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JERUSALEM – The Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations have “legitimate claims” that are being “weakened” by the violence the terror groups carry out, Sen. Barack Obama recently stated in largely unnoticed remarks in the New York Times.

Speaking in May with columnist David Brooks, Obama said the U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.”

The presidential candidate compared Hezbollah to Hamas, stating they both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.”

Brooks was speaking to Obama for clarification on an earlier statement the Illinois senator made implying Lebanese militias should be tempered with enticements.

Regarding Hezbollah, Obama earlier declared: “It’s time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.”

Brooks took issue with that statement, writing it has the “whiff” of “appeasement.”

“Is Obama naïve enough to think that an extremist ideological organization like Hezbollah can be mollified with a less corrupt patronage system and some electoral reform?” asked Brooks, who said he called Obama today to clarify his remarks.

Obama immediately affirmed Hezbollah is “not a legitimate political party.” Instead, “It’s a destabilizing organization by any common-sense standard. This wouldn’t happen without the support of Iran and Syria.”

He continued by stating Hamas and Hezbollah violence weakens the groups’ “legitimate claims.”

Hamas’ official charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of the Jewish state. It also calls for Muslims to “pursue the cause of the Movement (Hamas), all over the globe.”

The terror group has carried out scores of deadly suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks against Israelis.

Hezbollah claims it is fighting to liberate its “lands,” purportedly referring to the Shebaa Farms, a small piece of territory it says is Lebanese but is being held by Israel. The group regularly makes threats against Israel and has carried out numerous terror attacks targeting Israel and the West, including the U.S.

Obama previously was embroiled in controversy regarding Hamas after Ahmed Yousuf, the terror group’s chief political adviser in the Gaza Strip, said in an interview in April with WND and with WABC radio that he “hopes” Obama becomes president.

“We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections,” said Yousef. “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,” Yousef said, speaking from Gaza.

Obama repeatedly has condemned Hamas as a terrorist organization that should be isolated until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

In the interview with Brooks, Obama went on to defend his policy of engaging with Iran.

“If your opponents are looking for your destruction it’s hard to sit across the table from them,” but, he continued: “There are rarely purely ideological movements out there. We can encourage actors to think in practical and not ideological terms. We can strengthen those elements that are making practical calculations.”

Obama’s comments about “legitimate causes” of terror groups and “root problems of causes and dangers” seems to echo little-noticed remarks the presidential candidate made eight days after 9/11 in which he said the attacks were carried out because of a lack of “empathy” for others’ suffering on the part of al-Qaida, whose terrorist ideology “grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”

Obama went on to imply the Sept. 11 attacks were, in part, a result of U.S. policy, lecturing the American military to minimize civilian casualties in the Middle East and urging action opposing “bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle-Eastern descent.”

“Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we, as a nation, draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy,” Obama wrote in a piece about 9/11 published Sept. 19, 2001, in Chicago’s Hyde Park Herald.

The senator continued: “Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must re-examine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks and we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.

“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity or suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, it may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics.

“Most often, though, it grows out a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

“We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle-Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe – children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and within our own shores,” he wrote.

 


To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.


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