President Obama has an ugly habit of goy-splaning Jewish values to Jews in an effort to push his political agenda. Now, if Judaism wasn’t so intimately, and destructively, chained to political liberalism in the United States, the president’s absurd reading of ‘Jewish values’ would almost certainly offend those who take faith, culture and security seriously.
Jeffrey Goldberg once made the case the Obama was the first Jewish-American president. This is mostly predicated on the idea that no other president had traveled in far-left Jewish circles of academia and politics quite as much. This seems to have convinced Obama (who’s mentioned Goldberg’s formulation) that he’s the modern Rashi.
Take this week’s interview with the obsequious editor-in-chief of The Forward (“You have been generous in explaining the Iran deal to all sorts of people…”) which is part of a campaign to shore up Jewish support for the Iranian deal. Now, it’s annoying enough that Obama ends the interview telling us he favors a “schmear of cream cheese” on a poppy bagel. (Schmear and bagels? On the Upper West Side? He totally gets the Jews! Let’s give Iran ballistic missiles and insure its nuclear capability.) But political pandering is one thing; it’s expected. It’s his contention that pro-Iranian policies comport in some way with the tenets of Jewish faith—a claim he makes nearly every time he is forced to allay the fears of a Jewish publication or group—is preposterous. And the president does this all the time.
In The Forward, Obama tells us that he is a follower of his own fictitious philo-morality:
These are hard issues, and worthy of serious debate. But you don’t win the debate by suggesting that the other person has bad motives. That’s I think not just consistent with fair play; I think it’s consistent with the best of the Jewish tradition.
1 – You don’t win the debate. Nearly every poll shows a majority oppose the deal.
2- There has been no “serious”—or at least, consequential—debates surrounding the Iran deal. There’s been a lot theatre. Now that Bob Casey has signed on, nearly every Senator supposedly weighing the deal have backed Obama. (No one liked being called a traitor, after all.) It’s always been inevitable that congress would be unable to overcome a veto. Republicans haven’t done anything tangible to stop the deal. In fact, though Obama wasn’t going to permit any genuine checks and balances to get in the way of his empowering Iran, the GOP leadership helped him by putting the imprimatur of law and order on the deal.
3 –Obama’s claim that questioning the motivations of the opposition is outside the boundaries of fair play and “Jewish tradition” is a pretty odd when one considers the tone of his entire presidency—but, more specifically, when we scrutinize how often he has schmeared the intentions of the Iran-deal opponents. Obama advocates has reliably painted opponents as a gaggle of traitorous #warmongers. The president himself claimed that opposition was unduly influenced by money and lobbyists and, at the same time, making common cause with the radical Islamists. Is that a reflection of fair play within the Jewish tradition?
4 –Most important, what Jewish tradition is Obama talking about? He never says. Is it the now-broken, centuries-old unwelcome tradition of sitting around powerlessly and praying that nothing horrible will happen? That is essentially the argument for this Iran deal.
In a wide-ranging interview with Goldberg a little while back, we learn that is worried about the state of the Jewish soul: “Obama talked about what he called his love for the Jewish state; his frustrations with it when it fails to live up to both Jewish and universal values.” When does it fail? When it is reluctant to enter into agreements that strengthen the hand in unapologetic anti-Semites? Or is this just perfunctory position the president trots out every time some Jewish group challenges him?
For a clue, read the president didactic speech honoring American Jewish Heritage month—a talk he, naturally, used to sell a deal that puts millions of Jews in danger:
I came to know Israel as a young man through these incredible images of kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and Israel overcoming incredible odds in the ’67 war. The notion of pioneers who set out not only to safeguard a nation, but to remake the world. Not only to make the desert bloom, but to allow their values to flourish; to ensure that the best of Judaism would thrive.
What values were those? Perhaps Obama prefers the one-party socialist economy of the early modern Israel, but the idea that the Jewish State was interested in remaking the world is rubbish. It was interested in protecting Jews from the real world. And the theory that Golda Meir or Moshe Dayan would be any more acquiescent to his untenable demands than Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t backed by any valid reading of history.
Yes, Israel overcame great odds in 1967, and yet Obama has long advocated that Israel return to the same precarious pre-war position. The president mythologizing of Jewish values is only meant to undermine today’s government. He says, “I care so deeply about the state of Israel … that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland.” A true democracy. Not the kind Likud is fostering. Obama may be awed by the values of a Labor government that had Arab Israelis living under military rule (and this was the case until 1967), but the nation is, by any standard, freer today. Since Likud’s victories in the mid-70s, a truly competitive multi-party system that’s allowed capitalism to flourish, sweeping away some of the corrupt unionism and cronyism that undermined that country’s growth.
In his speech about Jewish values, Obama praised the role American Jews played in supporting the civil rights movement. This is most often brandished as the ultimate Jewish value. It was certainly a moral endeavor. But no more a Jewish value that bombing Osirak or any of the countless missions or wars Israel has undertaken to ensure its safety. Today, Jews (and Christians) are still targeted and Obama can’t even mention the name of theology that has a near-monopoly on that violence. Instead, he keeps claiming that surrendering to some of the proponents of this theology is a mitzvah.
Put it this way, not even the leading advocates of Tikkun olam – “world repair”— that malleable nugget of Jewish mysticism (literally) that the Left has excavated to always align faith with progressive social justice aims, can’t make a case Obama’s conception of Judaism when it comes to Iran. The ADL opposes the Iranian deal. So can someone please ask the president what Jewish values are, where they come from, and what they entail? I certainly don’t consider myself any kind of theologian, but even after spending the better part of my youth in a Yeshiva, I have trouble placing where Obama gets his ideas about Judaism.