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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Sen. Barack Obama has spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps, this column has learned.

Palestinians have long demanded the “right of return” for millions of “refugees,” a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel’s destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Muslim Arabs, thereby changing its demographics.

In a conference call last month with Jewish and Israeli media aimed primarily at dispelling Internet reports that he is anti-Israel, Obama stated “Palestinian refugees” belong in their own state and do not have a “literal” right of return to Israel.

But in the 1990′s Obama was a speaker at events in Chicago’s large Palestinian immigrant community to raise funds for UN camps for the so-called Palestinian refugees.

Ali Abunimah, a Chicago-based Palestinian-American activist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian online publication, recalls introducing Obama at one such event, a 1999 fundraiser for the Deheisha Palestinian camp in the West Bank.

Abunimah is also a harsh critic of Israel and has protested outside pro-Israel events in the Chicago area.

“I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator – when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time,” stated Abuminah during an interview last month with Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated radio and television political program.

“I remember personally introducing [Obama] on stage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that’s just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation,” Abunimah said.

According to quotes obtained by Gulf News, Abunimah recalled a 2004 meeting in a Chicago neighborhood while Obama was running for his senate seat. Abunimah quoted Obama telling him “warmly” he was sorry that “I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race.”

“I’m hoping when things calm down, I can be more up front,” Abunimah reportedly quoted Obama as saying.

Abunimah said Obama urged him to “keep up the good work” at the Chicago Tribune, where Abunimah contributed guest columns that were highly critical of Israel.

Golan Murmurings

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government has been holding high-level talks with Syria regarding renewing negotiations over an Israeli retreat from the strategic Golan Heights, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The talks continued despite the assassination in Syria earlier this month of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyah. Most Arab countries, including Syria, charged that Israel was behind the top terrorist’s elimination.

Top diplomatic sources in Jerusalem confirmed that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, has been passing official messages on a regular basis to Syrian President Bashar Assad regarding Israel’s willingness to negotiate over the Golan.

The messages are being transmitted by the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv with the sanction of Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

The sources said no actual negotiations over the Golan have taken place.

Rabbis: Shas in Denial

A group of hundreds of prominent Israeli rabbis this week warned that if the Orthodox Shas party remains in Olmert’s government, they will urge Jews not to continue to support Shas.

If the party bolts, Olmert’s coalition government could fall apart, precipitating new elections.

Olmert has repeatedly insisted that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not dealing with the status of Jerusalem – while Palestinian leaders and many Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni, stated in recent weeks that negotiations are covering all core issues, including Jerusalem.

The Shas party has stated it would leave the prime minister’s coalition if it becomes clear that the government is negotiating the ceding of any part of Jerusalem.

The Rabbinical Congress for Peace, which consists of over 350 Israeli rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis issued a statement: “Every novice journalist and anyone listening to the news in Israel knows that giving up large chunks of Jerusalem has been on the negotiating table for quite some time and is in its advanced stages. Only the representatives of Shas are burying their heads in the ground and pretend they know of nothing.”

“Shas is lying to themselves and deceiving their electorate,” the rabbis charged.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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