Are There Anti-Semitic Tropes in Obama's Memoir?

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Writing in The Australian, economist Henry Ergas noticed something in Obama’s memoir that has so far been ignored by the mainstream media. Or perhaps it was just never seen before because, really, how many people who bought Obama’s absurd book (which is only the first volume of his presidential memoirs) actually read the thing?


According to Ergas, “The silence that has greeted the former US president’s description of Nicolas Sarkozy in his book reflects the normalisation of casual anti-Semitism on the ‘progressive’ side of politics.”

What did Obama say about Sarkozy?

The words leap out and grab you. Former President Barack Obama characterizes no other world leader in anything like the terms he reserves for former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In his recent memoir, Obama tells us that Sarkozy is a “quarter Greek Jew.” Little wonder, then, that Sarkozy has “dark, expressive, Mediterranean features,” which resemble the exaggerated, often distorted figures “of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting.”

Little wonder, too, that he is “all emotional outbursts and overblown rhetoric,” while his conversation, which reflects unbridled ambition and incessant pushiness, “swoops from flattery to bluster to genuine insight.”

Here’s the full passage in context.

“One might have thought Obama was deliberately directing at Sarkozy the insults notoriously hurled at Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), the first person of Jewish birth to become Britain’s prime minister,” muses Ergas. “The colonial administrator Lord Cromer said of Disraeli that he was driven by ‘a tenacity of purpose’ that was ‘a Jewish characteristic.’ With his swarthy, ‘Oriental features,’ Disraeli was consumed by an ‘addiction’ to the ‘passionate outbursts’ and ‘excesses of flattery’ that were the hallmarks of his ‘nimble-witted’ race.”


Ergas argues that Obama was echoing Cromer’s depiction of Disraeli, and that “the traits Obama attributes to Sarkozy — from oily complexion to pushy, self-centered assertiveness — were at the heart of the anti-Semitic caricature of the Jew that crystallized, with murderous consequences, in the 19th century.”

“If anti-Semitism involves using the label ‘Jew’ to evoke, emphasize or explain an interrelated complex of unattractive attributes, Obama’s description of Sarkozy is unquestionably anti-Semitic,” Ergas contends, before noting that “not one of the gushing reviews” from left-wing papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post, “considered Obama’s statement even worth mentioning.”

He makes a valid point. The political left assumes a moral high ground on diversity, so ready to be offended at words so innocent they have to be dubbed “micro-aggressions” so they can virtue-signal their own “anti-racist” bonafides.

In fairness, Obama’s casual anti-Semitism during his eight years at the White House makes his unflattering depiction of Sarkozy seem trivial by comparison, but imagine if Donald Trump wrote such a thing.



Matt Margolis is the author of Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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