Friday, February 22, 2008

Obama and the Jews

My colleague and friend, Mel Konner, has written a provocative and challenging post about Obama's relationship to Jews and Israel. It's well worth reading.

8 comments:

Roman Werpachowski said...

In my opinion, Holocaust is one problem while modern Israel is another problem. The US President should support... the United States of America, first and foremost. There is no duty to support the state of Israel (apart from being simply opposed to terrorism in all its aspects and appearances), which when failed makes a person an anti-semite. One can be feel friendship towards Jews and not necessarily support the policy of the state of Israel. We Europeans are familiar with such dichotomy: most of us feel much friendship towards the Americans, but often criticize the actions of the US government. Mr Konner absolutely mixes these two things, making support for Israel (and for him "support" means "lack of criticism", given what he writes about Soros) a lithmus test of anti-semitism. This is illogical.

Mel Konner said...

Mr. Werpachowski, thank you for your comment. I think you misunderstood me. I did not accuse Obama of anti-Semitism, nor did I say that his attitude toward Israel is more important than what he stands for in domestic and foreign policy generally. I merely tried to sort out what he has said and done on this one issue, which is important to many Jews. As for criticizing Israel, I have no problem with that, I just think Soros, Brzezinski, and his other advisors are totally lopsided in their criticism of Israel.

Roman Werpachowski said...

But "Israel should negotiate with Hamas" (which, I undestand, is what Soros had said that you didn't like) is not a criticism of Israel! It is an acknowledgement of reality.

Mel Konner said...

There is far more to Soros's anti-Israel ranting than just recommending negotiations with Hamas. The article linked on my blog (http://www.jewsandothers.com/Jews_and_Others/Blog/Entries/2008/2/21_Is_Obama_a_Friend_to_Israel.html)
has a full range of false claims against Israel and its American supporters, very similar to the claims that earned Jimmy Carter the enduring animosity of the Jewish community last year. By the way, you don't negotiate with terrorists, you pursue and destroy them. And Soros's recommendation that Hamas's recognition of Israel should be at the end of negotiations, not the beginning, is literally a non-starter. Israel and the Palestinian Authority have formed an alliance that will in time prevail over Hamas terrorism.

Mel Konner said...

There is far more to Soros's anti-Israel ranting than just recommending negotiations with Hamas. The article linked on my blog (http://www.jewsandothers.com/Jews_and_Others/Blog/Entries/2008/2/21_Is_Obama_a_Friend_to_Israel.html)
has a full range of false claims against Israel and its American supporters, very similar to the claims that earned Jimmy Carter the enduring animosity of the Jewish community last year. By the way, you don't negotiate with terrorists, you pursue and destroy them. And Soros's recommendation that Hamas's recognition of Israel should be at the end of negotiations, not the beginning, is literally a non-starter. Israel and the Palestinian Authority have formed an alliance that will in time prevail over Hamas terrorism.

International House of Pedantics said...

Roman and Mel, as best I can tell, are confounding fact and policy.

""Israel should negotiate with Hamas" ... is not a criticism of Israel! It is an acknowledgement of reality."

"...Hamas's recognition of Israel should be at the end of negotiations, not the beginning, is literally a non-starter."

Both of these statements reflect policy positions. Neither is factually right or wrong. Both predict positive outcomes, if followed.

I am--for the purposes of this conversation--agnostic as to which policy position is better. However, I do firmly believe that advocating either policy position, if one's goal is to achieve peace in the Middle East, is not anti-Semitic.

One might criticize Soros, Brzesinski or Obama as naive or in error for espousing a policy he disagrees with. Criticizing any of them as anti-Semite is a leap not supported by evidence.

Roman Werpachowski said...

"By the way, you don't negotiate with terrorists, you pursue and destroy them."

If the terrorists enjoy the support of civilian masses, then you may have to.

"Israel and the Palestinian Authority have formed an alliance that will in time prevail over Hamas terrorism."

It depends not on the Israel, but on the Palestinians. As for now, Hamas calls the shots in Palestine and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't continue. Hammid Karzai was supposed to be an ally together with whom the USA will destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan. We know the rest of the story.

Mel Konner said...

For the record, I did not accuse Obama or any of his advisors of anti-Semitism, although in my original blog on my web site I did refer to the "borderline anti-Semitic sermonizing" of his pastor Jeremiah Wright, who has highly praised Louis Farrakhan. I defended Obama from the smear campaign directed against him.

I don't think it's fair to burden Dr. Lipstadt's blog with opinions about something I wrote on my web site, so if anyone wants to continue this conversation, please go to my original article at http://www.jewsandothers.com/Jews_and_Others/Blog/Entries/2008/2/21_Is_Obama_a_Friend_to_Israel.html and I will try to answer.

Mel Konner