 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!'"
Abunimah concludes: "Only if enough people know what Obama and his competitors stand for, and organize to compel them to pay attention to their concerns can there be any hope of altering the disastrous course of US policy in the Middle East."
Here's to that. Here's to finally resolving the question of Obama's position on Israel. The funny thing is that Abunimah actually believes this is a way to help his cause. Well, there's no helping that. But thanks for the quote.