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Palestinians as "the most oppressed people on Earth"

I've seen various Internet sites claiming that in Iowa, Senator Obama called Palestinians "the most oppressed people on Earth." Can commenters supply information about an original source (rather than a third-hand Internet claim) about whether Senator Obama really said this? Even if one accepts the theory that Israel is entirely responsible for Palestinian "oppression," and that the Palestinians (unlike, for example, the East Germans in 1946) bear no responsibility for their current situation, it seems preposterous for anyone to believe that Palestinians are more oppressed than, say, Darfuris or North Koreans. Accodingly, I hope that the quote is just an unfounded Internet rumor.

Update: Impressively fast reader comments explain that Obama never said such a thing; the "quote" is a very garbled version of something he did say, and which is a very mainstream observation.

Further update: I participate in the ListServ of the National Council of Editorial Writers. One of the main purposes of the ListServ is to provide information about astroturf letters to the editor, or about other LTE issues. I sent a memo to the ListServ explaining that the purported Obama quote is fake; thanks to VC commenters for helping to expose the truth about the false quote.

Zyzzogeton:
Click here
2.25.2008 9:39pm
Brooklynite (mail) (www):
That's a letter to the editor, Zyzz, and it doesn't give anything resembling a verifiable source.

A Google News search for "obama 'most oppressed people on earth'" turns up just one hit, and it's identical to the letter you cite. Color me skeptical.
2.25.2008 9:51pm
GV:
I love it. Kopel asks for an original source for a quote not "a third-hand Internet claim" and within ten minutes he is given a link (filled with hysterical claims) where someone claims that someone else told him Obama said this at an Iowa rally. God bless the age of the internet.
2.25.2008 9:55pm
Tek Jansen:
Can Friends of Israel--and Jews--Trust Obama? by Martin Peretz

In a word, yes.
2.25.2008 9:58pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't believe Obama has said this. What he said instead was "no one has suffered more than the Palestinians."

He later explained, "What I said was, nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region." Throughout his career, Obama has reached for Jewish support Ron Kampeas. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. New York: Jan 8, 2008. 1 pgs
2.25.2008 10:02pm
Tom Veal (mail) (www):
Here is a reference considerably earlier than the Iowa primary - and also a bit dicey.
2.25.2008 10:03pm
Avi:
From a JTA profile:

Early in his campaign, Obama handily killed an Israel-related controversy in its early stages. At a chat he had said that "no one has suffered more than the Palestinians."

Blame the leadership was what he meant, explaining later during an MSNBC debate, "What I said was, nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region."
2.25.2008 10:04pm
Jesse (mail) (www):
The original article is available for $2.95 from the Des Moines Register, but it's also quoted on this blog:


Obama told the Muscatine-area party activists that he supports relaxing restrictions on aid to the Palestinian people. He said they have suffered the most as a result of stalled peace efforts with Israel.

"Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people," Obama said while on the final leg of his weekend trip to eastern Iowa.

"If we could get some movement among Palestinian leadership, what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people," he added.


Some follow up is available here, but it mostly rehashes some of the earlier comments.
2.25.2008 10:10pm
Ugh (mail):
I've seen various Internet sites claiming that in Iowa, Senator Obama called Palestinians "the most oppressed people on Earth." certain pink shaded blog denizens child molesters. Can commenters supply information about an original source (rather than a third-hand Internet claim) about whether Senator Obama really said this? Because, golly gee, even under the most extreme factual assumptions it seems preposterous for anyone to believe that, and I wouldn't be posting it just to put it before as many readers as possible, nuh uh. I hope that the quote is just an unfounded Internet rumor.
2.25.2008 10:19pm
neurodoc:
...unlike, for example, the East Germans in 1946...
The East Germans in 1946 bore no responsibility for their situation? No group ever deserved to lose a war more than they did. If they weren't as fortunate as their compatriots who once defeated were occupied by the us rather than the Russians, they were no more unfortunate than the rest of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII, and they brought it on themselves.
2.25.2008 10:26pm
neurodoc:
Even if he thought it, and I have no idea whether he does or doesn't, Obama isn't likely to say something so loaded in the course of this campaign. But looking to a Robert Malley and a Samantha Powers for foreign policy advice, as reportedly he has done, is cause for real concern.
2.25.2008 10:30pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
...unlike, for example, the East Germans in 1946...

The East Germans in 1946 bore no responsibility for their situation? No group ever deserved to lose a war more than they did. If they weren't as fortunate as their compatriots who once defeated were occupied by the us rather than the Russians, they were no more unfortunate than the rest of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII, and they brought it on themselves.


Go back and read the OP more carefully, buddy.
2.25.2008 10:35pm
Konstantin Medvedovsky (mail):
Running a Lexis search gives us five unique hits on the "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people" quote in major publications. One from the CSMonitor, one from NYTimes, and one from the Chicago Tribune. The other two are from a Kristof column, and from a Novak column, neither one of which has the air of much more than a rumor to them.

The NYT article is probably the most informative, going:
Several Jewish conferencegoers said they were concerned by Mr. Obama's remark Sunday in Iowa where, in a reference to the Middle East, he said, ''Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.'' According to The Des Moines Register, Mr. Obama put the blame on the stalled peace efforts with Israel and on the refusal of the Palestinian government to renounce terrorism.
(3/14/07)

This sounds less than entirely reputable to me as well.
2.25.2008 10:41pm
FromRight2Left (mail) (www):
This is a case of bad reporting that began with the Des Moines Register selectively quoting Obama at a campaign event in March 2007 in Muscatine, Iowa. Obama was asked a pointed question by an Israel-hater known to the pro-Israel community here. Obama acknowledged that "Nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people," but when later quoted more fully, it became clear that Obama laid the blame on Palestinian Arab leaders. The poor reporting caused at least one person in Jewish community here in Iowa to send letter to the Obama campaign to ask for clarification. This, of course, led to further reporting by the Des Moines Register that was borderline Jew-baiting. Jews were characterized broadly as 'critical' of the Obama campaign in a manner that made us look both paranoid and in control of excessive political power. AAI's James Zogby took up the issue and traveled around Iowa before the caucuses lamenting the power of the Israel lobby based on this single small isolated event. Jimmy Carter visited Iowa City shortly thereafter and used the issue as well.



The bottom line is this: The event was poorly reported. The hysteria that followed, which was largely from outside Iowa's Jewish community, made Jews in Iowa look bad and made it harder for us to support Israel here. Despite the Jew-baiting overtones to the entire kerfuffle, the Israel-haters won. The more it gets recycled, the more we lose.
2.25.2008 11:05pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Neurodoc: read Martin Peretz's piece linked above. Obama is not being advised by Malley (Dan Shapiro is his Middle East guy). Looks like you are getting your info from the blogosphere.
2.26.2008 12:18am
Waldensian (mail):

"the most oppressed people on Earth."

Although Obama apparently didn't say this, the matter obviously doesn't end there.

I call upon Mr. Obama to condemn, in no uncertain terms, anyone who might ever say this.

Once he does that, I reserve the right to criticize him for not using strong enough language, and/or for his unforgivable failure to say certain phrases that I deem crucial to an appropriate condemnation.
2.26.2008 12:26am
Cornellian (mail):
Once he does that, I reserve the right to criticize him for not using strong enough language, and/or for his unforgivable failure to say certain phrases that I deem crucial to an appropriate condemnation.

And if he does use all the phrases we would deem crucial, we will condemn him for taking so long to do so.
2.26.2008 1:31am
davod (mail):
"He later explained" There seeems to be a lot of this going on in the Obamma campaign. It is easy to expain yourself after the fact, especially if you are speaking o a group with different needs as the group you originally spoke with.

Who did he originally speak to and what reason do they have for lying.
2.26.2008 6:29am
davod (mail):
PS:

I should say his support for the opposition party in Kenya was enough for me. You know, the party also supported by radical Muslims. The party whose supporters burnt down a church with the congregation inside. Why don't we hear a bit more about this and Obamma's condemnation of this action (If there was a condemnation of this act).
2.26.2008 6:33am
Michael B (mail):
"What I said was, nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region." Obama

It's a sound statement, give him credit for that much.

Otoh, in one form or another it's a commonly heard sentiment that doesn't go far enough given the systematic, institutional, culturally deep-seated, historical and in fact pervasive quality of that "Palestinian" violence, from the time of Arafat's mentor, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al Husseini to the present day. (A brief but solid review of notable and critical aspects of Amin al Husseini at youTube.)
2.26.2008 8:20am
yankev (mail):
Mr. Kopel, I share the outrage of Ugh and Waldensian that you would print a slander against the Senator Omessiah under the supposed pretext of debunking it. Obviously the notorious Karl Rove has hacked into this site and posted this item under your name, in order to raise a cloud of suspicion over a man who has shown himself to be perfect in every respect. Now that Mr. Rove's nefarious hijacking of your site has been exposed, I am sure you will do the responsible thing by deleting the entire thread (except, of course, those items that praise Senator Omessiah).
2.26.2008 9:26am
Michael B (mail):
A more incisive reflection of Obama's comprehensions, at least seemingly so, here.
2.26.2008 10:38am
Houston Lawyer:
Yes, how dare Kopel question anything about Obama, for to do so is blasphemy.
2.26.2008 10:52am
Jim Miller (mail) (www):
It is a good idea to find out exactly what Barack Obama has said, recently.

It is also a good idea to find out what he has said about this issue (and other issues) over the years. Ralph Nader says that Obama was much more pro-Palestinian just a few years. Is he right? I have no idea.

Finally -- and here I touch on a sensitive point -- it is important to decide how much we can trust what Obama says. I mention this because I have been struck by this unpleasant fact: When a newspaper compares what Obama says happened in his past with what others remember, and with what records show, they almost always find discrepancies.

Why there are these discrepancies is not entirely clear to me. But I do think we should all be careful about trusting what Obama says, however accurately it is reported.
2.26.2008 11:19am
Hoosier:
This whole thread is a red herring, because there aren't any Jews in Iowa.


Well, OK. So there are some in Iowa City: The University needs to have med professors, of course.

But not in *Muscatine*. I mean, puh-LEEEEEZ.
2.26.2008 11:42am
Waldensian (mail):

Yes, how dare Kopel question anything about Obama, for to do so is blasphemy.

Whoah, don't lump me in with the Obamamaniacs. But you have to admit, this particular allegation was pretty much of a bust.

Meanwhile, we ALL need to recognize that the Waldensians are the most oppressed people on earth. The Palestinians are also-rans.

Did Milton ever write a sonnet about a massacre of the Palestinians? I didn't think so.
2.26.2008 12:01pm
srg:

"Once he does that, I reserve the right to criticize him for not using strong enough language, and/or for his unforgivable failure to say certain phrases that I deem crucial to an appropriate condemnation."

Let's monitor his tone of voice too.
2.26.2008 12:59pm
MG:
Senator Obama does not owe me a beer.
2.26.2008 1:28pm
scattergood:
Obama has a bit of a worrying past. From this link we can find that he supported the Electronic Infitada in the USA, went to the West Bank and raised funds in camps, called for a more 'even handed' approach in US diplomacy, associates and takes donations from ex-Weatherman terrorists. But I am sure this is all a mis-understanding that the Obama camp just needs to clear up.
2.26.2008 1:35pm
PLR:
Obama has a bit of a worrying past. From this link we can find that he supported the Electronic Infitada in the USA, went to the West Bank and raised funds in camps, called for a more 'even handed' approach in US diplomacy, associates and takes donations from ex-Weatherman terrorists.

What is the worrisome part?
2.26.2008 2:00pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Mark Steyn, who is no enemy of Israel, described the Palestinians as "the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the Earth." Of course Steyn was referring to the damage done to Palestinians by the "Palestinian leadership", by their fellow Arabs, and by the U.N., which Steyn noted has been in charge of them longer than any other group of refugees.

(Israel, IMHO, is somewhat complicit in this wrecking - Israel brought Arafat to Palestine and let him take control of the West Bank and Gaza.)

ISTM that Obama's comment, quoted in full, is not all that different. OTOH, as Scattergood's link documents, Obama has a history of association with thinly veiled terrorism supporters and anti-Israel ultras. I don't thnk any U.S. politician can afford to disown Israel publicly, but President Obama would be hostile in a lot of non-obvious ways.
2.26.2008 5:27pm
davod (mail):
"(Israel, IMHO, is somewhat complicit in this wrecking - Israel brought Arafat to Palestine and let him take control of the West Bank and Gaza.)"

Why they did this was of course because of the pressure from the US and its friends. IMHO that this was the worst thing for the Palestinians, who had a vibrant political scene until Arafat arrived. Once he and his thugs arrived it was either die or become part of us.

Some of the most articulate representatives of the Palestinian cause jhad to suborbinate themselves to the PLO. Those that didn't are dead.
2.26.2008 6:19pm