First off, let me say that given the historical hatred for Jews in the world, I am loath to write an article critical of members of my own faith. But this needs to be said, and I'm going to say it. To all Jews reading this, take the time and fully digest the ideas being discussed here.
Yes, I'm Jewish, but unlike most of my brethren, I voted McCain. Living in New York, I've been amazed by just how many fellow Jews supported Obama in the 2008 election. Many of them Liberals, proud, loud, outspoken Liberals who won't even debate with people like me, because of my supposed conservative affliction. That my Jewish brothers and sisters overwhelmingly supported Obama just didn't make any sense to me in the run-up to last year's election. As events have unfolded in the last five-plus months of Obama's rule, it's nothing short of astounding that a majority of Jews supported him. What were you guys thinking?
Here was a candidate running on a platform of engagement with the Iranian government, a sworn enemy of Israel, whose very leader denies the Holocaust and who has used "wipe Israel off the map" in a sentence. Even if President Obama were really as charismatic as the media and his sycophantic followers insist, this alone would not be enough to change the direction of a bad guy like Ahmadinejad, forget about shadow government of Khomeini which is really in control.
Many noted Obama's reference, during his address in Cairo, to American meddling in Iran back in the late 50's. Of course, Obama failed to mention a few things about that episode. For example, American meddling in Iran was in response to meddling from the Soviets. Would the Liberal Jew prefer Obama's alternative, that the U.S. stay out of it and allow the Soviets, who had a long history of Jewish persecution and who, during the period in question, actually backed the Israeli state's Arab enemies to expand their reach into resource rich Iran? I wonder how Jews who backed Obama felt when they heard Obama retell this edited, yet "tumultuous" history. I thought about the Iranian Jews I knew who fled persecution during the 1979 Iranian revolution, during which the U.S.-backed regime that Obama derided was violently overthrown. These Iranian Jews came to the U.S., often with just the clothes on their backs. If you were a Jew in New York in the 80's, chances were you knew an Iranian Jew with this exact story. The regime that these Jews were fleeing from in Iran in the early 80s is the very one that Obama would directly negotiate with now, without any conditions. This was an Obama campaign pledge, not some dismissible, sotomayoresque comment in a few youtube videos, but a major stance of Obama's, laid out for the entire Jewish community to see.
And for the first time that I can remember, it felt like something was actually happening in Iran. It was special, compelling, and horrifying. True, the people were all riled up about one candidate versus the other, when both were handpicked by Khamenei (to whom Obama has referred as "the Supreme Leader"). I wouldn't be surprised if Ahmadinejad did legitimately win the election, but this is not about who won. The whole situation speaks to something much deeper. Obviously the people of Iran are getting a taste of what it's like elsewhere in the world, thanks to technology and neighbors who are starting to get more freedom, and they naturally want some of their own. God bless them for that, and as Jews with a history of persecution and oppression ourselves, we should be the first to stand up with them and offer our support for their cause.
Yet, we watched in horror the images of Iranian women on the streets of Iran with blood pouring out of their necks -- injuries inflicted by a state which is trying to build nuclear weapons, supports terrorism, and has been complicit in the killing of Americans and Jews. At the same time, we saw that the American president who was supported by as much as 80% of American Jews could barely muster convincing support for the patriots of Iran, who only want what we have. Oh I know, Obama was not trying to meddle or paint the protesters as U.S. puppets. And that line worked until a week later when Obama did meddle, albeit tepidly.
As the protests in Iran have been tamped down once again under the boot of Iranian tyranny, it's clear Obama's wasn't wise policy -- it was akin to voting "present." And the too little, too late words of consternation were mere duck and cover. This whole episode of the administration's handling of foreign policy makes a Gong show act look polished; it is the clearest evidence yet of Obama's on-the-job training. Watching the president sheepishly following Angela Merkel's lead on Friday, as if she were saying to Obama, "Let me show you how this works," was a humbling moment for Americans, and distressing to people across the world who are fighting for freedom.
To make matters worse, there are reports that Obama has been sending secret letters to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, to ensure post-election discussions. I wonder whether political pressure will eventually force Obama to rethink his position on open and direct talks with Iran, because there is no chance he will change his diplomatic trajectory based on something as silly as morals (and no indication of such from his staff on the Sunday talk shows). You can't blame Obama though, this is the very platform he ran on: George Bush was the problem, not the Mullahs in Iran. And a majority of Jews bought it -- hook, line, and sinker.
Yet Jewish support for Obama is far from a fluke. Most Jews also self-identify as Democrats -- Liberals, even. But it's not as if the Democratic party, or worse, the liberal wing of the party, to whose views Obama subscribes, has been a particularly good friend of Israel over the years. Liberals are generally antiwar, pro appeasement, and in my experience, anti-Israel. Just look at the way Obama has been in favor of meddling, not in Iran but in Israel. I'm not saying that support for Israel should be the only, or even an important, measure of on what a Jew should base his or her vote. And I'll be the first to admit that Israel is far from perfect. But Israel is Jewish land, and if the Israeli Jews, people who hold the same moral values as Jews from New York, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, really did want to perform Genocide on the Palestinians, as so many Liberals like to claim, then they would have done it already. Does any American Jew, Liberal or otherwise, really believe that the Israeli/Palestinian "peace process" is stalled because of Jewish settlements? It's safe to say that the endless barrage of unaimed rocket attacks, suicide murderers with ball bearing laced C4, and an Arab culture of anti-Semitic Jewish hatred is probably much more of a cause for the stalled peace process than any extensions some folks are putting on their houses in contested border land (which incidentally, has always been constructed in order to give Israel more space from attacks by their enemies).
So if Obama's Middle East policy isn't what drove Jewish voters to favor him, then what was it?
Was it the promise of a government-run health care option? I know lots of Jews of Russian descent, many of them in the New York area, and many of those a mere generation or two from Soviet Russia. Sure, we're not talking out and out communism here in America right? Just the health industry. And the banks, and insurance, and also American auto makers. I think taking assets from people who paid for and owned stock in G.M. and giving them to the UAW is nothing at all like Communism or Socialism. At least the Media is still free right? No, this is nothing like the nationalization of Nazi Germany, or Chavez' Venezuela, or countless other instances where freedom was snuffed out faster than you can punch a chad. We are Jewish and we want a Public Option NOW!
If you really think about it, there are few, if any, aspects of American Liberalism which are really compatible with being Jewish. One example is Obama's and the Liberals' obsession with identity politics, which is really legitimized racism and should give any Jew pause. Another example is Obama's and the Liberals' focus on equality, but not equality of rights, just the idea that we are all exactly equal in sum. All the same, no more, no less, not one deserving of more than any other regardless of our actions -- a distinctly non-Jewish sentiment, considering our historic celebration of achievement, as well as experience in the aforementioned Soviet Union. From gun control (Jews are generally law abiding, yet also often subject to prejudice, even in present-day New York, and would benefit from the constitutional right to defend themselves), to increased entitlement programs (dependency isn't something a Jew would aspire to), from "spreading the wealth" (property rights are codified in the Talmud), to even supporting abortion rights, the Jew who is a Liberal or a Democrat is a walking contradiction.
I know a few walking contradictions. And I've been wondering lately what they think of the way things have been going. I'm afraid to ask them honestly, because I'm worried that I'll be disappointed in them and their continued blinkered and rationalizing view. Or worse, if they do regret their vote, then I'll be rubbing it in that they made a terrible mistake voting for Obama, a mistake that in retrospect should have been obvious to them. After all, we're Jews, and we've all learned these lessons before.