October 29, 2008
This Jew for McCainBy Lori Lowenthal Marcus
When PBS asked me to do an interview for a television newsweekly because I am a Jew supporting McCain, I didn't hesitate to say yes. PBS's left wing bias is legendary. I thought it likely the interview would be edited to make me look like a Jew with compromised allegiance to the US, and not even a "real Jew" at that because I fail to see Judaism as the religion of "Tikkun Olam."
But I thought I had something valuable to say about why I, a liberal Jewish woman Democrat whose primary issue prior to 9/11 was reproductive rights, now believe the McCain/Palin ticket is better for the US, better for the West, better for Israel and better for Jews than is Obama/Biden. This characterization of me made it on air, but none of my substantive reasons did.
Here's what was left out.
After 9/11 I slowly realized that we damn well better listen when people say they are going to kill us because their religion requires it, and they are actually acquiring the means to do just that on a mass scale, and while that production is underway they are doing it, just more slowly than they'd like.
I now know that defeating global terrorism is the single most important issue of our time. It is more important than global warming, than welfare reform, than stem cell research, even than reproductive rights. And that's because none of those issues can be addressed if we've been subjugated to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. As I said to the PBS interviewer but what was edited out, "my daughters won't have reproductive or many other rights if they are dead or burka'ed."
So, on to the issue I consider paramount when evaluating candidates for President:
Understanding who and what our enemies are and what plans they have to defeat those enemies. Several indicators I consider in evaluating the candidates on this issue are their Middle East advisors, their nuanced understanding of the Arab/Israeli conflict, and their approach to the United Nations. Finally, I look to whether they live lives consistent with their public positions.
As I tried to explain to my PBS interviewer in a discussion that wasn't aired, I find the McCain/Palin ticket far more reassuring concerning my issue than their competition. Here's why:
Barack Obama simply wants to "reform" one of the most bloated, ineffective and downright destructive organizations on earth, the United Nations. But the reform necessary will never be instituted by the UN General Assembly that is controlled by a voting bloc that consistently votes against US interests and incessantly vilifies our closest ally, Israel.
In the upside-down world of the UN, human rights violators like China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt sit and vote on the Human Rights Council. In 2009, in 4 out of 5 countries on the UNHRC, female genital mutilation is rampant, and in a current member, Egypt, 97 percent of women are genitally mutilated. And that upside-down behemoth is situated in New York City, where the diplomats live tax-free and immune from prosecution, and the tab is largely borne by US taxpayers: the US is responsible for 22 percent of the UN budget. Is it conceivable such an entity will agree to "reform"?
McCain, on the other hand, is calling for a long-needed remedy to the UN: a League of Democracies. Although he isn't willing to say it should replace the UN, it certainly should. The UN is a dysfunctional institution that has failed in the last 50 years to accomplish much except employ armies of bureaucrats and consume enormous quantities of money, much of it US tax dollars. McCain is right that it is time for a bold move on the global diplomacy front.
Dennis Ross is an Obama Middle East advisor who actually has experience dealing with the Arab Palestinians and the Israelis. But sometimes experience doesn't equal competence. Near the end of his 2004 book, "The Missing Peace," Ross admits that he should have realized much earlier that Arafat was unwilling to make peace with, and never acted to denounce violence against, Israel. Ross recognized that Arafat trumpeted the US as his equalizer with the Israelis. It is good to have an epiphany, even if it was too late to stop the Clinton/Ross peace train that was destined to, and did, crash.
But in the October, 2008 issue of World Jewish Digest, Ross assures readers that he has known Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, since 1993 and that Abbas has always sought "peace and coexistence with Israel, and opposed terror and violence." Yet Abbas was Arafat's treasurer while Arafat pulled off some of his most horrific crimes. He is the same Abbas who has continued paying the families of Israeli murderers for their sacrifice to "the cause," even while his people wallow in poverty. He is the same Abbas whose "government" educates children to hate Jews and names sports teams and streets after homicide bombers. Either Ross has de-epiphanized or he's hoping no one read his book. And Ross is an Obama Middle East advisor? That's deeply troubling.
But I will tell you what does not scare me about Obama. I told this to the PBS interviewer, but this also was edited out. What doesn't scare me, what in fact impresses me about Obama, concerns the internet rumor that Obama is a closet Muslim. Obama has stated repeatedly that he is a Christian, and Muslims believe death must be the penalty for apostates. So, if anything, I admire Obama's courage on this point.
Another circulating email allegedly revealed the black racism of Michelle Robinson Obama. Ms. Obama's college thesis was reportedly rife with anti-white vitriol and anger at blacks who have assimilated into the white majority culture, rather than remaining true to their black roots. But I can easily imagine my having written a similar thesis in college, one in which I could have substituted men for whites, and conservative women for having bought into the majority male culture. I grew up, most of us do. Also, Michelle Robinson was one of my classmates in law school and I never saw or felt any racial tension from her.
But I will tell you what I cannot forgive either of the Obamas: raising their children in their church of hatred. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons run chills down my spine. His anti-American venom is shocking. Have you seen the YouTube video of him saying "God Damn the US," and saying "the chickens have come home to roost" in the form of 9/11 because the US never apologized for dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How can anyone equate the bombs that ended World War II, with bombings that have apparently started World War III?
Obama cannot deny calling Wright his moral compass, sounding board, close confidant, and putting him on his spiritual advisory council, calling upon Wright to perform his marriage ceremony, asking Wright to baptize his children, praying with Obama when he launched his White House bid, and attending Wright's church -- one might say religiously -- for nearly twenty years. As I said on air, Obama's pastor scares me a whole lot more than anything Sarah Palin has ever said or done.
How can anyone talk about being a unifying force, and call for hope to bring us together, when he has marinated himself and his family in a pit of venom? Obama recently claimed he had no knowledge of Wright's anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, and minimized his relationship with Wright. That's just insulting revisionism. Obama's private actions fail to align with his public assertions.
Finally, I freely admit that at the top of my list of concerns is the role Israel plays as the first-in-line victim of global terrorism. For one thing, as so many Islamists point out, Israel is the little Satan and the US is the big Satan. Israel is the target practice preceding the war against the rest of the West, including the US. For another thing, I am Jewish, Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, and I apologize to no one for voting my interests, especially here, where those interests are aligned precisely with my home country's.
And now to my last point. The (Jewish) PBS producer asked me whether I didn't think Obama reflected the essential Jewish value of Tikkun Olam. Most people, even when they correctly translate that Hebrew term as "repairing the world," believe it means social action by Jews on behalf of those less fortunate. But that isn't accurate. The term Tikkun Olan appears in a prayer Jews are obligated to say three times a day, and the phrase ends with "to perfect the world under the reign of the Almighty." This Jewish concept is about the betterment of social conduct in order to stop the wickedness of the world to Jews who live amongst them. In other words, it is about Jewish self-preservation and is most emphatically not about substituting social action for Judaism. Striving for social justice is entirely consistent with Jewish values, but it is not The Jewish value, and it certainly is not only a Jewish value.
Perfecting the world under the reign of the Almighty has nothing to do with Obama's strategy for dealing with genocidal maniacs. His strategy rests on the delusion that he can sit down and sweet talk them into submission. McCain's strategy is to prevent those monsters from using the nuclear weapons we know they are building.
So this Jewish pro-choice Democrat is going to vote for McCain/Palin because they know who are our friends and who are our enemies. And they are prepared to do what is needed to each.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a recovered lawyer and journalist living outside of Philadelphia.