Sen. Barack Obama (Courtesy Carrie Devorah)
JERUSALEM – On the eve of a planned meeting with former President Jimmy Carter, the isolated Hamas terrorist organization has expressed “hope” Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidential elections and “change” America’s foreign policy.
“We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections,” Ahmed Yousuf, Hamas’ top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, said in an exclusive interview with WND and with the John Batchelor Show on WABC Radio in New York.
“I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse. … I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principal. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance,” Yousuf said, speaking from Gaza.
Yousuf, the Hamas figure usually responsible for coordinating meetings with foreign officials, told WND earlier that Carter’s planned meeting this week with Hamas would help the terror organization “engage with the world community.”
“Carter can achieve something no one else can. He is open-minded and has a very noble cause to come and meet with all people,” said Yousuf.
Together with presidential candidates John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Obama called Hamas a “terrorist organization” that should remain isolated until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. Obama told reporters he opposed Carter’s meeting with Hamas.
But Yousuf chalked up Obama’s statements to political posturing.
“I understand American politics and this is the season for elections and everybody tries to sound like he’s a friend of the Israelis … so whatever [the] Israelis didn’t like they will take from all those candidates,” he said.
Yousuf said that in Hamas’ view, Obama has “a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with humiliation and arrogance.”
The U.S. and Israel have been trying to isolate Hamas, which is classified by the State Department as a terror group. It is responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, and thousands of shooting attacks and rocket firings against Israeli civilian population centers.
Obama church publishes Hamas manifesto
Obama came under fire last month after it was reported his church reprinted an opinion piece by Hamas that defended terrorism as legitimate resistance, refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and compared the terror group’s official charter – which calls for the murder of Jews – to America’s Declaration of Independence.
The Hamas piece was published on the “Pastor’s Page” of the Trinity United Church of Christ newsletter reserved for Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose anti-American, anti-Israel remarks prompted a “firestorm” causing the presidential candidate to deliver a major race speech earlier this week.
After U.S. Jewish groups issued statements of concern, Obama condemned the Hamas piece and distanced himself from his church’s newsletter.
Obama aide wants talks with terrorists
WND reported in January that Robert Malley, an Obama foreign policy adviser, has penned numerous opinion articles, many of them co-written with a former adviser to the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, petitioning for dialogue with Hamas and blasting Israel for policies he says harm the Palestinian cause.
Malley also previously penned a well-circulated New York Review of Books piece largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem. Arafat, instead, returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state.
Malley’s contentions have been strongly refuted by key participants at Camp David, including President Clinton, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and primary U.S. envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross, all of whom squarely blamed Arafat’s refusal to make peace for the talks’ failure.
In February 2006, after Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament and amid a U.S. and Israeli attempt to isolate the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority, Malley wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun advocating international aid to the terror group’s newly formed government.
“The Islamists (Hamas) ran on a campaign of effective government and promised to improve Palestinians’ lives; they cannot do that if the international community turns its back,” wrote Malley in a piece entitled, “Making the Best of Hamas’ Victory.”
Malley contended the election of Hamas expressed Palestinian “anger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Arafat’s imprisonment, Israel’s incursions, Western lecturing and, most recently and tellingly, the threat of an aid cutoff in the event of an Islamist success.”
Malley said the U.S. should not “discourage third-party unofficial contacts with [Hamas] in an attempt to moderate it.”
In an op-ed in the Washington Post in January coauthored by Arafat adviser Hussein Agha, Malley – using what could be perceived as anti-Israel language – urged Israel’s negotiating partner, Abbas, to reunite with Hamas.
“A renewed national compact and the return of Hamas to the political fold would upset Israel’s strategy of perpetuating Palestinian geographic and political division,” wrote Malley.
He further petitioned Israel to hold talks with Hamas.
“An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides’ interests,” Malley wrote.
In numerous other op-eds, Malley advocated a policy of engagement with Hamas.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.