November 11, 2009
Obama's type of anti-Semitism fighter
Who better to fight anti-Semitism for President Obama than someone who is not too keen on Israel defending itself from its anti-Semitic neighbors?
Laura Rozen, one of the most astute foreign affairs journalist, is reporting that Barack Obama may be on the verge of finally getting around to appointing an envoy to combat anti-Semitism. The post has remained vacant since he assumed office, despite a massive world-wide increase in anti-Semitism and his endless praise for Islam.
The rumored envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, does not care much for Israel -- the home of half the world's Jews, with plenty of anti-Semites (three hundred million or so) surrounding it. Furthermore, she is on the advisory council of J Street and J Street PAC -- groups that pose as being pro-Israel but have certainly advocated positions that many have found inimical to the safety and security of Israel. Rozen writes:
A top candidate seems to be Hannah Rosenthal, former head of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and former executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women.
Here is what Hannah Rosenthal wrote just last year (when Ehud Olmert was Israel's Prime Minister, a softy who made incredibly generous offers to the Palestinians-that were rejected):
How did we arrive at a place where pro-Israel events had come to be dominated by narrow, ultra-conservative views of what it means to be pro-Israel?Yet when it comes to Israel, the voices that are heard are so often at odds with these same values.The progressive voice in our community has been far too quiet on Israel for far too long.Perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of timidity, we have failed to stand up to those who favor military solutions to political problems or oppose peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts in the name of promoting Israel's best interests.Six years after I stood with thousands of other American Jews in Washington in support of Israel, Israel remains mired in conflicts with its neighbors. There is no security. There is no peace. And there is no real political leadership here in the United States that is prepared to change this reality and engage in meaningful and consistent diplomacy.But unlike six years ago, I know there is something we can do to about this.Israel's 60th anniversary happens to also be a milestone year in American politics. Change is in the air. Long-held assumptions are being questioned and political power is being reshaped.To me, this is an ideal moment for a new political movement to emerge, rooted among American Jews who love Israel, to express loudly and forcefully that it is pro-Israel to press for more active American leadership role in bringing peace to the Middle East. That it is in the best interests of Israel for us as American Jews to stand up and say what we believe and reclaim the pro-Israel mantle from those who purport to be pro-Israel, but whose policies and politics are far from it.
Rosenthal seems to have disdain for Americans who recognize the reality: that Israel has to have the flexibility and freedom to resort to military means to protect her citizens. Recall that she wrote this column after Israel had absorbed thousands of missiles from Gaza, from Lebanon, and been subject to rounds of suicide attacks from the West Bank. She feels rather ashamed of Israel's actions and embarrassed that Americans (specifically Jewish Americans) would continue to support our embattled ally.
So Miss Rosenthal seems to have problems with Israel defending itself from terror attacks. She seems to have disdain for George W. Bush, whose popularity in Israel, was at sky-high levels. She places unbridled faith in Barack Obama and the approach he would take toward the region (an approach that has been almost universally declared, even by liberal outlets such as the opinion pages of the Washington Post, as an abject failure). Obama is considered to be a friend by only four percent of Jewish Israelis who, because their lives or at stake (as opposed to their liberal vanity) have a much clearer view regarding who is a friend and who is a foe.
Does Ms. Rosenthal, Obama's possible envoy on anti-Semitism, realize who is a friend or foe of the Jewish people?
Shouldn't that be a job requirement for someone charged with combating anti-Semitism? Shouldn't pride in the state of Israel, home to half the world's Jewish population, be important?
Or is it just enough to engage in over the top praise for Barack Obama?
Abraham Foxman, a survivor of the Holocaust and the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (the main organization fighting anti-Semitism around the world) took exception to Rosenthal's column excerpted above. Foxman was incredulous that Rosenthal refused to recognize all the peace-makers and peace-promoters that were at the event that prompted her column.
My memory of what happened at the event that day is quite different from yours.I remember many of the speakers delivering "pro-peace" messages. There was Rep. Richard Gephardt ("We must not waver in our commitment to those - Israelis and Arabs alike - who have chosen the path of peace"), as well as Sen. Harry Reid ("I call on all who share our vision and hopes to continue to spread a message of peace: shalom, salaam, peace"). There was also Paul Wolfowitz, representing the Bush administration ("Peace in the Middle East is the only way to end the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, of Arabs and Jews"), as well as Natan Sharansky ("Real peace, dear friends, depends on us"). And there was Mayor Rudy Giuliani ("All of us, all of you good people who have come here today, all of us wish for peace. We pray for it."). I remember you introducing Hugh Price, then president of the National Urban League, and I remember Mr. Price closing his remarks with a call to world leaders "to give lasting peace a chance in the Middle East."
Foxman goes on to write that he is incredulous that Rosenthal has not heard the wide diversity of voices within the Jewish community over the years, but seems intent on purveying an image of Jewish Americans as being war-mongerers.
Is that a good sign, that the man who was victimized by anti-Semitism and has spent his life fighting anti-Semitism, has problems with the one person President Obama sees as being qualified to combat anti-Semitism.
This is just one more pick by the President that has led to many (especially the Israelis) to wonder about his claim to be pro-Israel. It is also one more step forward by J Street, a group with ties to George Soros, in their reach for power in Washington, D.C.