In 2008, when Obama beat Clinton to win the Democratic nomination I recall a right-of-center Israeli Knesset member telling me in a private discussion “We are all very happy – Obama’s better than Hillary.” I remember reacting in shock – “why?” – He told me “Obama is so Anti-Israel and extreme, that in domestic Israeli politics, we won’t lose any points by not surrendering land to the Palestinians. With Obama we can keep living and we don’t need to give in to terrorists.” How right he has turned out to be?
While many Jews may indeed be fans of Obama, I almost fell off my chair when reading the New Yorker, whose editor David Remnick, in the newest edition, referred to Barack Obama as a “philo-Semite.” (As in he loves Jews). Yes, the philo-semite is Obama, whose favorability rating in Israel was once at 4 percent . Obama, who has said that a future Palestinian state must be based on the 1967 borders and who has declared, “it’s time for these settlements to stop.” Philo-Semite? I think not.
While there’s considerable debate in the Jewish community about Obama, and he’s clearly a master at public relations, realizing that he needs the Jewish vote, he’s said the right thing of late:
“I try not to pat myself too much on the back,” President Barack Obama said in October 2011, “but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.”
On Sunday at AIPAC he said, “I have Israel’s back.”
Of course Remnick (arguably the most influential Jewish American journalist) has his own views of what his Judaism is: “A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic. They see what has happened with the Rabbinical Letter [proscribing rental and sale of property to Arabs — DR], for example. How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore”
Remnick describes himself as part of “a new generation of Jews growing up in the US” who do not know or want to know about the Jewish past and are ashamed of Israel. If Israel is not part of Jewish identity, then what does it mean to be a Jew? And he is the segment of the Jewish community proclaiming Obama a “philo-semite?”
Lets remind Mr. Remnick that during President Obama’s administration, many democrats don’t agree:
In April 2010, 38 Democratic senators signed a critical letter to Secretary Clinton following the administration’s dressing down of the Israeli government.
Sen. Charles Schumer said in 2010 that Obama’s “counter-productive Israel policy has to stop” and he harshly criticized the Obama Administration’s attempts to exert pressure on Israel
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, said of Mr. Obama last year, “I think he’s handled the relationship with Israel in a way that has encouraged Israel’s enemies, and really unsettled the Israelis.”
I’d venture that in the Jewish state more would agree that Obama is a danger than would say Obama is a philo-semite.