Veteran, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Colbert King has published a crude, scurrilous attack on Israelis and American Jews for opposing President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Those who regard the Iran nuclear deal as a grave threat to Israeli and U.S. interests have a moral duty to vigorously oppose it, just as those of us who view the deal as the best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon should work for its adoption.
Yet King goes on to say that opponents of the deal who exercise their “moral duty”—that is, if they’re Israelis—are guilty of racism and endangering what he calls the “alliance between blacks and Jews in this country,” meaning America.
King starts by quoting a stupid, offensive tweet last June 21 by Judy Mozes, wife of Israeli vice prime minister and interior minister Silvan Shalom: “Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak.”
King, who is African American, acknowledges that Mozes deleted the tweet and apologized. But what, one might wonder, is the connection to the Iranian nuclear deal, which was only announced three weeks later? Seemingly—none; but King in his op-ed is painting Israelis with a rather broad brush.
His next complaint is against Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, for
suggest[ing] in a series of recent articles in Foreign Policy that the president’s “abandonment” by his mother’s “two Muslim husbands” created in him a desire for “acceptance by their co-religionists” that has now influenced his foreign policy.
For that speculation, Oren—it was, by the way, a single Foreign Policy article, not a series—was widely (unfairly, I think) accused of engaging in psychobabble.
King, however, levels quite a different accusation at Oren. No less than: “It has come to this: racially charged affronts to the president of the United States from, of all places, Israel.”
Hold it, now. Judy Mozes’s tweet was, indeed, racially charged. But Oren’s conjecture? I missed it somehow.
But, again, King seems to have dispensed in this op-ed with making distinctions. He goes on to quote two statements by Israeli rabbis, both of whom likened Obama to Haman, a Persian official in the Book of Esther who wanted to wipe out the Jewish people.
The first is Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who said last March, “The president of the United States is lashing out at Israel just like Haman lashed out at the Jews.”
The second is Rabbi Dov Lior, who also compared Obama to Haman and called him a “kushi” of the West.
Distinction: whether or not one thinks likening Obama to Haman is going too far, kushi is indeed a derogatory Hebrew term for black people. So Lior’s statement was indeed racially offensive. But Riskin’s? Again, I seem to have missed it.
By now, though, King, having sloppily drawn a supposed picture of “racially charged affronts…from, of all places, Israel”—that is, two real affronts, one from 2015 and one from 2012, and two non-affronts—is ready to move to the “meat” of his article.
“It’s not only the name-calling and insults hurled at Obama that grab the gut,” he complains. “Behavior sends signals, too.”
King now zeroes in on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, specifically his speech to Congress last March in which he fiercely criticized Obama’s policy on Iran.
King quotes black Congressman James E. Clyburn’s assertion that the speech was an “affront to America’s first black president.”
And King continues:
In an interview with USA Today…Clyburn called Netanyahu’s White House end run “a real in-your-face slap at the president, and black folks know it. . . . [Netanyahu] wouldn’t have done it to any other president.” Pressed as to why Netanyahu would disrespect Obama, Clyburn responded, “You know why.”
In case there’s any doubt whether King endorses the charge, he says: “Clyburn’s ‘and black folks know it’ speaks volumes.”
And he continues:
There is a larger concern. While the jury is still out, the argument over the Iran deal could well stress the long-standing and largely fruitful political alliance between blacks and Jews in this country…. And it would be a sorrow to those of us who still look with favor upon an alliance that has stood the test in the hardest of times.
Does such a thing as a black-Jewish alliance still exist? In any case, it’s beside the point. It isn’t a mind-twister to note the things that are wrong with King’s words. But they need to be noted.
First of all, to allege that Netanyahu’s opposition to Obama’s Iran policy has anything to do with Obama’s being black is a pure and simple slur without a grain of substantiation.
Second, all of the real and imagined offenses against Obama that King cites in the article are by Israelis.
Another distinction: even if Israelis, as a whole, are terrible—something the article does not precisely prove—Israelis and American Jews are not the same. They’re two separate groups of people. Even if all Israelis were racists, it wouldn’t mean American Jews were racists. But for Colbert King it’s all the same.
His article, in other words, is nothing but a crude attack that starts by saying opposition to the Iran nuke deal is valid, and ends by saying all opposition to it—that is, by Jews, whether Israeli or American—is racist.
Even taking into account that King is a veteran columnist, it’s too bad the Washington Post prints this offensive tripe.