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Today He Is a Fountain Pen

President Obama gives a bar mitzvah speech to Reform conference

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President Obama this afternoon.(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

This afternoon, heading into Shabbat, President Obama gave a long-awaited address to a 7,000-strong crowd at the Union of Reform Judaism Biennial in National Harbor, Maryland. After arriving late—he was meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, though inevitably some joked that he had switched over to Jewish Standard Time for the day—the president stood up and said that he learned from his 13-year-old daughter how to give a bar mitzvah speech, and proceeded to do just that. As in, he actually gave a d’var Torah, talking about Joseph (complete with Andrew Lloyd Webber reference). Yes, “hineini”—“I’m here”—came up. So did his immigrant heritage. So did the tikkun olam. The lowest-hanging Jewish cultural buttons, in other words. The audience loved it.

His advisers have been suggesting such a peroration to a Jewish audience ever since his May speech calling for negotiating on the basis of the 1967 borders and the subsequent fallout. He couldn’t have asked for a better audience. This is the Reform crowd: the pre-game show was all about the history of the Religious Action Center and the crucial support Jewish activists lent to the civil rights movement—without which, Obama said, he probably wouldn’t be president. There was a warmup act of camp songs, which, as the delay wore on, extended to “Maoz Tzur” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

He discussed domestic issues like fair pay and he discussed Israel. But the overwhelming thrust was the journey—“journey” would dominate a word cloud of the speech—he has been on with this group since he first began to run for the White House.

In other words, this was the equivalent of a hometown speech. He gave a shout-out to AIPAC’s executive director, Howard Kohr, but also to NFTY, the organization for Reform teens. When I walked out, I heard one young man remark, “How about that shout-out to NFTY!” To which another young man replied, “I can’t wait to use that video clip.” Shabbat Shalom, bro.

Related: Disunion [Tablet Magazine]

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Bill Pearlman says:

Reform Jews kiss Obamas ass. That’s not exactly a “stop the presses” story.

Orthodox only fall in line with the failed footsteps of Senator Herr Joseph Lieberman fuhrer of the American New Fascist party.

Nice to see you back at your old brown shirt tricks Bill.

Say “hi” to mom.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

America’s commitment to the security of the state of Israel is “unshakable”, said Obama, and he is right: America’s, not Obama’s…!!

If Obama’s commitment were unshakable he would never have uttered the idea that Israel should retreat to the 1949 armistice lines – wrongly dubbed 1967 borders by Obama…!! – with minor changes. This, for two reasons:

1) Such lines are not defensible, thus jeopardizing Israel’s security.

2) UN Security Council Resolution, 242, designed to bring about an accommodation of peaceful coexistence between Israel and its Muslim-Arab neighbors and on the basis of which ALL peace talks have been based doesn’t call Israel to retreat to any particular lines, and certainly not to the 1949 armistice lines. 242, instead, calls upon Israel to retreat is “armed forces”, i.e. the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from “territories”, not all territories and not the territories, only from “territories”, to “secure and recognized boundaries”.

Israel, of course, has already met all requirements of UN Security Council Resolution, 242, all of them!!

The only remaining predicament is the fact that the Muslim-Arabs, local and regional, who have accepted 242, refuse to accept Israel’s limited ability to provide risky gestures and always, always want more, all the way to Israel’s demise…, and, sadly, Mr. Obama is echoing their demands…

One wonders, why…??

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

P.S. The late Mr. Yitzhaq Rabin, a man a bit more familiar with the region in general and with Israel’s national and security needs than Mr. Obama, provided the contour of an accommodation with a future Palestinians state, which he did in his very last speech at the Knesset:

1) Jerusalem must remain united under Israel’s sovereignty and will also include the suburbs of Ma’aleh Adumim and Giv’at Zeev.

2) All major Jewish settlement blocs in Samaria and Judea will be incorporated into the sovereign state of Israel.

3) The Jordan Valley must be viewed in the widest sense of the term and it too must remain under Israel’s rule.

4) The future Palestinian state will not be a regular one in that it will be demilitarized, its airspace will be controlled by Israel, as will its boundaries and all border passes: land, sea and air.

In short, Mr. Rabin described, based on UN Security Council Resolution, 242, a self-governing Arab authority operating, to the benefits of all, under the overall control of Israel. This self-governing authority may be called a “Palestinian state”, yet, in reality, it was never meant, and rightly so, to be a state like all other states.

This state of affairs, by and large, already exists of course.. If Mr. Obama truly cared about Israel, its security and well being, he would collaborate with Israel and the local Arab authority to enhance the peaceful and economic well being of Israel and the territories in question instead of attempting to undermine reality for no one’s benefit but those eager to bring about Israel’s demise.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

P.P.S. And, one more “minor’ matter. Why is it that when Mr. Obama talks about the need to stop Iran from the development of nuclear weapons – he has been talking about it for the past three years and little has been achieved…!! – he associates it with Israel? If Iran is a threat to the civilized world as we know it, why pretend that he is doing a favor to Israel? Could it be that he is covering his behind in a way to ensure that the Jews can be blamed in the future, again, if his approach doesn’t work out…?? And then he tells us that his loyalty to the closest, oldest and most loyal ally in the region is “unshakable”…??

Alternatively, of course, Mr. Obama can talk about his deeds concerning the need to stop Iran’s development of nuclear weapons; an act that will benefit the US, Canada, Europe, the Sunni part of the Arab world as well as Israel. But this is not and has never been the way he has presented the issue..!!

Let us look objectively at what the Iranians in all good probability are afraid of:

The Journey Home: I deeply believe we’re ALL on a journey, so those words, if Barak Obama intends to use them, would certainly apply for us all, for individual and collective journeys. I have been disappointed in Obama, as he did not give clemency to Leonard Peltier, yes, one person, but a cause that was bruited around the world, and Nobel prize winners and people by the thousands protested and still do, the imprisonment of an innocent man. It seems Obama does bend to the voices that surround him, often a cacophonous crowd, but I wonder, about his own integrity, about standing for what he believes and following through with promises made. His own. Just ice or, Justice. Equality or great disaparity?

The greatest journey of all, does start, on our knees. Then we walk. Then we run. And who are his running mates, and is there anyone who can lead this country on a journey that does incorporate tikkun olam, in depth and presence? I guess it is Wait and See. As in all journeys, it’s the journey itself, that’s the “trip” and it would be grand to trip the light fantastic someday and see what’s important, and act on it, for us all.

Obama hasn’t been entirely neglectful of the concerns of American natives.

Rick Perry would just shoot these people or put them on reservations, and god only knows what Gingrich would do to them.

for Zlota says:

So let me understand: Breitbart’s use of a redrawn 1930’s Nazi cartoon of a Jewish type controlling the media is unacceptable when used to describe contemporary “liberals”; but Nazi terms such as “brownshirts,” “fuhrer” and “Herr Leiberman” is acceptable when used to describe contemporary Jewish types?

The constant and slavish recycling of Nazi imagery is always cynically recycled by stupid people. I’d never of have gotten your stupid attention had I not employed it in the first stupid post I will refer your cycling eyes to addressed to a stupid person, Have a nice numb stupid Nazi day.


shavit says:

the comments section on this site makes me a touch embarrassed to be a member of the tribe.

Bill Pearlman certainly certainly leaves that certain feeling of ugly unease and queasiness in every ugliness he leave behind, a strain of nausea that stays with you.

Ronald Sevenster says:

Obama again succeeds in fooling the Jewish liberal crowds. He dazzles them with niceties about Jewish life, while in the mean time he goes on with his project of strangling the Jewish State and forcing it to commit suicide in order to survive.

for Zlota says:

Curiously, the evidence suggests that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is the result of a prolonged flame war perpetuated by trolls.

Lou Adams says:

Do you think the liberal Jews fighting to get in line for the trains have a clue what is in the koran?
How many propaganda video’s of Jewish children being murdered are promoted by Jewish liberals?
They just want to believe no matter about Rev Wright, Rashid Khalidi, Valerie Jarrett, Ali Abunimah and Arab American Action Network (AAAN, and Louis Farrakhan, are all in their blind spot and can’t be acknowledged.
The psychology of liberal Judaism to fight for being liberal rather than being self supporting is pathetic.

Judith Nusbaum says:

The audience may have ‘loved’ Obama’s remarks, but I found them in very bad taste, rude and condescending. What arrogance to compare himself to Joseph, and to to adopt Abraham’s and Joseph’s reply to G-d as his own.

Shame on you, President Obama!

I don’t understand how any jew can think that this man cares for Israel. His actions have made a world much more dangerous for Israel and the United States. Is it that they wanted to be beloved. See… He loves us and were Jewish. No he doesn’t love you. Left wing Democrats hate you. There are quite a few self hating Jews among them.

George Samuels says:

Our President will say anything to anybody to get a vote. But how he’s treated “us” is another thing. Think about how he’s treated Israel or “our” Prime Minister during a visit to The White House, then tell me why I should cheer. In four years, our President as told Israel how to act, cut its territory, and what to say. Has he visited israel, talked to “us” while there, or seen the poor living in their homeland? No. And when you think about it, maybe his daughter now knows more about Judaism than he does. And he’s President of the United States.


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Today He Is a Fountain Pen

President Obama gives a bar mitzvah speech to Reform conference

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