Obama's Court Jews Raise the Dual Loyalty Canard

Accusations of dual loyalty against Jews used to be something one expected to hear, if at all in this country, from the extreme right.  But modern conservatives generally strongly support Israel and rarely display anti-Semitic tendencies.   On the other hand, the far left has been anti-Israel for decades, and hostility to the Jewish state -- often occulted by philo-Israel bromides -- is increasingly becoming a mainstream sentiment within the Democratic Party.  Some leftist Jews have raised the issue before, but now many more have recklessly raised the canard as a means to support President Obama’s opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming address to Congress.  

Columnist Richard Cohen led the way declaring several weeks ago “…do not insult my president!” though Cohen failed to identify an actual Netanyahu insult.  On the other hand Obama has directly and indirectly insulted the Israeli Prime Minister on several occasions.   Cohen, wearing his shiniest patriot hat, also reaffirmed his “ardent” support for Israel, but also reminded readers that he was American too.  Of course, Cohen’s “ardent” support for Israel is tempered by all manner of conditions, contingencies and reservations to the extent that Cohen has written that the creation of the Jewish state itself was a mistake

Shortly afterward, former American ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer directly attacked Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (formerly an American citizen and Republican official) by denying that Dermer really was an ambassador at all, but rather still a “political operative” operating “behind the back of a friendly country’s administration.” 

Predictably, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg also chimed in, arguing that Netanyahu’s visit will force American Jews to choose between the Israeli leader and their president, which is absurd.  American Jews don’t have any choice to make.  Rather, it is President Obama who chose to make a political issue out of the visit, which he might either have accepted gracefully or ignored.  American Jewish opinion, one way or the other has nothing to do with it.   

These men are, of course, entitled to their views, but so are fellow Jews.  Americans owe some degree of respect to the office of the President, but nothing to the man.  Democrats demonstrated this aspect of American democracy repeatedly during George W. Bush’s presidency, with hardly any insult or lore seen as beyond the pale.  Obama has shown hostility to Israel, sympathy for its enemies, and indifference towards anti-Semitism.  Were American Jews to hurl the same invective at Obama that many enthusiastically did toward Bush, they would be better grounded in logic and reality. 

Nonetheless, Jewish congressional Democrats were openly mulling a boycott of Netanyahu’s speech.  Boycotts of Israel are the realm of BDS movement against Israel, but now that barrier appears to be breaking down.  Worse, the implication is that if you don’t boycott you are a disloyal American.  Should these congressmen go through with it, it will be a stain on them, and a sad day for American Jewry. 

Whether or not Jewish members of Congress boycott the speech, the dual loyalty attack has already given cover to non-Jewish Democrats to openly announce their intention to stay away.  For example, Democrat Congresswoman Betty McCollum recently declared her intention to boycott the speech, citing to former Ambassador Kurtzer to help justify her decision.  It’s an old story.  If liberal Jews oppose an Israeli leader or policy, how is it anti-Israel or anti-Semitic for a non-Jew to do the same? 

To be sure, there are some conservative Jews who also believe that Netanyahu’s visit is a strategic blunder, due to the risk of further alienating Obama, or causing lasting damage to the American-Israeli relationship.  I disagree with that assessment, but such critics do not raise the dual loyalty issue.  It is wrong for anybody, much less Jews, to question the loyalty of other Jews for opposing a president dangerous and hostile both to American values and the Jewish state, under the false pretense of patriotism.  Such people are little better than medieval court Jews, who sought the favor of hostile rulers in order to preserve their own positions, under the pretense of assisting their co-religionists. 

Throughout his political career Obama has surrounded himself with such Jews.  This has worked out well for him, as these people not only have provided critical advice, money and political connections, but also a measure of insulation against charges that Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians and anti-Israel, or even worse, that he was anti-Semitic.  After all, Obama expressed his Christianity by sitting through the overtly anti-Semitic sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for nearly twenty years.   

What all Obama’s court Jews have in common is a fawning deference to the President, which he seems to take as his due.  Anti-Semitism within Islam is endemic.  And while Obama is not a professing Muslim, his obvious affection and sympathy for Islam clearly influences his attitude toward many things, Jews among them.

This makes charges of dual loyalty by the left, and especially liberal Jews all the more odious.  Fealty to a leader is not loyalty, any more than expression of free speech is disloyalty.