The Emergence of President Obama’s Muslim Roots

The Emergence of President Obama’s Muslim Roots
June 02, 2009 6:58 PM

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report: The other day we heard a comment from a White House aide that never would have been uttered during the primaries or general election campaign.

During a conference call in preparation for President Obama’s trip to Cairo, Egypt, where he will address the Muslim world, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said “the President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to — or before he’s been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world — you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father — obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago.”

Given widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps understandably very sensitive during the primaries and general election to downplay the candidate’s Muslim roots.

The candidate was even offended when referred to by his initials “BHO,” because he considered the use of his middle name, “Hussein,” an attempt to frighten voters.

With insane rumors suggesting he was some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and his campaign did everything they could to emphasize his Christianity and de-emphasize the fact that his father, Barack Obama Sr., was born Muslim.

The candidate’s comment at a Boca Raton, Florida, town hall meeting on May 22, 2008, was typical: “My father was basically agnostic, as far as I can tell, and I didn’t know him,” he said.

In September 2008, candidate Obama told a Pennsylvania crowd, “I know that I’m not your typical presidential candidate and I just want to be honest with you. I know that the temptation is to say, ‘You know what? The guy hasn’t been there that long in Washington. You know, he’s got a funny name. You know, we’re not sure about him.’ And that’s what the Republicans when they say this isn’t about issues, it’s about personalities, what they’re really saying is, ‘We’re going to try to scare people about Barack. So we’re going to say that, you know, maybe he’s got Muslim connections.’…Just making stuff up.”

Back then, the campaign’s “Fight the Smears” website addressed the candidate’s faith without mentioning his father’s religion:

“Barack Obama is a committed Christian. He was sworn into the Senate on his family Bible. He has regularly attended church with his wife and daughters for years. But shameful, shadowy attackers have been lying about Barack’s religion, claiming he is a Muslim instead of a committed Christian. When people fabricate stories about someone’s faith to denigrate them politically, that’s an attack on people of all faiths. Make sure everyone you know is aware of this deception.”

The website also provided quotes from the Boston Globe and Newsweek mentioning his father’s roots.

Since the election, however, with the threat of the rumors at least somewhat abated, the White House has been increasingly forthcoming about the president’s roots. Especially when reaching out to the
Muslim world.

In his April 6 address to the Turkish Parliament, President Obama referenced how many “Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know, because I am one of them.”

– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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U.S.-Israeli relationship takes new direction

U.S.-Israeli relationship takes new direction
Tue Jun 2, 2009 5:24pm IST
By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Pressure. Defiance. Collision. After George W. Bush’s terms of endearment for Israel — a country he once described as a “light unto nations” — a different terminology is being used to describe its cloudy relationship with his successor, Barack Obama.

At odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Palestinian statehood and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the new U.S. president will try to patch ties with the Muslim world in an address he will deliver in Egypt on Thursday.

Israelis and Arabs will be listening carefully for one of Obama’s expected messages — policy Netanyahu has met with defiant words — that creation of a Palestinian state is essential for peace and settlement expansion must stop.

The U.S.-Israeli rift after eight years of a Bush presidency that pursued statehood only late in its second term and turned a blind eye to settlement building is raising questions over whether a close alliance will deteriorate into alienation.

Maariv, a popular Israeli newspaper, summed it up in a one-word, front-page headline on Tuesday: “Pressure”.

“The president doesn’t want to see even one cement mixer in the West Bank,” an Israeli political source, briefed by Netanyahu aides, quoted U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell telling an Israeli delegation that met him in London last week.

Possible scenarios for twisting Netanyahu’s arm could range from U.S. inaction at the United Nations in thwarting resolutions critical of Israel to choking off some military supplies, political sources and commentators said.

“Delaying the shipment of spares for the Apaches can ground the air force,” political columnist Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv, referring to Israel’s U.S.-made attack helicopters.

“The replenishment of ammunition and weapons supplies in the event of another expected conflagration in the Gaza Strip or Lebanon is a matter of American goodwill,” Caspit said.

Few expect Washington ever to go as far as to hurt Israel’s defences, but it does have other diplomatic pressure points.

NATURAL GROWTH

Yet appeasing the United States by abandoning a settlement policy that allows “natural growth”, construction which Israel says is to accommodate growing settler families, could tear apart Netanyahu’s two-month-old right-leaning coalition.

“If he gives up on natural growth, it will break his coalition,” the Israeli political source said.

“Netanyahu is not willing to pay the price. The outposts are all he can give,” the source said of dozens of small settlements which Israel has long pledged to remove under a 2003 U.S.-backed “road map” to peace with the Palestinian.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak, sent by Netanyahu to the United States this week to meet with government officials to try to ease friction, has promised to move against two dozen of the outposts, some only clusters of caravans on isolated hilltops.

“The situation is very gloomy. They are waiting to see what Barak can achieve in Washington,” the source said.

“And they are waiting to hear (Obama’s) speech. They have no idea what he will say. With Bush they would have had the draft in advance. But they are in the dark. This is part of the American withdrawal of cooperation.”

Offering an incentive, Mitchell told the Israeli delegation that Netanyahu sent to London that if he agreed to a settlement freeze, Obama would press Saudi Arabia to do more to normalise Arab relations with Israel, the source said.

That now seems unlikely, given Israel’s position.

Netanyahu has said Israel had a historic opportunity to pursue peace now with an Arab world that largely shared its concern about Iran’s nuclear programme.

The nuclear issue was high on the agenda of Netanyahu’s talks with Obama in Washington two weeks ago and on many Israelis minds on Tuesday, when air raid sirens sounded as part of the country’s biggest-ever civil defence drill.

Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s leading political columnists, said people who spoke with Netanyahu recently described him as “anxious, sweating and on the brink of panic”.

Netanyahu, who clashed repeatedly with the Clinton administration while prime minister from 1996 to 1999, seemed calm and collected during public appearances over recent days.

Except for one slip, when the man with his finger on the button of Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal, pressed the wrong button in parliament on Monday, voting electronically against a bill put forward by his own government.

(Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald)

(For blogs and links on Israeli politics and other Israeli and Palestinian news, go to blogs.reuters.com/axismundi)

Obama Brandishes Wiener Power

Obama Brandishes Wiener Power
Richard N. Weltz
I suppose nothing should amaze these days; but after responding the Korean nuclear and missile tests with a barrage of strong adjectives — and even a few nasty adverbs, plus a serious threat to get the UN Security Council to do the same – Barack Obama now turns his softer side toward the mad mullahs of Iran and proposes to woo their favor with good old-fashioned American hot dogs, as noted under a large-size headline in this morning’s New York Times by Mark Landler:

A New Iran Overture, With Hot Dogs

Having sent the Iranian people a video greeting on their New Year, President Obama is now inviting them to help celebrate a quintessentially American holiday, the Fourth of July.
Last Friday, the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates around the world notifying them that “they may invite representatives from the government of Iran” to their Independence Day celebrations – annual receptions that typically feature hot dogs, red-white-and-blue bunting and some perfunctory remarks about the founding fathers.

“The authorization to issue the invitations was disclosed by a senior State Department official on the eve of a three-day visit to Latin America by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,” reports the Times, and the apparent purpose of this nonsense, it says is that, “Even as the United States reaches out to Tehran, it is trying to reclaim American influence in Latin America, where Iran has made inroads while the United States has been waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So to put things in perspective, the Iranian government, which has rebuffed US reproaches and sanctions over its programs to develop nuclear weapons, long range missiles, wipe out Israel, and establish at least some degree of hegemony of the Missile East and even parts of Latin America, will be courted by Obama and his minions through hot dogs (we hope they’ll be all beef and unaccompanied by beer), bunting and speeches at embassies and consulates abroad celebrating America’s Independence Day.

Will wonders never cease?

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/06/obama_brandishes_wiener_power.html at June 02, 2009 – 12:55:58 PM EDT

“In the Obama Administration … It’s Easy Being Palestinian”

“In the Obama Administration … It’s Easy Being Palestinian”
By: Daniel Pipes
Monday, June 01, 2009

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The fast-moving changes in the U.S.-Israel relationship.
The much-anticipated meeting between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu on May 18 went off smoothly, if a bit tensely, as predicted. Everyone was on best behavior and the event excited so little attention that the New York Times reported it on page 12.

As expected, however, the gloves came off immediately thereafter, with a series of tough American demands, especially U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s insistence on May 27 that the Netanyahu government end residential building for Israelis in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. This prompted a defiant response. The Israeli governing coalition chairman pointed out the mistake of prior “American dictates,” a minister compared Obama to pharaoh, and the government press office director cheekily mock-admired “the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem.”

If the specifics of who-lives-where have little strategic import, the Obama administration’s rapid and harsh turn against Israel has potentially great significance. Not only did the administration end George W. Bush’s focus on changes on the Palestinian side but it even disregarded oral understandings Bush had reached with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.

Yasir Arafat smiles as Barack Obama meets Mahmoud Abbas in July 2008.

An article by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post captures this shift most vividly. Diehl notes, based on an interview with Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, that by publicly and repeatedly stressing the need for a without-exception freeze of Israeli building on the West Bank, Obama

has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. “The Americans are the leaders of the world. … They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions’.”

Of course, telling the Israelis is one thing and getting their compliance quite another. To this, Abbas also has an answer. Expecting that Netanyahu’s agreeing to a complete freeze on building would bring down his coalition, Diehl explains that Abbas plans “to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office.” One Palestinian Authority official predicted this would happen within “a couple of years” – exactly when Obama is said to expect a Palestinian state in place.

Meanwhile, Abbas plans to sit tight. Diehl explains his thinking:

Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession—such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees. Instead, he says, he will remain passive. … “I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”

Abbas’s idea of “normal life,” one should add, is also largely provided by Washington and its allies; West Bank Palestinians enjoy by far the highest per-capita foreign aid of any group in the world; at just one “donors’ conference” in December 2007, for example, Abbas won pledges for over US$1,800 per West Banker per year.

As Diehl tersely concludes, “In the Obama administration, so far, it’s easy being Palestinian.”

Even if one ignores the folly of focusing on Jerusalemites adding recreation rooms to their houses rather than Iranians adding centrifuges to their nuclear infrastructure and even if one overlooks the obvious counter productivity of letting Abbas off the hook – the new U.S. approach is doomed.

First, Netanyahu’s governing coalition should prove impervious to U.S. pressure. When he formed the government in March 2009, it included 69 parliamentarians out of the Knesset’s 120 members, well over the 61 minimum. Even if the U.S. government succeeded in splitting off the two parties least committed to Netanyahu’s goals, Labor and Shas, he could replace them with right-wing and religious parties to retain a solid majority.

Second, the record shows that Jerusalem takes “risks for peace” only when trusting its American ally. An administration that undermines this fragile trust will likely confront a wary and reluctant Israeli leadership.

If Washington continues on its present course, the result may well be spectacular policy failure that manages both to weaken America’s only strategic ally in the Middle East even as it worsens Arab-Israeli tensions.

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Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Obama says Iran’s energy concerns legitimate

Obama says Iran’s energy concerns legitimate

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:24 AM

LONDON — President Barack Obama suggested that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it proves by the end of the year that its aspirations are peaceful.

In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, he also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.

“What I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations,” Obama said, adding that the international community also “has a very real interest” in preventing a nuclear arms race.

The president has indicated a willingness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it does not respond positively to U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Obama has said Tehran has until the end of the year to show it wants to engage with Washington.

“Although I don’t want to put artificial time tables on that process, we do want to make sure that, by the end of this year, we’ve actually seen a serious process move forward. And I think that we can measure whether or not the Iranians are serious,” Obama said.

Obama’s interview offered a preview of a speech he is to deliver in Egypt this week, saying he hoped the address would warm relations between Americans and Muslims abroad.

“What we want to do is open a dialogue,” Obama told the BBC. “You know, there are misapprehensions about the West, on the part of the Muslim world. And, obviously, there are some big misapprehensions about the Muslim world when it comes to those of us in the West.”

Obama leaves in the evening on a trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia aimed at reaching out to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. He is due to make his speech in Cairo on Thursday.

Obama sounded an optimistic note about making progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although he offered no new ideas for how he might try to secure a freeze on new building of Israeli settlements. The United States has called for a freeze, but Israeli leaders have rejected that.

Asked what he would say during his visit about human rights abuses, including the detention of political prisoners in Egypt, Obama indicated no stern lecture would be forthcoming.

He said he hoped to deliver the message that democratic values are principles that “they can embrace and affirm.”

Obama added that there is a danger “when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture.”

© 2009 The Associated Press