Who Says Jews are Smart?

letter-447577_1280

YES, POGO, THE JEWS ARE THE STUPIDEST PEOPLE

Arab-Americans overwhelmingly support Senator Barack Obama for president. So do Jewish-Americans. One of these two groups either does not care much about the Arab-Israeli conflict and/or is stupid. My money is on the Jews.

American Jews care less and less about Israel. Over 50% of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 say they would not view the destruction of the State of Israel as a personal tragedy. Israel is not a popular cause on college campuses. Many Jewish students struggle against being identified with Israel, lest it complicate their social lives. In the under 35 cohort, only 54% profess to be comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.

Other Jews who still find it uncomfortable to disavow concern with Israel have convinced nevertheless themselves that it is in Israel’s best interests to be forced back to the 1949 armistice lines. A talkback to a recent Jerusalem Post piece of mine nicely captures the mindset.

Nathan Berkowicz writes: “What do you expect us Jews to do, hold the Palestinians hostage forever? Get your head out of the sand and wake up to the fact that we are going to have to hammer out a peace deal, a real peace deal, if for no other reason but to show ourselves that we are willing to humanely and fairly deal with a problem we created for ourselves.”

Berkowicz places the exclusive onus on Israel for the creation of the Palestinian problem – either by virtue of its creation or for having the effrontery to win in 1967. In addition, he blames Israel for the failure to achieve a “real peace deal.” The infamous “three No’s” of the Arab League in response to the Israeli offer to withdraw from the West Bank after the Six Day War played no role; ditto Arafat’s decision to return to open warfare and reject Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of well over 90% of the West Bank at Camp David. Finally, Berkowicz wants the Jews of Israel to demonstrate their humanity. He never mentions ensuring their own survival as a desideratum. So goes the “pro-Israel” case for Obama.

THOSE WHO SEE ISRAEL’S SALVATION in its being pushed back to its 1967 borders have good reason to eagerly anticipate an Obama presidency. Obama has described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a “sore, . . . infect[ing] all our foreign policy,” and placed return to the “peacemaking” of the Clinton years is at the top of his foreign policy agenda.

The express goal of that “peacemaking” will be an Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 “Auschwitz borders.” In a June interview with Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz, Obama said he can understand Israel’s desire for “’67 plus” in terms of security buffers, but Israel should consider whether it would be worth the cost in Palestinian antagonism.

The overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jews dread a return to the Oslo process, which claimed 1,471 Israeli lives in terrorist attacks, without bringing peace any closer. Oslo made a fetish of process over actual peace, as a pattern of concrete Israeli concessions in return for recycled Palestinian promises took shape. Obama offers more of the same: “Israel’s government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart,” he says.

On security grounds alone, the vast majority of Israelis oppose further territorial withdrawal from the West Bank at present. Earlier withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza resulted in the creation of heavily armed Iranian proxies on Israel’s southern and northern borders. Israeli intelligence predicts that Hamas would quickly take over the West Bank as well in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. The near elimination of successful terror attacks from the West Bank since 2002 demonstrates that only Israeli troops and on the ground intelligence gathering capabilities can deter terrorism.

Oslo taught that peace cannot be imposed from the outside and has nothing to do with signed agreements. Only a bottom-up transformation of Palestian society would make peace possible, argues Natan Sharansky, and that transformation has never seemed so far away after the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Even the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas recently declared a festive celebration in honor of the leader of the Coastal Road Massacre in which 37 Israelis were murdered. Demonization of Israel and Jews continues unabated in the official Palestinian media. No wonder three-quarters of Palestinians say that reconciliation with Israel is impossible in this generation, even after the signing of a peace agreement and creation of a Palestinian state.

The greatest threat to Israel’s existence is a nuclear Iran. By calling for direct American-Iranian negotiations, without offering anything new to the Europeans’ approach over the last five years of unconditional negotiations, Obama only grants Ahmadinejad more time and increased internal legitimacy. And by linking any sanctions to Chinese and Russian cooperation, he dooms those efforts from the start. Bottom line: an Obama presidency guarantees a nuclear Iran.

And all this leaves aside dozens of troubling Obama associations. For twenty years, he sat complacently in the church of a pastor – “my spiritual mentor” – who spewed contempt for whites, America, and Israel.

Virtually his whole public career has been closely intertwined with the unrepentant former Weatherman William Ayers.

Another member of Ayers’ Hyde Park circle was former PLO official and the current Edward Said Professor at Columbia University, Rashid Khalidi, whom Obama credits with opening his eyes to the plight of Palestinians. He has been heavily funded by the virulently anti-Israel George Soros.

Obama has numerous ties to the Nation of Islam, in particular through Tony Rezko, the convicted, Syrian-born racketeer, who partly paid for Obama’s home.

Obama’s foreign policy advisors have included: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and thirty-year critic of Israel; Samantha Powers, who has called for an end to aid to Israel and the introduction of American forces to protect the Palestinians; and Robert Malley, who has made a career of advancing, together with a former Arafat advisor, a revisionist account in which Israel was responsible for the breakdown of Camp David.

Even the Republicans touted for an Obama cabinet – Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar – have been among the handful of senators, sometimes the only ones, to consistently oppose sanctions against Iran, Syria, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Hagel laments the intimidation on Capitol Hill by the “Jewish lobby.”

No doubt the “pro-Israel” Obama supporters have good explanations of why none of these relationships are of concern. After all, why did G-d make Jews so smart if not to prove the emperor is fully-clothed.

This article appeared in the Mishpacha, 29 October, 2008.

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17 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    Jon Baker: and Bush II, while his laissez-faire attitude started out looking good, well, what has Israel had during the past 8 years? Hitnatkut, the awful Lebanon campaign, continued bombing of Sderot, death death death – what has Bush’s lackadaisical attitude helped?

    Ori: Let me see. Bush let Israel do whatever it wanted. The duly elected government of Israel made stupid choices. And now Bush is responsible?

    Israel is not a Bar Mitzvah boy that needs to be guided by people older and wiser. It is a sovereign country, supposedly able to run its affairs. If people who spend their all lives in the Middle East and who literally bet their lives on Israel’s survival can’t come up with good decisions, what makes you think people for whom this is a side show would?

  2. Jon Baker says:

    The real blame for the “Palestinian situation” falls on the other Arab and Middle Eastern Muslim nations, particularly Jordan which first kicked the Pal-Arabs out, and then renounced all claim to the West Bank; and to UNRWA, for doing absolutely nothing to resettle the refugees.

    But that doesn’t change the fact on the ground – the responsibility for dealing with the Pal-Arabs has fallen in Israel’s lap.

    Berkowicz can kvetch about history, but reality is there.

    But call it Oslo Pieces Process or something else, what real solution is there other than an iron-fist occupation, such as existed between 1967 and 1987, or a two-state solution, or genocide/transfer? That last would definitely bring in the US to oppose Israel.

    As for Obama being worse than McCain, I see no real difference between the D and R parties as regards Israel issues. Republicans have been disastrous, as have Democrats, and even those who have been moderately good, haven’t been much good in and of themselves. Nixon was bad. Carter was OK, but is now hated by many for encouraging Israel to give up the Sinai. But a) that was Arafat’s idea, and b) the peace treaty has held, unlike the hitnatkut, which was a withdrawal without a peace treaty. Reagan was so-so, Bush I was disastrous (transponder codes, loan guarantees, the beginning of Oslo), Clinton was not so good (much made of Oslo, but in the end, the Arabs walked away, and then there was the Lebanon rout), and Bush II, while his laissez-faire attitude started out looking good, well, what has Israel had during the past 8 years? Hitnatkut, the awful Lebanon campaign, continued bombing of Sderot, death death death – what has Bush’s lackadaisical attitude helped?

    Obama has already demonstrated a real awareness of the Israel situations, in his interviews with the Israelis he didn’t need prompting from his Jew buddy, unlike McCain who needed help from Lieberman. And he’ll learn. Neither of them really have much foreign-affairs experience, but Biden does. And an Obama-Biden team could be really good.

    It’s time for a change we can believe in.

  3. SM says:

    There is a world of difference between that comment and an ‘ideal solution.’

    Holding onto territory would certainly arouse Palestinian antagonism. Everyone would agree that. The issue is whether giving up the territory – and if so how much – would sooth such antagonism. To ask whether that is wise is a perfectly normal argument – and one which would be readily accepted here.

    All Obama did is put the question the other way around. That does not go within a country mile of making it his ideal solution. To suggest that it does is a disservice to debate by suggesting that questions must be phrased in a way which suits only us. We would not dream of adopting that standard – or at least I hope we would not – within our shuls or communal institutions. We ought not to do it to candidates we do not favour either. This should be about the arguments – not about whether we can spin things.

  4. Sam says:

    Can you direct me where to go if I wish to have access to that study. Was it reprted in any newsprint or is there an email address I can contact you at for the specifics of that study.

  5. Ori says:

    SM: As for those of you who hold these views I have yet to see a realistic scenario which involves military action against Iran. However I assume that every single one of you will urge your children to join the US Army in such a situation. Otherwise the hypocrisy would be utterly overwhelming.

    Ori: If you have a realistic scenario that does not involve military action, and does result in Iran not having nuclear weapons, I’d love to hear it. Negotiations have been tried, by both the US and the EU. Economic sanctions have also been tried, by both the US and the EU.

    Is it hypocritical of me to support military action without serving in the military myself(1)? Maybe. At the risk of sounding un-American, I feel it is ridiculous that my vote counts as much as the vote of Pvt. Joe in Iraq who puts his life on the line. Having said that, those are the rules which Pvt. Joe swore to uphold, so it must be OK with him. And from everything I read, McCain is likely to get a lot more military votes than Obama – even though they’re the ones who live expectancy would be improved by a cut and run strategy.

    (1) I am 34, and I spent three years in my youth proving I’m not cut out for the military. Still, me being in the military is a lot more realistic than my kids, the oldest of whom is in Kindergarten, serving any time soon.

  6. BY says:

    “Much of the ‘what do we really know about him’ stuff on Obama sounds exactly like what anti-Semites say about us. It is the ‘dual loyalty’ charge in another guise.”

    The dual loyalty charge is that Jews are loyal to a second country they have a religious connection with rather than the country they have citizenship of. Obama is charged here with not giving a whit about a country he has no special connection with, Israel. Alternatively or additionally, his idea of what would help Israel is similar to Peace Now’s.

    “The Israelis have publicly declared themselves content with each candidate.”

    And they would be quite mad to do otherwise, antagonizing a future president and interfering in a foreign election, even were Obama’s rise literally Jimmy Carter’s second term. Actual American-Israelis are projected for McCain three to one.

    “As for negotiations with Iran – get real. The alternative is military action.”

    As for unconditional negotiations with Iran, get real. Europe has been doing that for years, and Iran is on course to have nuclear weapons. Only someone who can credibly say he prefers the use of force to Iranian nuclear weapons has even a chance of stopping them without actual use of force.

    “Obama clearly sees that problem. It is irresponsible to hit him for articulating it because, without doubt McCain sees it too. The difference is that McCain won’t admit it.”

    McCain sees that toothless negotiations are meaningless. I don’t believe Obama is insightful enough to know this, but suppose he does. Then he should be upfront and admit he would let Iran’s leaders have nuclear weapons rather than risk conflict. At best, Obama prefers the risk of Iran acquiring them over the risk of attack.

    “As for those of you who hold these views I have yet to see a realistic scenario which involves military action against Iran. However I assume that every single one of you will urge your children to join the US Army in such a situation.”

    I will support American use of bombs instead of infantry, despite Iranian use of human shields or Chinese embassies as military stations like in Kosovo or such similar stunts as the Western media enables. That’s enough for my conscience. I am not willing to die to save Iran’s infrastructure.

  7. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    Could you please cite the source that over 50 percent of non orthodox Jews under 35 would not view it as a personal tragedy if Israel Chos Vashalom ceased to exist or that only I believe 54 percent are comfortable with its existence.

    Yes, a recent study by sociologists Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman of Hebrew Union College.

    SM is incorrect that I offered no proof that Senator Obama sees the ideal solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in terms of the 1949 armistice lines. Had he read one sentence further from the sentences he quotes he would have found reference to Obama’s June interview with Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz, in which he expressed doubts that Israel holding on to any territory beyond those lines would be wise in light of the Palestinian antagonism it would inevitably arouase.

  8. Sam says:

    Could you please cite the source that over 50 percent of non orthodox Jews under 35 would not view it as a personal tragedy if Israel Chos Vashalom ceased to exist or that only I believe 54 percent are comfortable with its existence

  9. SM says:

    I suppose someone ought to put the opposite view.

    Much of the ‘what do we really know about him’ stuff on Obama sounds exactly like what anti-Semites say about us. It is the ‘dual loyalty’ charge in another guise.

    Obama has never said that he wants a return to pre 1967 borders and even our author does not assert he has. Instead the technique used is to put two things side by side – “THOSE WHO SEE ISRAEL’S SALVATION in its being pushed back to its 1967 borders have good reason to eagerly anticipate an Obama presidency. Obama has described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a “sore, . . . infect[ing] all our foreign policy,”

    The Israelis have publicly declared themselves content with each candidate. Presumably they are not conniving in their own destruction or are people hysterical enough to accuse them of that as well?

    As for negotiations with Iran – get real. The alternative is military action. The American public simply won’t stand for a war with Iran. Israel would be a proxy and the result – even if these 60 foot underground bunkers could be and were taken out with conventional weapons – would be a war that would involve most of the Arab nations. Israel might actually lose – and be destroyed. Or it could use nuclear weapons and be the target of condemnation world wide, with the pressure to withdraw from the territories becoming irresistable.

    Obama clearly sees that problem. It is irresponsible to hit him for articulating it because, without doubt McCain sees it too. The difference is that McCain won’t admit it.

    As for those of you who hold these views I have yet to see a realistic scenario which involves military action against Iran. However I assume that every single one of you will urge your children to join the US Army in such a situation. Otherwise the hypocrisy would be utterly overwhelming.

  10. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart: What is it about Islam that makes it stronger the more assimilationist pressures around it grow?

    What is it about Judaism that the exact opposite happens?

    Ori: Nothing. From everything I read, Muslims in the US melting pot are considerably more assimilated than those in multi-cultural Europe.

    We Jews assimilated more to the US than Muslims, but we’ve also been here longer. We also haven’t had the Saudis pay for Wahhabi synagogues and Yeshivot to teach us their fanaticism. Thank G-d!

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    As a neo conservative Democrat, there is much about Obama besides his obviously Carteresque view on the Middle East and friendships with radicals and unrepentant bombers to object to. A President who views the judiciary as the means for redistribution of wealth as opposed to Congress and whose views would render American sovereignty subservient to the chattering classes of the liberal-left intellectual-media axis and their European allies cannot be counted on as a friend of Israel and its need for secure boundaries. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party was populated by giants such as FDR, HST, JFK, RFK, LBJ, HHH and Scoop Jackson. That era ended with the McGovern Commission’s rule which allowed “activists” to support their own candidates and the reign of the tenured radicals who took over American campuses when they failed to take over America in the late 1960s. Today’s Democrats are a fusion of tenured radicals, leftist intellectual and media types and those who purport to be “civil rights” leaders. Democrats have learned to campaign to the center, but always attempt to govern from the left ( i.e. Carter, Clinton and probably Obama as well).

    The utter lack of any meaningful scrutiny of the background of the Democratic candidate’s academic, familial, social and medical backbround by the so called “mainstream media” speaks volumes as to why it cannot be trusted with regards to the analysis of this issue or its suggestions for Israel. While it is true that our heterodox brethren view voting Democratic as the 614th commandment, one cannot propose or automatically assume that the Orthodox world agrees on all issues with the Republican agenda. IMO, the Jewish community needs to realize that its POV will not be taken for granted once it starts to realize that Pavlovian style voting is not an answer. Until that happens, we will continue to see Presidential tickets that are subjected to no meaningful analysis and which become the stuff of late night comedy routines.

  12. Garnel Ironheart says:

    What is it about Islam that makes it stronger the more assimilationist pressures around it grow?

    What is it about Judaism that the exact opposite happens?

  13. Bob Miller says:

    It’s irrelevant how far McCain has gone in clarifying the Obama-Ayers relationship. Plenty of people have found supporting facts on their own.

  14. cazzie says:

    Not even John McCain alleges that.

    Comment by S. — October 30, 2008 @ 8:53 am

    That does not make it not true. McCain also has failed to bring up the Rev. Wright relationship. He should!!!

    Further, what about the rest of the cogent arguments made here. At best you may be able to argue with one or two and bring in a negative or two about John McCain (although it is hard in this topic of Israel);but can you and will you, ignore all the issues raised here. To do so would either be uncaring of our people’s future in Israel or some type of political blindness.

  15. Tal Benschar says:

    Perhaps the stupidity is on the part of Israelis and the Israeli govts. who have allowed Israel to become so dependent on America. The idea that such a relationship would continue forever is counter to any reasoned view of history.

  16. mnuez says:

    While it’s certainly true that a tragically large number of Jews – “Israeli” Jews included – care less than they should about the continued existence of The Jewish State, one would be jumping the gun to assume that support for Barack Obama’s candidacy in and of itself attests to such a lack of care for our people, our homeland and our sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael.

    The excesses of American laissez faire capitalism, built upon the perpetual violation of the Tenth Commandment and resulting in poverty, anguish and early death for millions of her citizens is reason enough to support the candidate that claims to care about rectifying some of the flaws in that system. The fact that this candidate appears to have a misunderstanding of the Jewish situation is tragic but for many people (particularly for those in actual physical pain with no recourse to a physician without the fear of incurring lifelong indentured servitude) Obama’s potential benefits outweigh (in likelihood or in strength) his potential flaws.

    mnuez

  17. S. says:

    >Virtually his whole public career has been closely intertwined with the unrepentant former Weatherman William Ayers.

    Not even John McCain alleges that.