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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Obama's Sderot remarks illustrate how Olmert team's inaction incomprehensible

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA
"I can assure you," Barak Obama said, speaking at the local police station
against a backdrop of Kassam rockets, "if someone was sending rockets into
my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything
in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

He would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

But they didn't.

Here is PM Olmert admitting that:

"We hope that we will not have to act against Hamas in other ways with the
military power that Israel has not yet started to use in a serious manner in
order to stop it."

Joint Statements by PM Olmert and US Pres. Bush
Israel Government Press Office Wednesday, May 14, 2008
www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/PMSpeaks/speechstat140508.htm ]

Candidate Obama talks tough during lightning visit
Jul. 23, 2008 Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama empathized deeply with Israelis'
feelings of insecurity and talked tough on Iran during a whirlwind 36-hour
campaign stop here on Wednesday.

The Illinois senator arrived in Sderot in the late afternoon, after a
marathon day of meetings and campaign photo opportunities that began with a
breakfast with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, followed by a visit to Yad
Vashem, a meeting with President Shimon Peres, a drive to Ramallah and
meetings with the Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime
Minister Salaam Fayad, a return trip to Jerusalem for a meeting with Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni, and then a helicopter ride down to Sderot with Livni
and Barak.

Obama met for dinner with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and was then was
scheduled for a late-night visit to the Western Wall. Iran featured
prominently in Olmert's talks with the candidate.

Looking a bit tired, Obama used a press conference in Sderot to address key
issues on the minds of Jewish voters and other Israel supporters in the US,
as well as matters of concerns to Israelis.

"I can assure you," he said, speaking at the local police station against a
backdrop of Kassam rockets, "if someone was sending rockets into my house
where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my
power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

He tried to put to rest concerns that an Obama administration would be
characterized by pressuring Israel to make concessions, saying that no one
who spoke with him on Wednesday "got any sense that I would be pressuring
them to accept any kinds of concessions that would put their security at

"We don't want a peace deal just to have a piece of paper that doesn't
result in peace. We need something that is meaningful, and it is not going
to be meaningful if Israel's security is not part of that package."

While saying that true security would be difficult to attain with hostile
neighbors just a few miles away, Obama said he thought Israel had to ensure
that "peace is not purchased by putting Israel's security at risk, and it is
the job of the US, I think, to make sure that that peace is centered and
promotes Israel's long term security."

Obama took a tough stand against Iran, saying he would use "big carrots and
big sticks" in dealing with the regime, and that while he wanted to pursue
the diplomatic track, "I would take no options off the table."

"Understand part of my reasoning here," he said. "A nuclear Iran will be a
game-changing situation, not just in the Middle East but around the world."

The senator said a nuclear Iran would lead to the disintegration of the
non-proliferation framework, and a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle

"Many of these countries, including Iran, have ties to terrorist
organizations, and suddenly you could have lost nuclear materials falling
into the hands of terrorists, " he said, defining that as a threat not only
to Israel, but also to the US.

Obama said he was not naive about the nature of the Iranian regime, and that
he wanted "tough, serious direct diplomacy" because "if we show ourselves
willing to talk and to offer carrots and sticks in order to deal with these
pressing problems, and if Iran then rejects overtures of that sort, it puts
us in a stronger position to mobilize the international community to ratchet
up the pressure on Iran."

Obama was asked about his speech to AIPAC speech last month in which he
talked of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but backed down later
when he clarified that the future of Jerusalem had to be decided in

"I didn't change my statement," Obama said. "I continue to say that
Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. I have said that before and will
say it again. I have also said that it is important that you don't simply
slice the city in half. But I've also said that this is a final status
issue, an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the
Palestinians and the Israelis. It is not the job of the US to dictate the
form which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being
made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long

After the press conference in Sderot, Obama received a white T-shirt from
Mayor Eli Moyal that read "I (heart) Sderot," with a rocket through the
heart. Earlier he met briefly with Asher Twito, an eight-year-old Sderot boy
who lost a leg to a Gazan rocket.

Twito gave Obama a hat, and the senator, according to those present, was
touched by the gift.

Obama referred to Twito in his prepared statement at the press conference,
saying the youngster epitomized the courage and resilience of the people of
Sderot and of Israel.

Earlier in the day, before his meeting with Peres, Obama said the purpose of
his trip, paid for by his campaign, was to "reaffirm the special
relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment
to Israel's security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner,
whether as a US senator or as president."

Obama joked with Peres, after praising him, that he wanted to get from him
the "recipe for looking as good he does."

Obama's long day began with a meeting with Barak that, according to a
statement released by the Defense Ministry, included a "vigorous and intense
discussion touching on all the basic issues and future challenges facing
Israel and the free world in the region."

After the Barak meeting, Obama met opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said he was impressed with Obama's understanding of the Iranian
threat and that they both agreed that a nuclear Iran was unacceptable.

The opposition leader stressed that they also agreed that what was important
was the end result of preventing a nuclear Teheran, rather than the means of
how to accomplish that, and that when it came to stopping Iran there were no

Netanyahu also outlined his plan for economic peace with the Palestinians,
and Obama told him he agreed that quality of life was connected to security.

Obama said, "I'll never compromise Israel's security. Terrorism is not
theoretical, it's right here a block away from this hotel, and it must be
fought with full force and strength."

Tuesday's bulldozer attack took place just down the street from the King
David Hotel where Obama was staying.

Netanyahu was joined in the meeting by his foreign policy advisers Dore
Gold, Uzi Arad, Zalman Shoval and Ron Dermer.

At Yad Vashem, which Obama visited when he was here in 2006 for the first
time, he laid a wreath in the memorial hall and wrote in the visitors book,
"At a time of great peril and torment, war and strife, we are blessed to
have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also
our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world."

He said he would like to bring his two young daughters to the site on his
next visit.

While in Sderot, during a meeting with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter,
Dichter, an Ashkelon resident, told Obama what it was like living and
raising a family within missile range of the Gaza Strip. He also spoke of
his mother, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor also living in Ashkelon, who
he said was again living in a reality of constant threats, this time from
Kassam rockets.

Obama, who arrived Tuesday evening from Jordan, was scheduled to leave early
Thursday morning for Germany.

Elie Leshem and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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