Obama, Jerusalem, and the Jews

Several weeks ago, Project Genesis was sent a paid advertisement from the Republican Jewish Coalition — which it then distributed. Although it was a paid ad, and we’d have accepted one from the National Jewish Democratic Council as well, it elicited a predictable level of protest.

One of our correspondents is an old friend and staunch Democrat, and he sent a sharp protest directly to me. He wrote that sending the ad endangers Torah.org’s tax-exempt status, and besides, he can argue with most of the points made in the ad. I wish he’d have pursued that second line of reasoning a little further, given that he is entirely mistaken on the first: an organization may not endorse one candidate, but can, of course, accept paid advertising on a non-discriminatory basis.

Perhaps he did not undertake the task of arguing with the RJC because — despite his protestations to the contrary — he can’t. Honestly, the RJC ad says nothing that we shouldn’t already know. Did Obama oppose labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization? Yes, he did — as I already noted, his web site carefully avoids applying this label to Hamas, as well. And yes, he did say that he would meet Iranian President Ahmadinejad without any preconditions. The RJC also asserts that “Sen. Obama told a Jewish group he supports an undivided Jerusalem, only to flip-flop the very next day.” Judge for yourself:

As a then-undecided friend of mine said after seeing this video, “for one of the smoothest speakers I’ve seen, he sure stutters a lot.”

To cast a vote for Obama is to quite literally throw caution to the wind. He has no executive experience, and an incredibly meager legislative record — try asking an Obama supporter to name any of his major accomplishments. The NY Times endorsed Obama by insisting that he “has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change,” while providing no reference, no examples, no “flesh” at all. Democrats like Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale and even Gary Hart wrote policy books; Obama writes his own memoirs (twice, so far — not at all bad for a middle-aged junior Senator). And he has proven himself incredibly adept at speaking to the center, regardless of his own actual views.

His verbiage on Israel mollifies the fears of Jews; his actual record has the Arab world solidly behind him and against McCain. He speaks of moderation; his voting record is one of the most liberal in the U.S. Congress. He talks about probity and accountability; his political career was launched in the living room of an unrepentant domestic terrorist (whom Obama attempted to dismiss as a mere ‘acquaintance’).

Perhaps most troubling of all, Sen. Obama talks about a post-racial society — but I’m not at all reassured by his record in this area, either. For twenty years he sat in the pews and donated tens of thousands of dollars to a church led by a vitriolic and race-baiting pastor, and which hosted guests like Louis Farrakhan. Obama “disassociated” himself from the Reverend Wright only because the latter proved incapable of keeping his hatred under wraps from January through November.

Has anyone else read Michelle Robinson Obama’s senior thesis? The entire thesis, from beginning to end, is about the experience of blacks as “outsiders” at Princeton — an overwhelmingly liberal campus whose professors will turn out tomorrow in support of her husband by a ratio of better than 4:1. The same year she turned in that thesis, the largest independent student organization on campus elected a short kid wearing a yarmulke as its President. Political correctness and diversity were the order of the day, and the only outsiders on that campus were the members of ROTC.

Instead of logical arguments, we are treated to the idea that Jews opposed to Obama are bigots, racists, or simply against “change” (which has no definition, beyond a return to the economic policies of Jimmy Carter). There is racism in this campaign, but it’s not on the McCain side. McCain, for no logical reason, has refused to question Obama’s association with Reverend Wright… which would be akin to failing to question the judgment of a young man mentored by David Duke or Pat Buchanan.

I don’t know whether, given the chance to learn more of his views through another decade in the legislature, we would ever choose Obama. What I can say with confidence is that to vote for him now is to simply roll the dice.

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17 comments to Obama, Jerusalem, and the Jews

  • Shmuel

    Too little, too late. While Barack Hussein Obama and his operatives galvanized tens of thousands of people to work for him, for free, via the internet viral approach, we orthodox Jews sat and wrung our hands as to whether Agudath Israel should have a website, whether we can even touch the computer, etc. We lost the technologic war and we let the secular, leftist media have a field day with Palin’s outfits and other distractions, instead of focusing on the very real issues of this campaign.

    The only practical way to have fought against this technologically savvy celebrity politician would have required Jewish leaders to work together, getting thousands of orthodox Jews to call undecided voters, etc–but our community is too apathetic for that. I have a relative who has received numerous phone calls from the Obama reps urging her to vote for Obama, and not a single call from the McCain camp, in south Florida.

    When Joe Lieberman spoke in Miami Beach a few days ago, he could not even fill up a side room in a major shul. Apathy reigns.

  • Chaim Fisher

    The Republican Orthodox ‘leaders’ should be ashamed of themselves. It was they, and others like them in the Republican party, who handed Obama this election on a silver platter. Bush’s disastrous presidency, which proceeded with claps and huzzahs from the Orthodox ‘leaders’, was a travesty of gloating, ignorant predictions collapsing time and again in front of your very eyes.

    These ‘leaders’ support was puerile and poorly-thought-out, and Bush himself is a total incompetent.

    Wrong again is this article: to vote for McCain is truly the one to throw caution to the winds. Lawrence Eaglburger said during a Fox interview when he came out, yes, in favor of McCain and at McCain’s bidding, that “of course” Palin was incompetent to be president. Who would endanger the world by putting such a useless leader one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the atom bomb??

    Palin is a dud. McCain’s hopeless see-sawing and bumbling during the financial crisis reveals a man incapable of sound leadership. Those of us who envisioned a strong, stable Republican party leading a country that is, after all, a majority conservative, threw up our hands in disgust at the incompetence and mismanagement of it all.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. Go back home and practice getting it right and try again in eight years.

  • Moe

    “What I can say with confidence is that to vote for him now is to simply roll the dice.”

    I’ll go start production today on those new T-Shirts plastered with the message of “CHANCE”.

  • Bob Miller

    All this campaign razzle-dazzle only matters to voters who are uninformed.

    Years of liberal/radical dominance of American education and news media have taken their toll on the general population and on many Jews, especially in the areas of critical thinking skills and political/historical understanding.

    Exactly how pervasive a problem that is may have escaped those Orthodox Jews who have been more or less insulated from that world.

  • mb

    R.Menken,
    I’m still waiting anxiously for your apology to me regarding Yisrael Valis and Rubashkins. Then I might read your posts with some seriousness.

  • Aaron

    It takes a Jewish Democrat to threaten tax exempt status against another Jew, violating the requirement to take such a case before a beis din, first. Has that Democrat ever protested any of the scores of appearances of Democratic candidates at Reverend Wright’s or other urban churches or is he too scared of what thugs like the Philadelphia Black Panthers might do if his concern for political “fairness” wasn’t utterly biased for his team?

    How about applying the Fairness Doctrine on print media and state-supported university humanities department tenure appointments?

    Welcome to 1984. What the Democrats have accomplished far exceeds the worst excesses of McCarthyism… where not even a Joe Lieberman can run on the party ticket.

    When Jews are more haredi about their political parties than about their shul memberships, we need to worry that we really haven’t got a chance at overcoming sinas chinam.

  • Reb Yid

    To #4 Bob Miller:

    Addarabba. You have it completely reversed.

    The media, including the NYTimes, gave Dubya a free pass for far, far, too long, particularly on Iraq. Everyone trusted this administration on too many important issues–and now we are paying the consequences for the total lack of accountability and examination. It is Fox News, Bush’s Amen Corner, that is “dumbing down” the news; that is where the critical thinking is lacking.

    If only the media had displayed the same vigilance from the outset…if only more voters in 2000 and 2004 could have seen through the Rovian smokescreen designed to blind voters from critically examining what these candidates were really about on the most essential issues.

    It looks like enough voters have finally begun to think critically and thoughtfully, rather than get drawn into the false “culture wars” tactics.

  • Toby Katz

    According to the NY Times, college newspapers across the country endorsed Obama by a margin of 63 – 1. That tells you what kind of skewed propaganda our college kids are getting these days.

  • veshteit nicht

    So what was the point of getting the frum world associated with the racist right?

    Is there now a way to shmeichel the winner and start acting intelligently the way Yidden should act?

    Rush Limbaugh is not a Navi, nor a Tana, nor an Amora. In fact following him down the path he led was a form of avodas zora.

  • Adamchik

    I will never understand the Jewish (Republican) focus on Obama’s potential problems vs. Bush/McCain’s actual problems for Israel.

    As Reagan’s speechwriter said, “Obama is the real conservative”.

    Get some perspective – as The Onion wrote, “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

  • SM

    Perhaps you are simply wrong?

    I recognise political realism in Obama’s message. I am utterly unpersuaded by your concerns. I know from talking to real friends that Jews – gasp – can feel included where blacks do not. I do not insist that my own experience is the only experience. And, apparently, millions and millions feel just like me.

    You can, of course, disregard that as millions and millions of fools. But simple humility would suggest that would be wrong. Perhaps the message is that it is you who must go and learn.

  • Stefan

    “Do not rely on nobles, nor on a human being for he holds no salvation.” Psalm 146.
    There has never been an American president that Israel can rely on and there never will be. Some will be better than others but ultimately they do what they consider to be best for America – and if that means undermining an Israeli military victory by withholding arms or pressuring it to relinquish territory to terrorists then they will do it regardless of their party affiliation.

  • The Contarian

    President Obama and Agriprocessors declares bankrupcy

    I think that many of our Orthodox leaders and laymen have been struck dumb.

    The question is which ones are dumber and which ones are the dumbest.

    Are those who backed Rubashkin in words and deed the dumber ones? Are those who slandered the president elect and either poo-poohed the polls or predicted that the skies would fall in on November 5th the dumbest?

    Or is it the reverse?

  • Ori

    Aaron: It takes a Jewish Democrat to threaten tax exempt status against another Jew, violating the requirement to take such a case before a beis din, first.

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken: One of our correspondents is an old friend and staunch Democrat, and he sent a sharp protest directly to me. He wrote that sending the ad endangers Torah.org’s tax-exempt status,

    Ori: If I tell you “stop doing that, or I’ll lock you up”, it’s a threat. If I tell you “stop doing that, or the police will arrest you”, I am not making a threat. I am warning you about a risk you may have overlooked.

    BTW, if Reuven is a public official charged with punishing people for something, and he sees Shimon doing it – does Reuven need to ask a Beit Din for permission to do his job? As a tax payer I expect my officials to do the job they were hired to do, without asking for permission from third parties unless specified by law.

  • Ori

    May I suggest we all take a deep breath, wait six months, and then come back to this issue? Like it or not, Obama won the elections. There is no point debating his merits vs. McCain anymore.

    In six months we’ll know what an Obama presidency is like, and we’ll be able to evaluate it better. May G-d give him the wisdom to lead our country wisely.

  • Bob Miller

    The Contarian’s (sic) comment may be the dumbest.

  • Yaakov Menken

    I find dark humor in “veshteit nicht” associating opposition to Obama with a so-called “racist” right. As I’ve already said, McCain gave Obama a free ride on his association with Reverend Wright, the one known racist influential to either candidate or party in this campaign. It is as already said by myself and others — “Instead of logical arguments, we are treated to the idea that Jews opposed to Obama are bigots, racists, or simply against ‘change’.”

    I don’t think mb should hold his breath waiting; I don’t intend to apologize for condemning a rush to judgment before any fair assessment of the evidence.

    As that evidence emerged, it became very clear that Yisrael Valis was no abuser and there was no credible evidence of abuse — simply statements of a Police spokeswoman which she was forced to admit on the stand that she could not prove, validate, or even provide hearsay evidence. She and her colleagues made up a host of things which he did not say and they did not see, and the Israeli press (and a number of American blogs) carried the lies forward as if they were well-known facts. That a judge convicted him of negligence while Hadassah hospital got a free ride (despite expert testimony that medical neglect caused the baby’s death) says more about Israel’s “justice” system than Reb Yisrael.