Is President Obama questioning the loyalty of American Jews?
The Jerusalem Post published an article with a comment allegedly attributable to an Obama White House senior official that has caught the ire of American Jews and Israelis, “US perceives Israel as encouraging anti-Obama backlash among Jews”. The JP article noted:
A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.
According to Israel Radio, Israeli diplomats and foreign officers have warned against this trend. According to officials based in foreign missions, the Israeli government is increasingly being viewed as fanning the flames among American Jews by encouraging them to promote the official government position while making no room for opposing viewpoints.
Earlier this month, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon apologized after it was reported that he called Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic.”
In response to this JP report Stuart Kaufman sent an email to me and other colleagues with this comment:
This is dangerously close to the old anti-Semitic accusation of dual loyalty. We are now on seriously perilous ground. The rulers of the land are beginning the effort to isolate Jews – to set us apart. I can’t stress how dangerous this is. We Jews and those who are our friends must strike back hard. This serpent can’t be permitted to grow without a major response.
What Kaufman was referring to was the emergence in 19th Century Europe of die Judenfrage, the Jewish question, criticizing Jewish subjects or citizens of being disloyal because of conflicts between nationalism and Zionism; the return of the Jewish people to what is now Israel. It was from this well of hatred that anti-Semitism arose in the Vienna of the Habsburg Empire, Wilhelmine Germany and the fin de siècle France during the Dreyfus Affair. It would become transformed into the international Jewish conspiracy forgery of the Czarist secret police, The Elders of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Later it becomes embedded in Hitler’s anti-Semitic tract Mein Kampf that lit the match for the Holocaust of Six Million European Jewish Men, Women and Children during World War Two. Mein Kampf is today one of the most popular books in the Arab Muslim world promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder Hassan al Banna was an acolyte of Hitler.
Watch this Youtube video of Julius Streicher, the notorious publisher of the Nazi tabloid Der Sturmer, ranting about Anti-Semitic judenfrage:
In light of that, how callous was this alleged comment from the Senior White House aide in the Administration. Is the White House really questioning the loyalty of American Jews? Or are the President and Secretary of State simply complaining about Israeli cabinet members and some “American Jews” criticizing them? Are the President and Secretary of State really against Americans, Jews and others, supporting Israel defending its hard won sovereignty against people who would destroy it?
Yesterday, we saw clear evidence of that threat with the World Economic Forum interview of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by Fareed Zakaria of CNN. We heard translations of Rouhani saying he would neither destroy 15,000 centrifuges nor stop building or swap plutonium producing heavy water reactors at Arak for energy producing light water ones. He was also telling the West that sanctions were illegal. The Obama White House Press Spokesman Jay Carney said , in response to reporters’ questions about President Rouhani’s CNN interview, that Rouhani’s comments were for domestic consumption back home in Tehran. AIPAC didn’t think so. They sent out a blast email containing a link to the CNN interview with Rouhani for its members and others to view.
Rouhani’s CNN interview was a deliberate poke in the eyes of the P5+1 and the denizens of the West Wing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To warn American Jews they better not defend their Jewish cousins in Israel from this threat was both dangerous and a blatant display of ingratitude towards an ally protecting our assets in the Middle East. Some thanks for Shin Bet saving Amb. Dan Shapiro and his striped pants and skirts brigade in Tel Aviv at the US Embassy and others at the Jerusalem conference center from Al Qaeda attacks orchestrated by Ayman al-Zawahiri’s local henchman in Gaza. Even peace mongering nonagenarian Israeli President Peres at Davos in response to Rouhani’s interview called for a boycott of Iran.
Perhaps Members of Congress concerned about these White House follies, both domestic and foreign can express their disdain for accusations like this from the Administration. They could politely sit on their hands and not applaud at the President’s State of the Union Address next Tuesday, the 28th when the President inevitably will do a victory lap about engagement with Iran over its nuclear program. That would send a visual rebuke captured on national and international TV. An image that would convey a message that even Iran’s President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei wouldn’t require a Farsi translation. The more courageous among US Senate members in the audience of the Joint Session could immediately take up the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S. 1881 and pass it resoundingly next Wednesday.
After this episode we can understand former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ criticism of the mind numbing political apparatchiks in the West Wing inner circle portrayed in his memoir, Duty. Gates has been unfairly maligned by the liberal media reviewers for betraying his trust with the Obama team while Secretary of Defense by releasing his book prior to the end of the President’s term. In sharp contrast Thomas Ricks published a praiseworthy review of Gates’ memoir, “In Command”, in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Note Ricks’ conclusion that provides a measure of the author:
But Gates is doing far more than just scoring points in this revealing volume. The key to reading it is understanding that he was profoundly affected by his role in sending American soldiers overseas to fight and be killed or maimed. During his four years as defense secretary, he states twice, he wept almost every night as he signed letters of condolence and then lay in bed and meditated on the dead and wounded. He was angry and disappointed with White House officials and members of Congress who appeared to him to put political gain ahead of the interests of American soldiers. Fittingly, he concludes the book by revealing that he has requested to be buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of many of those we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than 10,000 American Jews serve in our military. American Jewish servicemen and women have fought and died in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps they are buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery that Secretary Gates wrote about in his memoir. Watch this Forward Vimeo video about two valiant American Jews who served honorably and fell in Iraq and Afghanistan.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.