Shmuel Rosner asks,
What’s with all those new “Jewish ads” against Obama?
I understand the frustration with Obama, but can’t quite see the logic behind the ads. It only raises the stakes and makes Obama less prone let Netanyahu off the hook. An American President can’t lose an internal battle to a foreign leader – and the ads (Lauder, Wiesel) makes this an internal battle.
In addition to the Lauder and Wiesel advertisements, we should include this article by Ed Koch, former New York Mayor. Koch is important because he is a Democrat who strongly supported Obama in 2008; Lauder is a Republican who has been reported to be a possible challenger to NY Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, while Wiesel’s public persona is apolitical.
So why have high-profile Jews of various political stripes found it necessary to take Obama to task over Mideast policy?
It’s Obama who started the latter day Jewish Wars when he empowered his own personal Jewish Lobby, J Street. Invited to the White House while “right-wing” groups like the Zionist Organization of America were dis-invited, J (Judenrat) Street pumps out propaganda in the form of misleading polls and press releases whose purpose is to give the impression that most American Jews are behind Obama and his policies — especially including his anti-Zionist stance.
The intent is to bolster support for his position among non-Jews — who, after all, are 98% of the population — who reason that if even Jews support Obama’s efforts to forcibly create a Palestinian state, reestablish 1949 borders and divide Jerusalem, then it must be the best thing for the region as a whole, including Israel.
At the same time, the administration has begun to hit below the belt, leaking implications of dual loyalty among Jewish supporters of Israel — or even Jews who argue for fair treatment of Israel — as well as suggestions that American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are endangered because of Israeli intransigence!
So I think that what’s happened is that Jews like Lauder, Wiesel and Koch are beginning to feel that the moral obligation to stand up for the state of the Jewish People overrides the possible dangers. Who wants to be remembered in history like those Jewish leaders who supported Roosevelt’s inaction toward the Holocaust or opposed Truman’s recognition of Israel? In the words of Ed Koch,
What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by community leaders — Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in 1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King’s memorable speech was given? His reply was “Fifty people might come.” Remember the 1930s? Few stood up. They were silent. Remember the most insightful statement of one of our greatest teachers, Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
Rosner naturally sees it from an Israeli point of view, simply as a conflict between Netanyahu and Obama. But Obama apparently wanted a fight with American Jewry as well, and now he has one.