Thursday, July 31, 2008

The conspiracy theories around Obama's note get murkier

Charedi news blog Vos Iz Neias has posted a link to a video on YouTube which, it says, documents the moment at which the note Senator Obama placed in the Kotel was “lifted“. The blog explains:

The videographer identifies himself as David Cohen, “a freelance photographer/videographer currently living in Jerusalem.” He reports that “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.”

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.

I don’t know what the Obama team members were doing; and it is certainly not clear whether any of these men, the Obama staffers or the obviously Israeli Charedim in the rest of the video, actually did pick up Obama’s note. Just because a guy walks away from the Kotel with a note in his hand, trying to block the camera, does not mean he is the guilty party.

I fully understand why sites such as Vos Iz Neias might be uncomfortable with the idea that a Charedi man might have been behind the scandal (although it reflects on no one - no one - but that man himself). But one question: If the Obama camp really did want to make Obama’s words public, why would they go to the great lengths of dressing up one of their own staff “in the garb of a seminary student”?? (As it happens, the Obama staffers on the video were actually only wearing knitted kippot and did not look like Charedi yeshivah bochurs at all. If, in fact, that is what these men were - in this video Obama's entourage all seem to be wearing white kippot.) Why wouldn’t they just release the text?

The Pope did, after all…

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