June 4th, 2008
01:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama addresses rumors head-on at pro-Israel conference

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/04/art.obamaaipac.ap.jpg caption="Obama delivered a speech at AIPAC Wednesday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama directly addressed accusations that have been circulating by e-mail when he addressed a pro-Israel conference Wednesday.

"I want to say that I know some provocative e-mails have been circulating throughout Jewish communities across the country," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at AIPAC's annual conference.

"They're filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is - let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."

Rumors have been circulating at least since last year that Obama is a Muslim and does not support the Jewish state. He is a Christian and said at the conference he is a "true friend of Israel," earning applause.

He opened his speech by paying tribute to his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, calling her an extraordinary public servant who had made history alongside him in their 16-month race for the party's presidential nomination.

Obama clinched the nomination Tuesday night, but Clinton did not admit defeat in her speech after the polls closed.

Some Clinton supporters have begun to campaign for her to get the vice-presidential slot on Obama's ticket. Both campaigns deny that discussions on the subject have begun.

In his AIPAC speech, Obama also clarified a story he told last month that prompted a barrage of criticism from Republicans.

"My great uncle had been a part of the 89th Infantry Division - the first Americans to reach a Nazi concentration camp. They liberated Ohrdruf, part of Buchenwald, on an April day in 1945," Obama said.

Last month, he said an uncle had helped liberate the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was in fact liberated by the Soviet army.

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Marine

    Careful he is a chameleon and will change colors depending on the situation.

    June 4, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. MaryJo Bruce Surprise, Ariz

    Sen. Obama, I hope you are a friend of Isreal. I'm not a Dem, but if you
    become President, we will follow you to some extent. You can never to everything to everyone..You will fall some like every president

    June 4, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Sam, Lincoln,NE

    I have to wonder about the mentality of people who would deliberately spread these sorts of vicious, false e-mail rumors about Obama, as well as that of those who are gullible enough to believe them withut bothering to check the facts out for themselves. Until enough people start to repudiate them, Republican operatives will continue with this sort of smear campaign.

    June 4, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. DMS

    Obama has a tough sell to the Jewish community. From experience I know that many of his supporters come from the far left side of the Democratic Party. To say they are not friends of Israel is an under statement. I have read their writings on political blogs such as Daily Kos. They are downright hostile to Israel's very existence. And to top it off, today he gets the endorsement of that movement's spokesperson, former president Jimmy Carter. As a Jewish voter, and one who cares about Israel, am I supposed to ignore Obama's most vocal constituency? Am I supposed to ignore his 20 year affiliation with a spiritual mentor who is no friend of the Jews? Am I supposed to ignore the backing of Jimmy Carter?

    I may vote for Barack Obama, but my support for him, as an American Jew, is tepid, at best.

    June 4, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. James

    I am deeply saddened and puzzled at the recent actions of both Clintons. For more than 2 decades they have asked the African American community to support them in their political career. But they have said many hurtful things and acted very "Unpresidential" throughout. We have forgiven them for many things over the years, how much more can we forgive such open adverse behavior of the 1st African American Presumptive Nominee. Sen. Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton did not show the grace nor dignity to even congratulate him openly as he has always done. This notion that putting her on the ticket is the only way he could win is outrageous and very unfair. Why can't they just do what is right and give back to our community the way we have supported theirs. If she is on the ticket many won't vote for him b/c of her and Bill. And they can't blame him it will be b/c she is on the ticket.

    June 4, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Maria Loi

    He is no friend of Israel if he meets Iran's whoever without preconditions!

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. James

    American community to support them in their political career. But they have said many hurtful things and acted very "Unpresidential" throughout. We have forgiven them for many things over the years, how much more can we forgive such open adverse behavior of the 1st African American Presumptive Nominee. Sen. Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton did not show the grace nor dignity to even congratulate him openly as he has always done. This notion that putting her on the ticket is the only way he could win is outrageous and very unfair. Why can't they just do what is right and give back to our community the way we have supported theirs. If she is on the ticket many won't vote for him b/c of her and Bill. And they can't blame him it will be b/c she is on the ticket.

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. independent

    i love hillary but it is time for us ALL to support obama. nothing could be worse than more republicans....

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. cody

    The ignorant paranoia surrounding Barack Obama is so absurd as to be funny. I've heard that he is secretly a radical Muslim, a racist Christian, an communist atheist, a high priest in Oprah's church, and even the anti-christ.
    What comic book do the people who believe this stuff live in?

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Nick

    YOU GO! INTELLIGENT, ELOQUENT, AND WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR TO BOOT!

    OB'08

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. S. Friedman

    Bravo. Senator Obama gave a superb address at the AIPAC meeting.
    If their is any doubt that he is ready, this address removed it. It also
    sent a message to Hillary, that she had better get on board before she
    gets left behind, because if there is any proof that he won't be taken
    hostage by her and her supporters, and that he can stand on his own
    two feet, he showed it today. God Bless Senator Obama.

    Democrats 08.

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. TEXAS TRAIL DOG

    OBAMA IS NOT A CHRISTIAN. HE SET IN HIS CHURCH IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT AND LISTENED TO HIS REV. WRIGHT PREACH HATRED FOR AMERICA AND ALL WHITES. HE ONLY DENOUNCED WRIGHT WHEN HE SAW HE WAS A HEAVY WEIGHT TO PULL IN HIS CANDIDACY. IRSAEL BEWARE OF THIS MAN HE IS THE SNAKE WHO LEFT THE TREE AND IS NOW CRAWLING ON THE GROUND. HIS WIFE PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED HER HATRED FOR AMERICA. BEWARE AMERICA OF THIS PAIR.

    June 4, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Aimee

    How about voting "None of the Above"?

    June 4, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. bill singer

    How can he be a friend of Israel, when he went to a church for twenty years whose pastor blames the USA and Israel for all the worllds ill's.
    Not only did he attend this church he exposed is impressionable children to this hate monger. He also says he will talk to any one. When is he inviting Osama to the White House. AIPAC should be ashamed of themselvesd for inviting him. I know I will no more support them as a jew.

    June 4, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Jon

    His uncle Al also invented the internet.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. MD in OK

    It is so sad when people stoop this low. The only way they know how to keep him from winning is to spread lies. I don't want to be a part of a party who indulges in hate, fear, and people such as the ones spreading the rumors. Obama is all about change and bringing all Americans together. People who spread such rumors only keep this country divided. Remember, united we stand divided we fall.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. Mario

    We know our policy regards Israel is not going to change with Obama. We are Israel greatest ally and will remain that way. It is however strange to see that, in some ways, Israel moved to the left of the current administration with their talks with Syria on ending their conflict. Here is a Country that sees the value of diplomacy. They will have a much stronger friend in Obama.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. BHO

    Barak Obama = Next president of USA.

    Ehud Barak =Labor party leader of Israel.

    Jewish lobby does some thing anti-american.

    CNN is not publish this comment as usual.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Larry of Boston

    And 2 years ago Obama stated he was a true friend of Palstinians .... This phony has a friend for every contituency out there – when he needs one

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Andy J, NY

    BIAS BIAS BIAS

    7 stories on the CNN home page with Obama in the title, 2 with McCain in the title.

    Seriously, could you at least make and effort to report the news honestly and evenly?

    You don't report the good news in Iraq, you don't report the news on the real negative effects of cap and trade, you don't ask obama tough questions because you will be called a racist, and many other examples.

    CNN, get a backbone and do some real journalism.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. johnr

    Obama is no true Christian and he is certainly not a fan of Isreal.
    This guy will say and do anything to get elected.
    Wake up America – this guy is a disaster

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Rave

    They will try in every way to rob this poor guy (Obama) from his great achievments.
    What part of " I am a Christian " dont these knuckleheads understand?
    This is all to blame " Hillary " for raising such doubts.
    Mr. Obama, do not pick Hillary as the VP. You don't need those swinging, confused people's vote. You will win with a landslide majority and mark my words today – You will be the President of United States of America (2008 -16) and be remembered for ever as one of the best US Presidents.
    You will bring Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan to it's knees during this course and the entire world will accept and respect you as a world leader. Please dont let any evil, dramatic people get near you.
    God Bless you, Our Nation and the Entire World.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. greg / switzerland

    This speech was truly presidential. If anyone doubts that this is not the next president of the US is absolutely clueless...

    The statue and poise of Mr. Obama speaks for itself. The expression and demeanor exceeds all that I've seen in a long time. God bless Obama and America...

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. Nsikan

    I watched the explosive elegant speech and kept my mouth wide opened almost the entire period. You can't help but like this guy. He got tears off my eyes the second time within 24 hours. We keep forgetting the central focus on the Isreal Palestanian struggle and Barrack was brave enought to hit it – Jarusalem. Its not East Jarusalem, West or anything else but Jarusalem. As a Christian, I do not think MaCcain understands this. If you ever doubt Barrack's faith, this should help you nail it. He is a Christian and acts it.

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. joe

    best political team is biased.roland martin is a obama surrogate.
    I am ashamed aof my fellow blacks who is supporting obama just because he is black

    June 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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