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American Jews - equivalent of chickens voting for Shabbat?

Are American Jews the equivalent of chickens voting for Shabbat?

They have persuaded themselves that Barack Obama is a friend of the Jewish people, because Obama put his hand on his heart and swore undying friendship to the state of Israel.

The fact that for 20 years he belonged to a “black power” church whose pastor — and his own personal spiritual mentor — was an acolyte of the Jew-hating demagogue Louis Farrakhan, and who also supported Hamas as a resistance movement, is a detail that need not trouble the Jews of Los Angeles, Boca Raton or the Upper West Side.

The fact that Obama has said “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people” needn’t detain them.

The fact that he says he would talk to the genocidal fanatics of Iran without preconditions (along with the dictators of North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela) needn’t bother them at all.

Because for them, there’s only one thing that matters about Obama. He’s not a Republican!

For the overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting American Jews, voting for a Republican is as unthinkable as eating a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur. Indeed, a number of them would rather eat a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur, because their conviction that religion is bunk and has nothing to do with being Jewish comes second only to their conviction that Republicans are the acme of evil.

That is because they think that to be Jewish is to be liberal in outlook. Therefore to be a Jew is to be a Democrat. End of story. Unlike their British counterparts, American Jews haven’t become more conservative as their prosperity has increased over the generations. (This is not true of the growing minority of mainly younger American Jews, who are markedly more Orthodox and thus, since they are rather more in tune with authentic Jewish ethics such as truth, justice and the difference between right and wrong, are indeed voting Republican; but let that pass.)

Being Jewish, think liberal American Jews, means showing that you are not prejudiced against minorities. That means adopting the core presumption of “victim culture” that minorities are never at fault. That means in turn that if an ethnic or religious minority is prejudiced against you, you can’t criticise it because to do so means you are prejudiced.  

True, the fact that Obama belongs to a kooky church makes them uneasy. The fact that he associates with various mafia types and nut-jobs makes them twitch a bit. The fact that he would go cap in hand to Iran and Syria makes at least some of them suck their teeth.

But they know that he must be their friend because he is a Democrat and he is black. They know that he cannot be their enemy because they know that President Bush is their enemy.

The fact that Bush is arguably the greatest friend the Jewish people has ever had in the White House cannot possibly be true because Bush is a Republican and therefore can do no right.

Conversely, Obama can do no wrong. So American Jews ignore the fact that all Obama’s foreign-policy advisers are veteran Israel-haters. They ignore his long-standing friendship with Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi has written that Israel has carried out the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians; that Israel should be replaced by a bi-national, cantonal system for Jews and Arabs; and that suicide bombings are a response to “Israeli aggression”. Obama has said he merely had “conversations” with Khalidi. But reports say the Khalidi and Obama families are long-standing friends. In 2000, Khalidi raised funds for Obama’s failed bid for a seat in the US House of Representatives. And according to the Los Angeles Times, Obama said his talks with the Khalidis served as “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases… a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table”, but around “this entire world”.

No matter. All of this is simply erased from the gaze of America’s Jews in their own collective blind spot. As a result, as pro-Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah let slip at The Electronic Intifada, Obama is playing them for suckers. Abunimah wrote that during his campaign for the US Senate, Obama told him: “‘Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more upfront.’

He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, ‘Keep up the good work!’”

So if, as is expected, Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, American Jews will vote for him and maintain their purity of soul.

Cluck cluck!

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I didn't know it was a matter for belief Luke. The fact is Obama's father is a Muslim. In Islam the child goes by the father's religion therefore Obama is a Muslim according to Muslims and the only way for him not to be a Muslim (according to Islam) is if he is an apostate (ie he has denounced Islam) and the punishment for apostasy in Islam of course, is death. He also spent time as a child learning in a madrassa... I would also mention the old adage that goes something like... you can tell a man by the calibre of his friends. I don't like the calibre of Obama's friends one bit...Pastor Wright, Louis Farakhan etc etc... And having spent 8 years in New Age movements myself...I feel very uncomfortable with the "New Ageiness" I feel in Obama's speeches and rhetoric...they are full of everything we want to hear but oh so little substance! I think it is very naive to believe that Obama is less obligated to the forces of economic power in the world than anyone else ever has been...all he less experienced in leadership! I would be very very scared to think he could become president of anywhere!

Posted by Ronit on 2008-06-22 23:42:43 GMT

I cannot believe that so many of you honestly believe that Obama ever had any Islamic background? From where? His Father may have been a Moslem, but his mother and grandparents were basic American non-denominational christians! As for the obvious issue of what does Obama stand for how many of you have bothered to read either of his two books? He articulates in great detail a very strong sense of where he stands on all the essential issues and if he's true to his word, then America does truly need a moderate with no ties to major corporations. You want to see what a "Friend to Israel" can do to the world economy, well I think Bush and his Oil Industry corporate cronies are a living tableau of the true capabilities of rampant greed. The only significant difference to the last time the Right was in power around the world, is that in the Reagan era there was a little less ability to play god with world markets on as great a scale as there is now.

Posted by Luke Caldwell on 2008-06-22 16:09:50 GMT

It's probably not just American Jews who habitually and mindlessly damage their cause repeatedly. The infamous Walt and Mearsheimer have actually been INVITED to speak this week at Tel Aviv Uni and Hebrew U in Jerusalem. After writing a book on how the Jews control U.S. foreign policy and warmaking, Gush Shalom has brought these 2 characters to Israel, enhancing their credibility. Maybe Jews just have a death wish...?

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2008-06-11 20:07:35 GMT

Melanie is spot on. Obama is a carpet bagger who says to any audience what is to his momentary advantage. He has no record of accomplishment, and he has absorbed 20 years of racism masquerading as religion, abandoning that church, like his Islamic background, when it was publicly disadvantageous. To Jews he is for one Jerusalem and agaisnt Iran. To Muslims he wants negotiations with Iran. But to American Jews proving that they are all American without a biassed bone in their bodies, a black man selling empty words is more important than protesting the excessive imprisonment of Pollard, the persecution of AIPAC stffers doing their jobs or the prosyletisation going on in the USAF. As Niel Sher said, USA Jews are behaving as guests in their own country.

Posted by paul2 on 2008-06-09 07:39:56 GMT

Luke, I'm an American citizen who lived in the States for a long time, as well as in Australia and Israel. One of the dangers of Obama's candidacy is precisely that he is not 'more of the same'. Ronald Reagan said "stay the course". The struggle against terrorism, as President G. 'Dubya' Bush has found a bit late, will take a very long time. Cutting and running now, changing the tune, a la Obama, will only embolden Islamo-Fascists from Afghanistan to Indonesia, with the most dire consequences for all free peoples everywhere. The global economy, environment, nuclear proliferation will all become disasters if Obama tries to engage in 'constructive dialogue' with Islamo-fascists everywhere, as he has stated. I have Jewish friends in the US who are aghast at other Jews who intend to vote for Obama. Melanie Philiips' article seems to reflect some very realistic concerns.

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2008-06-07 21:25:28 GMT

Spot on, at least for here, but swap Liberals for Republicans: the syndome is the "obsessive need to be perceived as nice", which for many baby boomers is still the Left, whatever manifestation, because they were the good guys opposed to Vietnam war, and for abortion choice in the 60s/70s. Some just don't change theri mind, when the facts change.

Posted by richard on 2008-06-07 03:15:35 GMT

The parallels to Jimmy Carter are frightening, given that Carter singlehandedly turned the world into the nightmare it is today. Carter, a relative unknown with not much of a track record, was elected because he looked good to so many Americans and was saying the right things .. much like Obama. He ultimately dumped the Shah of Iran in favour of Khomeini, because "Khomeini looked like such a kindly gentle man, and as a religious man he would favour peace". The rest, besides Carter's virulent anti-Israeli stand today, is history. Who knows if Obama will be the same? But the problem is that there is any question, or possibility that he could be. I don't think you try on new Presidents like you do new clothes ... with preisidents it's a disaster.

Posted by Morry on 2008-06-07 00:46:13 GMT

We are all on fast forward-over the cliff... it s the biggest fraud in history since the French Revolution or the arrival of Stalin to Moscow.

Posted on 2008-06-06 15:13:19 GMT

Phil, I met him when he was my Senator elect. I think he's exactly what a very divided country needs, not more of the same. The material we receive in Australia is filtered to such an extent that a clear picture of any of the candidates is almost impossible to resolve.

Posted by Luke Caldwell on 2008-06-06 13:20:48 GMT

Shock Horor, Obama wants to talk to the Iranians, Syrians, Cubans, North Koreans and God forbid, even the Venezuelans. What's he trying to do, build bridges to fellow inhabitants of the globe who's understandings may differ from his? Next thing you know he'll be wanting to difuse difficult and complex situations without resorting to the blind bludgeon of military might. Then where would we be?- Well, perhaps in a place where creative solutions to intractible problems can emerge.

Posted on 2008-06-06 06:55:41 GMT

Melanie Philips does ocasionaly pen some 'interesting' pieces, this is not one of them. Frankly, she writes with the sort of insight that can only come from a belief that a few months over several years is all you need to know a nation and the people who inhabit it. Having been a resident of America and having been a part of its Jewish Community for that time, I think grossly misunderstands both the macro and the micro of the United States of America and it's Jewish citizens. American Jews for me more closely resemble Baskin Robbins - so many flavours of opinion, so many cultural traditions that to say American Jews only vote one way or another is to simplify this group of proud American. Just because the Tribune buys your columns just to ease their own editorial costs doesn't mean you 'get' those you write about. Or should we ask whether you were more concerned about choosing a candidate with more Feminist appeal than Obama?

Posted by Luke Caldwell on 2008-06-06 06:34:37 GMT