05/13/2008 (10:32 am)
Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview of Barack Obama at Atlantic.com yesterday addressed Obama’s stance on the nation of Israel and on Jews in particular. Obama knows that he can’t win the presidency while taking a strong anti-Israel stand, so he’s attempting to quell the public’s impression that he might be strongly anti-Israel. He doesn’t really give us anything that hasn’t been around the Democratic party all along, although he distances himself from Carter’s invocation of apartheid.
Obama fired advisor Robert Malley over the weekend for having held discussions with Hamas, a curious act, given Obama’s stated willingness to sit down and negotiate with anybody. He also fired advisor Samantha Power a few months ago for her outlandish (but amusingly accurate) comments about Hillary Clinton. Both Mally and Power were foreign policy advisors with anti-Israel leanings. In fact, Obama’s team, not to mention Obama’s political party and ideological comrades, teem with anti-Israel sentiments. We probably should take Obama’s interview, like his firing of Malley, as Realpolitik, the recognition by one of Israel’s natural enemies that he has to play nice toward Israel or he can’t govern America.
What I thought was particularly interesting was Obama’s claim to have been heavily influenced by Jewish thinkers:
I always joke that my intellectual formation was through Jewish scholars and writers, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Whether it was theologians or Philip Roth who helped shape my sensibility, or some of the more popular writers like Leon Uris. So when I became more politically conscious, my starting point when I think about the Middle East is this enormous emotional attachment and sympathy for Israel…
Philip Roth? Leon Uris? Those are the Jews he claims shaped his sensibilities? And, theologians? Which ones? Can he possibly be serious?
I find it hard to believe he considered Portnoy’s Complaint formative. I would have given him a little more credit for naming, maybe, Buber, Spinoza, Maimonides, or maybe Jesus of Nazareth. However, I suspect strongly that he’s tiptoeing around the names of the Jews who actually influenced him: Marx, Engels, and Alinsky.
Interestingly, Obama legitimizes those who might infer Islamic ties because of his middle name, Hussein:
It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, “This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,” and that’s something they’re hopeful about.
We’ll keep this in mind against the day when he objects to the connection again, although, to be frank, I don’t think his natural support for the Palestinian cause has anything to do with his name. It’s a Leftist thing, not a Muslim thing.
Ed Morrissey riffs on Obama’s “some of my best friends are Jewish!” while Michael Goldfarb explains why the Hamas endorsement is still a problem.
1 Comment »
Comment by fnb
I think you’re right, it’s a leftist thing. The link between all those metioned is gaining power through disruptive behavior. It’s Alinsky squared. Most of their ideologies take second place to power and profit. The victims are always the dupes who follow them and expect CHANGE but never see more than the strengtening of the folks at the top of the socialist food chain.
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