To Obama: Self reflection starts at home
Well..let's take a tally: Barack Obama looks down condescendingly on small town Americans (you know, the religious fanatics who grasp at guns and religion because they have so little else to believe in or rely upon), does not believe America is an exceptional country (he said so himself) while continually apologizing for our actions throughout history; he refused to wear a flag pin until politics intruded during the campaign; he makes fun of mentally handicapped people on Jay Leno (comparing his bowling skills to those in the Special Olympics); finds Republicans all but repugnant; disregards the feelings of our strongest ally, Great Britain; and calls on Israelis to be more self-reflective.
Regarding the latter bit of condescension, I offer my two cents:
Israel is one of the most self-reflective nations on earth (discussions among Knesset members, a thriving and disputatious media, numerous political parties and NGOs, academics with their range of opinions, the well-placed infrastructure of democracy and a religion that prides itself on analysis should be evidence of this characterization) and condescendingly telling Israel to be more self-reflective reveals a profound lack of respect for our ally and knowledge about its people.
For a self-styled student of history , this reveals a startling lack of knowledge as does his claim that there was no moves made towards a resolution between the Palestinians and the Israelis over the past eight years-a claim brilliant and concisely eviscerated by Rick Richman
His call on Israelis to be more self-reflective is appalling. Israelis, as Bill Kristol notes over at The Weekly Standard:
After all, what do Israelis know about reflecting on, and living with, the life and death consequences of political decisions? What do Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon -- either as individuals or as leaders -- know about war and peace? These are guys -- and the Israelis are a people -- who just coast along, taking an easy path, never debating, never thinking, never questioning, never second-guessing...and never making or asking their fellow citizens to make sacrifices.
Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and David Axelrod, on the other hand -- they're seriously self-reflective individuals. Look at their wide experiences at peace and in war. Look how they've had to grapple with life and death decisions for decades. For them, it's not just talk and spin and positioning. The American president and his advisors -- they've made personal sacrifices, they've come to grips with the tough choices over their decades of accomplishment in public life. They've got the standing to lecture the people and leaders of Israel on the need for self-reflection.
Marty Peretz, who defended Barack Obama during the campaign from criticism that he would likely sell-out Israel, has taken off his rose-colored glasses over the last few months and has come to believe he was snookered. He has repeatedly criticized Barack Obama and in his latest piece in the New Republic , takes Obama to task for the condescension he displayed in his dictating to Israel:
Frankly, I am sick and tired of President Obama's eldering--more accurately, hectoring--Israel's leaders. It is, after all, they whose country is the target of an armed and ideological cyclone that Obama has done precious little to ease. He brought nothing back from Riyadh and Cairo, absolutely nothing except the conviction of the Arab leaders that they need do nothing but sit and wait until the president squeezes one concession after another out of Jerusalem. Oops, I apologize. Maybe I should still say Tel Aviv. In any case, waiting is exactly what they are doing. Palestinian President Abbas has prided himself in doing just that. He had said so, as I pointed out in this space a few weeks ago.
Maybe you weren't offended by Obama's advice to Israel, via some 15 American Jewish leaders, that it had to "engage in serious self-reflection," as if it took its perils frivolously. But I know many Democrats who are; they're just a bit intimidated to say so.
What message did the president think he was giving the reactionary and cloistered Saudi monarch when he curtsied before him? That Abdullah should engage in serious self-reflection the way royals are accustomed to doing?
Israelis culture is the richest in the Arab world:. The nation has welcomed millions of people from Russia, Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe. The literary world of Israel has great talent; their historians are very energetic in probing nooks and crannies of Israeli history-finding faults as well as triumphs. Israeli religious figures (including Muslims imams and Christian religious leaders) enjoy a freedom to practice their beliefs, and spread them in ways that are inimical to those dictatorships that populate the Arab world.
The Arab world is one where almost no self-reflection occurs - stultified by regimes that oppose any inward self-reflection; that refuse to hold a mirror up to the very ideologies that have frustrated their development and abused their people. The number of books published is a fraction of those that Israel publishes (and even then, most of the books are hardly worth the paper they are printed on, many being religious tracts that denigrate other religions).
But for this world Obama mostly sings words of praise. His Cairo speech, with its very delusional view of the positive role that Islam has played in American and world history was disgraceful.
His condescension towards the West and his celebration of Islam is very telling. As is his denigration of Israel as being insufficiently self-reflective.
Did anyone ever ask him if he asked Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr. - who he called his "moral compass," his "sounding board," and his "confidant" - to be more self-reflective? To have him reconsider his demonology of America, white people, and Israel? No, he never asked him to be more self-reflective. Instead, he showered his church with charitable donations (scant as they were) and chose to raise his daughters in a Church led by a minister who preached hate.
Obama was never condescending towards Wright; he saves that treatment for Israelis, small town people, Americans, our allies, the handicapped, Republicans..and the list goes on.
Come to think of it, did Obama ever self-reflect how insensitive and arrogant it was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House but give the Queen of England an Ipod of his speeches?