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Monday, September 22, 2008

Jeff Goldberg's Obama Interview Asking the Kishke Question

Nadene Goldfoot
Today's Oregonian had an article about Philip Roth by Jeff Baker, and in it mentioned an interview by Goldberg where they talked about Israel. Barak mentioned that when a child in the 6th grade, his ideas about Zionism were shaped by a Jewish camp counselor who had spent some time in Israel. Their conversations about Israel made a big impression on Obama.

Obama admitted that his intellectual formation was through Jewish scholars and writers, though he wasn't aware of it at the time. Philip Roth and Leon Uris were mentioned. He said that when he thinks of the Middle East he has this enormous emotional attachment and sympathy for Israel, mindful of its history and hardship, pain and suffering that the Jewish people have undergone.

He mentioned the loss of the natual affinity between the African-American community and the Jewish community in the early civil-rights movement which has been estranged since then.

Obama thinks that the idea of a secure Jewish state is a just and necessary idea. However, he doesn't agree with every action of the state of Israel because he's a politician himself and understands the world of politicians. He's not alone. I haven't agreed with Olmert's decisions at all, though I'm sure I'm way to the right of Obama's thinking about Israel.

Jeff Goldberg asked the main question that I've been wondering so much about. He called it the Kishke question. Jews really don't know you. We don't know if you"love" us. You have Jim Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski as advisors so we suspect you. I haven't been alone in this, then. There is a sense in some places that you don't feel Jewish worry the way a senator from New York would feel it.

Obama seemed surprised at this deduction, as he went on to say that Israel was important to him personally because of his own history of being uprooted. He said that he loved the way people were arguing about these issues and that we're asking ourselves moral questions. He went on to say that his deliberations over moral matters stems from Jewish thought, that your actions have consequences and that we have moral imperatives. He did mention that he had "ardent defenders" in his Jewish Chicago friends. When he started his community organizing, he had a few Jewish friends who also were organizers, and he was attacked for associating with them. I know that Reverend Wright felt like he was being taken away from his church group.

Finally, the big question came after much discussion. He was asked is he would denounce settlements publicly if president. Goldberg was referring to the "West Bank", what I call Judea and Samaria. Obama said "What I will say is what I've said previously. Settlements at this juncture are not helpful. Look, my interest is in solving this problem not only for Israel but for the United States."

Reference: Oregonian page o10 Sept 21, 2008 Philip Roth gets straight to the point, still by Jeff Baker
See blog: article 3/17/07 West Bank: It's importance to Religious Jews.
Other West Bank articles in my blog:
What International Law says about Israeli settlement, No Peace in West Bank, Israel Builds West Bank Housing, and Israel's rights to build Settlements 4/28/08.

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