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Spurned

Barack Obama courted American Jews as a candidate, but the relationship is on the rocks

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Barack Obama at a May reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Even President Barack Obama’s fiercest detractors will admit that his term in office has been judged a consequential one. There is, of course, the landmark legislation that he has passed; a $787 billion stimulus package, health care reform, and financial services reform. There is the landmark legislation that he wants to get passed—including a cap-and-trade bill designed to combat global warming. In foreign policy, the president has made his mark, for better or worse, by having pulled some U.S. troops out of Iraq and setting a start date for the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

But presidencies are not judged on legislation alone. Obama’s status as the first African-American president will surely help shape his legacy. But an equally powerful, if less talked-about, aspect of what will be the historical judgment of the Obama presidency is his relationship with various American constituent groups—including American Jews. As a candidate, Barack Obama successfully courted much of the American Jewish community, in which concerns about the appearance of racism may have served to keep many American Jews in Obama’s camp. But upon becoming president—notwithstanding his success in garnering Jewish support—Obama undertook actions and implemented policies that run the risk of losing him significant Jewish support.

As a longtime resident of the Chicago area, and as a Jew, I have had the opportunity to see how Obama relates to the Jewish community here. My synagogue is right across the street from the Obamas’ house, which helps in perceiving the nature of the president’s connection with the Jewish community. The president seems to feel close to our synagogue—or at the very least, he puts on a good show of feeling close to us. When my beloved rabbi—and a strong Obama backer—Arnold Jacob Wolf died, Obama sent a letter of condolence to the synagogue. He did the same after the death of Leon Despres, the longtime dissident Chicago alderman during the reign of the first Richard Daley. During High Holiday services, our rabbi mentioned that she was recently on a conference call with the president, and with other Jewish religious leaders, in which the president spoke fondly of our congregation and of hearing the shofar emanating from our services while at his home. “Nice shout-out,” another conference call participant remarked to our rabbi, she told us.

Obama sought to win Jewish support for his political campaigns by joking that his name could have been “Baruch Obama,” a clever, if obvious, way to try to identify with the Jewish people. During the 2008 campaign, I saw any number of people with lapel buttons and yarmulkes with Barack Obama’s name spelled out in Hebrew. Rabbi Wolf’s enthusiastic support for Obama, and his strong standing in Chicago’s Jewish community, helped protect Obama from suspicion about his politics and policies in general and about his support for Israel in particular. All of this was essential in helping cement good and productive ties between Obama and American Jews.

Absent this political cover, there certainly was plenty in Obama’s record that might have caused American Jews to view him and his candidacy skeptically. There are, of course, various claims that Obama has been uncomfortably close (from a Jewish, pro-Zionist perspective) with figures like Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi, and that his closeness to such figures said something negative about the level of Obama’s support for Israel. Whether these charges are fair or not is almost beside the point when contemplating the amount of damage that they might do to a political candidate in a city with a substantial and politically active Jewish population.

In addition to getting significant Jewish religious and political figures to vouch for him, Obama also sought, while plotting his political ascent, to back away from past positions and statements that would not be well-received by the Jewish community. Ali Abunimah, the Chicago-based founder of the Electronic Intifada, a website dedicated to advancing the political rights of Palestinians and detailing what it perceives to be Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, detailed how Obama initially expressed strong sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people and deep aversion to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians but began to backtrack from his statements in 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race,” Abunimah says Obama told him when they saw each other while Obama was trying to capture the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat. Obama assured Abunimah that “when things calm down I can be more up front.” As Abunimah describes it, Obama was only doing what was necessary to ensure that he wouldn’t face electoral problems at the hands of a politically active American Jewish community.

Other actions on the part of the Obama campaign served to keep American Jews on board. Throughout the 2008 campaign, and indeed throughout the Obama presidency, there has been the not-so-subtle implication on the part of Obama supporters that a significant number of those who oppose the administration do so because they cannot stand the presence of an African-American president. We have seen the charge of racism regularly issued against members of the Tea Party movement, and while some in that movement have certainly expressed objectionable statements on the issue of race, it is unfair to ascribe those objectionable statements to the entire group, which seems to be mainly exercised by a more generalized anger about the failing economy. Nevertheless, supporters of the Obama Administration have shown little hesitation to accuse detractors of racism, which causes constituent groups in American politics to carefully calibrate their actions in response. Since no one wants to be tarred as racist by a charismatic president who is a gifted orator, it makes sense to assume that opposition to the president and his administration might have been chilled in certain quarters, including among segments of the American Jewish community.

Having secured the support of American Jews in his quest for the White House—support that has traditionally been given to politicians from the Democratic party—the president went about implementing policies that seemed designed to lose that support as quickly as possible. Snubs great and small were dished out against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which served to needlessly alienate the United States’ chief ally in the Middle East and damage America’s role as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process. While American and Israeli interests certainly diverge at times, and while friends must be prepared to speak fully and frankly with one another, the Obama Administration allowed its disputes with Israel to take on a public, melodramatic, soap-operaesque quality that did nothing to advance the cause of peace. While slamming Israel, the United States engaged in a renewal of diplomatic ties with Syria—without any concessions on the part of the Syrian government, which is brutal toward its citizens and a consistent destabilizing force in the region.

It comes as no surprise that Democrats like Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a likely contender to lead the Senate Democrats if Harry Reid loses his re-election bid, has taken the White House to task for its treatment of Israel, calling Obama’s Israel policy “counter-productive.” Schumer’s stance on this issue likely reflects the stance and beliefs of a great many American Jews in assessing the Obama Administration’s Mideast policy. While a significant case can be made that the administration’s policy concerning Israel and the Mideast peace process does not fundamentally differ from policies undertaken by past American administrations, the atmospherics of the administration’s actions appear to be causing a significant rift with the American Jewish community.

The Obama Administration’s Iran policy does little to inspire confidence either. The administration does not appear to be willing or eager to use military force to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To be sure, the Iranians have learned much from Israel’s 1982 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear power plant and have taken measures to prevent any military strike from halting, or even significantly slowing, their drive toward nuclear weapons, but the administration’s bark on the issue of Iran appears to be worse than its bite, which does little to reassure either Israel or American Jews with deep connections to Israel that an existential threat against the Jewish state is being effectively dealt with. Obama lauds as “unprecedented” the sanctions that his administration has sought to impose on Iran, but the Iranians are used to sanctions, and there is no evidence that economic pressure applied by America and its allies is doing anything to halt Iran’s effort to make itself a nuclear power.

The administration might have used the popular uprising against the Iranian government’s acts of electoral fraud in the country’s 2009 presidential elections, and the Iranian government’s subsequent and bloody violations of human rights, to push for the Iranian government’s ostracism in the international community, to pressure the Iranian government to reform and liberalize, to support the Iranian opposition movement, as many young Iranians called for, and to force significant concessions from the Iranian government as a price for helping Iran to once again be a member in good standing of the international community. Instead, Obama gave, at most, pro forma support to the Iranian opposition movement; issued, at most, pro forma condemnations of the actions of the Iranian government; and did nothing to isolate the Iranian regime or wring concessions from it in return for helping end the regime’s isolation.

The inability or unwillingness of the Obama Administration to forcefully speak out against instances of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party should also be a cause for concern. The demagoguery of Democrats like Rep. James Moran, who has stated that an “extraordinarily powerful” pro-Israel lobby—with “the strong support of the Jewish community”—was responsible for causing the United States to go to war with Iraq, is well known, but the Obama Administration has not decided to challenge him, or other Democrats like him, for seeking to profit politically from the popularization of anti-Semitic tropes. Nor has the administration taken on members of the liberal blogosphere for engaging in reflexive anti-Israel hatred and general anti-Semitism and for potentially causing a serious rift between liberals and American Jews, a rift that would harm the president’s political prospects and the Democratic Party’s electoral future.

Some might say that a lone Congressman or a handful of lefty bloggers are beneath the attention of the president of the United States. But while no American president wants to engage in rhetorical overkill, there are disturbing trends developing within the base of the Democratic Party that ought to concern the president and certainly concern the American Jewish community. A shocking 2009 poll revealed that 18.4 percent of Republicans blamed Jews for the recent financial crisis. That’s appalling enough, but even worse, the poll revealed that nearly a third of Democrats also blamed Jews for the near-collapse of the American economy. As the administrators of the poll wrote, this statistically significant difference was surprising “given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition.” It would be in the president’s interests to fight against anti-Semitism in the liberal community, if only to prevent the defection of American Jews from the Democratic Party. But he seems to be unwilling to do so. If American Jews are not alarmed by this lack of action on the president’s part, they should be.

Many Jews still support the president despite his recent actions and those of his administration. Part of the reason likely has to do with the fact that whatever the shortcomings of the president and his administration on issues important to the American Jewish community, the longstanding ties between American Jews and the Democratic Party make it difficult for an abrupt break between the two to take place. The longstanding view of many Jewish Democrats is that the political philosophy of the Democratic Party is close to the philosophical teachings espoused by Jewish religious laws, and as a consequence, it would come as no surprise to find out that many American Jews believe that being Democrats is equivalent to being on the side of right and good, as right and good are defined by Jewish laws, customs, and teachings. But despite the longstanding ties between the American Jewish community and the Democratic Party the Obama Administration, through its policies, runs the risk of putting the relationship asunder.

As the midterm election approaches, Obama’s relationship with American Jews stands at a crossroads. It is entirely possible that the relationship may improve as the president and his political team prepare for his re-election effort in 2012 and seek to increase support and enthusiasm in the American Jewish community. But American Jews now have had time to take the measure of the 44th president and are now well-suited to make an informed decision as to whether he cares about issues that are of special concern to our community. Chances are that the American Jewish community will remain largely loyal to the Democratic Party. But no one should be surprised if, as a result of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices, the Democrats’ hold on the American Jewish component of its base is permanently damaged by an approach that evokes precious little of the enthusiasm that the community showed for him in 2008.

Pejman Yousefzadeh is an attorney and writer in Illinois. He blogs at A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days.

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Imagine what the President will be like towards Israel if he gets re-elected and doesn’t have to worry about facing the voters again.

Benjamin says:

I am a lifelong Democrat. I became very uncomfortable with Obama after his address to AIPAC in 2008, in which it wad obvious that he was merely pandering. For that reason, and for others as well, I did not for him (nor did I vote for McCain). But in this midterm election I will have no qualms about voting for Republican candidates. I don’t expect it will be difficult to do so. I won’t see it as a betrayal of Democrats. It will be a reaction to the betrayal by the liberal left.

It is a great mistake to go on supporting the current Administration. Anyone who does not just want to make “noise” but who really wants to see Peace in the Middle-East and help the Palestinians, will avoid endorsing their propaganda and get them to accept that their plight is the result of decades of corruption and bad decisions – will push for the only course of action which will result in a viable and independant Palestinian State – and that is: get both the PA and Hamas to stop demonising Israel, get Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel from the shelter of schools and mosques, get both the PA and Hamas to fully recognise the Jewish State. Thereafter there would only be frontiers to negotiate and the latter is easier if hostilities have stopped.

There are those of us who were never fooled by him.
Some of us have seen all along that the Republicans have been more friendly and caring about Israel.

Some things that ought to be understood by all voters.
1. Politicians are mainly in it for themselves. Winning is the only thing. Obama is intereted in Obama, Schumer is interested in Schumer, Reid is interested in Reid, and so on. This includes Republicans as well.
2. As long as any group puts all of its money and votes on one party with no questions asked, you can be expected to be taken for granted. Jews have bet on the Democrats and been disappointed time after time. It’s time to to have a better understanding of politics and to understand what this is all about. Being Jewish does not mean one has to be a Democrat.

Maayan says:

The standards this article and people in the organized Jewish community place on politicians regarding their supposed positions on Israel are out of proportion. Israel is only one of a whole spectrum of important issues for American Jews. The critisims typified by this article lack substance, and rely anecdotes that are supposed to be the gauge of the ‘attitudes’ held by, and ‘perceptions’ of, the debated politician rather than on actual policy and track record. As Stephen Colbert puts it, this sure keeps fear alive.
The meat of the thing is this: by taking an ever-so-slightly more balanced position with regard to Israel/palesine (as opposed to the unshakeable support of the Bush administration) President Obama, despite causing some Jews to quake, will be much more effective in reaching a peace deal.
And by the way, why should the administration “take on the blogosphere” ?. Ridiculous.

Attitudes? Perceptions?

As the article notes, Democrats are twice as likely to be anti-semitic. I dare you to put on a kippa and walk through a Democratic stronghold in Harlem, in Deerborn, or in San Francisco and witness the “tolerance” of the contemporary left.

If I can paraphrase Obama’s mentor, father-figure and closest friend for 20 years, Reverend Wright: G-d Damn America for voting in this antisemitic liberal. Its time for the Democrats and the so-called Jewish “Leadership” to go to the back of the bus.

If an American political leader cannot criticize Israel’s settlement policy without being charged with risking Israel’s security, there is something wrong with the dialogue.
I am an American Jew and I support Israel, but I also think curbing settlement expansion is a concession worth making. If somebody says that makes me a self-hating Jew, I have a hard time taking that person seriously. If Jews collectively say that Obama is anti-Israel because he’d like a little more cooperation from Israel in exchange for very strong political and financial support, it does not make Jews stronger, it makes them a spoiled constituency.

If Israel is more important to you than America (and judging by many of these comments it is), then go make aaliyah. America’s primary job is not obsequiousness to Israel and shame on you for assuming that it is.

Deborah says:

Politicians are absolutely in it for themselves and it’s time we took them to task for it. They work for the American people and that includes the President. Thank goodness Jews are beginning to see the light.

M. Brukhes says:

Jesus H. Q-tips–you forgot to mention as well that the president is born in Kenya, is a secret Muslim, and trained as a terrorist during his student days at an Indonesian madrassa; what other distortions and clichés have you left out in all this? It is remarkable what passes for political commentary on this website–almost as informed and insightful as what I hear and overhear at a Shabbos kiddush….

It’s clear that Pehman Yousefzadeah–whoever he is–is an ordinary Jewish neo-conservative. I’m not faulting him for his opinions, or even for trying to publish them, but not only “the litany” he recites (Obama studied with Edward Said!! Obama doesn’t care about victory in Iraq! Obama is a liberal) not only recycles tiresome labels in lieu of analysis or critique, it also emboldens landsmen like “Barry” to use an anxiety toward anti-Semitism to justify his own bigotry toward Blacks, Arabs, and gays. Thanks, Pehman, for bringing that out of the woodwork….

There are in fact serious arguments to be made about President Obama’s mid-east policies: has pressure on Israel resulted in any tangible gains toward peace and mutual co-existence? Have his sustained and principled efforts to change the image of America in the Arab world actually improved American safety and credibility abroad? Has he sufficiently alerted the rest of the world to the dangers of a nuclear Iran?

We don’t hear any discussion of these concerns in this article, though; we just receive second-hand and stale innuendo that Obama, by virtue of being African-American and by virtue of trying a different approach from George W. Bush–whose own policies resulted in an unprecedented decade of peace in the Middle East and universal acclaim for American foreign policy, right?–must be a closet anti-Semite and Third World radical.

This is depressingly shabby stuff; it persuades no one, provokes no one, and reduces Tablet itself to a clearinghouse for tribalist yahoos. We can all, all of us, do better than this.

Time for USA Jews to wake up and acknowledge the obvious. On the balance of probabilities, Barack Hussein Obama was born and raised Muslim and thereafter nothing in his background brought him any closer to the Jewish People and Israel. This is not to suggest that Obama discriminates against Jews “as Americans”. But, it does suggest that Obama has difficulties with the concept of the Jews “as a People” within the context of the doctrine of the self-determination of Peoples. Obama tends to “read down” the rights of the Jewish People which has more than two millennia of continuous history and to exaggerate the rights of the newly-emerged Palestinian People which did not self-identify as such before the 1960’s. Accordingly, Obama has some trouble understanding that –of all extant Peoples– the Jewish People has the strongest claim to be aboriginal to its homeland between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, where Jews have lived in each and every year from antiquity until the present. Thus, Obama cannot grasp that Jews, the Jewish People and Israel have not wronged the Arabs living there. Israel was honestly born and has no need to apologize. However, respect for the principle of the self-determination of Peoples in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2008 –and again today– induces Jews, the Jewish People and Israel to accept the principle of partitioning the Jewish national home to accommodate the self-determination of the other. But, the evident prior rights of the Jewish People must be adequately protected and respected via: (1) truly effective security guarantees for Israel; and (2) full and final acceptance of the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as the Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the Jewish People in its ancient homeland. But, sad to say, USA Jews have every reason to fear that Obama will soon seek to “force” on Israel a sham peace that will meet neither of these essential requirements.

I think the profound hatred that Obama has toward white people in general, and Jews in particular, has nothing to do with Israel.

Its a red herring to talk about “the settlements”. The bigger problem is Obama’s profound identification with Islamic “civilization” and his efforts to restore the glory of the Khalifa.

NASA!! He told the head of NASA that’s its main mission was to restore Islamonazi pride and work together with the various racist, barbaric, and anti-human peoples of Arabia.

That’s the underlying problem. Not his support for Islamic apartheid.

hussein ob ma says:

Arnold Jacob Wolf was a supporter of Breira, pro-left. Jews listen to rabbis like Obama, the shofar.

His cynical campaign director’s expertise is testing the air, the waters, taking polls, crafting policies to meet expectations. Obama is a brilliant opportunist. He shares with his supporters is primarily self interest whatever their race, creed or religion.

Ellis Jayus says:

It’s not the UNITED STATES OF ISRAEL. If you liked the way G W Bush treated Israel (left it alone to do whatever to whomever whenever with no direction until the end of term II) or G H W Bush (withheld loan credits), if you like the disrespect of Reagan toward Jews (Bitburg cemetery), then go with the GOP. If you liked Bill Clinton solution-based approach or Lyndon Johnson’s absolute love for Israel and the Jewish people, go with the Democrats. Now, if you prefer Jimmy Carter, the closet Arabist, no one can help you. What this proves is that the world changes and US Presidents pragmatically make shifts in US policies based on world situations. They DO have a responsibility to take care first and foremost of the home front. I suspect much of the attitude by Jews toward Obama is his skin color…super-educated people have actually said to me that he’ still a “shvartza” or that he really is a Muslim in Christian clothing. It’s easy to hate, easy to find fault; what we Jews are not good at is understanding that we are not the #1 concern of Americans and that the President of the US must find a balance. (FOX News…you know, fair and balanced.) It seems that every group wants to criticize because Obama is not paying enough attention or homage its way.

The anit-Obamans have been on his case since Day 1 with the goal of making him look bad and pointing out every mistake along the way, intent on driving him out in 2012. I suggest everyone make a “Ben Franklin” T to calculate reasons for keeping O and reasons to move to someone else. If you are honoest with yourself, the results will surprise you.

I wholeheartedly agree with Avram. If Israel means more to people than our own country, they should be living there instead of voting in moronic right wingers and destroying America. And I can’t understand how all these newly-Republican Jews have no problem voting for the likes of Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell, who believe that this is first and foremost a Christian nation and would do anything in their power to blur the separation of church and state and impose Christianity on everyone. Indeed they are not even educated enough to know that that separation is at the heart of what makes this a great country, especially for those of us who are not Christians. They also seem to have short memories about the damage that George W. Bush’s administration caused for our own people and for our standing in the world.

And I know I’ll get angry responses for this comment, but I believe that much of the anti-Democratic rage in this country is none other than veiled racism.

Don’t be fooled by articles like Yousefzadeh’s: there are many American Jews who still support Obama and
his policies, and abhor the likes of the Tea Party.

Ken Besig, Israel says:

I am in total agreement with Barry, Barack Hussein Obama is deeply antagonistic towards Israel, uncomfortable with Jews in general, and suspicious to the point of paranoia with White People.
As a political campaigner he managed to finesse these anti Israel and anti Jewish attitudes with boilerplate commentary like claiming to support Israel’s security. But the media and the Jews failed to ask him what he meant by supporting Israel’s security and came to find out that Obama meant a weakened, smaller Israel at the mercy of the Arabs.
Even when Obama complained that his grandmother, who raised him, was a typical White bigot, no one bothered to even express outrage at such a vile and insensitive statement.
Any Jew who holds Israel dear will not vote Democrat in 2010, and in 2012 will vote for anyone but Barack Hussein Obama.

Growing up in a Jewish community, Republican was a dirty word. I find now that my liberal Jewish friends continue to be completely intolerant and biased against anything that doesn’t fit the party line. (We saw this same lofty, elitist attitude against Jaun Williams by NPR.) I’m sick and tired of American Jews who don’t understand that we will all be gone in another generation if we don’t support Israel and our own interests here. Our parents came here for the freedom to succeed–it’s what’s made the American Jewish community great. There is nothing in Obama’s New Left agenda that will help entrepreneurial, hard working American Jews flourish.

Jews always want non-Jews to like them. That comes from centuries of oppression no matter the amount of contributions we have made to every culture we have been in contact with. Obama’s anti-Jew, pro-Arab feeling should have been made known earlier not now with Israel in grave danger.

Jews have started the NAACP, have funded the Black Panthers and were fundamentally the counsel and financiers of the Civil Rights movement as well as giving the lives of two Jews murdered in the south by the KKK.

Blacks have never given anything for the Jews other than to take their lives as AL Sharpton’s riot in Harlem and the murder of the Jewish scholar in Williamsburg to name just two.

I did not vote for Obama because I couldn’t trust him with Jeremiah Wright and the Arab criminal businessman who helped him buy his house.

Jews better wake up that there is a Jew problem with this president. Axelrod and Rohm are obviously anti-Israel. Let’s not let him get away with his adgenda.

Bill Levy zev57@aol.com,

Any Jew who puts America over Israel is sadly confusing two very different concepts. America is where we live and where we are physically nourished, and so we are obligated to respect it. Israel is the Holy land and it is where our soul lives and is nurtured now and forever. They made the same mistake in Germany with the creation of reform Judaism. They put Germany over Israel and called Berlin the New Jerusalem. In truth America is not Nazi Germany by a long shot however those Jews who put this country in the same category as Israel are, and I say this with true sadness, on the way to assimilation.

A

A disgusting article! Unproven allegations about Obama’s Arab
associates. But who cares if they’re true or not. They’re
damaging. So, although the author can’t prove anything, he mentions
them. Then he shows absolute trust in Ali Abunimah. Very odd.
A defense of the Tea-Partiers, whose candidates are stupid beyond
belief. The author and the other neo-cons should move to Israel,
although maybe not. After all, their kids might have to go into the
I.D.F.

Is there anything at all critical of Israel that can be pro American and not anti-Semitic? Can most of the above commenters conceive in their wildest dreams of a situation where American Jews would support the United States in an armed conflict against Israel. Any? Were American Jews expected to support Jonathan Pollard’s theft of United States secrets. Is criticism of that theft anti-semitic? Is opposition to the stockpiling of nuclear weapons by Israel anti-Semitic? Equating criticism of anti-Israel behavior with anti-Semitism will, by definition, increase anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism card as it relates to Israel has been overplayed. It is beginning to fall on deaf ears except perhaps outside the American Jewish community. Better to focus on the legitimacy of Israeli policy than the hollow-sounding charges of anti-semitism as a substitute.

Thank you, M. Brukhes, for your thoughtful and insightful comments. This article is full of so many errors of fact and association that to adequately respond to it would take up a whole day. For example, I do not have available right now the actual statistics that I read recently, from a reliable poll of American Jews, that a majority of those polled, while caring about Israel and its future, also believed there should be no new settlements. Does that make those Jews anti-Semitic or anti-Israel? Also, the article’s author writes about slights to Mr. Netanyahu. What about the slights to Joe Biden Netanyahu had a part in when the VP visited Israel a while back? As an American I felt angry and as a Jew I felt sad? What has happened to the Israel my family dedicated itself to supporting from my earliest memories in the 1930’s?

I see a qualitative change in Tablet, not only its name, from the Nextbook online newsletter to which I used to look forward daily. You have become a parrot and a vehicle for the conservative viewpoint of American Jews. Not that there’s anything wrong with a conservative viewpoint, but if you chose to expand your purview from literary and cultural to political, you have an obligation to present fair commentary and opposing viewpoints.
Your spate of articles on Turkey, beginning with the assumption that Turkey is no longer an ally of America or a friend of Jews, is an example of your shift to a one-sided editorial policy. The meta-message of the series you published is that Turkey is lost to us–U.S., Israel and Jews. I disagree with this, but to respond would take another full day.

Reading Mr. Yousefzadeh’s article makes me tired and sad. I, personally, would prefer more of Adam Kirsch, for example, and his wonderful analyses of literature and culture and less of neo-conservative political spokespersons such as Mr. Yousefzadeh.

S. Heilman says:

What were the benefits of the Bush approach? Is Israel or the world any closer to peace in the Middle East as a result of 8 years of GOP rule. Did the Baker plan under GHW Bush bring Israel and the Middle East any closer to peace.

Say what you will about Obama and his administration, its interest in middle East peace is real, and not because it necessarily cares about Israel. Its interest in a peace deal is based upon its understanding that the U.S. needs peace there to help us fight back against Islamist attacks. The foolish comments here that a concern about the Obama administration and its treatment of Israel is a Jewish one displays the ignorance of the writers. We are all hostages to the situation in which Israel and the Arab/Moslem world remain at war. Obama and company want a resolution not for the Jews’ sake but for America’s sake. That is a good thing. If action in the region is based on support for Israel and the Jews only it will never be successful, for any solution will look like caving in to the Jews, and the other side will reject it. But if it seems to be in the interests of the U.S. and the war against Islamism and terror, it is much more likely to find broad support. So forget the Jewish question; it’s irrelevant.

Howard Rock says:

Is this newsppaer becoming a source and home of right wingers? It is hard to believe how many nonsensical remarks there are here about the supposed background and views of Obama. Because he has a realistic view of working with a right wing government in Israel that hardly is in sync with American Jews or with many Israelis? Read HaAretz smetime, the New York Times of Israel. He should be applauded for stading up to Netanyahu who is a dangerous man in that he has so far been unwilling ot make a move for peace when it would be so easy to do so. If Jews are disillusioned with Obama it is beause they are unable to look at reality straight. It is also a sad commentary on the Jewish community. But I thnk a lot of these comments representa a semi-lunatic fringe. At least for the sake of all of us, I hope they do.

1. To Maayan: My arguments have links to stories to back them up, which puts the lie to your comment that they “lack substance.” As for the President taking on the Blogosphere, he certainly seemed willing to do that when he was a Senator to preserve his political viability (http://is.gd/gkQqG), so one wonders why he can’t occasionally do that as President in order to stand against bigotry on the part of the Left Blogosphere.

2. To Brian: I never said that an American Administration cannot criticize Israel’s settlement policy, so I wonder why you felt the need to bring that up.

3. To Avram, Debra, Aliza, and John Brousseau: Your comments that people who disagree with the Obama Administration’s policies on Israel should leave America and go to Israel/put Israel above America are as ridiculous as they are predictable. I suppose one should thank you for bringing out into the open the anti-Semitic trope concerning the alleged dual loyalty of Jews; it makes it easier to spot those whose commentary and thoughts should not be taken seriously.

4. To M. Brukhes: You are thus far the only person to bring up claims that the President (a) was born in Kenya; and/or (b) is a Muslim. I don’t believe (a), find nothing wrong with (b) even if it is true; and (c) note that your argumentative style seems to consist of ascribing strawman arguments to people with whom you try to argue–a sign of intellectual weakness and limitations on the part of the tactician in question. Additionally, (a) I am not a neo-conservative (you probably don’t know what that means, other than “someone on the Right that I don’t like”), and you have no evidence with which to claim that I am bigoted towards “Blacks, Arabs, and gays” (I support gay marriage, and gays serving in the military, and have never entertained a bigoted thought towards African-Americans), but you are less interested in facts and intellectual rigor, and more interested in misrepresentations, and making yourself look ridiculous in public.

4. (Cont’d): Further, M. Brukhes should be aware that my name is “Pejman,” not “Pehman,” as he repeatedly put it; in addition to lacking in ratiocination skills, M. Brukes apparently cannot spell.

5. To Ellis Jaysus and Debra: See my critiques of M. Brukhes; many apply to you (try to guess which!). As for the President looking bad, powerless ol’ me has little to do with that. The President is as responsible for looking bad in 2010 as he was for looking good in 2008, and much of 2009.

6. To John Brosseau: My assertions are backed up with hyperlinks. Perhaps you would care to take the time to click on them and read, before issuing your Pavlovian comment. As for the rest of your thoughtless emission, see my previous critiques, and try to guess which ones apply to you.

7. To Lala: There is plenty that can be said that is critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, anti-Zionism oftentimes coincides with anti-Semitism. Would that it were otherwise, but the demagoguery of others is beyond my ability to control.

8. To Dolores Sloan: Your belief that M. Brukhes offers thoughtful commentary compliments neither you, nor M. Brukhes. I am sorry that you feel tired and sad after reading someone with whom you disagree, but epistemic closure on your part should not necessitate an effort on the part of any publication to refuse to confront you at times with differing opinions.

9. To S. Heilman: No one states that Middle East policy should be crafted solely with the interests of Israel and Jews in mind, so please put away the strawman commentary.

10. To Howard Rock: See my comments to Dolores Sloan.

Wow! The blood lust of the four articles preceding my comment regarding their opposition to this article. First, Delores, I used “search” but the article doesn’t mention settlements! Second, it’s not about right wingers, it’s about the statistically proven dissatisfaction that many liberal Jews have with Obama’s attitudes, not just toward Israel but toward Judaism!. It’s about a speech to the Muslim world that the creation of the State of Israel was a sop to the Jews that survived the Holocaust…not that Jews have lived there for 3000 years or that millions of Jews lived nearby. It’s about his world view that fails to tell a very anti-semitic world that anti semitism is a form of rascism. And the most astute comment here was the one about putting on a yamulka and walking through the most liberal Democratic zip codes not in Syria but here in the USA. You may not live through it! And it’s a lot worse since Obama took over and made it trendy to humiliate half the Jews in the world. So if you think that makes me or any other critic of Obama a right-winger be very careful because on many issues we are more liberal than you are. You’re just knee jerk critics. Finally, if you think Tablet is a right wing publication, you’re not reading it (well you didnt even read the article you four above me). Just search all of Mark Tracy’s articles here and you’ll feel at home!!

correction: the SIX articles before mine!

A reply: (a) There is no evidence whatsoever to call me a neoconservative (I doubt you know what that means, and just believe that the definition is “someone on the Right that I don’t like”); (b) There is no evidence to call me prejudiced against African-Americans, Arabs, and gays (I support gay marriage and gays serving in the military, and consider people of all races equal; your smears only serve to reinforce my point that the knee-jerk response to a policy critique of the Obama Administration is to accuse the critics of racism); and (c) There is no evidence to say that I have not backed up my arguments (there are hyperlinks in the texts, folks. Click on them, and read them).

Claims that people like me should move to Israel are as tired and predictable as they are a common anti-Semitic trope, accusing Jews of having dual loyalties.

On Israel’s settlement policy, or the policies of the Administrations of Bush pere and Bush fils, I never discussed them, so I don’t know why the defense of the Obama Administration’s policies are “THE BUSHES ARE BAD!”

M. Brukhes seems to think that my name is “Pehman.” Actually, my name is “Pejman,” and the repeated errors of M. Brukhes on this issue show that he is no better at spelling than he is at ratiocination.

I never wrote, of course, that America’s Mideast policy should be solely to the benefit of Israel and the Jews, or that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, much of the Administration’s current approach is flawed, and both Arabs and Israelis will be disadvantaged, as will the peace process as a whole. Additionally, while it is possible to criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic, depressingly few people do so; including the “go back to Israel” crowd found in the comments section.

Finally, while I am sorry that people like Dolores are “tired and sad” as a consequence of reading articles that disagree with their positions, their epistemic closure is not my problem. Nor is it Tablet’s.

I also find very telling that Obama is mostly critical of Israel when the PA sends rockets frequently into Israeli territories and launch rock attacks on civilian card and the like and we don’t hear much condemnation for it. There was a rock attack against CIVILIANS just on Sunday and last week as well. There was also a rocket attack at the beginning of this month. Why is the silence on these incidents so loud?

A

Judy in Atlanta says:

I found it shocking that as intelligent as Jews are that we could be so easily misled by the charasmatic Mr. Obama. There is no substance behind the words and fancy suits and he is a transparent phony. Being a career politician and master manipulator he changes his opinions based on his audience. No one ever questions this for fear of being labeled a racist. Our country has become a nation held hostage by political correctness.
I believe in Tikkun Olam, but he is not the leader to accomplish it. There are some people with whom one cannot negotiate and it is idiotic to believe anything can be accomplished with talk. Mr. Obama has his own agenda and I do not believe it includes helping our people unless it is an election year.
As far as Israel and the Palestinians, how much more do you people want Israel to concede? How much more land should be given away for the sake of peace? It doesn’t work. Israel is the only party that actually wants peace.
The continued support of the current administration by anyone who calls him or herself a Jew terrifies me.
I pray to the Almighty that in the 2010 and 2012 elections we don’t get fooled again.

Phillip Cohen says:

1. I am Jewish and a Zionist.
2. I have a love for Israel and want to see it thrive.
3. I am on the far left of the liberal spectrum.
4. I do not agree with many things the President had said and done.
5. I agree with many things he has done and wish he went further.
6. I disagree vehemently with the Republican agenda.
7. Many Republicans who report a love for Israel seem to hate Jews.
8. The settlements,in general, are not good for the Jewish people.
9. Many policies of the right wing government in Israel is anti-Jewish.
In Israel, at this time, the majority of world Jews (Conservatives,
Reform and Secular) could not practice freely as Jews or even be
recognized as Jewish.
10. Policies toward Palestinians need correction fast.
11. To vote next week Republican is absolutely contrary to the well-
being of my Jewish mother.

brynababy says:

These right wing letters are so ugly and uniformed. This article is an arrogant, ridiculous analysis of Obama who has done so much for us already. He’s selling his own bias- i.e. “or at the very least, he puts on a good show of feeling close to us” Why would the author say such a thing?! Mr. Obama has apparently shown, in many ways, his affection for your Jewish community and Synagogue. And for Israel and the Jews, I think he and Bill Clinton have a positive affinity with us and a genuine desire to protect Israel and guarantee it’s safety. I am one of those “liberals” you mention, but I’m a hawk when it comes to Israel. And I still believe Obama is our best chance.

Will Edwards says:

Those of us who supported Obama did so because of our belief that he would be objective in his approach to leadership. We have been disappointed. Those of us who opposed his election did so mainly for horrible reasons…bigotry, intolerance, John Birch Society memberships etc… A Jew who is a republican is like a Jewish policeman in Nazi Germany. Regardless of what we think some democrat may do we KNOW what the republicans will do. Do any of you here actually know how many hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, weaponry, and aircraft given to the Saudis by GW Bush? Would you supporters of the republican party like to know where those weapons are now? Do you know who opposed the state of Israel? Do you know who turned back ships of Jewish refugees from our shores towards certain death at the hands of the Nazis in the second world war?

Yes, Obama has disappointed us, but consider the alternatives… I would love to have a better option, but its either the democrats, the nazis, or the John Birchers… take your choice.

Will Edwards says:

Mr Cohen…I’m with you!

Will Edwards says:

No angry response from me Debra… I wholeheartedly agree.

Will Edwards says:

As far as all you non-Jews commenting here…. who is the “us” you refer to? Karl Rove? Tom Delay? Gw Bush? Sarah Palin and her brown shirt regiments? You don’t have to step in a pile of crap to know it stinks.

Will Edwards says:

Mr Hertz your comments were lies and I have a question for you… Are you the liar or just the fool who repeated them?

NIKHILANANDA says:

ALOHA:…. once again, this diatribe refuses to take into account a few important items. Israel is NOT always right! Their general treatment of Arab residents and the palestinians in the occupied west bank is basically reprehensible. Netanyahu is an extremist with few equals. The Palestinians deserve their own independent country and as long as the extremist policies of Israel, including the extension of settlements and building in the west bank, continue, there will be progressives, liberals, people on the left, and jews, who criticize Israel. This in NO WAY denies that Israel has every right to exist and needs to be defended! However, concessions need and must be made. What is Yousefzadeh suggesting; that the United States start another war with Iran! Isn’t two illegal wars with Iraq and Afghanistan enough! In addition, criticizing Israel in no way defends the terrorism and actions of extremists in the Arab countries surrounding Israel. Nevertheless, Obama is totally correct to look for a balanced approach in the middle east. In addition, anti-semitism is nothing new in America. Even if peace is obtained in the middle east, there will, sadly, be people who hate us just because we are jewish. But this continual myopic position that Israel can do and does no wrong must be altered. If Israel wants to live in peace, then it needs to be more pro-active in assisting the palestinians to obain their own, independent country. As long as the palestinians live as an occupied people, terrorism and hatred for Israel’s existence will continue to grow. aloha from the northshore of Maui.

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

It makes me sick to read the anti-semitic writers. I agree with all those that say that Pres. Obama doesn’t think like an American but like his Rev. Wright and Farrakhan and all those who feel more like the Middle Eastern Arabs that dislike this country. Jimmy Carter, another one.

To those anti-semites..they live in places where they never met a Jew and all they see are the radical arragant Jews, like Schumer, etc. Jim Moran is an anti-semite and they keep him for his seat.

Any Jew that votes for any democrat is no different than the Jews that thought Hitler would pass also. Sickening that nothing changes.

It is no sense to try and convince Jews to wake up anymore as their Rabbis are afraid to tell them much. Most only attend synagogues on Holidays which is not the time to discuss the worse part that is happening in this country.

I am not writing what I feel as my stomach turned as I tried to read many of these disgusting remarks against Jews.

I am fortunate enough to have been able to meet Christians and muslims who are not like the anti-semites above. The innocents suffer from the radicals.

The crack up among the many lefties here is hilarious. Your 40 year liberal, progressive, whatever….reign is coming to a crashing end. The Obami is the first and hopefully our last post-American president. Like many lefty ‘Jews’ who believe Israel was a mistake, Obama believes both Israel and America are a mistake that need to brought down to size.

I just want to reiterate something to my lefty/secular/assimilated Jewish cohort. Congress supports Israel not because their some evil Zionist/AIPAC conspiracy going on in the halls of Congress, but because Americans of all stripes support Israel’s right to exist. Now you most of you are thinking, “HA! Yeah, most American’s support Israel, b/c of their ‘belief’ in the rapture, blah, blah, blah.” You know what I say to that, boloney. I can guarantee you that most, if not everyone here at Tablet has ever met an Evangelical Christian. Well I have and while they can be a little wacky, they are very nice people and support Israel because they want to see the Jewish people thrive in the Holy Land, not be blown up some apocalypse.

But back to people’s comments here at this forum. It funny reading people’s responses here, namely, Will and Phillip.

Will, do you know that your hero and funder (soros) for all progressive groups in the country was an actual Kapo in Hungry during WWII? I bet you didn’t, but I also bet you don’t care either, since he supports all the same groups you support. Will you sir are a disgusting hypocrite.

Phillip, your statements 7 through 11 are completely unhinged. I love your ad hominem attacks on conservatives though. They are very well thought out. Question do you just repeat what Olby tells you or did you come up with those talking points yourself because your talking points are just sad and pathetic. On statement 9, I didn’t know you were The Authority on all things Jewish. I know where you coming from, but your statement, well,just makes you sound like a moron…oh wait.

Oh, I forgot to mention Dolores in my statement.

Dolores, the 60’s are over.

Turkey is not of friend of Israel under the current regime. I don’t care who you know in Turkey, they aren’t running the govt.

If you think Tablet is ‘right-wing’ b/c they have one columnist who does write for a conservative magazine, well you are example 1,303,340,508 on why the Left is truly the ideology that is against debate and open discourse. But I digress.

Sabbatai Zevi= The Obami.

That is the best way I can sum everyone’s reaction to The Obami and his false policies.

Any Jew who is surprised by how Obama treats Jewish concerns and Israel didn’t do his or her homework. All you had to do was look at who his compatriots and policy advisors were and you would have been able to know. Duh.

M. Brukhes says:

Oy vey, Pejman, you DO have a very thin skin, don’t you? Maybe too thin to enter the rough and tumble world of on-line “journalism”? For the record, sorry for my *bleeping* typo, but you’ll observe that “h” and “j” are right next to one another on American keyboards, so the typo itself is rather easy to make, and unlike you as the author of the article, I don’t have editors or proofreaders looking over my shoulder to make sure I don’t offend people with my inadvertently lousy spelling….

But nonetheless, Pejman, I don’t think you can claim to have read my response more carefully than I read your piss-poor article, since had you done so you would observe that I never accused you of racism toward Blacks or Arabs, or homophobia–but only of having emboldened bona fide (and anonymous = cowardly) bigots like “Barry” to express these prejudices. Nice work, that.

As far as whether or not YOU are a neo-conservative, I don’t think it really matters, and I don’t really care one way or another. Vote for Edmund Muskie in 2012, for all I care. The arguments you recycle here–they are neither original, nor do they rise to the level of ideas–are strictly out of a predictable, thoroughly discredited (on an intellectual level; as electoral strategy we’ll just have to wait to see…) neo-conservative playbook.

It’s telling, in this regard, that you seem only to respond in your overly defensive second posting to your critics on the left. The fact that people have joined in this charming kaffeeklatsch to call the duly elected president of the United States un-American, a crypto-Muslim, an ally of Farrakhan, an anti-Semite, a racist, etc, is met, significantly, with your silence. “No enemies on the right?” Neo-con is as neo-con does.

And the unfounded, undemocratic (lower-case “d”), ignorant rancor that your scribblings have unleashed are only getting worse as more people weigh in. That’s not the President’s fault, it’s yours and Tablet’s. Satisfied with yourself, boyo?

will edwards says:

Apparently the majority commenter is a hard core right wing denouncer voicing intolerance and falsehood… not very Jewish. Have any of you white supremists ever read the Torah? If you are so insecure that you fall behind reprehensible oppressors living the life of luxury and excess because they “promise” you a good moral happy world like the “good old days” that never actually existed, while you struggle and suffer… then you deserve what you get. If you want to bring back these fascist power mongers because they promise to get the trains back on schedule etc… you’re just a damn fool. Yes it is a hard road now that the last 8 years of republican criminality have left us penniless, homeless, and at war on two fronts, while corporate supporters of GW Bush and his nazi ilk, yes I said nazi, made off with 7.22 trillion dollars of the U.S. economy. We are not going to recover very easily or quickly from this. The rhetoric of the republican party is nothing but lie. Those who profess it are nothing but liars. I don’t care if you’re a Jew or not… if you want to start this fascist wasteland again I am your sworn enemy. NEVER AGAIN YOU MURDEROUS PIGS.

fyi nazi is an acronym. it means National Socialist. Despite what the name implies in today’s vernacular it actually has nothing to do with what we call socialism. It is a very strict legal code of behavior giving varying sets of rights to various sections of society as deemed by whoever is currently in charge of the standards. It allows corporate leaders free reign regardless of health or safety concerns as long as it produces tax revenue for the state. It provides no care of it’s citizens other then its political allies and it fosters hatred and bigoty as a means to keep tensions up and danger to the regime low. It relies on conquest to keep it’s cornucopia filled, using the poor and middle classes in military conscriptions.

As far as you Islamic contributors… no one believes you people… trust me

will edwards says:

So much vile and vicious opposition to the genuine democratic process by pseudo intellectuals here has left me feeling Tablet has made a mistake allowing comments. I suggest you right wing republican Jews get with a Rabbi, not a Fox News Rabbi, but a real one. Maybe the Rabbi can help you. The rest of you numb skulls have to understand that the written word stays in front of you and its easy to see what is truthful and what is not by doing some checking… again let me be very clear… pretty much every single argument put forward by you republicans in here are very very republican in nature… in other words they are nothing but lies spread by unscrupulous and immoral people with criminal intent. I long for the day Ha-Shem reduces you to ash. Until then I will have to tolerate your right to say what you want until you step over the line and I am allowed to defend myself and my beliefs.

M. Brukhes: Why does it not surprise me to read that you don’t care whether the terms you use in your “argument” are accurate?

will edwards says:

by the way… I agree that Obama intentionally abused his relations with Jews in America and Israel. I also agree that the US is not Israel and doesn’t necessarily have to put Israel first, but I also remember that the United States and Britain swore to defend Israel from aggressors in 1948 and it is in the charter agreement between these nations. In that respect its the duty of the United States to come to Israel’s aid….not the Palestinians. I would love to have a suitable answer. I am really looking for one but truly Obama in the White House is better then anything the republicans have to offer, at least for us Jews. That David character can kiss my (Bleep)!

I can’t believe any rational human being is a republican…

will edwards says:

David your claim that these are attacks on conservatives is another huge lie. Just because you fascists call yourselves conservative don’t make you conservatives.

Look of the definition and derivative of the word…

Oh wait you’re probably using “Karl Rove’s Republican Dictionary (unabashed version)
by Fox News Press… its in the fiction department next to the Glenn Beck tirades section.

will edwards says:

goose step on over to your local republican book store and get your copy today.

M. Brukhes says:

“Will Edwards,” can I suggest that next time you should try breaking the pills in half before you take them? Either that, or switch to de-caf?

will edwards says:

M. Brukhes… I don’t know where you are coming from after reading the response to the author of this piece. I read the piece and I am one of those who is dissatisfied with President Obama, specifically for his turn away from the promises he made us Jews here in the United States. That doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly turned into jello and simply quiver in silence at the onslaught of this viciously inhuman push of those who today call themselves republican. I liked the piece and thought it pretty well summed up what the article was about. True, it probably didn’t agree with you, but hey you didn’t write it… write your own. As far as me… kid you don’t know me, where I came from, or who I am. I walked the camps and saw for myself. I spent two and a half years in Germany studying what started, caused, and fed the impetus that made the third Reich and murdered so many of my relatives in a most horrible way. I was almost imprisoned for it. I learned how the leaders of this one time ultra right wing cult of the German populace used fear, innuendo, and lie to make the citizens homesick for a life they never had and then blamed the Jews for losing it. I have seen for myself where such intolerant monsters lead nations and just how easy it is for them to gain the reins, providing they can get backing and believe me… as long as their are immoral greedy businessmen they will find backing. I have dedicated my life to the eradication of these horrible heartless monsters and I am sickened by the rate at which they spring up in my own land. This IS a serious matter of life and death for Jews. I still have nightmares of seeing the pictures precious little children murdered ever so slowly for the amusement of these people. The New Republicans, their tea party brown shirts, the swift boat campaigns, and the secret fundings… this is how it started back then and its how it started here and now. If you don’t want to help stay the hell out of my way.

will edwards says:

This is for Brian and the rest of you two state idiots. Israel has given land concessions several times and each time it was proven the Palestinians/Arabs/Islamic extremists merely lied to get a foothold on more territory and immediately began massing weapons and training troops starting at kindergarten age. I will fall back on reality that clearly indicates any further weakening of the state of Israel will produce grossly outnumbered adversaries of the Islamic persuasion pretty much surrounding the Jewish areas and if not for their solemn oath to kill all Jews I probably wouldn’t complain but…

…you can visit your little foo foo goodie two shoes fairyland where this isn’t a reality if you like although it won’t stop them from tossing rockets into Israeli neighborhoods or stop suicide bombers from killing our school children, or the occasional Islamic Jihadist from brutally attacking pre schoolers in their yards, stabbing them repeatedly to death.

I prefer to live in reality even if the life offered isn’t all that great. It is only then that I can effectively work to bring about a better solution. Remember I said “effectively”. It is not effective in any beneficial way for any Jew anywhere to give up any more of Israel to those liars who call themselves Palestinians. It only helps the hoarde over take us. Are you catching what I’m trying to say or am I typing too fast for you? The Arabs have all the land around there and only Israel is for the Jews. Those areas of Israel now in the hands of the Islamists need to be returned to Israel, the dome of the rock needs to be completely and utterly removed as the abhorrence that it is, and the Temple needs to be restored. Anything less is not acceptable. Anything less is not in the best interest of Judaism. Anything less is a far cry from the minimum requirements set forth by Ha-Shem. Stop being a weenie Brian and either stand up for your heritage or sit down and be quiet.

will edwards says:

After that we can rest Brian.
There is no reason people of many ethnic backgrounds cannot live peacefully and happily in Israel. There are several reasons why you should not worship strange gods in Israel. Jews and Arabs lived side by side for centuries without war or conflict, in the same neighborhoods, and in the same towns. They were both known as Palestinians to the Greeks because they knew the area as Palestine… a mispronounced take on Philistine. Kinda like Joshua into Jesus…water into wine… you know. Anyway, a Palestinian was a resident of Palestine and almost always it was a majority of Jews. It was in the early 1900’s that it got all twisted up… check it out. Anyway there will never be peace in the world until Israel is returned to the Jews in its entirety. That is the bottom line. You either stand with or against.

sharon teig says:

this is a disturbing article.. first of all.. anti=israel policies toward the palestinians and its treatmeatment of israeli arabs do not follow the laws of judaism.. being opposed to these actions is not anti-semitic…and there are a growing number of jews who are not happy with israel. the first comment is sadly unaware and/or uninformed about the mistreatment of innocent arabs..

i am concerned about obama’s political manipulations…

will edwards says:

Ms. Teig,
In my opinion (a qualifier I should use more often)there is nothing disturbing about the article. It addresses all it claims to and isn’t really trying to address the realm of injustice to or from Israel. It is merely a story on the deteriorating relationship between American Jewry and Barack Obama. Let’s try to maintain the focus. What really is disturbing to me is the many so called right wing scathings towards anyone not just like them. Please Sharon, read all the comments. It shows ignorance, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry, intentional misdirection, and outright lie on the part of these who would be known as republican Jews. I cannot attest to the accuracy of their claims to Judaism. You are right inasmuch as Torah directly and vehemently disavows disrespectful treatment of anyone and specifically concerning strangers in our land… as we were once strangers in the land of Egypt. I believe wrongdoing on the part of anyone towards anyone, Jew, Arab, even Christian (ha ha ), should be rooted out and treated accordingly. All that doesn’t hamper, or stop the rockets and terror raining down on us from the land of Islam.

This article did not address almost any of the subject matter prevalent to the added comments of readers like you and I. This article was about the President’s eroding support among Jews in America and abroad. It seemed pretty accurate and honest to me.

From what I can see… Republican Jew may not be an oxymoron but he/she sure is a moron none the less. You are right, however. It is just as wrong for me, a Jew, to abuse a Palestinian as it is for a Palestinian to abuse a Jew. We should make no distinction as Justice, fairness, and mercy should be available to all. Too bad this isn’t a perfect world eh, Sharon? Watch out for those suicide bombers now. Next time you go though a metal detector at Temple…try to remember why you had to.

will edwards says:

In case anyone has forgotten this… Christianity has murdered more Jews then all the rest of the religions combined. Take heart though. In 1968 the pope finally rescinded the order given in 1236ce (I think)by the Catholic Church to detain, try to convert, and kill if refused… all Jews.

will edwards says:

All this coming from a registered democrat

The demagoguery of Democrats like Rep. James Moran, who has stated that an “extraordinarily powerful” pro-Israel lobby—with “the strong support of the Jewish community”—was responsible for causing the United States to go to war with Iraq, is well known, but the Obama Administration has not decided to challenge him, or other Democrats like him, for seeking to profit politically from the popularization of anti-Semitic tropes.

This is not Jew hatred. The fact of the matter is that many American Jews who were agents of influence of the Likud Party suckered America into believing the WMD story and other such nonsense. Israel was traumatized by the Scuds landing in the Holy Land and was considering using nukes against Iraq. Instead of retaliating they had the US do it instead screwing up the balance of power and making US reluctant to attack the real WMD threat, Iran. If Israel is wiped off the map these people are the ones who are responsible. I can say no more.

“In case anyone has forgotten this… Christianity has murdered more Jews then all the rest of the religions combined. Take heart though. In 1968 the pope finally rescinded the order given in 1236ce (I think)by the Catholic Church to detain, try to convert, and kill if refused… all Jews.”

Atheism has killed millions as well. Mao I believe was guilty of something like 60 million murders. Religion does not kill, people do and then they find some idea or belief to pin it on, religion being one of them. Judging people in general terms is not realistic.

A

Well Will, surprisingly, I pretty much agree with you on Israeli matters. Who knew THAT would happen! Especially since you are a hardcore lib.

But other than your rational support for Israel, you sound completely unhinged on domestic policy matters.

I know stats and facts won’t do you much good since you are all about “the narrative” but that fact of the matter is that the majority of hostilely toward Israel/Jews these days now come from the Left now. Not the right, but the Left, especially the International Left. I mean come on, when you are not calling me a ‘fascist’ which I find despicable, you are arguing with people who you would probably agree with wholeheartedly on all domestic policy. So I find it funny, but sad that you call ME a fascist because I don’t want the government to run my life, but yet you are arguing with people further to the left than you on Israel’s right to exist. Wake up buddy, the Institutional Left hates Israel and to lesser extent Jews.

One last thing, you are no better than the Pam Gellers of world when you spew your anti-Christian rhetoric. You sound like a bigot when you write comments like that.

So Will- based on my understanding of your increasingly impassioned posts through the wee hours of the evening, the keys to Jewish survival and world peace or personally attacking anyone who disagrees with you, cutting off namby pamby ties to rational, civil debate, oh, and of course, rebuilding the Beit ha’Migdash. I wouldn’t ask you to divulge your plan for this global improvement on this message board, but I can only assume that it’s just brilliant enough to work.
Meanwhile, to anybody who wants to have an adult conversation, I maintain that being anti-settlement expansion does not equal hating Jews or Israel, and when you say it does, you DO NOT HELP JEWS, because you are being neither moral, nor smart.

M. Brukhes says:

Pejman Yousefzadeh: why does it not surprise me that you prefer to debate semantics over responding to the content of what I’m saying?

If you offered some substance, I would be glad to respond to it.

As things stand, you went Vizzini on the word “neoconservative,” blamed my mind control power for the perceived bigotry of others, and think that words don’t matter in judging the content of an argument. Not the most impressive intellectual outing, though I am sure that it is par for the course for you.

I, too, am outraged that the Obama administration has yet to discover time travel and thus didn’t condemn statements by Rep. Moran made nearly a year and a half before he took office. I also can’t believe the President isn’t taking on Democratic anti-Semitism on Indymedia (the name must be ironic).

In all seriousness, while the prospect of the President calling me a racist doesn’t scare me in the slightest (since he has yet, to my knowledge, called anybody a racist since taking office — terrified shrieks of how the “gifted orator” apparently does it as a matter of course notwithstanding), I will admit to being quite chilled from entertaining voting Republican, as I fear it would associate me with sophomoric analysis such as this column. “It makes sense to assume” that it’s a mix of agreeing with the President on most (not all) issues, plus widespread belief that the modern conservative movement is so intellectually stunted that it considers Newt Gingrich to be an ideas man (not to mention produces columns like this without — apparently — intending them to be parodies), that accounts for why most Jews still vote Democratic.

http://dsadevil.blogspot.com/2010/10/has-president-condemned-marx-yet.html

will edwards says:

1. Mr. Weberman your facts are disturbingly distorted, almost to the point of direct propaganda designed to inflame the ignorant.
2. No David we do not agree. You are trying to push your overlord’s agenda and I am trying to stop the onslaught of vicious lies put forward by fascists like you. Yes I said fascist. Unlike you, apparently, I know what it means. I expect the United States government to fulfill its constitutional role as set down by the framers. Yes… I’ve read it and I have the exact same pocket size constitution the late Senator Byrd carried in his front pocket his entire adult life.
3. Aliza truthfully Christians have murdered more people in the name of Christianity then any other religion by a long shot, take Adolf Hitler for a semi-recent example. Hitler, a good catholic in spite of his weirdo occult activity, actually had the blessing of the pope at the time, one of who’s disciples is now pope.
4. Brian.. let me just say this. I don’t care if you disagree, but I do care that you are a wishy washy traitor to your own blood, but then you probably don’t know any Palestinians or Hezbollah except anally, right? I mean since you don’t have any testicles left…

I have a problem with weak willed jerks who turn their backs on their faith and their people and giving the Islamic hoarde anymore of the Israeli birthright is a plain and simple act of cowardice. Ha-Shem set up Judaism, freed us, gave us a responsibility and a birthright. It is our duty to G-d and each other to stand up for it.

I use a sarcastic tone intentionally Brian. I want the reader to come back at me with some logical and honest comparison or rebuttal, but usually I just get stupid, uninformed weakness in the guise of humanitarianism.

One last comment to David…
Sir: Your republican masters spend more of our money, pass more restrictive rules, and use police more then anyone else to force citizens to accept them, of course since all republicans are cowardly liars…

will edwards says:

Tell ya what… next time some jihadist kicks your door in and murders your children, tell him you understand and that its your fault for being alive.

Not all Arabs hate Jews, not all Jews hate Arabs, not all Christians are murderous pigs, but all Moslems consciously decide to accept Islam and vow to kill all Jews. (and everyone else who doesn’t instantly convert to Islam.) Being a Jew, knowing a fair amount of Jews, seeing the daily violence against Jews, and having a fairly good grasp in world history I tend to believe that centuries of hatred and murder against us because Arabs think it should have been them instead of us… kind of makes me a bit skeptical that these mongrels will suddenly become civilized enough to understand we are all in this together. I am a Jew… I am a person these animals want to kill…and so are my friends and family. You Jews who directly disobey the very basic tenet of Judaism really make me nauseous. Personally I would prefer to live in peace.

Just try to remember my method of bringing my sharp point home is not really a personal dislike for anyone. Like the Christians say… hate the sin not the sinner. It’s Ha-Shem’s job to judge, not mine. The historically recent mass hatred for Jews by Moslems began somewhere around the turn of the 20th century and not for religious reasons. The British were involved.

Mr. Schraub apparently believes that there is some kind of statute of limitations that prevents the President from saying something even mildly derogatory concerning the anti-Semitism of certain members of the Democratic party, or certain member of the left blogosphere; never mind the fact that the poll that I reference in my third-to-last paragraph was issued in 2009, while the President was in office. Ordinary mortals might think that past anti-Semitic statements made by figures/entities on the American left might have helped create the conditions in which a third of Democrats polled blamed Jews for the financial crisis of 2008, but since Mr. Schraub likes to think that he is not an ordinary mortal, he is decidedly uninterested in possible questions of cause-and-effect. Interesting; the President, of course, is more than willing to attack Republicans for having made certain statements before his term in office, but we can’t expect him to attack Democrats for statements made before 1-20-2009. So go the rules in Mr. Schraub’s inconsistent world.

Mr. Schraub might wish to read a little of David Remnick’s book on the President, which says that the President was perfectly willing to take on blogs like dKos concerning the nature of his reaction to the nomination of John Roberts for President; the President is glad to respond to port-side blogs when it comes to the question of preserving his political viability, but Heaven forbid that anyone ask him to do so in order to try to tamp down hateful rhetoric. I don’t believe the President shares in the sentiment behind that rhetoric, but it’s too bad he doesn’t seem to care about it, or about the results of a poll that would likely be trumpeted to the skies by Democrats if the findings were reversed.

As for Mr. Schraub’s final paragraph, it is a very well-dressed playground insult, but only just that. To be fair to him, he is a step up from M. Brukhes. (One can hardly imagine a step down, but let’s not get into that.

will edwards says:

Oh David… on re-reading I find I agree with a couple of your points. Yes I prefer the narrative…its more lively. You are also right that you and I would agree on a lot of things except you call your adherence to oppressive and abusively unfair economic and liberty issues championed by the fascist right good and you call the ability to make your own choices based on the constitutional right to do so being a hard core lib. You really don’t know what you are talking about and I would guess much like Brian its because you really never had to put it to the test. Your fault… not mine. I am very conservative, a Viet Nam veteran (honor the troops not the monsters who sent us there), and a hard core constitutionalist, not a liberal. When I vote democratic its not for them but against the totalitarianism being shoved down our throats by greedy industrialists in the name of freedom. I would not expect you to understand. I do NOT agree with the direction Obama is taking us but its a far cry better then anything the Nazis… er republicans offer.

will edwards says:

As the Jewish director of a Christian based homeless outreach ministry involved in nearly a 10 year legal fight in federal court to prevent the republicans from rounding up homeless and imprisoning or banishing them, I believe I have a good working understanding of how the Christians and the Republicans work. While I like and associate with numerous very good human beings who also happen to be Christian I have discovered that when you mix Republican Politics and Christianity what you get are Nazis. I kinda got a thing against Nazis… just ask some of my older relatives why… oh right you can’t. The Nazis murdered them. Their policies are echoed in the rhetoric of the Republican National Committee, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, John Boehner, and many many others.

will edwards says:

I apologize if I have offended or misrepresented. Please… provide honest rebuttal and I really will examine it. I still can be taught. I’m just not as easily snowed as I used to be.

Will you really are unhinged. You should really get some help. Nazis did not like Christianity, they tolerated it, but did not like it. They wanted bring the German people back to their pagan roots and absolve themselves of all things ‘Jewish’ from German culture, hence their dislike of Christianity. Google German volk and see what ‘pops’ up, you might actually learn something. Also, you might want to read Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism. I know you won’t, but hey, Mr. Goldberg is a very informative person unlike yourself.

Nowhere in the constitution does it state that the government needs to be involved in every aspect of people’s daily lives. Since you have the Constitution memorized, you should know that. But I digress, you should now move on to the Federalist Papers and read what the founders had in mind for the Republic.

After rereading your rants, I can’t tell, but are you a Paulnut? FYI, a lot of racists like Ron Paul. Anyway, you got me Will, my corporate overlords pay me handsomely to write anonymously on Jewish blogs so that I write positive things that support ‘The Agenda.’ Oh crap…I let our secret out!

Once again Will, get some help.

I have one last thing to say, I completely disagree with everything Brian has stated about Israel and most likely domestic policy too. But compare you Will, he actually sounds like a normal rational human being.

Judy in Atlanta says:

You only have to be aware of how NPR treated Juan Williams to know who is tolerant and who isn’t.
Liberals would send you notice to go to the train station and get on the cattle cars to be relocated and you would joyfully comply for the common good.
Not me. I’m not getting on that train. I’m not the one that is intolerant, and I’m not the one that’s gullible.
And I do stand with Israel. Being a Jew and pro-Israel doesn’t make me less of an American. Even though I am inter-married and my marriage would not be recognized. That isn’t the point. The point is that Israel is the land that was promised by G-d to Abraham. The land of milk and honey that Moses was not allowed to cross the Jordan to enter.
And one more thing, now that y’all have raised my blood pressure. This is a Christian nation, established on Judeo-Christian values. The founding fathers were Christians. Saying that doesn’t make me less of a Jew. Nothing will ever do that. Just as nothing will convince me that any of the conservatives, listed with venom in some of the posts, want to make as all go to church. They want us to return to the Constitution, and the morality, honor and integrity that this nation once stood for.
G-d Bless America.
G-d Bless the land of Israel and all of our people
I long for the day when the one true Moshiach comes and we will all know him, and be united as a nation of priests living according to Torah.

will edwards says:

David,
I really need to stop taking the bait here, but again you are professing a false history. As a matter of fact, which you can check, the Nazis used the Catholic churches across Europe to maintain a communication web that kept them informed before and after offensive actions. They used the Catholic “Sanctuary” program to entrap hundreds of thousands of Jews who mistakenly thought they could get help getting away from their would be captors from the Catholic church. The official position of the Catholic church up until 1968 when it was rescinded was that a Jew was a murderer, responsible for the death of their god jesus. It allowed priests and other clergy to act with complete disregard for Jews if they did not convert to Christianity. This was the same church law responsible for the inquisition. Adolf Hitler was a Catholic. Almost all of his officers and administration were also Catholic. He disapproved of any church that did not meet his needs which the great majority of the protestant faiths fell in to…such as the Lutherans and Baptists. Adolf Hitler was a genuine nut case, but the large majority of his operatives and underlings were not… and they willingly engaged in the systematic eradication of all things Jewish. Their political philosophy is strikingly similar to the present day Republican party. It is for these and other reasons I say what I say and do what I do.

I wholeheartedly support genuine peace and tranquility, but that means I and mine should also be able to live in peace and relative harmony. I am not going to apologize for my life to you or anyone and I feel it important to stand for what I believe in passionately. I think it prudent to be cautious when dealing with people who’s stated goal is eradication of my kind. I also firmly believe and state if you don’t learn from the mistakes of history you are doomed to repeat them.

Ask Mel Gibson

will edwards says:

Tell ya what David. I just re-read your statement. I am no longer going to give you any credence. You have severely twisted my words to fit your argument and that sir is definitely a republican trick so you probably are right. You probably are just some hired lacky trying to trick people in to voting republican.

“Aliza truthfully Christians have murdered more people in the name of Christianity then any other religion by a long shot, take Adolf Hitler for a semi-recent example. Hitler, a good catholic in spite of his weirdo occult activity, actually had the blessing of the pope at the time, one of who’s disciples is now pope.”

Hitler being a “Good Catholic” is a very big assumption. Much ink has been wasted on what may or may not have been his beliefs. There is no doubt that he had a lot of dealing with the Church but all politician do what ever their own personal thoughts are. Of course you could read some of his work and decide for ourself. Below is a Hitler Youth song for your reference. Oh, and you might want to investigate a little more into just how many have died at the hands of the religious extreme in comparison to the atheist extremists. For instance Stalin was guilty of about 25 million deaths. Mao about 60 million. Well like I said its people that do the killing, their excuse for it, is just that, and excuse. Of course for me using G-d as an excuse for genocide is INEXCUSABLE. But that is just me (and all my friends.)

Here’s that “LOVELY” Hitler Youth song. It should give you a hint who he believed G-d was.

“Adolf Hitler is our savior, our hero.
He is the noblest being in the whole wide world.
For Hitler we live,
For Hitler we die.
Our Hitler is our Lord,
Who rules a brave new world.”

M. Brukhes says:

Pejman, dear Pejman: you got quite the chip on your shoulder there, don’t you? Is that not another way of saying that I’ve gotten under your skin…? Mission accomplished, to quote one of your comrades-in-arms!!

M. Brukhes says:

Just saw your second effort at response, boyo: if you accuse me of misrepresenting you as a “neo-conservative,” then I apologize for suggesting that you ate lunch in Alcove 1 at City College during the 1930s then voted for Nixon in 1972. But otherwise one needn’t resort to references to “The Princess Bride,” almost as dated as Watergate itself, to understand that I’m using the term exactly as it’s been used since your beloved Iraq War broke out. And I do so because it fits. As for your alleged mind control, this again, and characteristically, misses the point: you’ve written an editorial–and what set me off in this exercise to begin with is the fact that what you’ve written was billed as an account of Obama’s relationship with Jews when in fact it’s a discussion of your relationship with your own pupik–castigating the President’s indifference to bigotry. But when bona fide bigots like “Barry” offer their support of your opinions and use its pretext to unload on Blacks, Muslims, etc., you remain silent.

As far as what’s par for the course, sweetheart, I’m reminded of the Winston Churchill joke about the lady who accused him of being drunk: in the morning, I’m going to wake up, do my job, and love my family. And your article will still suck.

Amazing how I keep prompting you to write semi-illiterate responses, and then you think that you have gotten under my skin, M. Brukhes. Something about motes and beams comes to mind, though I am sure you don’t know what that is without Googling.

Hey Will, just so you know, I served my three years in Tzahal and am still waiting for you to offer a substantive explanation for how blind American support for settlement expansion is a better strategy than doing a better job adhering to legality. Instead, you equate being anti-settlement with being an apologist for vicious anti-semitism. Lemme guess, Baruch Goldstein is A-OK with you, right?
Maybe some of your taunts can cow weaker armchair ideologues, but I know quite well that the fellow who questions a stranger’s manhood invariably has issues with his own. But I don’t judge you for it, I just suggest a clearer and more morally sound thought process that might make you a happier, healthier person.
As to the author of this piece, your susceptibility to the Brukhes-bait calls much of your credibility into question- as does the implication of your entire article that American policy should equal Likkud party line or else. But I have re-read it twice and I still don’t see one sentence devoted to concern for American interest. So go ahead and dismiss the inquiry as “classic anti-semitic canard” or some equally undeft platitude, but until you actually voice some understanding that Israel owes America and not the other way around, you too are hard to take seriously.

M. Brukhes says:

Yeah, I can only say that semi-literacy is not one of my anxieties, so lay on, MacDuff….

And as far as what your anxieties are, I think I’ve got your number: the issue here isn’t what’s par for the course for me since, after all, you don’t know the first thing about me. And I know all about you that’s relevant in this context: your opinions are copped from back issues of Commentary Magazine, your analysis of the President was old and tiresome even before he was elected, and your writing…well, the less said about it, the better.

Of course semi-literacy is not one of your anxieties. Not only are you ignorant, you are ignorant of the fact that you are ignorant.

The worst ones usually are, of course.

M. Brukhes says:

To which I can only respond, Pejman, “I know you are, but what am I?”

It’s sad that among your weaknesses as a writer you don’t even give insults well, but it’s not surprising since you have failed so completely to respond to the substantive criticisms that have been offered against your work–why shouldn’t you fail on the superficial level as well?

M. Brukhes says:

Brian: in fairness to our good mutual friend Pejman, he has no choice but to respond to my provocations, since after all if he didn’t he would appear weak in the eyes of…in the eyes of…. Who is it you were trying to impress with all this nonsense, again, Pejman?

For someone who says “the less said about [my writing], the better,” you seem to be willing to say an awful lot about it, Brukhes.

Clearly, I have gotten under your skin, and you carry a chip on your shoulder. Mission accomplished.

“As to the author of this piece, your susceptibility to the Brukhes-bait calls much of your credibility into question- as does the implication of your entire article that American policy should equal Likkud [sic] party line or else.”

Brukhes is fun to toy with. As for the article, I have neither said, nor even remotely implied that “American policy should equal Likkud [sic] party line or else.” I have stated a premise that “American and Israeli interests certainly diverge at times, and while friends must be prepared to speak fully and frankly with one another,” I have stated that whatever my disagreements with Administration policy, “a significant case can be made that the administration’s policy concerning Israel and the Mideast peace process does not fundamentally differ from policies undertaken by past American administrations,” all of which are the furthest comments possible from stating that “American policy should equal Likkud [sic] party line or else.”

M. Brukhes says:

OK, Pejman, when I said “I know you are but what am I?” I meant it as a joke. Clearly, you took it literally, though.

As I see it, you haven’t accomplished anything. Try harder, though. I’m sure you’ll get it right eventually.

The fun thing about our friend Mr. Cause is that he tends to be rather lonely and insignificant without his buddy, Ms. Effect. If we were to argue Rep. Moran’s anti-Semitic blather was a “cause” of emergent Democratic anti-Semitism, we’d expect there to be notable effects, such as, say, instances of prominent Democrats saying anti-Semitic things more recently than 2007. But, all the chirping about “causality” notwithstanding, no such examples are forthcoming, which makes one think that maybe the causal story isn’t really there. Nutpicking does not good scholarly practice make (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nutpicking). Although when one’s nutpicking comes up so scarce that one has to resort to imputing to Democrats cartoons posted on a site that has “Indy” in it’s NAME, that’s a bad sign.

Of course, the fact that a minority (albeit a non-trivial one) of Democrats, and a smaller but still non-trivial number of GOPers, have disturbing views related to Jews and the financial crisis is a bad thing. But there’s no evidence that view has transitioned into the public sphere or led to anti-Semitic statements by public figures in any way (contrast to birtherism, which is far more prevalent in the GOP — 58% harboring doubts about Obama’s birthplace as of July 2009 — and which has made the jump to notable public figures). The main time we hear about shadowy Jewish financiers whose Jewish money is a threat to America is in the context of attacks on George Soros (which, regardless of whether one agrees with Soros a lot, a little, or not at all, should come off as definitively creepy). If someone like Rep. Moran made his comments today, I’d expect the admin to condemn it. But randomly trolling through opinion polls to see find aspects of public opinion that are unnerving really isn’t a presidential obligation, absent some showing they’ve made the jump into the public debate. The “problem”, like examples of the Prez calling critics “racist”, is non-existent.

And, I should add, the point about Jews being leery about joining forces with a party whose idea of an ideas man is Newt Gingrich was not exactly jest. Jews are one of the most highly educated demographics in the United States. They’re being courted by a party whose leader is Sarah Palin and which acts like earning a master’s degree is the sign of the beast. That’d be a tough sell even if the GOP’s message wasn’t drowning in contempt for “coastal pointy-headed elites” who aren’t “real Americans” — there isn’t a single Jew in this country who doesn’t know who THAT refers to (consciously or not). A party that is so openly anti-intellectual is going to have tough sledding appealing to a proudly pro-intellectual voting bloc.

I mean honestly — you actually tried to make a “‘race card’ card” pitch to a group whose most cherished political memory is our role in the civil rights movement. Do you really think we can’t see through that? Did you really think we’d run in fear of being “tarred as racist by a charismatic president who is a gifted orator”. Hell, the President has consciously avoided calling anyone racist (even those who may well deserve it) precisely because he knows the “‘race card’ card” trumps the “race card” every single time.

The “‘race card’ card” has been in the conservative playbook since at least President Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 — it’s hardly something new to the veterans. And for those of us concerned with (actual) burgeoning anti-Semitism on the left worldwide, where allegations that Jews are playing “the anti-Semitism card” are quite popular (and just as malicious as their domestic cousins complaining about the “race card”), I have to say I’m distinctly less than pleased to see one promote that style of argument. It’s a short-sighted political maneuver that only nourishes the most common and prominent mechanism by which anti-Semites suppress discussion of anti-Semitism. Please. We know better.

Mr. Schraub must be aware–but chooses not to mention–that a number of the offensive posts came from the well known Democratic activist site Daily Kos. One came from another well known Democratic activist site; MyDD. And a third came from the New York Times itself. So not everything came from Indymedia. Mr. Schraub should know better than to misrepresent this issue.

Further study is needed to determine whether these and other expressions of anti-Semitism are responsible for the disturbing poll results that Mr. Schraub was initially willing to ignore. But any reasonable person would look at the narrative and at least be mildly concerned. And a Democratic President might find it worth his while to at the very least tut-tut such knuckle-dragging expressions. Alas, we have no tut-tutting from the President, but while Mr. Schraub scorns (a) attacking statements that were made prior to 1-20-2009, and (b) taking on the liberal blogsophere on a point of principle, this President has been willing to do both when it directly served his political interests. Too bad he doesn’t seem willing to do it now. And too bad that Mr. Schraub ignores these poll trends, while gleefully noting others. I for one am appalled by birthers, and the presence they make felt in polls, which is significantly more than Mr. Schraub can say about anti-Semites, and the presence they make felt in polls.

Finally, by shouting “Palin!” and “Gingrich!”, Mr. Schraub seeks to engage in his own brand of nutpicking. He might have mentioned “Mitch Daniels!” or “Rick Snyder!” or “Bobby Jindal!”, but that would mean that he would have to acknowledge a significant intellectual presence in the Republican party, which interferes with Mr. Schraub’s desire to pick nuts. As for the issue of whether I am playing “the race card,” I congratulate Mr. Schraub for playing the demagoguery card, and trust he will understand if I choose not to further dignify his baseless sliming and smearing of my motives.

“If we were to argue Rep. Moran’s anti-Semitic blather was a “cause” of emergent Democratic anti-Semitism, we’d expect there to be notable effects, such as, say, instances of prominent Democrats saying anti-Semitic things more recently than 2007.”

Of course, if non-prominent Democrats say the exact same things in a poll conducted in 2009, Mr. Schraub will resolutely try–in his initial comment, and in his blog post–to ignore it. I guess that it only becomes disturbing if the sayers of anti-Semitic things hold public office.

Incidentally, those who–like Mr. Schraub–laugh at the prospect that Jews might reconsider their support of President Obama, really ought to take a look at this: http://www.mclaughlinonline.com/lib/sitefiles/National_Jewish_Memo_0410.pdf.

Note that even amongst Reform Jews–a group of which I consider myself a part–the re-elect percentage is down to 52%. If that remains constant, it would be cataclysmic for the President’s 2012 effort. Jews favored then-Senator Obama 78-12, in 2008, but he is now looking at a 42-46 deficit.

So much, then, for a great many of Mr. Schraub’s assumptions, even if he is not willing to admit that they are being blown away by the political facts on the ground. Does he continue to remain sanguine that a general desertion of the Democratic party itself might not follow closely behind?

Let me clear — I’m not accusing you of playing the “race card”. I was accusing you of playing the “‘race card’ card” (I will accuse you of having poor reading comprehension skills. See also your apparent misunderstanding of what to “nutpick” means — pulling random diarists off a forum in which anyone can register is not the same thing as, say, talking about the 2008 GOP VP nominee. I even linked to the definition for you — I’m really doing my best to make this easy). The “‘race card’ card” is the spurious accusation that a given figure or group is deploying charges of racism spuriously. I’m alleging you did this when you claiming Jewish voters have reason to fear being “tarred as racist by a charismatic president who is a gifted orator”, when there are virtually no instances of this President calling anybody racist (much less doing so spuriously).

You might defend by saying that the president’s supporters do spuriously call someone racist. Whether that’s true (something that can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis), that’s not what you said — you specifically tagged the fear to being so labeled by our “charismatic president”, the “gifted orator”, without providing any evidence that the president has ever shown the slightest inclination to play this “card”. It was a completely unfounded allegation.

What the boils down to is what are the sufficient conditions for the leader of a political party to be required to denounce repellent views held by some members of his or her party. My answer is: when these views are propagated by significant officials within the party. And even there, I’m not sure if there is an affirmative obligation to call a press conference absent extreme circumstances.

Your answer is … unclear. We’re told that a comment by a Congressman in 2007, some cartoons posted on an open-access forum associated with Democrats (and some posted on forums that aren’t), and a poll indicating 32% of the party membership holds a wrongful view is sufficient, but that’s not a “standard”, it’s just a collection of data points. It seems like you’re leaning very heavily on the poll, but that only gets us so far. Where’s the cut off wherein the leader is obliged to act? 15%? 30%? 50%? 65%? We don’t know. Does the poll need to be cross-verified, or is one enough? Do we need to wait and see if the viewpoint has legs, or is a fleeting sentiment sufficient? Relatedly, does it matter if the views translate into tangible public action (here the answer appears to be “definitely not”)?

I don’t think the standard is workable. It’s far easier (and saner) to condemn specific statements by specific public figures, then try to figure out how to make an address targeted at a block in a polling grid.

But really, I think you’re right that the question is more one of “narrative”. If the pieces really do paint a picture of serious emergent anti-Semitism against Jews, or racism against Latinos, or homophobia, or Islamophobia, or what have you, then I think we all have an obligation to step into the breach and try and stem the tide. That’s true regardless of whether one’s “side” can fairly be cast as a perpetrator. The problem is that the narrative elements you lay out to try and weave a tale of rising anti-Semitism just aren’t good enough. It remains fortunately quite marginal.

1. Saying that one fears being tarred as a racist by the President does not equal saying that the President has tarred people as racists. I never claimed that the President tarred anyone as a racist, so why you insist that he hasn’t is beyond me. The point you miss is that one can fear being tarred, without the President having tarred. It is entirely reasonable to state that (a) a certain group fears being tarred as racists by the President; even though (b) the President has not personally tarred anyone as racists yet. He may not do so (indeed, he probably won’t do so; such rhetorical wetwork is left to supporters, as the links I provided indicate), but that doesn’t cause certain constituent groups to dismiss the possibility completely out of hand. You would know this if you didn’t have the poor reading comprehension skills you ascribe to me, and rest assured that I am trying to make this easy for you. (Oh, and see? I can be condescending too. Do you want me to continue to talk down to you, as you try to talk down to me, or do you actually want to have some kind of a conversation?)

2. What is the cutoff to react to a poll? Well, we can debate that, but when the numbers of people putting forth an objectionable proposition reach a third, I submit that we ought to lose a little sleep over the matter. And that would include the President. You seem to disagree. Fine. But as the other poll I pointed to indicates, the President is losing significant amounts of support amongst American Jews. He may want to do something to win that support back, and part of that something might be to speak out against anti-Semitism–including the anti-Semitism that is manifesting itself in activist segments of the Democratic party, mayhap. Similarly, of course, a Republican Presidential nominee would do well to assure African-Americans and Latinos that he/she wants the Republican party to be home to them, by denouncing nativists, racists, and birthers.

3. You certainly engaged–as I said above–in your “own brand of nutpicking” with the emphasis on Palin as the leader of the GOP. No, it’s not the same as the example that your link provides; that’s why I said from the beginning that it is your “*own* brand of nutpicking,” which would signal a contention that you are employing a *variant* of the nutpicking tactic. Quite obviously, you did it for rhetorical effect, to cast the GOP a certain way by emphasizing that it is led by a certain person whom you find intellectually objectionable. I find her intellectually objectionable as well, but no one crowned Sarah Palin Queen of the GOP, and you ignore the many others leaders within the GOP who are intellectually potent figures (and not named Gingrich), because they are inconvenient to your overbroad characterization of the GOP. You try to excuse this by stating that this isn’t nutpicking per the Urban Dictionary, but really, 6x = (12/2)y, and my argument doesn’t need a reference to the Urban Dictionary to be valid. You offer a fallacy consisting of an assertion without argument that Palin is the head of the GOP, and a consequent effort to smear by association.

4. I found this rich:

“It’s far easier (and saner) to condemn specific statements by specific public figures, then try to figure out how to make an address targeted at a block in a polling grid.”

Here’s a radical idea: What if we do both? Like, say, this guy did (http://is.gd/gtp3F). Or was he not sane to do so?

You didn’t address the McLaughlin poll in the slightest in your reply. It undercuts your categorical claims that opponents of President Obama/the Democratic party “going to have tough sledding” appealing to disaffected Jews; there certainly seem to be a lot of disaffected Jews to appeal to, and they may want courting. To be sure, the President may win his Jewish support back. But stating that he is in danger of losing that support completely–as I did in my article–doesn’t seem so crazy now, does it?

“You might defend by saying that the president’s supporters do spuriously call someone racist. Whether that’s true (something that can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis), that’s not what you said . . .”

Oh, yes I did. I wrote the following:

“. . . supporters of the Obama Administration have shown little hesitation to accuse detractors of racism, which causes constituent groups in American politics to carefully calibrate their actions in response.”

Links are included in the text of the article, citing specific instances in which supporters of the Obama Administration have accused detractors of the Administration of racism. One such supporter, in fact, was the 39th President of the United States. I suppose at this point, if I wanted to be arrogant and insulting, I could discuss at length your poor reading comprehension skills, and express my frustration that despite my efforts to make this easy for you, you just don’t seem to understand my arguments. But instead, I’ll see whether you want to climb down from your rhetorical high horse, and actually engage in a respectful colloquy. Ball’s in your court.

Okay, fine, let’s roll.

So first of all, on the “‘race card’ card” stuff, there are two different things that are going on here. The first is fear of being called racist by this charismatic president. The second is fear of being called racist by his supporters. The latter may well be a legitimate fear (we have to assume that the “racist” tag is illegitimate — we might “fear” being accurately labeled as racist, but it wouldn’t be really “legitimate” in the sense we’re talking about. That is, if one really is racist, the proper move isn’t for Obama to change his approach, it’s for you to stop being racist. The only legitimate complaint is regarding spurious accusations of racism, not “racism” charges writ large), but the former is just paranoia. We might as well write that Jewish voters are afraid of being sodomized by the president. Obviously, one can fear something without any evidence that it is an extant risk, but that’s an irrational fear. If your thesis is that many Jews harbor an irrational fear of Obama doing this, that may or may not be true (descriptively), but your argument seemed to be that Jews reasonably fear this outcome, and there is zero evidence to support that.

In any event, assuming that some supporters of the president have made (we’ll say) spurious accusations of racism, then it’s a legitimate fear to have. That doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate fear that the president will do it. That was the claim you made that I attack, and that’s the one that’s entirely unsupported by evidence (if you are willing to concede that this fear is an irrational one, then I withdraw the attack, though I submit you should be clearer regarding its irrationality).

Second, on the financial crisis poll — yes, I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. What percentage is enough to “lose sleep over”, versus what percentage is enough to require one to call a press conference condemning it (not the same) — these are extraordinarily subjective determinations. I don’t think they’re concrete enough to impose an obligation, absent proof of their penetration into public debate. The “race speech” Obama gave is inapposite, first, because there’s no evidence it was motivated by poll data; and second, because nobody seemed to think the president was “obligated” to make it known he was against racism (raising legitimate fears if he didn’t give such a speech).

Third, it’s unclear from a linguistic standpoint why your “variant” of nutpicking should be considered a “variant” on the term at all. The term “nutpicking” was coined in response to precisely what you did — trying to present a viewpoint as common in a party or organization by pulling a few random commenters. The idea behind it was “If you’re forced to rely on random blog commenters to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you’ve pretty much made exactly the opposite point.” (see here and following links http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_08/009324.php for the genesis of the term). The entire point was to force folks into doing what I what I did — tag the disagreeable behavior or ideology to actual public figures of some import (which Ms. Palin and Mr. Gingrich — and Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck and Mr. Perry (etc.) …. are). The “problem” you have (that I ignored the fact that some GOP leaders aren’t overtly anti-intellectual) isn’t congruent with the problem of nutpicking; the relative power of Ms. Palin and her ilk in the GOP shows that her outlook is influential in her party in a way that random blog commenters are not — I’m not trying to demonstrate that there are no smart GOPers.

Finally, the descriptive question as to whether Obama is losing some Jewish support. Of course, he is (same as with all groups), though we won’t have any definitive proof about what is going on until 2012. Some of that is undoubtedly the economy, some of it is disagreement on policy initiatives, some of that is coming down from a huge wave election that was never going to be sustainable, some of it is that at least some GOP candidates are perfectly acceptable alternatives for Jewish voters in a way that voting for a ticket that includes Palin wouldn’t be (inflating Obama’s original vote total amongst Jews — by the way, can we agree that Jennifer Rubin’s horrifying “why do Jews hate Palin” column in Commentary was the most nakedly anti-Semitic piece published in a major American rag in the past year?). It is, of course, a difficult counterfactual whether Republicans would be doing even better amongst Jews if they weren’t beset with the various flaws I’ve identified. I can easily say that the fact that Obama has held onto as much Jewish support as he has in what is looking like a big GOP year is evidence at how unappealing the alternative is to Jews. Or maybe not. The data we have doesn’t provide answer.

I did offer to make a bet with a friend who shares your outlook to use the IL-9 (Schakowsky/Pollak) as a litmus test — a heavily Jewish-Democratic district, two Jews running against each other, with Pollak running hard on the sorts of Obama-doesn’t-really-care-about-Jews (and Schakowsky is too tied to Obama) claims you’re saying should be effective. I offered to spot my friend 10 points — if Schakowsky is held to less than 55% of the vote, I’ll write up a post conceding that the Dems (through their affiliation with Obama) have a problem with Jewish voters. Otherwise, she writes one conceding that the problem is overblown. She didn’t take me up on it (I’ll still write the post anyway if it comes to that).

American Jews are not voting on Israel this election. They didn’t vote on Israel in 2008, purposely keeping themselves ignorant on Obama long-standing hatred of Israel. Any evidence to the contrary was a hatefact or thought crime. At the end of the day, it is not just that Conservatives and Liberals view the world differently, we actually operate with different sets of facts.

This election cycle Jews will once again confuse taxing their neighbors with tzedaka (while we individually find the best tax attorney possible to hide our funds from the taxman). Instead of acting like Christians and giving of our own time and money, we will prove our virtue by making people serfs to the government. We will collectively vote for candidates who support homosexual rights over religious rights, acting like Jews for Antiochus. We will support abortion on demand, something that would have made the Molechite worshiper blush. We will vote to banish religion from the private sphere and against vouchers, even as Judaism dies in America. We will vote for candidates who want to import foreign populations hostile to Jews, above all Muslims. Better we turn America into Malmo that give up a tenet of our true religion, leftism. We will show our tolerance by assuming that conservative Southern White Crhistians are about to lynch us like Leo Frank , ignoring that it was a progressive future Democrat Senator who whipped up the mob.

I don’t know Illinois politics, but I do know New York politics. And here I see Jewish papers endorsing Eric Schniederman, the candidate who one a Democrat primary, thanks to the support of Al Sharpton (the black analogue David Duke who actually caused Jewish deaths with Crown Heights and Freddy’s Fashion Mart)

1. Given that you snarked that I have poor reading comprehension skills, it is amazing that you think that I wrote that I claimed that the fear that the President would tar Jewish detractors as racists as “legitimate.” I wrote no such thing. What I wrote–it helps to quote me–is that “[s]ince no one wants to be tarred as racist by a charismatic president who is a gifted orator, it makes sense to assume that opposition to the president and his administration might have been chilled in certain quarters, including among segments of the American Jewish community.” Spelling this out, it is possible that some Jews–rationally, or irrationally–fear/feared that the President may tar them as racists if they came out and criticized him (perhaps in part because “supporters of the Obama Administration have shown little hesitation to accuse detractors of racism”), and that as a consequence, they may have been deterred from issuing critiques that they may otherwise have issued. You can say, if you wish, that this fear is illegitimate; that is a perfectly respectable argument. But to say that a person pointing out the possible existence of this fear–however illegitimate the fear may be, or may have been–is playing “the race card,” or “the race card card,” or even “the race 5!(card)” is absurd. Equally absurd is the contention that this fear–irrational though it may be–is equivalent to fearing that the President may sodomize Jewish voters. I mean, that’s cute and all, but again, even if one is irrational to fear that the President may imply that detractors are racists, the fact that his supporters have outright said as much raises the specter a wee bit more than any concern that the President may sodomize detractors.

2. I guess that we will have to agree to disagree concerning the financial crisis poll, but while subjective determinations are at play, again, one-third of polled Democrats stating that Jews are behind the crisis makes more than just me worry.

5. Finally, I am certainly interested in knowing what happens in IL-9, but I wonder why you picked that race as the litmus test. Yes, two Jews are running against one another, but (a) IL-9 may be more hospitable to Democrats than a district that better represents the degree to which Jews may be disillusioned with the Obama Administration and the Democratic party; (b) Schakowsky, as the incumbent, still possesses a host of advantages, even in a year in which incumbents are more at peril; and (c) the race is taking place in Barack Obama’s home state, which helps boost Democrats in what is otherwise a very bad year. I mean, I could use the power competition between AIPAC and J Street to help resolve a lot of these questions, but the contest is similarly skewed; AIPAC enjoys a host of incumbent advantages, including being around longer and with deeper roots than J Street, and likely having more funding. There are other ways to gauge the validity of my hypothesis concerning the future of the political relationship between the Democratic party/the Obama Administration, and the American Jewish community. Relying on IL-9 as a bellwether is quite unreliable; my hypothesis will neither be proven, nor disproven within this election cycle alone, and while small-n analysis can be very valuable as a case study method, your sample size is much too small, and much too unrepresentative.

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My points 3 and 4 were not published, so here they are again:

3. On the nutpicking issue, again, the salient point here is that you sought–via the elevation of Sarah Palin to “leader” of the GOP (I don’t recall us having a vote on this)–to characterize the GOP as the Stupid Party. Again, that’s not the classic example of nutpicking, but it certainly is a variant. And again, if you want, I’ll just call it what I called it in a previous comment–”a fallacy consisting of an assertion without argument that Palin is the head of the GOP, and a consequent effort to smear by association.” I certainly don’t know how you gauge “the relative power” of Sarah Palin; she is charismatic, good-looking, and in demand on the campaign trail, but there are plenty of others who wield power in the GOP, and just because they don’t get as much camera time, that doesn’t mean that they wield less power. After Tuesday, and especially after the next Congress convenes, one of the most powerful Republicans in the country will be Eric Cantor–who coincidentally enough, is Jewish! You state that you are “not trying to demonstrate that there are no smart GOPers,” but your earlier comment that the GOP “acts like earning a master’s degree is the sign of the beast,” would certainly indicate otherwise, in addition to being undercut by the facts (http://is.gd/gAApI; note that for all of the “power” she supposedly wields, a plurality of Tea Party supporters–supposedly the Palin base–believe that she is not qualified to be President).

4. That Obama is losing support in lots of quarters doesn’t make the massive drop in Jewish support any less impressive. For a Democratic President to go from 78-12 with Jews in favor of his election, to a deficit of 42-46 really is something to take note of. He may eventually win the support back, but the fact that he has lost this much serves to validate my thesis that his/the Democrats may be losing the Jewish community.

Postscript: See also the following link regarding comparisons on which party has the more educated members: http://is.gd/gAAin.

Make no mistake, President Barack Obama may be our president; but he is also a politician — who needs to play in the twisted game of American politics. I am a supporter of Israel; but I also understand that President Obama needs to pander to a much larger community outside of the Jews. From what I see among most liberals in America is that they feel that the US should just leave Israel alone altogether; or they should actually take actions against Israel for their “racist” policies of state. Do I agree with these sentiments? Absolutely not. They are based on ignorance for the most part. However if that is the way the tide of the progressives is turning, then you have a very difficult job as a Democratic candidate who is looking to get the pro-Zionist vote.

Is there room for the President to improve in regards to his US-Israel policy. Of course there is. However G.W. Bush had a good US-Israel policy but ran this country into the ground. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

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