Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

October 27, 2008

Obama and the Jews

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:55 pm

Excuse me for caring about what might seem a parochial issue, but you don’t have to be Jewish to believe that the survival of the most democratic state in the Middle East is important. And as editor of an anthology about anti-semitism Those Who Forget the Past:The Question of Anti-semitism (Random House, 2004), I feel some responsibility to address the question, since a number of my co-religionists have raised it. (I don’t believe in God, I’m an Isaac Bashevis Singer Jew–I believe against God) but I just love the Jewish people He’s constantly abandoning, and the beautiful culture they’ve created, and I think the people of Israel are in danger of suffering a second Holocaust, because soon those who believe they don’t
have a right to exist will have the means to put them out of existence).

I wonder how many anti-semites claiming only to be “anti-zionists, will join the racists commenters claiming they’re bilious hostiity has nothing to do with skin color?

Anyway I came across what I think is the best answer to the question about Obama and the Jews in this essay by Rep. Howard Berman the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee in The Jeruselem Post.

I especially like the throwaway line about tough Chicago Jews knowing Obama. And I’ve always thought he had what my grandmother called a yiddische kopf (translation: savvy, nobody’s fool) to accompany what I earlier identified as the characteristic, most persuasive thing about him, his self-possession, the ability to think for himself regardless of who’s around him.

I wonder how many anti-semites claiming only to be “anti-zionist”, will join the racists commenters claiming they’re bilious hostiity has nothing to do with skin color?



  1. There is no doubt that Barack’s speeches have become stronger and more specific as the campaign has progressed. For me, the key moment in the campaign has been Biden’s statement that Obama would be tested in a trumped up way and that even his own supporters would not be able to understand his response, a classic iteration of Michael Kinsley’s wellworn axiom that “a gaffe in Washington is when someone inadvertently tells the truth.” The candidates have been briefed by CIA (according to John Heileman’s detailed account in this week’s “New York”, the Bush to Obama transition is the most detailed and earliest ever). Let me speculate that what Biden meant was an Iranian attack on Israel followed by a pacifist US response, though not a pacifist Israeli one; the argument would be on the part of the US to prevent further escalation and to use this horrifying exchange as a bloody, pulverized bridge to world peace and unity. Heileman’s remarks about the transition, in which he indicates that DefSec Gates may be asked to stay on and says that Larry Summers will return as Treasury Secretary (that should further endear Barack to the feminists!) buttress, to some degree, such an extrapolation from Biden’s provocative remarks. Indeed, the fascinating subtext of the Pentagon’s public desire to reconsider nuclear strategy (the rather weak claim that our bombs now exist “to make other parties think twice about using nuclear weapons”) anticipates the de facto reality that the policy of an Obama administration would be to NEVER use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, under the rationale that, should they be used, a horrified world would immediately move towards peace, in the style of the avatar, as one world. Your faith in Obama is admirable, Ron, but even as open a journalistic partisan as Heileman ends his excellent article with the comment that “we really do not yet know who Barack Obama is.”

    Comment by charlie finch — October 28, 2008 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  2. Is it too soon to be preparing homes for the remnant Israeli population?
    I find Sen Obama’s policy positions on Israel perhaps not clear but pretty easy to derive. With the current active Euro opposition and the potential for US opposition, Israel will have no friends. An untenable position for them is in the offing.

    Comment by Jim,MtnViewCA,USA — October 28, 2008 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  3. The guy who, for twenty years, sat in a pew listening to the wild and occasionally antisemitic rants of Rev. Jeremiah Wright has “a yiddische kop”? The guy who likes to hang out with the likes of rabid anti-Zionist/Arafatiste Rashid Khalidi has “a yiddische kop”?

    Oh, Roger. I fear you have succumbed to the swoon, and, like many in that condition, you have substituted wishful thinking for rational thought. I hope I won’t be considered “racist” if I venture that you and all the other Jewish swooners concerned about Israel’s future are in for a mighty rude awakening.

    Comment by scaramouche — October 29, 2008 @ 4:30 am | Reply

  4. I meant Ron, of course. Roger L. Simon, thankfully, has not yet succumbed.

    Comment by scaramouche — October 29, 2008 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  5. For a guy who does not believe in God, you went into some great detail about the poor dead souls offended by Mitt Romney. I still think that must have been written by someone else.

    My friends living in Israel fail to share your optimism about Obama. Dare I say, it is irrational to impute to him a satisfactory position for Israel. If he had one, he would so have said.

    In this tug of two racisms, I was surprised to see you choose against yourself. But, by putting this phrase in twice you validated Freud’s aphorism about accidents:

    “I wonder how many anti-semites claiming only to be “anti-zionist”, will join the racists commenters claiming they’re bilious hostiity has nothing to do with skin color?” (“hostiity” is misspelled in both)

    You just can’t imagine someone who could vote against Obama without being a racist. You are so wrong.

    I’m moving The Secret Parts of Fortune from the top shelf down by Girls Lean Back Everywhere. I look forward to your recovery.

    Comment by MarkO — October 29, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Reply

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