America's brotherly love for Israel has turned into more than just a siblings spat. It is a down and out casting off of a family member, thanks to President Barack Obama.
There has been much questioning of Mr. Obamaâ€™s true feelings and commitment for the security of the State of Israel, the longtime ally of the United States. There are those who think that because Mr. Obama spent a crucial part of his childhood in a Muslim country that his sympathies lie with Islam. There are others who say that because of his African-American heritage, he has an aversion to Jews, the two communitiesâ€™ longstanding foes. Twenty or so years in the church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright surely had an influence on Mr. Obamaâ€™s thinking concerning the Jewish nation. Who amongst us doesnâ€™t heed the words of our religious leader? If we donâ€™t care for what we hear in our congregation, we leave. Obama did not, until he was absolutely forced to. There are even those who call the American president an anti-Semite. That they would even entertain such a thought doesnâ€™t bode well for Barack Obama and his relationship with the Jewish community.
President Obama has had a coterie of interesting characters influence his life. Chief among them are radicals, such as murderer Bill Ayres, the aforementioned Jew-hating Reverend Wright, and surely we cannot forget Palestinian confident Rashid Khalidi. All of this, of course, came out in the 2008 election.
He has also had in his rise to the heights of American politics many Jewish mentors. Philanthropists like Bettylu Saltzman, Penny Pritzker, and Lester Crown were critical to his ascendance to the American presidency. He counted among his friends the late Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. And, of course, his wife Michelleâ€™s cousin is Capers C. Funnye, Jr., the first African-American member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom, a congregation on the South Side.
What many of his mentors have in common are their left-leaning politics.
Jews whisper amongst themselves. In covering the 2008 election (Read my book: A YEAR IN MY PAJAMAS WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA, The Politics of Strange Bedfellows) it became clear to me that senior citizens of the Jewish enclave were anything but enthusiastic about an Obama presidency. World War II survivors and Jews who grew up in a time of strong anti-Semitism in America were loath to forget the past and trust the future for their clan. Middle age Jews, the Baby Boomer generation, in my analysis, were happy to vote the fruition of a dream of their childhood, learned under the tutelage of Martin Luther King. These same Baby Boomers in their post World War II suburban upbringings were less exposed to anti-Semitism and less-likely to fear its results. They were of a generation that dealt with anti-Semitism by further assimilating into American society. Intermarriage as a means to an end? An attempt to neuter differences? A hope entered into that there are no differences among us despite a truth? The wish to be a part of the larger group?
In the last days of the Election 2008, candidate Obama hadnâ€™t closed the deal with American Jews. He especially had not convinced the Jews in South Florida where the World War II generation had set up new shtetels in the warmth of the sunny south. I was there then, interviewing many of our seniors and many of the Baby Boomers who grappled with their choices. There was much angst among the seniors but absolute glee for an Obama presidency by the Baby Boomers. The seniors vote was for the legacy of Judaism in America and Israel, the Baby Boomers their personal legacy. One was perhaps cynical, the other self-serving. The night before the election, Hillary Clinton helped solidify Obamaâ€™s standing in South Florida and other Jewish enclaves with an editorial promising that Obama was a true friend to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. At the same time, President Obama leaked that his choice for his chief-of-staff would be the Jewish Congressman from Chicago, Rahm Emanuel perhaps the design of that clever maker of African-American politicians, Mr. Jewish David Axelrod, Obamaâ€™s creator and Numero Uno fan. Barack Obama became the President of the United States.
It is important to remember that candidate Obama promised, in front of a hall full of Jews that â€œJerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided,â€ which was a statement of beauty and a joy to the hearts of Jews worldwide, a proclamation that is now a heap of rubble along with all the other promises the candidate made to the Jewish voters, a shredded truth. In point of fact, as a matter of federal law â€”the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995â€” it is U.S. policy that â€œJerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.â€™â€™
Obama has not lied once to Israel, but now twice as evidenced by the shenanigans of the president last week. After accepting and in fact heralding terms of Netanyahuâ€™s building freeze in November, which explicitly did not include East Jerusalem, even calling it an unprecedented concession, he upbraided the Israeliâ€™s for their untimely announcement of the construction of 1600 building units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Schlomo, again going back on his word. Is there any reason for J Street or AIPAC or the Israeliâ€™s to believe anything the American president says?
Obama won the presidency with fully 78 percent of the Jewish vote, second in support of the president only to African-Americans. But what was promised isnâ€™t what the voters got. Instead what American Jews have in President Barack Obama is a punishing American president who is the friend of our enemies, and the enemy to our friend, whose sinister goal seems to be to divide the American Jewish community to foster his personal goals, not to mention to further inflame the already anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic world body against the Jewish nation. And as a secondary thought, does America have so many friends that it can afford to alienate those it has?
Too many pundits worldwide applaud the American presidentâ€™s uneven hand. They rant that itâ€™s about time the Israeliâ€™s were put in their place. The young journalists of America, particularly in the blogosphere are the children of Baby Boomers who shielded them from the notion that anti-Semitism exists, a pretense at best. Too many Jewish Baby Boomers raised their children with an alienation of affection for the Jewish homeland, the same land their ancestors as recently as one generation ago fought. Their reasons seem diverse: perhaps a disassociation from their heritage, poor knowledge of history, survivor guilt, and fear of their true reality. In America anti-Semitism hasnâ€™t gone away, only morphed into a more subtle expression.
It begs the question: How does the grandchild or great grandchild of a holocaust victim condemn in any way the land their forebears gave their life for. And how do they do so in a public forum? Really, can anyone be sure why a Jew (or any right thinking mind) of any nation would think it appropriate to condemn Israel, the tiny dot in a map of hostile Arabia whose sole goal is to hold onto its land and its security. Calling Israeliâ€™s terrorists or equating the treatment of Palestinians by Jews to Apartheid in South Africa suggests a psychological break with reality.
There should be no question of allegiance, as Obamaâ€™s policy towards Israel asks American Jews to make. American Jews can be dual citizens of America and Israel. There never was before and there never should be in the future any doubt that what is best for America is best for Israel and vice versa. It is nothing but sheer propaganda on the part of the Obama administration to assert anything else. Surely the American president doesnâ€™t believe that al Qaeda will be less of a threat to the U.S. â€“ The Great Satan â€“ if the Palestinians gain an official homeland. If he does, he shouldnâ€™t be, as some always thought, the president of the United States.
So that when General David Petraeus (and you can be sure the Obama administration knew this was coming) commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia, entered the political fray â€“ where Generals donâ€™t belong â€“ and made the absurd statement, as Petraeus did in his recent comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee that lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace sets the â€œstrategic contextâ€ for U.S. security fortunes in the region, the handwriting was on the wall. This is what the president of the United States believes, this is what he wants Americans and the world to believe, American Jews in particular.
President Obamaâ€™s true motives concerning the relationship of the U.S. and Israel may be discovered in a recent article in the World Tribune that reports that President Obama has diverted a shipment of bunker-busting armaments designated for Israel to a military base in Diego Garcia. In fact, the report says that since taking office â€œObama has refused to approve any major Israeli requests for U.S. weapons platforms or advanced systems.â€
"All signs indicate that this will continue in 2010," a congressional source familiar with the Israeli military requests said. "This is really an embargo, but nobody talks about it publicly."
In her speech before AIPAC, Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that Israel can no longer control its image with public relations efforts, tacitly laying blame for international enmity to the Jewish state on Israeli actions.
Actually, what a funny thing for Clinton to assert when Israel's current problem in terms of brand is that the U.S., once Israelâ€™s staunch supporter, has changed its branding of Israel from one of Democratic friend to one of an Apartheid State. It is Barack Obama's (and his Carter buddies advising him) new meme towards the once incontrovertible American ally that is the manna feeding the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic rhetoric worldwide of which Clinton warns Israel.
The onus to right these wrongs becomes the work of American Jews. They must make a choice: us or them â€“ in the same way society forced Obama to make his choice whether to be a black man or a white man. Obama chose black. American Jews can choose both.
There are many prominent American Jews who have bristled at President Obamaâ€™s humiliating treatment of its longtime ally. The left wing press, and the left wing American Jewish press, is trying to make hay out of the fact that the usual Jewish members of Congress to go public in denunciation of Obamaâ€™s policy have been quiet. I wouldnâ€™t make much of that. At the time of the dustup over the announcement of the East Jerusalem building project, Democratic representatives were in the midst of making hard choices with the coming final health care vote. This was not the time for them to tackle the Israeli-American rift publically and make themselves vulnerable to the inquiring minds of the press.
Nevertheless, the dial-back of the Obama administration on its outrageous rhetoric in the last few days makes it clear that in private Jewish representatives delivered President Obama a strong message of warning. In fact, there has been a flurry of letters sent to the president signed by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and members of all religious denominations admonishing his public scolding of Israel.
Still, it is the entire American Jewish community that must take stock of its current state, divided by President Obama and Jews themselves into J Street Jews who despise Netanyahu and the Jewish stateâ€™s long-term policies, and AIPAC Jews, which sides with the positions of the Israeli government. Because if they donâ€™t come together, the Palestinians get all and Obama will have accomplished his personal and political goal: to divide and conquer the Jews worldwide.
His tactics are nothing new. It reminds one of how Franklin Roosevelt conducted himself during the rise of Hitler choosing to ignore the truth of what was happening in Europe. At that time the Jews laid themselves bare to Rooseveltâ€™s non-interventionist policy. Then the left wing Jews thought Hitler was nothing to worry about and stood with Roosevelt while the seeds of Hitlerâ€™s destruction were sewn, leaving the moderate Jews to go in and clean up the mess the liberals created, sadly too late to save 600,000+ of their own.
Unfortunately, history in some ways is repeating itself. If Obama gets his way with The Jewish State, disregarding the long-term effects of his policies as Roosevelt did, there wonâ€™t be much of Israel left to clean up. And Americaâ€™s new allies will be the true infidels.