Give Obama a break

He understands that Israel's security depends on a lasting peace agreement with its neighbors.

Throughout much of the campaign, Barack Obama has been subjected to excessive nitpicking, rumors and accusations, many of which baseless and unfair. He has been judged not only for his worldview, but also doomed for his name, his color, his religion and his personal background. Obama's critics weren't limited to the US: Our former ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, opined in a piece published in January on The Jerusalem Post's on-line America Decides 2008 that during his meetings with Obama he felt that the senator "was not entirely forthright with his thinking." Ayalon added that Obama's campaign is "leaving us with more questions than answers." Aside from being imprudent coming from a senior Israeli diplomat who served for several years in Washington, this accusation was premature: in the months that have passed since, Obama has supplied ample evidence of the clarity of his views and policies, including those regarding Israel. At the recent AIPAC policy conference, Obama addressed a gamut of issues concerning Israel, ranging from Holocaust denial to ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. He pledged to implement a memorandum of understanding that will provide $30 billion in assistance to Israel. However, what seems to differentiate Sen. Obama from Sen. McCain is his understanding that Israel's security depends on a lasting peace agreement with its neighbors no less than on military aid. Peace is a key goal for Obama, who said at AIPAC "that is why we, as friends of Israel, must resolve to do all we can to help Israel and its neighbors to achieve it." THE ELECTION of Obama as president of the United States would constitute an amazing shift in its history. Like Israel, the US is an immigrant society, its population a colorful array of ethnic groups and world cultures. Despite this, entire segments of American society - women, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc. - have never succeeded in making their way into the Oval Office. A victory for Obama would do a great deal to dissipate feelings of disenfranchisement still prevalent in the US; it would indeed be a victory of fairness over bigotry and past racism. Obama received an important endorsement from former vice president Al Gore, who said in a conference in Detroit that he would do all he could to help Obama win the White House. "Take it from me, elections matter," said Gore, and he's right. Today, Israel enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States, and will continue to enjoy it for the foreseeable future. The upcoming presidential elections, however, will determine whether this support manifests itself mainly in security aid, or also in fresh thinking and a committed, prolonged effort to bring about peace in our region. The writer is a Labor MK.