Although less American Jews voted Democrat in the 2014 midterm elections, still 61 percent supported President Barack Obama’s party, and in extension supported his policies. How, however, do American Jews keep making excuses for Obama’s repeated disrespect and threats to Israel, and now he skips an important milestone Holocaust commemoration ceremony to pay homage to the new King of Saudi Arabia? Why is it so hard for American Jews to admit that Obama is a phony for political reasons and in reality is an anti-Semite, who hates Israel and has utter contempt for its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
World leaders, foreign dignitaries and over 300 survivors of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp attended the commemoration memorial marking International Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27, 2015 and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Oświęcim, Poland. This is supposed to be the last significant anniversary where a large number of survivors attend, many are dying off or too old to attend this time, the numbers of survivors in attendance this time are a far cry from the 1,500 in attendance at the 60th anniversary in 2005. Over 1.1 million were killed in Auschwitz alone, most were Jews, there were only 200,000 survivors by the time the Russian Red Army liberated the camp on Jan. 27, 1945. At the memorial President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland delivered the introductory remarks to the over 3,000 in attendance.
The highest American official leading the delegation was Obama’s highest Jewish official in his administration, Secretary of the Department of Treasury Jacob J. Lew. Again a “top” representative from the administration was absent from an important international event. If not Obama himself, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry had to attend, but like the Paris unity march, President Obama disregarded an important American ally.
At the same time as the commemoration, President Obama was in Saudi Arabia leading a bipartisan delegation honoring the death of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and paying respects to the new King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Obama demonstrated that a country that sides with Israel enemies including the Palestinians mattered more to him and US foreign relations that staunch ally Israel and the huge Jewish majority that help vote him into the White House in the first place.
World leaders including attended according to New York Times “the presidents of France, Germany and Austria, François Hollande, Joachim Gauck and Heinz Fischer; the kings of Belgium and the Netherlands, Philippe and Willem-Alexander; and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark… Russia was represented by Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir V. Putin’s chief of staff.” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended.
For the most part world leaders who did not attend attended commemorations at least in their own countries. Russian President Vladmir Putin wanted to attend, but was not personally invited because of Poland being at odds with Russia’s policies with the Ukraine. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited and toured Auschwitz just last month. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke instead at Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was suppose to speck at the postponed United Nations’ ceremony in New York City. Also surprising was that staunch Israel ally Canada only sent their minister of state for multiculturalism Tim Uppal as a representative.
President Obama’s absence was all the more glaring after the White House’s admission that they should have sent a higher level official to the Paris unity march earlier in the month, and the president and the White House’s inappropriate reaction to Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invite to Netanyahu to address Congress about Iran on March 3. Instead Obama issued an official statement that expressed in part; “The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust.” Obama believed his official statement was enough to compensate for not attending in person.
Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe, there has been three significant attacks in that last three years; Toulouse in 2012, Brussels in May 2014, and just the beginning of the month at a Kosher grocery in Paris hours before Sabbath. Additionally one by one European nations, have voted to recognize a Palestinian state while condemning and advocating a boycott on Israel. The combined anti-Semitic attacks and anti-Israel rhetoric has shown just how dangerous the world is getting for Jews again.
The president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder speaking at the Auschwitz memorial pointed this out, stating; “For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back. Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London. Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again, Jewish families are fleeing Europe.” Continuing he pointed to the new anti-Semitism, the virulent anti-Israel, anti-Zionist sentiment spreading through the world; “This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews. Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world.”
Obama’s combined behavior increasingly aggressive stance and insults against Israel, and in praise of the Arab world from the start of his presidency, says volumes more about his feelings towards Jews and makes his absence from this event all the more significant. President Obama needed to downplay his and the White House’s performance against Netanyahu last week showing he truly is against anti-Semitism by attending the memorial with the survivors. That picture would have downplayed his spats with Netanyahu, making them have to do less with Jews and Israel and more to do with a very undignified and over dramatic character clash with the Israeli leader. Obama’s dismissal of world Jewry cements his attitude toward Israel as symptomatic of a larger issue.
Jewish and conservative talk show host Mark Levin said it best, American Jews are in denial; “I’m going to tell you something and it’s going to be unconformable. I don’t care how many wealthy Jews Obama surrounds himself with, I don’t care how many wealthy Jews contribute to his campaign. This man has all the signals of an anti-Semite and I’m not going to take that word back. I believe this in my heart and my soul. It’s not about Israel, it’s about what’s in Israel.”
The heart of the controversy surrounding Speaker Boehner’s invite to Netanyahu to speak at a Joint Session of Congress about Iran’s nuclear program and legislation to impose more sanctions has more to say about Obama’s hatred, yes hatred towards Netanyahu than it has to do with protocol. Obama is putting Iran and their feelings ahead of Israel’s and world security, now an anonymous official is threatening Israel with “a price” for this address. All the while publicly, the White House keeps on reiterating America’s close relationship with Israel, but maybe that is why Obama keeps treating the country and American Jewry so terribly.
Obama always knows they will be there no matter how much abuse and insults his administration hurls at Israel and American Jewry, they will still be there, like an abused wife or girlfriend who keeps coming back for more abuse from their husband. The old adage if you are taken for granted, you are mistreated is true. As crazy an unpopular as it is if Israel did not have a military aid umbilical cord to the Unites States, the White House would know that Israel’s devotion to the US could be swayed, and needed to be earned, than the US would have to treat Israel with reverence it deserves.
American Jews need to stop their unwavering support for the Democrats and use the power of the vote to show Obama and the Democrats that anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and actions will not be tolerated. History proves that without taking a stand to eradicate anti-Semitism in its tracks, it all goes out of control, and if a supposed staunch ally of Israel and friend to the Jews breeds this kind of hate, how can world Jewry expect it be stopped in other more hostile environments?
Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS is a journalist, librarian, editor, & historian. She writes regularly about American, Israeli and Canadian politics, universities and education, and Judaism and Jewish issues for Examiner.com. She is the editor of Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are the North American Jewish community, US, Canadian & Israeli politics, Jewish history, religion and cultural issues.