Guest post by Linfar
Did you ever have this argument when you were a kid:
You did too. I did not. Yes, you did. I did not. You did! No I didn’t! Did toooooo!!!
And then there is this saying by Sir Walter Scott told to kids who either may have already or are about to Lie their way out of something:
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.
Like kids the two sides on this story have been hurling insults back and forth for days. But it is the quote by Sir Walter Scott which may rule the day.
It began with shocked headlines announcing Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s sweet little prayer had been swiped from its niche in the wailing wall in Jerusalem and then printed in Maariv, Israel’s second largest circulation newspaper.
Shame was heaped on Maariv, a Hebrew-only daily.
Then a spokesman, who said he worked for Maariv, reported that the Obama campaign did give a copy of the prayer to Maariv. This spokesman said the prayer was also offered to four other newspapers.
These four other Israeli newspapers published on July 28 the statement from the unnamed Maariv spokesman who said:
Barack Obama’s note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put it in the Kotel [Western Wall], a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
One of the newspapers cited,Yediot Aharonot, the country’s most popular daily, published an article Friday saying it had also obtained the note, but decided not to publish it, to respect Obama’s privacy. The paper did not say how it received the note.
Other Israeli media outlets initially ignored the story, or picked it up only after the initial publication had triggered a controversy. The note or prayer reads:
Lord – Protect my family and me.Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.
One full day afer the first spokesman from Maariv came forward, a second spokesman for Maariv went back to all the major Israeli newspapers and said he didn’t know who was speaking for Maariv, but it certainly wasn’t a legitimate official. He said in no uncertain terms the Obama campaign did not give them the prayer.
Then someone released a video made by chance at the wailing wall which showed a member of the Obama entourageâ€”or several– clearly swiping prayers from the wailing wall minutes after Obama left his offering. It also showed one Obama campaign associate walking off with a piece of paperâ€”ostensibly Obama’s prayer.
You can doubt me. You can attack the sources for this story. But I dare anyone to say this is not amazing footage:
According to Reuven Koret of Israelinsider, Israel’s daily news magazine:
The videographer identifies himself as David Cohen, â€˜a freelance photographer/videographer currently living in Jerusalem.’ He reports that â€˜Seconds after Obama left the stones, some of his entourage stepped up to the wall (dressed in suits) and I recorded a young man gathering notes in his hands in what appeared to be the search for Obama’s freshly placed personal note. He is joined by others who unwrap notes and read them. One person [is shown] walking away from the wall with a note that he unwraps as he tries to aggressively block the camera lens.’ There is a continuous stream of images and sounds which links to the visible departure of the remaining Obama entourage.
Also from the Insider:
If Maariv is now contradicting itself, the Obama campaign, characteristically has been acting coy, refusing to confirm of deny that the prayer note even comes from the hand of Barack Obama. An AP report notes: â€˜Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs would neither confirm nor deny the note was Obama’s [but] the handwriting appeared to match a message Obama inscribed Wednesday in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, and was written on stationery from the King David Hotel, where Obama stayed while in Israel. Obama signed the Yad Vashem message. The note from the Western Wall was unsigned.’
Obama spokesman Bill Burton flatly denied the contention that Obama’s prayer, in the form of a note slipped into the Wailing Wall, was “approved for publication,” adding: ‘That didn’t happen,’ he said in an email cited in Ben Smith’s Politico blog. ‘We have neither confirmed nor denied the prayer to anyone.’
In an earlier Insider piece, this time by their combined staff, this thought was advanced:
If the Maariv statement about pre-approval of publication of the note is true, it would mean that the Obama campaign had managed the event brilliantly, if deceptively, getting the double benefit of appearing to be victimized by the invasive Israeli press and prayer-thieving Jew while at the same time leaking out his humble Christian plea to the Lord.
Already by the weekend, a (relatively) slick video appeared on YouTube that blended Obama’s Western Wall prayer with various church scenes, crosses aplenty, a dove of peace, and a soundtrack based on Amazing Grace. The video closes with a “vote” button and an invitation to visit the official campaign website
Here is the video:
Did Barack Obama intend for his “private prayer” to become public knowledge?
The possibility is gaining currency. James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web” column says:
Obama’s so-called prayer was at best an open letter to God–a sentiment intended for public, not divine, consumption.
Taranto also cities Israel’s leading Hebrew-to-English translator Hillel Halkin, who writes in the New York Sun that the content of Obama’s note strikes a false note. Halkin writes:
Frankly, I’d feel a bit better about Mr. Obama if his prayer had simply said, ‘Lord, help me to be president.’ It’s perhaps churlish of me, but the suspicion lurks that that’s what he would have written had he felt sure it would not have ended up in the newspapers.
Now, maybe men tend to pray more high-mindedly than women do, or maybe Obama’s is an unusually elevated soulâ€¦If Obama is insincere about his religious faith, that does not speak well of his character. Then again, it is reassuring in a way, given that wacko church he belonged to for 20 years.
Finally, from the Israelinsider there is this:
Cohen’s testimony provides new evidence that suggests that the alleged pilferer, dressed in the garb of a seminary student, may in fact have been a member of Obama’s entourage. If so, there would not need to have been an official authorization by the campaign to publish the note. The actual “pilferer” may have been working for Obama. This possibility would go a long way to account for the mixed messages emanating from both the Maariv and Obama spokesmen.
It is important to emphasize that the alleged thief has not been publicly identified, and that any connection between him and the Obama campaign, or with Maariv, has not been proven.
Moreover, a yeshiva student has appeared on Israel’s Channel Two, his face concealed, identified only by the Hebrew letter “Aleph” who confessed to the theft:
“I am asking for Obama’s forgiveness. If he was offended by it … of course he was, this is not a nice thing to do. It was sort of a prank. I hope he will forgive us, and we hope that he will win the presidency.
But is this really the guy who leaked the prayer?
And was the Obama campaign involved somehow– as the video clearly shows?
I think as of this writing, it would be safe to say that nobody knows.
TM.COM UPDATE: From Slate:
(A spokesman for Maariv says that the Obama campaign submitted the note to the newspaper, in which case the senator would indeed have forfeited all legal protection to privacy.)