Saturday, December 31, 2016

How Obama Cracked Jewish Solidarity

Michael Lumish

Also published at the Elder of ZiyonJews Down Under and The Jewish Press.

{Correction: as Jeff points out in the comments, Dershowitz does not consider Jewish townships beyond the green line to be Arab land, but disputed land. That is correct. The larger point, of course, is that Dershowitz and Beinart both consider these townships impediments to peace.}

Fifty years from now Barack Obama will be known to most Americans as, quite simply, the first African-American president of the United States. Aside from this he will have precious little to distinguish himself other than in the notable electoral deterioration of the Democratic Party under his tenure.

While future historians may join Alan Dershowitz in considering him among the worst foreign policy presidents in U.S. history, he will probably hold a very special place in the hearts of Jewish people throughout the world. This is true because he will likely be known as the American president who, whatever his honest intentions, did more than any to divide the Jewish people from one another and from the Jewish state.

The genius in this bit of Jewish slicing-and-dicing is in its multifaceted aspect.

Obama did not merely rub poison into the cleavage between progressive-left Jews and the rest of us. Nor did he merely drive a wedge between American Jews and Israeli Jews. He even managed, much to my astonishment, to help divide pro-Democratic Party Jews among themselves and between themselves and, increasingly, the party as a whole.

Now that is quite an accomplishment.

Let's briefly go through it.

Dividing American Jews from One Another

Barack Obama can hardly be blamed for creating Jewish divisions over Israel, as Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor would readily agree. Nonetheless, it must be understood that while Obama may appreciate certain Jews as individuals he has never been friendly or sympathetic to the Jewish people as a whole... or so we can reasonably deduce from his posture toward the Jewish state.

On the contrary, along with figures like Mahmoud Abbas, Louis Farrakhan, George Galloway, Rashid Khalidi, Jeremy Corbyn, and Keith Ellison, Obama regards Israel as a rogue state imposing itself upon the "indigenous" Palestinian-Arab population. The Jewish people who live there are considered by their very presence, an impediment to peace.

Among the various ways that Obama's influence, therefore, served to crack Jewish solidarity, the first was in hammering the wedge between progressive-left Jewish Democrats, who generally show greater sympathy toward his views on Israel, and the rest of us who do not.

By insisting that Jews in Israel should be allowed to live in some places, like Tel Aviv, but not in others, like Hebron, the Obama administration animated a confrontation within American Jewry. Those loyal to the Democratic Party, like Peter Beinart and Alan Dershowitz, agreed that the Jewish presence in Judea represents an appropriation of land that rightly belongs to Arabs and is, therefore, an obstacle toward resolving the conflict. Beinart and Dershowitz may not agree on much, but they definitely agree on that. Others, like Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), believe (along with me) that Jewish people have every right to build housing on the lands of our ancestry. Furthermore, in a recent piece for the Jerusalem Post Isi Liebler acknowledged Klein as the ONLY American Jewish leader of national consequence to be consistently critical of Obama's transparent flaws and who, he says, "has been more than vindicated" in his views.

I couldn't agree more.

Given the existential nature of the long Arab aggression against the Jews in the Middle East, Obama's hostility toward Jews who live in the wrong place set Jew upon Jew in a manner that grew increasingly acrimonious throughout the period of his tenure. By supporting J-Street while devaluing AIPAC, Obama agitated this split. He also put his sincerest American-Jewish friends on the defensive before those of us who believe in Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria. Obama thereby forced his Jewish devotees into the position of justifying an unjustly racist stance toward the Jews of Israel.

Dividing American Jews from Israeli Jews

If Obama encouraged political divisions within the American Jewish community he also encouraged political divisions between American Jews and Israeli Jews. Because Israeli Jews understood how Obama's policies encouraged Palestinian-Arab violence and intransigence on the so-called "peace process," the vast majority of Israeli Jews quickly learned to distrust the man. Jewish Democrats who wished to maintain their progressive bona fides were thereby leaned into ideological tensions with friends and relatives in Israel.

In order to maintain good-standing with their fellow Democrats, Jews who care about Israel were put into an exceedingly uncomfortable position. They could support Obama or they could support Jewish rights to property on ancestral Jewish land, but they could not do both. And, again, Obama did not create this dilemma, he simply forced the issue. Obama used the two-state solution as a reason for opposing Jews like our friends Joseph and Melody Hartuv who live in Hebron and thereby allegedly stand as an obstacle to peace. He was not even the first president of the United States to do so, but he was certainly the most insistent.

Hebron, of course, is the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs. This is a place that, with a little encouragement from Obama, the United Nations decided belongs to Arabs. Through the unjust, if not racist, insistence that the "settlers" represent an obstacle to peace by their mere presence, Obama encouraged his American Jewish supporters to join him in condemning their fellow Jews. He managed this while still maintaining a pro-Israel face to his Jewish followers. Furthermore, by playing along with the erasure of Jewish history on the ancestral lands of the Jewish people, Obama also encouraged the dilution of American-Jewish support for that country and those people.

Dividing American Jews within the Democratic Party

I have considerable sympathy for Jewish Democrats.

Many in their own party hold them in contempt for defending Israel, while much of the rest of the American Jewish population casts a gimlet eye upon their never-ending pro-Obama apologetics and sycophancy. These are Jews who, from political and ideological standpoints, are getting smacked around by all sides and finding it increasingly difficult to walk the "progressive Zionist" tightrope. Divisions thereby emerged between the true Obama devotees and those going wobbly watching Obama's year-in-and-year-out hostility toward Israel. 

In this way, within the Democratic Party, there are good Jews and bad Jews.

Good Jewish Democrats support Barack Obama while bad Jewish Democrats question the wisdom of breathing life into the corpse of Oslo. Good Jewish Democrats believe that if only Netanyahu had pushed Yosef and Melody out of their home in Hebron then peace could be achieved through the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Bad Jewish Democrats tend to doubt this. They understand that Palestinian-Arabs have no desire to create a state for themselves in peace with Israel. Indeed, why should Palestinian-Arabs hope for a conclusion of hostilities via a negotiated two-state settlement when Obama and the UN want to give them a state on Jewish land in a manner that maintains those hostilities?

Whatever happens going forward, however, the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel are, and will continue to be, one.


  1. I'm not sure about your assertion that Dershowitz and Beinart are in complete agreement as to the disposition of lands beyond the Green Line (excluding Jerusalem), only that they both oppose settlements there. Dershowitz is a fierce defender of Resolution 242 which he helped draft. If he thought that all lands beyond the Green Line were rightly someone else's legal property, he couldn't defend that position.
    Beinart is almost certainly far closer to Obama's views (like right up his ass), and belongs to the "vat vill dem Goyim tink?" school of international relations. :0)

    1. I could not agree more, especially about Dershowitz who finally had an epiphany this past week. There's a great deal of difference between the ideological drive of Beinart and Dershowitz, especially as it relates to publicly supporting Israel by Dershowitz and almost total denigration and denial of Israel's legal rights in Judea and Samaria.

    2. You're right.

      I should have made an important distinction between disputed territory and de-facto Arab territory.

      But they both see Jewish townships beyond the green line as an obstacle to peace.

  2. In 50 years

    Angel Merkel will be called the Nelson Mandela of Islamic Europe. Her tenure in office will be viewed as THE watershed event of Europe since the 'failure' of the Reconquista.

    It's hard to guess what role Obama will play in history in a half century since his accomplishments are so much less concrete than anything Merkel accomplished. His achievements are more rhetorical, philosophical. He is the President who made is acceptable to not only be antisemitic but anti American and anti - the citizens who live in America. He will be viewed as a proto-revolutionary figure that paved the path to the ultimate disintegration of the United States into a Mexican America, an Islamic America and a neo-Marxist America. It won't be his achievement personally but the media and academia will portray him more like our Gorbachev.

    I'm afraid that in the US, in 50 years the Jews will be seen as no different than Italian Americans, Greek Americans, and so forth. They will have no significance, power or political cohesion AS Jews. No one will care what they think and the few, mostly Orthodox who espouse staunch right wing opinions will be viewed the same as the old Ex Cuban anti Castro cranks in Miami today. Moreover, there won't BE a Conservative or Masorti Judaism in the US at all. They will vanish. All that will remain is the Non-Jewish-Secular Reform "Jews", a wholly owned operating subsidiary of NPR/PBS and the National Islamic Council, and, the Orthodox. Common parlance will be to call the Orthodox "Jews" whereas all the other Jews will be referred to as something else, but not the word "Jews".

    This will be partially a response to what these liberal "Jews" believe and partially a survival mechanism to allow them continued entrance into college, government employment and certain professions which will be 'restricted' again, by then.

    But long before that, it will be irrelevant what the US thinks about Israeli internal politics as an American domestic or foreign political issue. Israel will fade in importance to the level of any other far off land filled with strange people with interesting hats, to the wider American polity. How many Americans know about let alone care about Kashmir, Sri Lanka, the Karen Conflict, the Tuaregs, or anything happening in Congo? Short answer - near zero.

    One way to look at it is to assume that in ANY country struggling with its own Muslim or Arab mayhem they focus correspondingly less on the 'palestinians' or Israel. Not because they suddenly appreciate what Israel is confronting but because their well wishing and idiot compassion for mass murderers switches from being homicidal to suicidal. Soon enough European liberals will be entirely consumed with killing themselves to accommodate Islam in lieu of demanding that the Israelis kill themselves on the European's behalf.

  3. I would respectfully disagree that Obama's intentions were NOT to divide the Jewish people over Israel.

    He always hated Israel as a 'white colonialist state' and his world view was formed by his mentors - Frank Marshall Davis, Edward Said, Rashis al-Khalidim Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, Louis Farrahkhan and Khalid al-Mansour. When Jewish Democrats questioned him about Israel, he lied about it, saying that he felt Jerusalem was Israel undivided capitol...something he quickly reversed, but it didn't matter. Jews loyal to the Democrat party bought it, because he was, after all, the first black president.

    And one of the first things he did was to make clear that his goal was to create 'distance' between the U.S. and Israel. he and 'Jew' George Soros created and financed J Street as a mask, aided and abetted by Jews on the Left. His Cairo speech specifically denied any historical connection between Jews and Israel, and he actually cut off all arms sales to for a six month period after he assumed office.None of this or his subsequent conduct towards Israel affected his support among Left wing Jews one iota. They were happy to vote for his re-election in droves against a pro-Israel Mitt Romney, even after Obama's real intentions were further revealed by his removing of all of the pro-Israel boilerplate from the 2008 Democrat platform from the 2012 one, and what subsequently happened at that convention.

    Hillary Clinton was quite open about her plans to recreate the hell the Jews are experiencing in Europe by bringing boatloads of unvetable Muslims to America from the most misogynist and Jew hating countries on earth. Even given the vagaries of the exit polls, at least 60% of American Jews voted for her over the most philosemitic and pro-Israel political ticket in years. Ever her open courting and embrace of the anti-Israel and #blacklivesmatter movement didn't faze them.

    In Europe, a lot of Jews used to routinely vote Labour or for the Socialists in France. Most of them aren't anymore because what's going on in Europe was a wake up call. America's Jews on the Left avoided that with Trump's election, and thus lack any incentive to change.

    Israel simply isn't a issue for most of these Jews, nor,frankly, is Judaism itself except as a sort of ethnic quirk that in a number of cases, they would just as soon not identify with too much. After all, Israel is predominantly small 'r' republican, admires self-reliance, entrepreneurial, nationalist, Patriotic, proudly Jewish (in a tribal sense even among Israelis who are not in a religious sense) and proud of its military. All of these qualities are anathema to the Left. Such qualities are admirable too many Americans, especially religious Christians of various denominations, many Catholics, LDS and Evangelicals. Israel, in its way, aligns with Red America and conservative European sanctions and leaders like Viktor Orbin, Marine Le Pen, Frauke Pensky and Geert Wilders.

    The Mishna tells us that even after experiencing HaShem's miracles and the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu,only 20% of Egypt's Jews - 'one in five'- followed Moses and Aaron into the desert and freedom. The rest stayed in Egypt and were not redeemed.

    In America, barring a black swan event, I think the ratio will be more like 50-50, given the relatively birth rate among the Orthodox and the rate of intermarriage and low birth rate among the secular and/or non-Orthodox factions.

    The issue. I think is one of triage unfortunately. Saving what can be saved.

    1. Where do the numbers like 75% or 60% voting for Democrats come from?
      I've never been asked. No one I know have ever been asked. Do exit pollsters
      in addition to asking who you voted for also normally ask if you are Jewish?
      Or is it perhaps a lie perpetrated by "Jewish" prog establishment?

  4. "The moral purpose in life is one's own happiness" That is basic Republican philosophy and completely antithetical to Jewish thought. And that is why Jews overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

    1. Is that as in "the pursuit of happiness?" Those are famous words by the founders and their view of America as the "promised land." You know, Joseph, Republicans get most of the Jewish votes from the orthodox community. Where does that leave your argument? Are you making a case that they have abandoned Judaism? To say something is "completely" antithetical is rather strong language.

    2. Clintons (not counting the foundation) are worth ~150 Million.
      Apparently by being shrewd investors besides selfless public
      Stephen King who's in the same age group, sold countless bestsellers and
      movie rights, ~400 Million.
      Obama just got a 100 Million book deal. Probably because it'll be an Amazon bestseller for the next 5 years.
      Pursuit of other peoples' happiness must pay very well.

    3. That is basic Ayn Rand philosophy. Paul Ryan handed out her books and made it required reading for his staff. Libertarians worship at the alter of Ayn Rand. It is basic, fundamental Republican philosophy. To quote Galbraith, "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." Rand famously thought that altruism is for suckers. Beyond that she is clear that only reason can be used, religion is for idiots. That last idea is why Paul Ryan somewhat distanced himself publicly from Rand. That Orthodox vote for Republicans just shows that they don't know enough about politics.

    4. Beyond that, just look at Republican policies. No safety net, no medical care for the poor, money for the rich and powerful, limited (or no) help for the poor, no guaranteed nutrition for children. The whole philosophy is, "Every man for himself, dog eat dog."

    5. There is no reason to engage in intelligent discourse when one can resort to name calling. If one wanted to engage in intelligent discourse, he would point to Republican policies that favor the poor, the weak and the disadvantaged. Good luck with that.

    6. Intellectual discourse?

      No safety net, no medical care for the poor, money for the rich and powerful, limited (or no) help for the poor, no guaranteed nutrition for children.

      Asking for proof of a negative is NOT intellectual discourse.

      Progressive leaders and talking heads so easily get adherents to swallow garbage, and then proclaim things that reveal ignorance as they stereotype the other.

      Suggest you get a clue. Will you next tell us that Obama is a friend to the Jews?

    7. Can we have an "intellectual discussion" about progressives' record on Israel? This is what this blog is about, no?

    8. Joseph,
      Mike's column is about the Obama Administration and its abject failure in bringing peace, its favoritism toward the "Palestinians" and the way it has sought to exacerbate splits in the Jewish community both here and abroad to that end. And all you have brought to the subject is your almost cartoonish characterization of Republican domestic policies.
      BTW, how many people did Obama lift out of poverty who are all now enjoying the fruits of meaningful work sustaining their lives? How did he make the lives of middle class people better? Where's that booming economy, aka the rising tide that lifts all boats? Personally, I find the notion that to be a good Jew, or even just a good person, one must be 100% loyal to any political party slightly nauseating.

    9. Okay, let's talk about anti-Israeli administrations. I think Obama was absolutely wrong, but let's not pretend that he was somehow unique.

    10. Name one other president that gave tribute to Rashid Khalidi, one that remains suppressed.

    11. Is this pretending Obama is "somehow unique?"

    12. Reagan cut funding to Israel, as did Bush. Obama never did.

    13. Such simplistic analysis.

      Under Reagan, Israel began to receive $3 billion annually in foreign aid and, from 1985 on, the aid was all in the form of grants. Israel was allowed to use some of this aid in Israel and for a time was permitted to devote U.S. funds to the development of its own fighter plane. In 1985, the U.S. also signed its first Free Trade Agreement – with Israel. In fact, a series of memoranda of understanding were signed during the Reagan administration between U.S. agencies and their Israeli counterparts that promoted cooperation in a range of fields such as education, space research and health.

      In February 2003, for the first time, Congress voted to cut aid to Israel against the wishes of the pro-Israel lobby and the government of Israel. The 0.65 percent deduction was not aimed at Israel; however, it was an across the board cut of all foreign aid programs for fiscal year 2003. The lobby and government also suffered a defeat when Congress deleted an administration request for an extra $200 million to help Israel fight terrorism. Even while cutting aid to Israel (which still was budgeted at $2.1 billion for military aid and $600 million for economic assistance), Congress included a number of provisions in the aid bill viewed as favorable to Israel, including a provision that bars federal assistance to a future Palestinian state until the current Palestinian leadership is replaced, and that state demonstrates a commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel, and takes measures to combat terrorism.

      The setbacks were also temporary as the Administration approved a supplementary aid request in 2003 that included $1 billion in FMF and $9 billion in loan guarantees to aid Israel's economic recovery and compensate for the cost of military preparations associated with the war in Iraq. One quarter of the FMF is a cash grant and three quarters will be spent in the United States. The loan guarantees are spread over three years and must be spent within Israel's pre-June 1967 borders. Each year, an amount equal to the funds Israel spends on settlements in the territories will be deducted from the loan amount, along with all fees and subsidies.


      In August 2007, the Bush Administration agreed to increase U.S. military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the following decade. Israel is to receive incremental annual increases of $150 mllion, starting at $2.55 billion in FY2009 and reaching $3.15 billion per year for FY2013-2018.

      Don't recall Reagan or Bush breaking bread with Said, Khalidi, or Abunimah, which IS unique.

      Just wait until he is out of office and his "friendship" will become clear. Even Dershowitz has begun to see the light when it comes to Obama's "love" for Israel.

    14. Do you remember Reagan and Bitburg? And Reagan cut funding when Or Osirak?

    15. One can only imagine what "friend" Obama would have done if Israel had taken out the Iranian nuclear facilities.

      Bitburg was a gaffe, no doubt. If you think it outweighs the info presented above, fine. Obama's intentional dining with actual Jew haters on a regular basis, is UNIQUE, to borrow the term YOU used. Along with so many other things, it far more evidentiary of his predisposition. The silence in this regard is telling.

      There is no claim that all presidents were always supportive of Israel. Some maintain that Obama is Israel's BFF among all presidents. That is nonsense under any actual scrutiny, and Orwellian based on his actions to prop up Israel's #1 enemy, among other things.

      Once again, we will see Obama's true colors when he leaves office and he can return to Reverend Wright's church.

    16. Just watched again "The J Street Challenge" with someone open minded.

      Dated slightly, since events move fast, but so much the same. Suggest you watch it closely, or watch it closely again.

      J Street is Obama's baby, with the seed money of Soros. It is foolish to maintain this is pro-Israel, or that Obama is.

      One could also take a peek at this link to see the continued lifelong pattern of Obama's ill will toward Israel, unique among presidents.

      David Mamet criticized the "pretending not to know a lot of things" as a means to assuage the conscience. Perhaps that helps explain the failure to acknowledge the obvious that Obama is different than the others because they were not anti-Israel by disposition.

    17. "Obama's intentional dining with actual Jew haters on a regular basis, is UNIQUE, to borrow the term YOU used. Along with so many other things, it far more evidentiary of his predisposition."

      Really? Pat Buchanan was principal speechwriter and adviser to Reagan. How soon some forget.

    18. Joseph, you are straining now. Ronald Reagan was pro-Israel. There are some things one could complain about, but his sympathies were with Israel and the rights of the Jews. If find the comparison with Obama completely off the mark. I think you are in denial of the damage that Obama has done. Mr. Obama, D or no D, has brought an atrocious rogue state to international legitimacy, and taken a constantly slandered law abiding nation and helped to delegitimize it internationally.

    19. Reagan has a complicated relationship with Israel. Here are two articles, one from Haaretz, admittedly left wing but the other by Mitchell Bard, an extremely pro-Israel writer.

    20. Straining indeed! The comments are laughable. Unlike Reagan, Obama has an anti-Israel predisposition, formed very early when he studied under Edward Said and befriended Rashid Khalidi. Deny it all you want. Obama has obscured his relationships because if they were known he never would have survived politically. Never saw Reagan hide who he was.

      Next you will explain how Keith Ellison loves Israel, too.

    21. Joseph,

      please do not mistake my intention.

      I am not suggesting that Jewish people should absolutely leave the Democratic Party.

      I have, but your mileage may vary.

  5. Allow me to repeat;

    This schism isn't new. The so called American liberal Jewish love of Israel maps closely to the time that Israel herself was a left wing single party socialist state run by a white European Ashkenazi kibbutznik aristocracy than ruled over Israel with an utter disdain and borderline bigotry of Maghrebi, Mizrahi, Felash Jews, Bedouins, Arabs, Christians and even any of the Ashkenaz who didn't come out of the far left and the kibbutz movement.

    THAT was the golden age of American Jewish liberal 'love' for Israel. The Israel of Ben-Gurion held all the Arabs under military law, it ran modeled after an eastern European communist state. The economy was top down command driven. It granted exceptions to the Haredi because Ben-Gurion honestly believed religion would be dead in a few years - wiped out by its own Dark Ages ignorance.

    After that period in Israeli politics waned is when American Jewish democrats and liberals began to hate them. This is what I've been saying all along. Israel and American Jews are two different tracks running in two different directions. They have been for a long time and now are becoming inescapably obvious. American liberals hate Israel because it's not modeled after American liberalism. That's the only reason. What Obama did was give legitimacy to liberals to vent that hatred openly. That some of them are Jews, is irrelevant. Their views didn't change, only their open expression of them.

    1. Who said that it was new?

      It's a matter of degree and intensity, not essence.

  6. There is clearly a pearl clutching sense that this is a new and terrible problem. But perhaps that's my own cynicism. I don't believe this fracture is a new thing. I will agree that the left is far more vocal about it