Obama, Racism, and the Jews

letter-447577_1280

I believe that getting America to the point of electing a black President was one of America’s finest hours.Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein, November 12.

He beat me to it, as I was going to make a similar comment. As a strong McCain supporter, I did not expect to have such positive feelings about the statement made by Americans about America today, through this election. Less than 50 years after whites had to be forced to share classrooms and bathrooms with black Americans, they elected one to be President of the United States. If I read the electoral college numbers correctly, then although it is true that over 90% of African-Americans voted for him, Obama would have won without the black vote.

Despite his selection of the very partisan Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, Obama has begun with a number of overtures across the aisle. If he governs the way he campaigned — namely, in the center — then the next four years may be a pleasant surprise, and we should give him the chance to prove himself.

This does not change the fact that thoughtful Americans, especially Jewish voters and those concerned for Israel, had legitimate and extremely serious reasons to oppose him that had nothing to do with bigotry and racism. It would behoove Obama’s supporters to recognize that a slanderous and unsubstantiated accusation of bigotry is, itself, bigoted. Both during and after the election, we’ve heard that Jewish opposition to Obama, especially Orthodox Jewish opposition, was based upon his race — without a scintilla of valid evidence. I include, among these, Gary Rosenblatt’s recent editorial in the Jewish Week (“Racial Comments ‘Shock’ Principals“), so approvingly cited by “Reb Yid” in the comments to Rabbi Adlerstein’s recent post.

Perhaps the most egregious violation of standards of decency was this from Howard Katz in the comments: “American Orthodoxy was unable to particapte [sic] in this transformational moment, still seeing in Obama ‘the shvartze’.”

Mr. Katz, this comment is so far out of line that I must step away from my careful, third-party references to those in a debate on any legitimate issue. You are both a smear-monger and a bigot. Far from calling for apologies for “ugly and racist anti-Obama propaganda” that never existed in the Orthodox community, you should be the one to apologize.

I do not mean to underplay racism in the Orthodox community; it surely exists, but the non-Orthodox hardly have reason to crow. [UPDATE: For an explanation of the distinction, please see my comment below.]

When a potty-mouthed Jewish comedienne pointed to bigoted bubbies in Florida, did she only mean Orthodox ones? Of course not. Neither, of course, does anyone suspect it was an Orthodox Jew who concocted the myth that Obama was a closet Muslim — which gained such currency that Michael Bloomberg spoke out against it. And, for that matter, it is not Orthodox Jews who have fled to the suburbs as blacks started to buy neighboring houses — in my neighborhood, my neighbors are now almost exclusively either black or Orthodox.

Furthermore, racism is but one variety of bigotry. One Orthodox Rabbi silenced a supposedly “liberal” student by asking her: “ok, so you know your parents would be happy, tolerant and loving if you chose a black man to be your spouse. What if he were black-hatted?”

The Jewish Week article so lovingly cited by Katz and “Reb Yid” is a farce. From the outset, it uses concocted scenarios to prove racism — to wit, a comment regarding Obama that “My Mommy and Daddy told me that he doesn’t like Jews and is dangerous.” Not only is Obama’s long association with Palestinian/Arab agitators legitimately troubling to Israelis and anyone pro-Israel, but more importantly, that statement says nothing about Obama’s race. By citing this as an “example” of isolated racist statements, the principal was indeed “conflating racial bias and ‘serious and legitimate concerns’ many Jews have about Obama and his views” — but a parental response saying so was cited as if it “dissented” from the opposition to racism. To the enjoyment of his liberal readers, Rosenblatt simply delights in criticism of the Orthodox, whether valid or not.

If you took any group of white McCain supporters of similar size, whether Jewish or not, you would find at least as many racially-tinged comments as were found by these principals in their schools. And, though it’s hardly politically correct to say so, the most likely source of a racially-intolerant comment from someone in a leadership position this year was from an African-American.

This is a universal problem, not a Jewish or Orthodox one. We can’t survey Reform or Conservative children for racial sensitivity in this case, because their parents were overwhelmingly pro-Obama. However, we do know from other incidents across the country that Obama’s youngest supporters were hardly less likely to engage in bigoted comments, intimidation and threats: “That’s when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed… here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you’ve done?”

As for the adults — in Pennsylvania, insensitive comments were the least of their problems. In at least one case, Black Panthers armed with billy clubs stationed themselves outside a polling place.

No, what was unique about the Orthodox schools was that the principals in these cases acted, with letters to parents urging them to talk to their children. And the response was “overwhelmingly positive” — putting the lie to Katz’ foul accusation that racism is either endemic or approved in the Orthodox community.

It was never Obama’s color that was the issue, but his views and his policies. I have never for a moment doubted that Barack Obama was the most intelligent of the three major contenders for the oval office this year. He gave little evidence of wisdom to match his intelligence, in either his views on foreign policy matters or his choice of associates. The former, of course, was the more troubling — but now we will all see how quickly he learns.

You may also like...

34 Responses

  1. state the truth says:

    I wish people would stop denying the truth that racism is so prevalent in the frum community because maybe if they stated the truth, something would be done about it. As a person who grew up around politics, I could care less if you disagree with me. It’s fun to debate both sides of an issue. The problem with how the frum community handled Obama running is that they would make comments completely unrelated to his stances. Many would state or add racial epithets. It was sad and frustrating.

    Also, I have witnessed people say horrible things to African American Jews and non-Jews many, many times. If it’s a Jew, some people try to say “oh I don’t mean you.” But it is EVERYWHERE and it is horrific. I know many Jews of Color who are no longer frum because of the horrible treatment they have received. I have a friend who has started to drive on Shabbos because when she has gone to black hat families, they have made horribly rude comments to her half-black daughter and she refuses to let her child be hurt, so she leaves even though she feels horrible about having to break Shabbos. It’s a shame.

    It’s there. We all know it. It’s horrific. It’s unacceptable but the more posts we get about it not existing means one more time, it will be swept under the rug.

    In fact, one of my closest friends, an African American Orthodox Jewish female who was very Yeshivish moved to a bigger frum community was so appalled that she doesn’t leave her home on Shabbos for the rare occasions when she stays in town and hates going to kosher establishments. This is what those mean, hateful comments do to people. It’s not just a comment, but you are really hurting neshamas.

    Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!

  2. Tim says:

    I am quite saddened by the racism in our (Orthodox) community. I have been around many circles, not just Orthodox, and have to say that within the Orthodox world, racism is simply too prevalent. You can try to twist the Jewish Week’s statements around and cry victim all you want. We all know the truth. And in all honesty, whether the Orthodox are unique in this is really besides the point.

    No doubt that not voting/supporting or even criticizing Obama is certainly democratically appropriate. But that is not the sum total of comments I have heard in Orthodox circles. The hatred of “goyim,” the attacks on the “shwartes,” and the problem with the “shikses” are common and gesticulated. To claim otherwise is simply delusional. MeDvar Sheker Tirchak!

  3. Ori says:

    Stefan: We need to evaluate issues, policies and programmes individually and not be swallowed up by the party machines.

    Ori: When there’s a referendum, we can evaluate issues. When it’s an election, we need to evaluate the whole politician. As you said, there are plenty of Leftist policies that are “bug bears”: eg. anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian agitation, blind devotion to legitimising the killing of babies and homosexual marriage (and, increasingly, the killing of the weak and elderly through “merciful” euthanasia)

    Can a candidate’s other policies be so good as to outweigh these considerations?

  4. tzippi says:

    Re 29: I haven’t yet seen the new Time about the New “New Deal” but as you say, it’s not the old New Deal. FDR may well have had “a numbing belief in the benefits of unbridled bureaucracy” or something close to it, but gay marriage and all the new baggage was not part and parcel of it. Unfortunately it’s getting hard to separate the social welfare part of the left that does tap into the Jewish morality of caring for the underdog from the social morality part that is totally antithetical to authentic Judaism.

    But don’t despair too much. There were plenty of split tickets as there is a strong tendency among the Orthodox to vote in state and local incumbents who have done their job well, regardless of their party. Though as the Democrat message continues to evolve (devolve?) that may change.

  5. Stefan says:

    There is a tendency for the Orthodox to veer toward the conservative side of the political spectrum. This is unfortunate because there is much on the Left which could fit comfortably within Jewish morality. I fear the problem lies in the Leftist “bug bears” which successfully alienate those with a commitment to authentic Jewish values, eg. anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian agitation, blind devotion to legitimising the killing of babies and homosexual marriage (and, increasingly, the killing of the weak and elderly through “merciful” euthanasia), passivity in the face of brutal and aggressive regimes, allegiance to a victim culture and a numbing belief in the benefits of unbridled bureaucracy. That’s just off the top of my head. Feel free to add to the list.
    Despite this, I think every frum person should consciously try to rise above ideological considerations. While there are – in the American context – loonies on the Left of the Democratic Party there are, I dare say, just as many crazies on the Right of the Republicans. We need to evaluate issues, policies and programmes individually and not be swallowed up by the party machines.

  6. David N. Friedman says:

    An AJC survey has 78% of the Orthodox voting for McCain–in contradiction to Charles Hall’s data.

    The sense that most Orthodox Jews voted against Obama makes ample sense anecdotally since in my own informal polling at shuls I attend–Obama is not very popular.

    77% overall seems about right (although I was working to keep it in the 60-s) and this assume large majorities for the 10-12% of the community voting overwhelmingly the other way against Obama.

  7. dovid says:

    LOberstein, you made several statements in you comment posted on November 16, 2008 @ 12:16 am.

    I repeat my request made on November 17, 2008 @ 1:42 am that you document who, when, and where in this blog (1) you were informed that “it against the Torah to vote Democratic”, (2) who, when, and where Obama as a person was compared to Hitler as a person, (3) when and where in this blog you wrote “that Obama is not Hitler”, and (4) when and where in this blog you were condemned for protesting your alleged statement in (3).

    I also repeat my reminder that the Torah equates slander to the three cardinal sins combined.

  8. anonymous says:

    Howard Katz,
    I am not quite so sure that the reaction to Hillary would have been much less pleasant-or at least not to the Orthodox Jews. Maybe the more liberal Jews would have voted for her. I think the liberal Jews, though, would have rememberd how she promised when running several years ago for the Senate made many promises and then when asked about fullfilling those promises said that people (the jews) or anyone for that matter should know that that was campaigning and that I can’t keep those promises.
    I believe her positin on health care and the like would have stopped many Jews from voting for her. I know that many of us were thinking, “Uh-oh” at the thought of her actually being president and her husband once again being in the White House etc…… So, I am not quite so sure about Hillary fairing better.
    Look, I know I voted for McCain because of the political issues only re: Obama. It never was an issue of color.

  9. mycroft says:

    “What is needed here are some hard numbers, and the only ones thus far were posted by Charlie Hall to Rabbi Adlerstein’s post. The percentage for Obama was such that “the local state assemblyman pointed out in a recent interview that such margins would be impossible without a lot of support from religious Jews.””

    There is evidence that the hugher the percentage of religious Jews the area went more for McCain-see eg the 5 Towns ofLongIsland-Lawrence which is heavily least outwardlypseudochareidi went 89%for McCain, a one went away from lawrence and less percentage ofOrthodox and chareidi Judaism the percentages for McCain went down until Hewlett which voted for Obama.

  10. Reb Yid says:

    re: #23 Charlie Hall:

    I’ve engaged in such “Jewish” extrapolations in other communities over the years…sadly, they must be taken with a degree of salt, largely due to the ecological fallacy that you allude to.

    Orthodox Jews are small enough of a subset, even in MS/HS 141 (which I know well, having voted there myself in past elections), that it’s hard to know how they voted in one election year, let alone to assume that their voting pattern switched 4 years later.

    In terms of Bronx Jewish history–the borough had a strong Socialist presence earlier in the 20th century…true, many Jews were nominally Orthodox back then but overall it wasn’t a particularly “frum” place to grow up (although certainly quite Jewish from an ethnic perspective).

    My guess why contemporary Riverdale Orthodox Jews probably tend to be less knee-jerk Republican than other outer borough Orthodox Jews–probably largely due to education. PhDs, MDs, JDs, etc, both male and female (and those who are in training for those degrees) are the mainstay of the two largest Orthodox shuls–RJC and HIR.

  11. Charlie Hall says:

    Regarding hard data on how Orthodox Jews voted, we unfortunately lack exit polls. We have to extrapolate from neighborhoods that have a large Orthodox population. In my home county of the Bronx, there is only one, Riverdale, where I live.

    Preliminary 2008 election results from the 81st Assembly district in the Bronx, which includes Riverdale and a part of a few neighboring communities:

    http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=081&sh=map

    (Assemblyman Dinowitz was the person quoted in the other post.)

    Obama 27,784
    All others (including McCain) 8,305

    Source:

    http://www.riverdalepress.com/atf.php?sid=6575&current_edition=2008-11-13

    “Sen. John McCain, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival in the election, took a portion of Woodlawn within his district and did well in some parts of Riverdale….Mr. Obama did well at polling places at the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141, where a large contingent of Jewish Riverdale residents vote.”

    The Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy is directly across the street from the Riverdale Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue with between 600 and 700 dues-paying families. That polling place probably has the highest concentration of Orthodox Jews in the Bronx today.

    By comparison, the vote in 2004 was

    Kerry 28,680
    Bush 10,140

    It is theoretically possible that McCain did better than Bush among Orthodox Jews in my neighborhood, but unlikely. He would have had to have been completely wiped out in the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish demographics. And the demographics of Riverdale non-Jews are quite similar to the non-Jewish population of Woodlawn (Irish is the predominant ethnicity), which McCain actually carried according to the article, so this is not very likely.

    I’m not sure why Bronx Jews are voting differently from Jews in Brooklyn, but the Bronx has voted Left ever since the late 1920s. (This year it was Obama’s best county in the US.) It voted for Harding and Coolidge but never for a Republican Presidential candidate since. Even Fiorella LaGuardia only carried the Bronx because he ran on a Fusion line (1933) or as the candidate of the socialist American Labor Party (1937, 1941). And remember that the Bronx was about 50% Jewish from the 20s to the early 50s, and the predominant affiliation of those Jews was Orthodox.

  12. Isaac says:

    David N. Friedman wrote:
    By comparison [to Obama’s and Clinton’s alleged Muslim/Arab connections], the ticket of McCain-Palin had nothing to explain.

    This certainly seems to be true to those who only looked at what the mainstream media (liberally-biased and not) told us all was worth paying attention to. However, leaving aside various troubling McCain and Palin associations that are probably no more significant than, say, Obama’s with Ayers, the McCain/Palin campaign had an under-reported material connection with our enemies that was truly problematic. Their former campaign finance chair was a bought and paid for agent of the House of Saud (http://www.newsweek.com/id/137522). The press discovered as much, and McCain fired him and got a new finance director. But guess what? The new finance director works for the same lobbying firm, also as an agent of Saudi Arabia, lobbying Congress in defense of Saudi Arabia’s anti-Semitic, anti-Christian school textbook industry. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/15/friends-of-israel-two-mcc_n_134932.html)

    The election’s over, so, thank God, we only have to worry about this material Saudi influence on a particular US Senator, not on the President. We Israel supporters can be especially grateful that God threw us this kindness without most of us even noticing it as it was happening.

  13. Reb Yid says:

    Note that the “very partisan Rahm Emanuel” was instrumental, along with Lindsey Graham, in arranging for today’s meeting between McCain and Obama.

    Both McCain and Obama represented the best of what America embodies by what they did and said on election night. Let’s hope they can indeed work together in the upcoming years to meet the enormous challenges that our country now faces.

  14. Howard Katz says:

    Gil,

    “I am happy to see that people across the Orthodox spectrum have realized, and are pushing back against this blight. The editors of the Jewish Press did not write a column against it to slander Orthodox Judaism. They wrote it, because they recognized a serious problem in our community and they want to work against it.”

    So am I. I think it is a very good thing that Orthodox institutions are recognizing the problem of racism and are beginning to speak out about it. This ,in the long run, will benefit Orthodoxy much more than outraged denials.

    Lawrence Reisman – Your point is an intersting one. It is quite true that Orthodox opposition to Obama was based primarily on the belief that loyalty to Judaism necessitates right-wing politics. However, I think the reaction to Hilary would have been different, and much less unpleasant. And it is also true that conservative opposition to Obama did not necessitate racial name calling.

    Fianlly – a few points in response to Rabbi Menken:

    A) A differentiation between “internal” and “external” criticism in this case is not very persuasive. Truth is truth, no matter what the source – and, as every spiritual tradition including Judaism points out, one ought welcome sharp criticism, as it points out things that your friends and colleagues never would.

    B) “but the non-Orthodox hardly have reason to crow”. – No one, I can assure you, is crowing – or, at the very least, I’m not, since I can’t speak for “everyone”. I was, in fact expressing a sense of sadness, mixed with not a little outrage, over a state of affairs in a community that I was part of for many years. This state of affairs, obvious to everyone except those in deep denial, is something that needs to be addressed. Hopefully, it will be – and both Orthodoxy and the other religious Jewish denominations will be the better for it.

  15. The Contarian says:

    Frum from Brooklyn should be suprised that we have our ownreverse Reverend Wrights. They came from the same type of Milieu as the original. They grew up in a Brooklyn or the Bronx where ethnic competition between the have-not blacks and the immigrant Jews was fierce.

    i would suggest to those congregants who attend the shuls presided over by our reverse Reverend Wrights to realize that their actions will be a hindrance to carreera in public and civil service.

    Secondly, if chss shallom some crazy threatens the president elect or worse after hearing the hatred sprewed by these rabbis, both they,their congreagtions and the entire frum community’s goose is cooked.

  16. Ori says:

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken: Ori, the difference is that if your goal is to follow the Torah and see your grandchildren follow the Torah, then seeing your daughter marry a Reform Rabbi fails to meet that goal, no matter how well-intentioned or how loving he may be.

    But if your ideal is tolerance, “live and let live,” then there is no logical foundation for an objection. Yes, if the lifestyles and goals are very different then that would be a separate issue, but the unstated (yet mutually understood) assumption was that the girl would be changing her lifestyle to match her intended’s.

    Ori: Even the most liberal parents have other ideals, whether they articulate them or not. Nobody can live on just tolerance – it doesn’t provide guidance in 90% of life’s situations. Those other ideals they have, whether they are conscious of them or not, are the problem here.

  17. dovid says:

    “…your blogger has informed me that it against the Torah to vote Democratic”

    “There is something really sick when saying that Obama is not Hitler got me condemned.”

    Please indicate the exact place and time in this blog that (1) you were informed “that it against the Torah to vote Democratic”, and (2) that you were condemned for rejecting an analogy between Obama and Hitler. I take the liberty to remind you that the Torah equates slander to murder, immorality, and idol worshiping combined.

    “When informed that my only freedom of choice is what spice to put into my cholent,”

    Your freedom of choice in the context was manifest in the choice between finding out daas Torah re. the elections, or getting your cues from CNN, NYTimes, and LATimes. You chose CNN, NYTimes, and LATimes.

    “closed mindedness was normative Judaism”

    I asked you in Comment by dovid — November 10, 2008 @ 10:27am to define normative Judaism. You chose not to. Actually, Torah Judaism is normative. As a matter of fact, every religion is normative. The Shulchan Aruch is the Jewish code of law. It gives us the parameters within which we live our lives. You call this close mindedness. Others call it fear of G-d.

    “chareidi orthodoxy today has morphed into a type of mind control where only 90 year old rabbis who speak no English make all the rules.”

    1. Let’s see whose mind is controlled. Here is a man, whose resume at the age of 47 is pretty much a blank page. Now that America is experiencing a devastating economic downturn that put our jobs, homes, and lives in jeopardy, in addition to two wars that seem to lead nowhere, our man runs for president on a platform of promising hope and change to the nation. This man dutifully attended the weekly services of a church whose minister is on record cursing America, the whites, and “Jewish power”. Our man held his peace throughout this time. He never showed outrage or displeasure. You voted him president of the United States of America. I dare say your mind is controlled by the liberal media.

    2. The English spoken by Gedolei Torah of America is at least as good as yours. Incidentally, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky achieved a perfect score when he took the SAT. Excuse my Jewish chuzpah, what was your SAT score?

    3. You wax emotional about the tribe of your ancestors that wondered in the desert and knew better than let themselves be brainwashed by “90-yr. old rabbis”. How old were Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron Hacohen in the desert? Moshe was 80 when they left Egypt. Aaron was 83. They led the Jewish nation, your tribe included, until the last day of their lives. At their death, they were 120 and 123, respectively. Jews, your tribe included, were inconsolable. BTW, the leaders of the tribes in the desert were called זקנים (elders). Your tribe, that supplied elders in their 90’s to Jewish leadership along with the other tribes, would be embarrassed of you who instead of following authentic Jewish leadership picks up his cues from CNN, NYTimes, and LATimes. They would not drink your wine as you correctly suggested.

  18. anonymous says:

    Tal Benschar I could not have said it better!
    In my community my husband and I did not hear of the racist comments.We live in an orthodox community. The comments really were with regards to the policies and potential policies and their affects on the future for both Jews, AMericans and the world. How sad to see all of this written. I also have to take some of it with a grain of salt and say so much of it must be made up.
    I am grateful to live in a country that can elect a black man for it’s president. My rabbi also feels the same way. We don’t feel that Obama is a good choice because of his lack of experience and his political views.

  19. Yaakov Menken says:

    Ori, the difference is that if your goal is to follow the Torah and see your grandchildren follow the Torah, then seeing your daughter marry a Reform Rabbi fails to meet that goal, no matter how well-intentioned or how loving he may be.

    But if your ideal is tolerance, “live and let live,” then there is no logical foundation for an objection. Yes, if the lifestyles and goals are very different then that would be a separate issue, but the unstated (yet mutually understood) assumption was that the girl would be changing her lifestyle to match her intended’s.

    I am sure FFB is well aware of the track record of reliability, commitment to truth, and lack of bias when it comes to anonymous blog comments. What is needed here are some hard numbers, and the only ones thus far were posted by Charlie Hall to Rabbi Adlerstein’s post. The percentage for Obama was such that “the local state assemblyman pointed out in a recent interview that such margins would be impossible without a lot of support from religious Jews.”

    Did a higher percentage vote for McCain than voted for Bush four years ago? According to Reb Yid himself, the opposite is true in every district with a significant Orthodox presence, without exception.

  20. Ori says:

    Furthermore, racism is but one variety of bigotry. One Orthodox Rabbi silenced a supposedly “liberal” student by asking her: “ok, so you know your parents would be happy, tolerant and loving if you chose a black man to be your spouse. What if he were black-hatted?”

    Sorry, but that’s a flawed analogy. Skin color is a meaningless characteristic. A person’s beliefs and life style are not. Being black-hatted means something more than a head-gear preference.

    Let me turn it around. Imagine your daughter brought home a black man she would like to marry. He was adopted by Orthodox parents as a baby, underwent giyur, and then at the age of Bar Mitzvah confirmed to everybody that he wants the giyur to be effective. He is currently a star student at a Yeshiva, and attends a night school to get a degree so he will be able to bring parnassah. He has all the characteristics of a wonderful husband and father. You’d be very happy.

    Now imagine that she brought home a Reform Rabbi. He loves your daughter, he has a good career, and he seems to also be a potentially wonderful husband and father. However, he does not believe in Torah miSinai, eats non-Kosher food, and while he happens to live close enough to walk to his temple on Shabbat would really rather drive when it’s raining heavily. You would have serious misgivings about the marriage.

    It makes sense to worry about a marriage when the lifestyles of the spouses up to this point have been so different. It’s not bigotry if you do it, and it’s not bigotry if we heterodox Jews do it either.

  21. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    I don’t think Orthodox opposition to Obama was based on his race. Had Hilary Clinton been the nominee, the opposition would have been just as great, although the vulgar comments FFB has heard (as have I) would have been of a different sort.

    The opposition to Obama stems from the widely-held belief that the Torah has commanded the Jewish people to be right-wing Republicans.

  22. Frum From Brooklyn says:

    “Do you really think your daled amos of Brooklyn represents the sum total of the Orthodox Jewish world?”

    No, that’s just your assumption based on my pen name. I’ve spent years in other cities and even in other countries. My experience is unequivocal: the Orthodox community is suffused with racism from top to bottom. Don’t deny to me what I’ve seen with my own eyes for decades!

    “while there certainly is racism in the Orthodox community I am not convinced that it is any more, and probably less, prevalent than in the general community.”

    You’re delusional.

  23. Tal Benschar says:

    FFB: Do you realize what a self-caricature your post is? Do you really think your daled amos of Brooklyn represents the sum total of the Orthodox Jewish world? It’s really laughable if it were not so sad.

    On the general post, while there certainly is racism in the Orthodox community I am not convinced that it is any more, and probably less, prevalent than in the general community.

    And by the same token, there was indeed a concerted effort by the left to paint every criticism and question raised against Obama as racist. There were numerous newspaper and periodical columns whose gists was the only reason that Obama was not winning (or not winning by a landslide) was racism. How about the AP reporter who claimed that Sarah Palin’s remark that Obama “pals around with terrorists” was “racially tinged” — when she was talking about William Ayers, a lily white, unrepetant digusting terrorist. If you attempt to shut down rational discourse through loose charges of “racism” then don’t be surprised when you start experiencing more “racism.”

  24. Frum From Brooklyn says:

    This post is full of baloney. I am Orthodox, and I’ve LIVED in the Orthodox community my whole life. I can say without the least bit of hesitation that the frum community is shot through and through with racism. Just this past shalos seudos I heard the rav of a brand-name local shul call Obama a racial slur and say that “he’s an animal.” I can’t go a week in in my community without hearing a dozen bigoted comments. The non-Orthodox Jews I know from work and the neighborhood have NEVER said anything like that, and would be shocked if they knew about it. So don’t you try to weasel about this. It’s totally true that the Orthodox world is more racist than the liberal Jewish world. I am meyid to it and I’ll swear to it on a sefer torah. It’s disgusting, it’s prevalent, and it’s totally true.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    In this post election and pre-inauguration span, the euphoria that envelopes a President elect IMO can only be compared to a chasan and kalah , Lhavdil, during Sheva Brachos. Everyone wishes them a mazal tov, sings happy niggunim and hopes that they will build a Bayis Neeman BYisrael. Yet, everyone knows that being married on a day in,day out basis is a far different process than getting married. In a similar vein, the American people have elected 44 presidents, some of them by near landslides and others in very close fashion. Some have been great, others have been mediocre, others were awful, some could have been great but made mistakes that tarnished their reputations. Even Presidents who were elected by landslides have wound up losing control of both houses of Congress and being one term presidents. It should be obvious that all talk about policies, appointees, etc is at best premature speculation. OTOH, for the Democrats and their supporters to even think of engaging in what would be an ideological witchhunt of their opponents IMO would be a fundamental mistake when their most crucial goal should be thinking of policies that will reenergize the economy. Similarly, for those sectors in the Jewish community who voted for Barama to float the idea that McCain’s supporters were none less than those purportedly racist MO and the Charedim serves no positive purpose whatsoever except to engage in Ortho bashing as opposed to discussing issues in a positive manner.

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken and David M. Friedman IMO have set forth the issue very forthrightly. The notion that either the committed MO and Charedi worlds were raising anything but legitimate concerns about the President-elect’s background and qualifications should be dismissed as the figment of the secular Jewish media’s need to periodically engage in Ortho-bashing as a means of raising flagging circulation to their newspapers which only show Chabad and the far LW of MO positively, but never the committed MO and Charedi worlds.

  27. Yaakov Menken says:

    I should probably write another post about internal vs. external criticism, which is a “meta-topic” extending well beyond the debate about this particular issue. Internal criticism, within a community, is appropriate whenever that community is failing to live up to its own standards. In the case of Torah-observant Jewry, we attempt to live up to a moral code that establishes a higher standard than that of others. We cannot, internally, excuse charedi hooligans (for example) by comparing them to any other group.

    Criticism from the outside, however, is quite another matter. Members of the charedi community who did not attend four-year residential colleges may not recognize the truly unbelievable level of hypocrisy of those who attended American universities and now pen pious condemnations of charedi teenage “violence” in response to extreme provocation against their religious values. To see similar levels of violence and vandalism, one need only visit a college campus after a “momentous” football game.

    [In my personal recollection, drunken students at one of the nation’s elite universities threw cans and bottles at a rock concert because they were dissatisfied with the band selected to entertain them. The band, predictably, cut short its appearance to avoid continued risk of injury. Far from apologizing on behalf of the student body, the Undergraduate Student Government then demanded a partial refund from the band.]

    In that case, it’s ridiculous. In this case, I will grant that it is more debatable. But especially given the fact that the distasteful observations are made by Orthodox Jews who often live in close proximity to some of the least productive and law-abiding members of minority communities, I don’t think there is valid grounds for external criticism.

    Internally, I fully recognize there is no room for this type of talk from either children or adults, and will be the first to commend the two principals for their attempts to stamp it out. But the Rosenblatts, “Yid”s and Katzes, having cast their lots with secular society, have nothing to add.

  28. DickK says:

    The case for McCain vs. Obama vis a vis policy toward Israel is a legitimate basis for discussion. So are other policy differences. So are discussions about backing a candidate because he represents one’s party, although such arguments end up trying to justify the reason when the conclusion came first.

    What is not justified is all the anti-black comments I have been hearing for the last six months (and still coming). This is from black-hatted talmidaei chachamim, who, I would have thought, would remember about tzelem elokim. Don’t tell me this is not a big problem in our community. How is it, when in the course of learning, we try to dig out the finest differences between positions, and then throw slurs around in the most unthinking way? Comparison to other communities is no excuse.

    We have a big problem in our community. Maybe this will be one of the lessons that we have to learn from this election-that people that we want to dismiss as inferior to us have a leadership role in the world. Before the world will see the light and run after us for guidance, maybe we need some humility.

  29. Gil says:

    There is no doubt that racism is a blight that visits all sorts of communities. Moreover, there is no doubt that many McCain supporters made their choice based on policy decisions.

    However, similarly, there is no doubt that this election has made apparent the that the blight of racism thrives in our community. One need not go further than the after shul kidush to hear all sorts of outlandish comments. My Rabbi from high school sadly recounted to me the comments which occurred in the rebee’s room which are not appropriate to publish.

    I am happy to see that people across the Orthodox spectrum have realized, and are pushing back against this blight. The editors of the Jewish Press did not write a column against it to slander Orthodox Judaism. They wrote it, because they recognized a serious problem in our community and they want to work against it.

    But you are trying to brush off the problem by saying that everyone has racists and by making Orthodoxy be the community that is attack – Instead, lets deal with the problem and improve our community.

  30. David N. Friedman says:

    Charlie Hall, Obama went to madrassas and was born of a Muslim father which makes him a Muslim to the same degree as a Jew born of a Jewish mother is “Jewish” despite living as a non-Jew. Worse, in the eyes of the very radicals who wish to kill us, Obama is going to be the apostate leader of the infidels which means they now have an even greater motivation to attack us.

    Regarding his birth certificate, he was sued to produce an *original* copy of his birth certificate to prove that he was born in HI and is therefore constitutionally qualified. Instead of laughing and blowing his opponents away with the original copy–he fought the suit and refuses to produce the original. Speculation as to why he has chosen to keep this document secret produces quite a bit of justified anger. He also will not discuss anything about his cocaine addiction and when he last used cocaine and no medical records beyond a one-page summary. He produced no information at all concerning how he made it into Harvard law school with Columbia grades under the influence of drugs and alcohol abuse.

    Americans all over the country are rightly crazed about Obama’s failure to explain himself and Andy Martin has nothing to do with it. It is a matter of basic honesty, courtesy and transparency.

    It surely seems we have quite a lot to worry about with this leader and it would have taken very little to comply with standard procedures. (Incidentally, if Hillary C was the nominee–she would have needed to explain how her husband garnered so many tens of millions of dollars in speech fees from Arab countries. By comparison, the ticket of McCain-Palin had nothing to explain.)

  31. David N. Friedman says:

    I surely share Rabbi Menken’s problems with the liberal attacks against the Orthodox community in the wake of the Obama election as “racist.” Mr. Obama presents our nation with quite a load of questions, skeletons and contradictions. I am not at all sure that merely electing a man who is partly black is any sign of anything positive and it is perhaps more troubling that we are witnessing quite an avalanche of star worshiping which threatens our first amendment and our democracy. Jews are very quick to be suspicious of charisma and demagoguery.

    At the root of Obama’s success is perhaps a need to love a President. I feel this is a very poor impulse and in overlooking the fact that this man is unique in our political history is his success in hiding his past–I cannot help but fear this will serve the nation poorly when the facts are finally released. If there is some international crisis when the country is best served with a united front and we finally learn some mystery concerning why he kept his university transcripts sealed, it will not reflect poorly on a candidate, it will harm our national posture at a critical time.

    Rallying behind a leader who seeks to unify the nation makes sense and it certainly seems to me that conservatives tend to be much more gracious in defeat than the liberal side. We can be reminded that the left was out to defeat President Bush at any cost after his two victories, his most recent four years ago commanded nearly as many vote as Obama garnered earlier in the month. And yet, this victory is “momentous” and a supposed landslide (by electoral standards–it was much bigger). I will support Obama if and only if his policies make sense and there is no reason to expect that this candidate will be a centrist since this contradicts everything we know about him. The mere fact that intelligence reports validate President Bush’s strategy does not mean that Obama will follow suit.

    Obama comes to office with such a large halo, it seems mean spirited to say anything about this highly controversial figure. His race has helped insulate him from normal criticism and the honeymoon period he will obtain is way out of proportion to the decisions he will likely make. President Clinton famously dubbed Obama as “unelectable” and he said this without regard to his race but with a focus on his radical policies, his reckless foreign policy stand that promised to pull out of Iraq as quickly as possible, and his inexperience. The Orthodox community would not think more of Obama than a Clinton, and far less since we also disagree with the leftist stand of any Democratic candidate.

  32. Charlie Hall says:

    The lie the Obama is a closeted Muslim, and the lie that Obama didn’t have a birth certificate, appear to have been started not by a Jew, but by Andy Martin, a first class anti-Semite! That makes the vile comments posted on other frum sites even more disheartening.

  33. LOberstein says:

    I am still afraid to comment because your blogger has informed me that it against the Torah to vote Democratic. When informed that my only freedom of choice is what spice to put into my cholent, I asked if your other readers believed that such closed mindedness was normative Judaism. Since no one disagreed, I guess that chareidi orthodoxy today has morphed into a type of mind control where only 90 year old rabbis who speak no English make all the rules. This is not the religion I thought I believed in nor the tribe that my ancestors followed through the desert. Such a dogma of rejection and intolerance brings only shame to its bearers and is in no way assoiated with G-dliness. There is something really sick when saying that Obama is not Hitler got me condemned.

  1. January 1, 2009

    […] end result? Another attack by Gary Rosenblatt upon Torah-observant Jews doing the right thing. var zflag_nid=”794″; var […]