Friday, June 06, 2008

American Jews - equivalent of chickens voting for Shabbat?

Melanie Philips
First posted-Sunday June 1, 2008
from the Jewish Chronicle

Are American Jews the equivalent of chickens voting for Shabbat?

They have persuaded themselves that Barack Obama is a friend of the Jewish people, because Obama put his hand on his heart and swore undying friendship to the state of Israel.

The fact that for 20 years he belonged to a “black power” church whose pastor — and his own personal spiritual mentor — was an acolyte of the Jew-hating demagogue Louis Farrakhan, and who also supported Hamas as a resistance movement, is a detail that need not trouble the Jews of Los Angeles, Boca Raton or the Upper West Side. The fact that Obama has said “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people” needn’t detain them.

The fact that he says he would talk to the genocidal fanatics of Iran without preconditions (along with the dictators of North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela) needn’t bother them at all.

Because for them, there’s only one thing that matters about Obama. He’s not a Republican!

For the overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting American Jews, voting for a Republican is as unthinkable as eating a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur. Indeed, a number of them would rather eat a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur, because their conviction that religion is bunk and has nothing to do with being Jewish comes second only to their conviction that Republicans are the acme of evil.

That is because they think that to be Jewish is to be liberal in outlook. Therefore to be a Jew is to be a Democrat. End of story. Unlike their British counterparts, American Jews haven’t become more conservative as their prosperity has increased over the generations. (This is not true of the growing minority of mainly younger American Jews, who are markedly more Orthodox and thus, since they are rather more in tune with authentic Jewish ethics such as truth, justice and the difference between right and wrong, are indeed voting Republican; but let that pass.)

Being Jewish, think liberal American Jews, means showing that you are not prejudiced against minorities. That means adopting the core presumption of “victim culture” that minorities are never at fault. That means in turn that if an ethnic or religious minority is prejudiced against you, you can’t criticise it because to do so means you are prejudiced.

True, the fact that Obama belongs to a kooky church makes them uneasy. The fact that he associates with various mafia types and nut-jobs makes them twitch a bit. The fact that he would go cap in hand to Iran and Syria makes at least some of them suck their teeth.

But they know that he must be their friend because he is a Democrat and he is black. They know that he cannot be their enemy because they know that President Bush is their enemy.

The fact that Bush is arguably the greatest friend the Jewish people has ever had in the White House cannot possibly be true because Bush is a Republican and therefore can do no right.

Conversely, Obama can do no wrong. So American Jews ignore the fact that all Obama’s foreign-policy advisers are veteran Israel-haters. They ignore his long-standing friendship with Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi has written that Israel has carried out the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians; that Israel should be replaced by a bi-national, cantonal system for Jews and Arabs; and that suicide bombings are a response to “Israeli aggression”. Obama has said he merely had “conversations” with Khalidi. But reports say the Khalidi and Obama families are long-standing friends. In 2000, Khalidi raised funds for Obama’s failed bid for a seat in the US House of Representatives. And according to the Los Angeles Times, Obama said his talks with the Khalidis served as “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases… a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table”, but around “this entire world”.

No matter. All of this is simply erased from the gaze of America’s Jews in their own collective blind spot. As a result, as pro-Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah let slip at The Electronic Intifada, Obama is playing them for suckers. Abunimah wrote that during his campaign for the US Senate, Obama told him: “‘Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more upfront.’

He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, ‘Keep up the good work!’”

So if, as is expected, Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, American Jews will vote for him and maintain their purity of soul.

Cluck cluck!

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