Obama the ‘First Jewish President’?
September 19, 2011 - 10:09 am
NY Magazine’s John Hellemann tries, and fails, to make the case that Barack H. Obama is just the bestest friend Israel has ever had in the White House.
In a way, history has been cruel to Obama, forcing him to succeed the wrong Bush—the one whose support for Israel, unlike that of his father, was uncritical to the point of blindness. Obama’s team has made its share of errors in the conduct of its diplomacy and in allowing misperceptions to take hold: that its tough-love approach to Israel has been all the former and none of the latter; that its demands on the Palestinians have been either negligible or nonexistent. And many Jewish voters, like those Wall Street financiers (and, to be sure, the overlap between those groups isn’t trivial) who flocked to Obama and were then chagrined when he called them out as “fat cats,” have all too often focused more on the president’s words than his deeds—and come away with the impression that he doesn’t seem to “feel Israel” in his bones.
During Obama’s transition, the Israelis and the Palestinians had been at war in Gaza. So Mitchell began traveling in the region, searching for a series of measures that might change the climate sufficiently to get the two sides talking again. What he heard uniformly from the Arab states was that a halt to the construction of Israeli settlements was key. “The idea came from the Palestinians first and the rest of the Arabs second—and I mean all of them,” says Jonathan Prince, a senior State Department aide who worked with Mitchell. “We were told it was the only way to give the Palestinians political cover to get them back to the negotiating table.”
The American push for a settlement freeze would be the first flash point in Obama’s relations with Israel and also a turning point in his standing with Jewish voters at home.
Naturally, because he took the Arab states at their word and pushed Israel. At least, that’s the charitable way of looking at it. The less charitable way is to see that Obama tilted against Israel from day one, and is now throwing the Arab states under the bus — along with the Israelis, who have been under there for some time.
Hellemann tries explaining away Obama’s relationship to Rashid Khalidi, in this tricky paragraph.
The suspicions regarding the bone-deepness of Obama’s bond with Israel were present from the start, and always rooted in a reading of his background that was as superficial as it was misguided. Yes, he was black. Yes, his middle name was Hussein. And yes, in his time in Hyde Park, his friends included Palestinian scholars and activists, notably the historian Rashid Khalidi.
Two race cards, followed by concealing the truth about Khalidi in order to help Obama. For a bit more about that relationship, we must turn to Andrew McCarthy:
At the time Khalidi, a PLO adviser turned University of Chicago professor, was headed east to Columbia. There he would take over the University’s Middle East-studies program (which he has since maintained as a bubbling cauldron of anti-Semitism) and assume the professorship endowed in honor of Edward Sayyid, another notorious terror apologist.
The party featured encomiums by many of Khalidi’s allies, colleagues, and friends, including Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, and Bill Ayers, the terrorist turned education professor. It was sponsored by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), which had been founded by Khalidi and his wife, Mona, formerly a top English translator for Arafat’s press agency.
Obama is said to have warmly toasted Khalidi, a mouthpiece for the terrorist PLO, at that party, but the LA Times has been sitting on the video tape for years. The hiding of the tape would be a side bar, except that it figures into how the media has consistently helped Obama for years, as Hellerman tries to do by painting Obama as the “first Jewish president.” That article isn’t journalism, it’s an effort at damage control after the Democrats’ spectacular defeat in NY-9. Politico gives us a taste of the turmoil.
Concern among Democrats was palpable in the race’s closing days, as polls showed Jewish voters breaking away from the party. A Public Policy Polling survey on the eve of the election found 37 percent of voters calling Israel “very important” in determining their votes, and Turner led among those respondents by a massive 49-percentage-point margin.
“What it does indicate is there are some serious problems with messaging to the Jewish community from the administration,” said Arnold Linhardt, a New York Democratic strategist who works on Jewish outreach.