Obama and the ‘Jewish Vote’

Rootless Cosmopolitan is not in the habit of endorsing political candidates, but I was reminded of the essence of my own credo in a piece last week in Newsweek by the wonderful ethno-musicologist Robert Farris Thompson, writing of his love of Mambo and other Afro-Caribbean musical styles:

Mambo distills their cross-cultural insights, leading us, for example, to a Puerto Rican man who learned to live among the Anglos, Jews, Italians and Irish. In a wonderful book on his life, “Benjy Lopez: A Picaresque Tale of Emigration and Return,” by Barry B. Levine, he shared this insight: “Imagine if you were twenty years old and didn’t feel inferior to anybody or better than anybody. When you treat everybody the same, people open up to you.” Those are words I have tried to live by.

Those words also capture precisely what seems to inspire many around the globe about Barack Obama. My good friend Michael Weeder — Father Michael Weeder, an Anglican priest and longtime revolutionary in my native Cape Town — sent me an email at about the same time in which he noted the following:

Obama is the child both of Africa, who was robbed of her own, and of those whose aspirations were embodied in the Mayflower. A child of our continent in the White House … this is not just a North American election, no… we should all have that bloodied vote. I see how Americans are stepping up to the plate of human justice and solidarity.
Out of the whore of Babylon comes something new as the sloping Beast pauses, en route to Jerusalem. Perhaps a new day is possible.

The reason people around the world are excited about the possibility of an Obama presidency is that they see in him a person who appears to live by that credo “neither inferior, nor superior, to anyone.” And that’s in marked contrast to the arrogance with which every U.S. president of the past quarter century has addressed the world.

Hillary Clinton is so imprisoned in this haughty arrogance that she mocks Obama for even suggesting that the starting point in dealing with Iran, or Cuba is to talk to the adversary and understand his concerns. Nope, Hillary is very much part of the bark-into-a-megaphone school of international affairs, of which the Bush Administration has simply been the zenith. Clinton’s boundless cynicism has been astonishing — she expects people to vote for her on the basis that she’s taken more hits from the Republicans and is immune to their blows; she mocks Obama for offering people the hope that things could be different. Which, of course, is true, in the sense that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, I’m not sure how profoundly different they would be, quite frankly.

She goes on about how Obama hasn’t been tested, but in truth — on the issues that really matter to the world — both have been tested, and Hillary failed. She voted to authorize the Iraq war, where Obama had the courage to stand up and say no. And she voted to authorize Bush to do his best to provoke another war with Iran. Again, Obama refused to give Bush the mandate he sought. Obama is the least likely of all the contenders to drop bombs on people or starve them in the name of self-righteous anger, ideological arrogance or because Israel demands it.

America is in urgent need of a profound change in the way that it relates to the world, and it’s not going to come from Hillary Clinton. The fact that she believes she can prevail by pouring scorn on the very notion that things could be different is a sign of the decrepitude that has dominated the upper echelons of the Democratic Party since the first Clinton term. (It may not be surprising that in a party that could put up Al Gore and John Kerry, Hillary might believe that she had earned the right to be the candidate, but why shouldn’t Democratic voters expect more?)

Now, as the desperation begins to set in, the Clinton campaign is showing its true colors, trying to stampede voters away from Obama by implying that he’s a trojan horse for Osama, doing their best to alert Jewish voters to the idea that, unlike Hillary he may not be willing to jump through every hoop that the Israel lobby demands.

So, Is Obama “Good for the Jews”?

On a recent visit to Cape Town, I was shown one of those Obama-as-Osama smear emails that have done the rounds of the internet’s Jewish geography, containing those talking points that were once exclusive to the fevered racist imagination of the the Zionist alte-kakkers but have since become mainstream fare for Clinton boosters. His middle name is HUSSEIN. Scary, huh? His father and paternal grandmother were MUSLIMS. He went to a MADRESSA as a toddler. (Actually, I’ve long been amused at how the term madressa has come to connote terrorist training camp in the Western media — all I can tell you is that in my anti-apartheid struggle days in South Africa, we had plenty of our activist meetings in madressas kindly made available by local imams, and I felt right at home in them because they were almost indistinguishable from the Hebrew nursery school I had attended, but never mind…)

I read a few lines and began to giggle. “Oh, so you don’t believe Obama is secretly part of the Muslim war against the West?” the man who showed me the email asked. What Muslim war against the West, I asked. He looked a little offended: “You mean you don’t believe there’s a Muslim war against the West?” No, I don’t. And I don’t believe Obama is a Muslim, anyway, but I do think his heritage may make him more inclined to engage in dialogue with Muslim countries, and that would be an extremely good thing.

Again, quoting from my good friend, the Anglican Father Michael Weeder, whose own roots are not dissimilar from Obama’s, “I relate to his Muslim Indonesian connection because that is where the dominant strand of my genetic lines leads from and then a large proportion of my relatives (the known ones) are Muslim. But that is a minor if not irrelevant matter… Much is being made of Obama’s Muslim ties with Islam, and if Islam has influenced him I say ‘Praise be to Allah’ because his nur is pure, and shines like the morning sun through a winter haze. I believe that grace is at work here.”

It is, of course, precisely the prospect of an American president committed to justice and dialogue that freaks out the Zionists. They cite his willingness to talk to Iran as Exhibit A in the case against him. That’s because the Zionists want an American president who will bomb Iran, having worked themselves into a lather of with their own dark fantasies about Iran as Nazi Germany. And if Obama is prepared to talk to Iran, he may be prepared to talk to Hamas, too. For the Zionists, that’s another reason to plotz at the prospect of an Obama presidency, even though talking to Hamas is exactly what Israel and the U.S. need.

The greatest fear, quite explicitly, cited by the Zionists is that Obama may pursue an even-handed policy on the Middle East. Imagine that…

It disturbs the Zionist establishment that Obama is promising change, because the Zionist establishment is deeply invested in the current disastrous status quo — the status quo that has plunged America into a ruinous war, and the Middle East into a chaos that even sober Zionists ought to recognize is bad for Israel, even if they remain cold to the crimes against Palestinians it has involved. “All the talk about change, but without defining what that change should be is an opening for all kind of mischief,” warned Malcolm Hoenlein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. “Of course Obama has plenty of Jewish supporters and there are many Jews around him,” Hoenlein said. “But there is a legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign.”

The problem with Obama, for the Zionist establishment — and some Israeli politicians have made this clear — is that he may be too even-handed in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians. He may not muster quite the same degree of racist contempt for the Palestinians that can be safely expected from a Hillary Clinton (they’re not entirely sure of John McCain, either, fearful that he might send Republican “realists” of the Scowcroft-Baker variety to the Middle East rather than Irgun fighters like Elliot Abrahams, Bush’s Mideast point-man). As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, “Visiting the region in 2005 as senator for New York, Senator Clinton shunned the Palestinians completely, meeting only Israeli leaders and hearing and expressing only Israeli positions. She particularly galled Palestinians by enthusiastically backing the 700-kilometre complex of walls and fences that Israel is building inside the West Bank.”

When Obama gently but firmly suggested to Ohio Jewish voters that there was a difference between being a friend to Israel and embracing the toxic Likud view of how to approach its neighbors, some Zionist commentators went apoplectic — Haaretz’s manic U.S.-based nationalist watchdog Shmuel Rosner howled that Obama was interfering in Israeli internal affairs! But then Rosner represents the Zionist alte-kakker perspective to a tee, with grading of American political candidates solely on the basis of their level of hostility to Israel’s foes and willingess to give it carte blanche to destroy the Palestinians and itself. Why Haaretz publishes this crank, I have no idea, but it should be embarrassed to run this sort of tribalist drivel which most American Jews find acutely embarrassing.

The reality is that Obama may be just the sort of friend Israel needs; the sort of friend that restrains you from driving home drunk.

I love this line from one of Hillary’s campaign organizers in response to Obama being quoted as saying he wanted “an honest discussion about ways to bridge the gap that grows between Muslims and the West” — Daphna Ziman, a friend of Clinton’s who has organized campaign events for her, responded, “I am horrified at Mr. Obama’s point of view.” Enough said.

Never Mind Obama, are the Zionists “Good for the Jews”?

If I was a Zionist, of course, I’d be less worried by Obama than by the fact that American Jews are voting for him in huge numbers, despite being warned off him by the Zionist establishment. Obama even beat Hillary among Jewish voters in California, a state that Hillary actually won! I have little doubt that he’ll easily carry a majority of young Jewish voters, about 70% of whom, like Obama, opposed the Iraq war at the time that Hillary voted for it. And what this reveals, in fact, is that Zionist hegemony among American Jews is fading.

A 2007 study commissioned for American Jewish organizations found that less than half of American Jews under 35 would consider Israel’s disappearance a “personal tragedy,” and more than half were uncomfortable only 54% were comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state. These figures reveal that young American Jews don’t want to be fenced off in some nationalist ghetto of the mind; they don’t see their fate and their existence as initimately tied to Israel’s, nor do they see Israel as representing them and their Jewishness. It would be safe to assume, in fact, that a large and growing number of American Jews, just like Barack Obama, would like to see a more even-handed U.S. Middle East policy that raises the prospects for peace. A Jew’s place, as I’ve always argued, is in the world, wherever he or she chooses to make it. And the value of Judaism is derived from the way it feeds into a universal humanity — tribal nationalism has no place in my idea of Judaism, and it’s not something I want any part of. And I get the sense that millions of young American Jews feel the same way. Barack Obama is the perfect candidate in this election for those who believe that our Jewish values compel us to be part of a universal movement for justice that joins us together with all who share that goal, across all tribal boundaries. And he’s the perfect candidate to lead America in an age when it will have to learn to treat the rest of the world as something more than its vassals and courtiers. That’s why long before Texas and Ohio cast their votes, the vast majority of humanity that is paying attention has left no doubt that it wants to see Barack Obama in the White House.

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81 Responses to Obama and the ‘Jewish Vote’

  1. Pingback: Keep your hat on | Antony Loewenstein

  2. spring says:

    Can we make a friend!I am a Chinese!

  3. ellen says:

    Great post!

  4. Matthew says:

    Real poetry, Tony. I’m not a Zionist, but I routinely interact with Jewish-American professionals, Jewish-American businesses, and donate to Jewish-American politicians. Why? Because they are great Americans.

    The success of American Jews as Americans is what really frigthtens the Likudites!

    In my lifetime, I sure hope I get the chance to vote for Russ Feingold for President.

  5. Pingback: CAMPAIGN 08: Hope versus Armageddon

  6. Pat S. says:

    Chicago, represent!

  7. gary says:

    great post….in my experience jewish values always favored the underdog because we were always an underdog….but now that the isrealis have full power over the palestinians they are acting like any other bullies…i guess we are just like everybody else afterall

  8. Balaji says:

    Standing with Rootless in the giddy throng around Obama, I’d also like to underline his measured response when Farrakhan-baited in the Ohio debate… he reminded his audience of a time when American Jews were central to the US civil rights movement. I cannot think of a more timely reminder both for unquestioning Israel supporters and those whose sympathy for Palestinians spills over into Jew-hatred… that there was a time when it was natural to find American Jews standing shoulder to shoulder with all the wretched of the earth, when they would have spit in the face of the Berlusconis and Bushes rather than count them as allies…

  9. Enzo says:

    First time I’ve read your blog.
    I got to you from a link on Paul Woodward’s warincontext.org. Excellent post. A most enjoyable read. Many thanks.

  10. Steve says:

    I have a difficult time keeping track of the hysteria about Obama — he is an ‘alleged’ Muslim (which in the racist logic of the world inhabited by the denizens of the perverted persecution complex is obviously a irrevocable indictment) or he is a an anti-semite on the basis of his membership of the Trinity United Church of Christ, whose minister has praised Louis Farrakhan from the pulpit. If anything has won me over, it’s the integrity and restraint with which Obama has responded to this provocative garbage.

    I generally find Tony’s posts a tad overheated, but I have to agree that strain of opposition to Obama has exposed all the moral decay lurking behind the support for Israel. Having a president in the White House that isn’t prepared to pander at all costs to the overwrought anxieties of the vocal Israel hawks (whose sons and daughters don’t have to lay down their lives for their ideological position), persuade the Palestinian leadership to pull up from their self-destructive nosedive and assemble a coalition of moderate Arab voices, could actually be what Israel needs to become a normal society defined by democratic principles. Or I could have just been overcome by Obamamania!

  11. Steve says:

    And then there is this: Hillary stumping amongst the anti-Zionist shtreimels of Williamsburg.

  12. Sean says:

    Two days before Obama’s debate with Clinton in Ohio, he met with Jewish leaders in Cleveland.

    The W Post published the transcript of the event..

    Excerpts from the conversation here.

  13. actual clarity says:

    read:from time immemorial, by joan peters; a british journalist who set out to write a pro arab book…but the deeper she got, the more truth she found. or “israel, echo of eternity”by heschel…of course, your pitifully deep seated jew-hatred may prevent you from really seeing the truth….
    the truth of israel and zion will prevail,no matter how righteously you believe your hatefilled distortions….look at history: no one, no one has that has tried to destroy israel has prevailed: egypt, persia, greece, rome,islam, spain, europe, germany etc. christianity and islam will not prevail over israel. why? because israel is the truth. the truth you insist on denying. study the torah. really study it. study the history of israel,not from a tainted hatefilled distorted perspective, but from a real clear perspective…keep studying, and you will see…and like some other moslems and christians before you, you will see the light and become ashamed of what you have written.
    read brigitte gabriel “because they hate” at americancongressfortruth.org

    read atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

    may Heaven help you to release your hateful distortions and see the truth. the jews never intend to force judaism on the world. we only intend to deveop our society on our land and be of service. unlike xnity and islam who aspire(d) to take the world by force.

    the only real force is the Creator. and the jews are in direct contact with Him.

  14. Tony says:

    This crank reminds me of a moment years ago when a Palestinian journalist friend of mine was on a U.S. TV ‘town hall’ type show with one of these people who claim they’re Jews but the god they worship really is some tribal totem rather than the universal deity proclaimed by Judaism. My friend, having been treated to a harangue by someone claiming, like the last poster, that Jews were in direct contact with God and their dispossession and subjugation of the Palestinians was all being done at his behest, simply asked the fellow, “If you’re in such close contact with the creator, could you please ask him what he has in mind for my people?”

    To which I’d add, how come these people who are in such direct contact with the creator have such fundamentally opposite views of Israel — some of the key Hasidic sects, like the Satmars, are anti-Zionist and refuse to recognize the State of Israel. Is God toying with them? Or with you?

  15. I was very excited to read your post as in most degrees in reflects my own views. And I was esp. delighted to read yr evisceration of Shmuel Rosner who I’ve taken to calling “AIPAC’s shill at Haaretz.”

    But 2 things disturb me about this essay. First, Time would never let you use “Zionist” as a pejorative noun in the way you did. And it’s a good thing too. This is way too flippant a use of the term. I’m a progressive Zionist and don’t fit any of the stereotypes you attributed to “Zionists.” That’s because there are varieties of Zionists. The fact that you are so dismissive of the nuances & lump every Zionist under the same term is unfortunate.

    Second, you made an error when you said the survey found a majority of young Jews are uncomfortable with the idea of a Jewish state. Actually, 54% of young Jews, according to U.S. News & World Report’s story on the survey, are comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state. Admittedly, this means that a very significant minority of young Jews ARE uncomfortable w. this idea. And that IS significant. But it is not a majority.

  16. Y. Ben-David says:

    Tony gets upset when the term “madrassa” is extrapolated mean “terrorist training ground”, but he has no problem with using “Zionist” as an epithet, as Richard Silverstein pointed out, or “Likudnik” to mean “racist/fascist Jew”, even though it was the Likud that expelled Jews from Yamit and Gush Katif, just like Tony wanted.

    Tony just doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for his fellow Jews at all when he dismisses many of them as “Zionist alte-kakkers”.

  17. Pingback: Tikun Olam-???? ????: Make the World a Better Place » Tony Karon’s Eloquence on Obama Candidacy

  18. Joshua says:

    I am still quite skeptical over Obama but his recent quotes, especially the “pro-Likud” line has me warming up to him alot more, and considering the only candidates left are himself, McCain and Clinton, it really is now a no-brainer if you have the Palestinians vested in your question on who would best represent a change. It would still prove difficult to effectively put in place a different policy with the need for approval by a Congress dominated by Lobby funds, but a President talking a new path could enlighten most of Americans to a precious (open) dialogue on the issue.

    PS I really should not even reply to that comment, but From Time Immemorial has no scholarly merit and has proven to be a great hoax.

    PPS I find no odious impression by Tony when he writes about Likudniks except for scorn that they employ when they adopt policies which decays the morality of Jewishness, ultimately leading to self-destruction for the Jewish state (with disastrous consequences for Palestinians). Of course this is only a personal view, as I believe Tony is disgusted when the fringe right monopolises on who speaks for whom, when in reality they only represent a tiny minority, all in the name Judaism, something that is meant to represent himself. It is similar to other dissidents who detest policies by Bush and co which aim to conflate the rest of Americans under its rubric.

  19. Tony says:

    Richard — thanks for your post, I’ll fix that statistic. And just to clarify, I wasn’t intending to use Zionist as a perjorative at all. I’m referring to the Zionist establishment in the U.S., and the political consensus it reflects. (I also usd the phrase “Zionist alte-kakker” to describe this). I know there are many Zionists across a wide range of political perspectives (having been a labor Zionist myself!) but I’m afraid we both know that there’s a Zionist establishment whose positions are hardly those of the Zionist peace camp. If there was another short-hand adjective for the AIPAC consensus, I’d be happy to use it!

  20. gracie_fr says:

    I am truly grateful for Tony Karon’s heartening pro Barak Obama post. Not only is Obama a wonderful racial mixture, a living example of the cultural melting pot as echoed by the good reverend Wheeler, this very same cultural heterodoxy has made him an ecumenical example. Open-minded ecumenism as opposed to fanatical orthodoxy is the only path to go down in the decades to come.

    Just back from a recent trip to Israel, I was heartened to listen to the wisdom of
    30/40-something former IDF soldiers now working in tandem with Palestinians who have suffered unduly in prolonged administrative detention, or had their land in the West Bank seized even after multiple appeals to the Israeli High Court, or their livelihood ruined by destruction of orchards of olive and apricot. These find young men, all of them deeply spiritual decried Israel’s policy of violence saying the country had lost her way and was no longer “a light unto the nations”. It was a heartfelt statement and one repeatedly uttered. It gives me cause to believe in a changing trend, one that would be given a real chance under a less revenge driven presidency…..

  21. Callie Levy says:

    “Zionist Establishment”? You sound to me like someone who has spent way way too much time pooring over the Protocols of the Elders of Zyon.

    If you are that uncomfortable with your Jewish hertiage just say that. Don’t do Obama the diservice of your inane rants. He has lots of jewish supporters and creeps like you will do him no favors.

  22. gracie_fr says:

    As a challenge to the usual suspects’ way of doing things, see Amira Hass’s most recent Ha’aretz editorial:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/958472.html

  23. Matthew says:

    Actual Clarity: Joan Peters book “From Time Immemorial” has been considered a fraud for decades. (Both in its original version and the version cited/quoted/copied by Professor Dershowtiz).

    Apparently, “clarity” and “truth” are not synonymous in your case….

  24. Palestiniansareamyth says:

    The only ones who consider Joan Peter’s book a fraud are Islamofacist terrorists and their supporters like Matthew.

    The fact is that Joan was pro-Arab until she discovered the truth about the Arab’s war against Israel. It’s not about land, since the Arab invadors all came from Arabia, it’s about destorying Israel and killing all the Jews in the Middle East.

    There has never been a Palestinian country, people, language, or culture. It’s all a myth created by the Plo and the Russians for the sole purpose of destroying Israel.

    Only undeducated ignorant fools believe the Arab’s propaganda about Israel.

  25. Palestiniansareamyth says:

    So another anti-semitic pro-Arab terrorist claims to be a Jew. I don’t think so especially since your mother is not Jewish. Nice try but your about as Jewish as Hitler.

  26. gilead says:

    Shame on you, Tony, for pretending to know what evil thoughts are shared by “the Zionists,” obviously a monolithic group in your mind.

    Let’s remember that a Zionist is anyone who thinks that the Jews — as a people or nationality or ethnic group — should have the option of self-determination, just like most others have.

    Shame on you for promoting the idea that it is wrong for people to feel that way. Shame on you for suggesting the word Zionist should have negative connotations, even while you lament that “Madrassa” has negative connotations.

    And shame on you for implying that Obama is anti-Zionist like you. In fact, he has repeatedly pointed out his commitment to Israel’s security, and to Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state. Yes, there are very legitimate concerns about the anti-Israel tendencies of some of his advisers. But I’m more concerned by your promotion of the idea that Jews should once again be minorities wherever they dwell. You don’t have to live there. But you should certainly respect the choice of 6 million Jews who do want to live where they can exercise self-determination as a people (ie Zionists), and the choice of countless million others who choose to live abroad but strongly support the existence of a place where Jews can exercise such self-determination (again, that scary Z word).

  27. I too support Sen. Barack Obama for president and am excited about the prospects of regaining a position of moral leadership in world affairs.

    I feel that the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC – as defined so well by James Petras) is quite alarmed at the possibility of a Obama administration and will pull out all the stops to prevent such an occurance (including the unthinkable – assassination). They have quite a number of weapons in their arsenal from media, money, useful idiots from 3rd parties meant to provided cover for upcoming election theft, election tampering, vote fraud, and voter suppression. Add to that a compliant “Justice” Department, and the fact that Rethuglicans are in danger of their crimes becoming known and the risk (albiet small) of their eventual prosecution, and the incentive for ensuring the desired outcome is undeniable.

    I hope am wrong about this and that Sen. Obama is elected (and serves) to begin the process of putting things right.

  28. Thanks Tony for clarifying yr thoughts about the term “Zionist.” I certainly agree that there is a right-wing consensus among the American Jewish leadership & Israel lobby groups like AIPAC-ADL-AJC, etc. “Alte kakker” is a great name for them. I prefer calling them “right-wing pro-Israel” or something of the sort so as not to bring the term “Zionist” into too much disrepute.

    That being said, I do think that Zionism is problematic in regards to the issue of Israel being a democracy. There are many such issues that Israel & Zionists have to come to terms with on that score. I believe that Zionism will have to greatly modify its terms of reference in order to truly embrace Israel as a democracy of all its citizens. But I still feel there is usefulness in the term.

  29. Donald says:

    One of the fanatics posting here did raise a valid point–Obama usually toes the AIPAC line. For instance, he talks about the 2006 war using the same lies they tell, claiming that Lebanese civilians died only because Hezbollah used them as human shields. Never mind what Human Rights Watch found when they investigated.

    He departs from the AIPAC line just often enough to have them worried, but I don’t really know what to make of it.

  30. max cadenhead says:

    “Zionist” could not possibly be in worse repute than it already is, except by adding the letters “SS” after the word. However, enough of evil. This post is very good, and needs saying over and over and over. Israel, once replete with friendship and goodwill nearly worldwide, is now the most hated nation on the face of the earth, with the US, her willing tool, the second most hated. And rightly so. As a respondant remarked, in paraphrase, “Israel was once the champion of the underdog, because Jews were so often the underdog, but now that they have total power over the Palestinians, they have become thugs and bullies like every other such groups”.. Sorry for the paraphrase, but the sentiment stands. Lord Acton’s terrible dictum will yet be the ruin of Israel..as it has been the ruin, at least in honor, of so many Israeli-americans, (small “a” intentional). The unrestrained power of the Israeli cabal in the US has created a generation of traitors, Pollards to a man, called the Neo-Cons. Oh, some of these are not Israeli-americans…a small “some”, but who denies that the bowel movement called the Neo-Cons is anything but a creature of Zionists most foul, to misquote MS Christie. Still, A great peoples’ honor, what’s left of it, may yet be saved by some of Israel’s Sons and Daughters who still remember the wisdom of their forebears, and remember too that Zealots have before, more than once, caused the destruction of the State of Israel. Remember, too, that Masada was not a victory, howsoever much it is spun as one today. “Americas” pass away like dew on a flower, but peoples, Jewish, Greek, Chinese, et.al., endure, and their mistakes endure with them..and not for the better.

  31. American Jewish says:

    I support Obama.

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  33. Y. Ben_David says:

    Max Cadenhead-Your assertion that Israel is the “most hated nation in the world” is certainly bizarre and incorrect. Maybe you extreme “progressives” feel that way but you in now way represent “world opinion”.

    Tony, I don’t know you gave you the right to define what Judaism is for me or for any other Jew. Why don’t your write about Christianity and Islam in the same way? You never would, out of a sense of “politcial correctness”, but because of your Jewish ancestry you somehow feel you have the right to trash your own people. You don’t have to practive Judaism or even identify with it if you don’t want to, but you don’t own it.
    You remind me of a story I read writeen by a German Jew who was there at the time Hitler came to power. Several Jews at his place of employment were worriedly discussing what this latest development. One said, “I’m not worried, the Nazis will only go after those filthy Ostjuden (Polish Jews), they’ll leave us alone, we are patriotic Germans”.. The guy who wrote the piece said he slugged that guy in the face.
    I wonder what your “progressive friends” in HIZBULLAH and HAMAS think about you, Tony?

  34. Fred says:

    “…the arrogance with which every U.S. president of the past quarter century has addressed the world.”

    I think Tony is projecting policy disagreements into deep imaginary character flaws.

    Psychologists tell us that generally, insecurity causes more bad behavior than arrogance, so the issue is probably moot, anyway

    I fail to see a distinction between voting FOR someone because of their ethnic background and voting AGAINST someone because of their ethnicity.

    And there are some Muslims at war with the West. You can point to Muslims who aren’t, and conclude it’s not all of Islam. But you can’t really say, with a straight face, there is no war. You can even accuse GW Bush of bumbling the war, of making things worse. But if you claim he’s made the war worse, you can’t say the war doesn’t exist.

    Obama said “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” Since this is factually untrue, people interpret this as a coded message. Decoding it is a puzzle, like interpreting the spoutings of Oracles. The decoding must be reflection of emotion, especially fear, and cannot be the result of logic. Perhaps you could interpret it by trying to figure what it “Sounds like”. The cure is to be careful about the truthfullness of what you say. Obama was not careful. Who knows what he really meant? But Tony interprets this decoding as “Racism”. Perhaps Tony’s South African experiences have lead him to interpret everything through the prism of race relations.

  35. Mike Ghouse says:

    The silent majority of the people never had any one who spoke their language, it is for the first time some one speaks, thinks and acts like them; to be inclusive and live and let live.

    The Jews are supporting and should support as every human, he is going to stand out for Justice, that which is sustainable.

    I would like to post this article on my website and here is my article that you could post…

    Obama the Shepherd – Thank God for Obama, he mirrors the dreams of millions of Americans and is our new shepherd on the political spectrum. He will lead us to a safe, secure, strong, and respectable and a healthy America.


    Mike Ghouse

  36. Y. Ben-David says:

    Mike Ghouse wrote:
    Obama the Shepherd – Thank God for Obama, he mirrors the dreams of millions of Americans and is our new shepherd on the political spectrum. He will lead us to a safe, secure, strong, and respectable and a healthy America.

    It is truly touching how people can have such naive faith in a slick politician. Bush’s fanatical followers said the same thing about their man. Doesn’t it occur to any of you that the United States is a gigantic country with a population of a quarter-billion with immense economic interests around the world, some of them in distasteful countries?
    How much can the President change even if he really wants to? Aren’t there solid, entrenched interests that have immense inertia that resist changes they view as inimical to those interests?

  37. khaled says:


    Thank you for the great post!! – it gives me hope when I see peace-seeking Jews that expose the madness by some elements in the Jewish community. May all people of all faiths do the same in pointing out the racists/ intolerances within their own respective communities.

    Thank you again

  38. Pingback: Why Barack Obama Is Good for the Jews « Liberty Street

  39. Matthew says:

    Hey Palestiniansareamyth: Your comments are as stupid as your screen name.

    P.S. Whenever some idiot like youself has to use the word “Hitler” in a post, I just say, “checkmate”!

  40. Patrick says:

    Excellent post Tony. It is great to hear these rational perspectives on the Middle East, I’ve always known that the AIPAC nuts don’t speak for mainstream Jewish Americans. I really hope to read you more often from now on. Excellent work.

  41. Jack Goldman says:

    I don’t care if people are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. I care about human beings, rule of law, social justice, not special interest groups. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are nothing more than special interest groups that should pursue their special interests on their own budget, not on American welfare as Zionists and Israel is. Obama is selling hope. Mrs. Bill Clinton is no Barrack Obama. Her job in New York was a carpet baggers quota payback to Bill. The Clintons are slimy and sleazy. What do people prefer after eight years of Bush (sorry I voted for the liar)? We need change. That means Obama, not Clinton or McCain and I am a white male Republican.

  42. j. anthony says:

    Great web site. I wonder what people think of this passage in the print version of Obama’s 3/18 speech on race, in reference to Rev. Wright.

    “But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.”

  43. Olandug says:

    We should judge a person by their actions and not their words. The We should judge a person by their actions and not their words. The fact that Obama choose Mr. Wright as his spiritual teacher for 20 years and included Mr. Wright in his election staff speaks well for Mr. Obama’s thinking and actions. Words are easy to manipulate and it is unlikely that Obama’s recent speech was written by Mr. Obama anyway. Mr. Obama has a powerful and power hungry staff including his wife that will do anything to get him elected to power. But clearly this man Mr. Obama is not to be trusted with the future of our great country. And regardless that he is ‘fashionably black’ and that many of you have some desire to prove to yourself or to others that you are not prejudice and that you like black people with an attitude of ‘See, I like black people, I voted for a black person.’ And whether you are black or white, such an attitude of voting for a person because of their race is the definition of prejudice.

    If Mr. Obama is elected president, the Jewish people had better get on a boat and seek refuge in Germany.

  44. Steven Solomon says:

    What exactly is the ‘Zionist establishment’?
    Israel’s Likud party?
    Jews in general?
    Jews in the Diaspora?
    Jewish Zionists?

    please clarify.

  45. Tony says:

    Steven — I’m always amazed at how people bristle at the use of “Zionist” in these parts; having grown up as a member of a proudly Zionist organization (Habonim) and knowing that it’s the founding ideology of Israel, and a core principle in the self-identity of most of its major political parties (not just Likud). But I also know that the Zionist movement, with its core belief in the idea that Jewish identity is tied to the idea of a “Jewish state”, and Israel itself do not, and haven’t ever represented what you call “Jews in general.”

    So I use the term Zionist to talk about an organized nationalist movement claiming (although not legitimately, I believe) to represent “Jews in general”. AMong the organized institutions grouped under the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (that I referred to in my story) there is a Zionist consensus, i.e. a belief that Israel represents an integral part of Jewish identity and is somehow an expression of collective Jewish will or fate. As you can see, I don’t share that belief, and there are many Jews like me who don’t. So, when I use the term “Zionist establishment” I’m referring to the organizations that share that nationalist consensus (Jewish organizations that don’t, of course, tend to be a lot smaller and, by definition, don’t claim to represent “Jews in general”), and of course, to AIPAC, which most actively channels that current.

    So, to go through your checklist, I use “Zionist establishment” in this piece to refer specifically to U.S.-based organized Jewish bodies for whom political, economic and diplomatic support for Israel is a central organizing principle. I’d say Likud thinking has long been dominant in that quarter (and that the political consensus among Israel’s organized supporters in the U.S, both Jewish and Christian, is well to the right of the political consensus in Israel), but its not as if supporters of Labor or Shas or any other tendency are excluded by definition.

  46. Stan says:

    I CONFESS, I WAS SHOCKED–nonplussed for a moment on hearing news that there are Jews actually prepared to vote for Barack Obama! (“Baruch Atah Obama”?) What prevails in the voting mindset of these individuals escapes me.

    Is it intellectual high-mindedness? Is it the very name “McCain” that falls heavy on the Jewish ear? A liberal Jewish friend recently told me he’s voting for Obama. Okay. But how does that square with your abiding concerns for Israel these many years? I asked him. “Yes, well, . . . ” his voice trails off, then suddenly returns, “. . . but this guy McCain: he’s so old, befuddled,” my friend bemoans; “Obama at least is young and fresh,” blithe words spoken with an upbeat lilt. Then, he adds sotto voce, “and–come on–you and I know how black people suffered here . . .” So it went.

    Once upon a time, Israel’s right to exist, in peace, was a vital political litmus test for the Jewish community. For me, John McCain, his shortcomings notwithstanding, appears to pass that test. Many others do feel he’s the more likely CIC who would actively respond, should the cat jump in the Middle East. And jump it will, sooner than later.

    No amount of Hollywood or tendentious media histrionics can alter the fact that we now stand squarely at a very deadly crossroad. You have only to watch and listen to radical Islamists and to Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ruling over a country that is just about to go nuclear, Ahmadinejad effectively demonstrates what Hitler said before launching all-out war in Europe. Speaking of himself in the third-person, with the sinister smile often plastered on the bearded Ahmadinejad’s face, The Fuehrer addresses thousands of rallied Nazis about how Europe is wondering whether he will make war. “Er kommt,” he tells them, nodding and emphasizing the point with his index finger. “Er kommt.” [“He is coming.”]

    Rest assured an Obama or Clinton presidency, with a Chamberlain predisposition, will further embolden America’s enemies the world over. They are here and more are coming. The Israelis in particular will be in for the ultimate fight of their lives. The searing question is, will they find a real friend answering the White House phone at, say, 3:00 A.M.

    For all America Jews who would help put Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, a reality check might be in order. Perhaps they might start by watching Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoa.”

  47. Jason says:

    Tony… day after day, you make me proud to be a post-Zionist Jew, and a rootless cosmopolitan (born in Spain, grew up in New Jersey, spent a decade in Los Angeles and now live in Canada). keep up the good work 🙂

  48. Howard says:


    Here is Pastor Wright’s ‘Black Value System’
    posted at his website. This is what Barak Obama
    pledged an oath to for the past 20 years:

    Pastor Wright gave Louis Farakan a life time
    achievement award. Here is what Louis Farakan believes:
    Posted at his own website.

  49. Ann says:

    Excellent post, Tony. You always were a mensch!

  50. nan says:

    Don’t vote for this madman! This man is a sock puppet. He will not protect us and has no experience. He is promoted by Farakhan and by is shady leftist friends. Last time someone was so able to mesmerize people was Hitler in Germany! Wake up! I agree the black value system is not the system of America. I thinjk this man is evil. (and i don’t care for his family history.)

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