Thursday, June 5, 2008

If Barack Obama was Barry Smith, Would Some Jews Still Not Trust Him?

As many of you are by now aware, Sen. Obama spoke at this year's AIPAC summit the other day. For those of you that do not know, AIPAC represents the Israel lobby in Washington D.C. and is one of the top 5 most influential interest groups in the country. As many of you might also be aware, some Jewish Americans do not trust Obama, and think that if he is elected, Israel will be destroyed. Obama opened his remarks to the conference by stating:

Before I begin, I also want to mention that I know some have been receiving provocative e-mails that have been circulating throughout Jewish communities across the country. A few of you may have gotten them. They’re filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is — let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary.

I thought it was a funny and aggressive way to take the issue on head first, but was the speech effective? For starters, lets try and figure out how we got to this point. Ironically, there are some on the left that think Obama is too "pro-Israel". Furthermore, The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz Daily, two reasonable and mainstream Israeli newspapers, have recently published articles debunking these myths. But why did they have to? Why did these myths develop in the first place?

The truth is, I really don't know the answer, and I am actually asking you, the reader, to please explain it to me. Could it be are the above mentioned emails, some of which read as follows, courtesy of JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), an actively pro-Israel news organization:

The following is an example of an e-mail including fabrications and distortions
about presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) now circulating among
U.S. Jews. The origins of this particular e-mail appear to be in Israel; JTA is
attempting to track it to the original source.--

Who is Barack Obama? Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice. If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts...this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States ...better heed this and pray about it and share it.We checked this out on "". It is factual. Check for yourself. Who is Barack Obama? Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya . His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocate to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta . He also spent two years in a Catholic school. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that that he is not a radical. Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta . Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran. Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turn s his back to the flag and slouches. Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy. The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States , one of their own!!!! Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!

The"facts" of this email have been debunked and are widely known to be untrue. And while we are at it, does anyone still trust an email that begins by stating that you must email it to everyone you know and that it is true because says it is? I doubt that the recipients of the email aren't influenced at all by its contents. I have to think that most people in the Jewish community do not Obama because of an email.

The Weekly Standard, a publication run mostly by Jewish Neo-Conservatives, published a piece stating that Obama attended a dinner in 2003 where someone mentioned that the Palestinians must have their own country or there will never be peace. Well, not only is that sentiment true, it is also the official policy of both the Israeli and American government to make this happen, precisely because of the accuracy of the premise. That is the entire idea behind a two state solution, the core idea behind Camp David II, the Quartet, ect...

So can that really be it? In my opinion, the answer is no, but I might be wrong. Again, I ask, what is the problem here? Why do some Jewish Americans distrust this man? And again I remind you, I really don't know the answer to this question.

I am Jewish, I have been to Israel four times and used to work for an Israeli organization. I usually think I understand the American Jewish community, but this I don't get. I don't think it is solely because he is black, though I think for some that plays a part. Rather, I think it is a gut feeling many get from his name, and the association that anyone with the middle name of Hussein, whose last name sounds like Osama, who lived in Indonesia (even though he was 5 at the time) could ever be fair to Israel. If I am right, this opens several very large cans of worms.

If you are an American Jew that cares more about Israel then the United States, I ask you, what does it mean for America to be good to Israel? Funding? Protection? Isn't the most important premise hold that a strong America is best for Israel? Wouldn't McCain, who in essence wants to continue Bush's economic and foreign policies that have weakened this country thus weaken Israel?

This mistrust does not make sense, which is, I think, my point. There is no logic to this mistrust, it is a visceral, emotional reaction to a man that reminds them of people they do not trust, merely because of his name and skin color.

That is my guess at least, for all I can do is guess, as I really don't know what the true answer might possibly be. If you fall in this category, please leave a comment and enlighten me as to why I, an American Jew, should not trust Obama on Israel. I think enough of us have worked to convince the (as Bush would probably say) "mistrusters" as to why there is no reason of there to be mistrust. So please, drop a brutha a note, and let me know where and why I am wrong for not only trusting, but enthusiastically supporting Sen. Obama.


Randal Graves said...

"I see the mistruster folks have gotten to your cerebellicose cortexicon."

"That's right, George. My friends, Israel has no bigger supporter than me and Rev. Hagee."

"You already got rid of him, John."

"No, I already ate, thanks."

puddy said...

great post sal.

the emails you are referring to do require a receptive audience. unfortunately, that audience is very easily swayed by the contents of those emails. at least, this has been my observation.

Reason said...

Having grown up an American Jew in South Florida, these are my impressions.

For many people, especially Jews, there is no difference between being Jewish and being Israeli. The two are considered by many to be synonymous. "Arab" and "Muslim" are also synonymous. Granted, neither of these positions are supported by the 20% of the Israeli population that are non-jewish arabs (For Jewish arabs, their religion trumps their ethnicity), nor the fact that of the 1 billion muslims in the world, the majority are NOT arab. But facts really don't have a lot to do with it.

In my mind, the whole key to understanding it is to recognize that all dialogue is taking place in the context of the holocaust. Taken with the synonymity of "Jewish" and "Israeli", any person, organization, or government that commits violence against Israel is seeking to recreate the holocaust. Any person, organization, or government that criticies Israel (say, for example, imprisoning women and children for years without charges or repeatedly visiting military reprisals on an entire civilian community) is obviously nothing more than anti-semitic.

On a side note, I think that a disservice has been done since the end of WWII by only speaking about the holocaust in terms of a Jewish issue instead of a humanitarian issue. We all know 6 million Jews died in the holocaust. This is a horrible thing, but not becuase they were Jewish. It is horrible because 6 million human beings were killed because they were Jewish. In addition, 1 million human beings were killed because they were Jehovah's Witnesses. Another million because they were Romany. Blacks, gays, handicapped individuals...anyone who did not meet the nazi ideal. All together, 10 million people were killed. every time we hear it spoken of in terms of 6 million Jews instead of 10 million human beings, we are discounting 4 million deaths as though they somehow do not matter; we suggest that the lives and deaths of non-jews are not as important. We make it a Jewish issue instead of a humanitarian issue.

Of course, from the stand point of Arabic countries like Iran, all dialogue is taking place within the context of Western imperialism and military incursions, from the crusades starting in the tenth century to twentieth century colonialism.

These are the things I like to think about whenever I'm reading about whatever current flare-up or controversy.

(A further side note: I myself am a shamanist. The only time I self-identify as Jewish is if someone has a problem with Jews.)

Bradda said...

Jews mean trouble....