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At AIPAC, Obama talks tough and promises an undivided Jerusalem

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 4, 2008 | 10:11 am

Photo
At AIPAC last year; Obama returned today

After John McCain, now Barack Obama’s sole rival in a two-man race for the presidency, attacked him Monday at the annual AIPAC conference as being weak in plans to deal with Iran and endangering Israel by wanting troops out of Iraq, Obama wasted no time this morning parroting his opponent’s hardline rhetoric.

“We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran,” Obama said. “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have tried limited, piecemeal talks while we outsource the sustained work to our European allies. It is time for the United States to lead. “

On Iraq, he attacked McCain: “Sen. McCain offers a false choice: stay the course in Iraq, or cede the region to Iran. I reject this logic because there is a better way. Keeping all of our troops tied down indefinitely in Iraq is not the way to weaken Iran. It is precisely what has strengthened it. It is a policy for staying, not a plan for victory. I have proposed a responsible, phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. We will finally pressure Iraq’s leaders to take meaningful responsibility for their own future.”

He also proposed giving Israel foreign aid without requiring that Egypt get similar aid (a policy that goes all the way back to Camp David.) And he pledged to support keeping Jerusalem as the capital—and having it remain undivided—which would pre-empt most diplomatic paths currently on the table.

This isn’t Obama’s first AIPAC BBQ, but obviously there was a lot more anticipation this year. Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Ami Eden explains the scene before Obama took the stage:

It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic stage and opportune time for Obama to reach the hawkish-minded Jews who are politically active, more than willing to vote for the right Democrat and aren’t sure the Illinois senator is the right Democrat.

Well, it looks like Obama nailed that opening, particularly the part about not allowing division of Jerusalem to be part of the peace process. That might have even won over some non-Jews like Karen Lyons, though I don’t suspect these guys remain optimistic.

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