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Obama, the Brotherhood, and the Jewish left

If the president supports the most anti-Semitic political party on the planet, what does that say about the Jews who support the president?

Is the American Jewish left suffering from cognitive dissonance?

The Muslim Brotherhood is the foremost anti-Semitic organization in the world today. During the Morsi campaign they called for the conquest of Jerusalem. During World War II they supported the Nazis. Sayyid Qutb, one of their founding figures, wrote a pamphlet entitled “Our Struggle with the Jews.” They believe in an international caliphate in which sharia would reign throughout the world, thus making Jews, and other dhimmis, second- and third-class citizens; women the property of men; and gay people, quite frankly, dead. Yet, somehow, against all reason or common human decency, the American Jewish left supports the Muslim Brotherhood.

Barack Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood and progressive-left American Jews support Obama; thus those Jews, whether they will admit it to themselves or not, and however they might otherwise justify it, support the Muslim Brotherhood. I find this situation to be absolutely unfathomable. How is it possible that after so many centuries of abuse throughout Europe and after 1,400 years of unjust violence and oppression against us in the Muslim Middle East, American Jews could possibly support an American president who helped usher the Muslim Brotherhood into power in Egypt? How is this possible? How is it possible that American Jews would support a president of the United States who referred to the rapes, and murders, and riots that collectively make up the misnamed “Arab Spring” as something akin to the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and, revoltingly enough, as something akin to the Revolutionary Spirit of 1776?

Denial plays a big role in this phenomenon, because if you were to ask your average American Jewish supporter of Barack Obama just why they are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood they probably would not know what the heck you were talking about. When explained to them that the Muslim Brotherhood is not only anti-Semitic, but even genocidal toward Jews, and that Barack Obama has supported their rise throughout the Muslim Middle East, particularly in Egypt, they would probably look at you as if you yammering at them in Swahili.

It’s pure denial. It is a willful turning away from very serious facts and a deadly serious situation for the Jews in Israel.

Illustration: Arie Katz/The Times of Israel
Illustration: Arie Katz/The Times of Israel

And if you do not think that Obama has actively supported the Muslim Brotherhood, how do you explain the fact that administration officials met with the Brotherhood on several occasions before they came into power in Egypt? How do you explain the fact that, over Mubarak’s objections, Obama invited the Brotherhood to his Cairo speech of 2009? How do you explain the fact that when Obama called for the deposing of Mubarak he knew that the Brotherhood would likely fill the power vacuum? How do you explain the fact that Hillary Clinton flew to Egypt to ensure the transition from military control of the country to Brotherhood control? However one slices and dices these facts, it is simply undeniable that Obama promoted the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East.

Another reason, aside from mere denial, is a suicidally naive faith in the wisdom of Barack Obama, in the good-will of Barack Obama, and in the intelligence of Barack Obama. After eight years of a militaristic and jingoistic Bush II administration, Obama seemed like a huge weight off the shoulders, a huge relief from all the hokum and trumpery, as Kurt Vonnegut might have put it, of the Bush years. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, after all. This is therefore a highly intelligent man. And, like us, and unlike Bush, he’s a liberal. And, on top of that, he’s a black man, and G-d bless America, racist as it allegedly remains, for finally raising up an African-American to the foremost political position in the land.

I mean, I voted for Barack Obama, and I couldn’t have been more pleased that we had elected our first black president. These things, taken together, can form quite an emotional attachment to the individual, which is particularly true when almost everyone you know keeps telling one another how the Democrats stand for human decency, social justice, and universal human rights, while the Republicans stand for racism, greed, misogyny, guns, and all things that are just plain wrong.

But there is yet another way in which “progressive” Jews justify their support for Obama, despite his support for the Muslim Brotherhood: democracy. That’s right: The Muslim Brotherhood is misogynistic,  homophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-democratic, yet we must support Obama’s efforts to bolster the Brotherhood out of support for democracy! After all, democracy can be a messy business, so who are we to deny the legitimate national aspirations of the Egyptian people? Sure, those national aspirations may include the conquest of Jerusalem and the genocide of the Jews but, hey, that’s democracy.

This line of reasoning is just rampant on the Jewish left. I see it constantly on places like “Daily Kos” or “The Huffington Post” or the “Guardian.” They seem to think that supporting democracy is some sort of suicide pact, and that we are obligated to honor any choices made by any people anywhere so long as those choices are expressed via the voting booth. Well, excuse me, but didn’t a particularly nasty individual rise to power in Germany during the 1930s via democratic means? I think he did.

We should support democracy, but we are also allowed to take sides — and we are under no obligation to support any political party, much less the foremost anti-Semitic political party on the planet. What I think is that American Jews are making a truly awful mistake in supporting this presidency. I voted for the guy in 2008, but I also watched and learned. The main thing that I learned was that I was dead wrong to support Obama to begin with. No Jewish person should support a politician who supports the Brotherhood.

Progressive-left American Jews are holding two contradictory notions in their minds. They, for the most part, support the State of Israel, but they also support president Obama. Obama supports the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood tells us that they want to conquer Jerusalem.

Is this not cognitive dissonance?

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives (http://israel-thrives.blogspot.com/). He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at mike.lumish@gmail.com.