These are troubling times for our tribe regardless of whether one is living in America or Israel (Jews living in Western Europe are further down the road and I don’t see a bright future for them either). Since Obama was elected President a cloud seems to be hovering over us, making me feel queasy. It’s not the kind of cloud that accompanied us in the dessert and over troubled waters, but a threatening cloud, one that doesn’t appear to be providing the kind of cover enjoyed by our ancestors. I don’t think I’m over reacting; I believe that I’m trying to decipher the writing on the wall.
What I find particularly worrisome however, are the trends within the putative Jewish community and the manner in which they have reacted to the goings on over the past several months. Their refusal to recognize the disturbing signs is deeply concerning. Commentary magazine has devoted an entire issue to this new phenomenon of Jewish support for a democratic president intent on causing Israel irreparable harm. Based upon the current polls over 50% of those Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 would vote for him again. Shocking, in view of Obama’s performance vis a vis Israel since entering office. Obama is apparently getting away with it which I find disheartening, to say the least. This past week I had a conversation with one of Obama sycophants who would vote for him again, a “committed Jew” and pro-Israel who is in his twenties and probably representative of Jewish liberals of his generation. His tenuous attachment to Israel is in the spirit of Obama: it has to make political and strategic sense. Challenging him he asserted that my position was antiquated and irrelevant to his generation. To this new generation of Jews who voted for Obama, the holocaust has no bearing, nor does our historic connections to the land of Israel have any true relationship to realpolitic on the ground, here and now in the twenty first century. He wasn’t perturbed in the least by Obama’s cavalier treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Snubbing Netanyahu on his Washington visit Obama demeaned Israel and the broader Jewish community. An attitude seems to be gaining traction in Washington that the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem is no longer special. Israel is no different than any other ally and may even be considered a liability as evidenced by remarks made by General Petraeus last month. This attitude is becoming more manifest as was played out most recently over the ridiculous brouhaha resulting from Israel’s exercising her right to enforce a blockade against the rule of Hamas in Gaza and ending with Helen Thomas’ outrageous, hurtful and mean spirited remark that the Jews should move back to Poland and Germany.
Helen Thomas is no fool, nor is she senile. She may have assumed that Obama’s nuanced shift away from Israel gave her the license to stridently make her position clear. She obviously misread public opinion, forcicng her to end her career ignominiously. However, I’m beginning to think that perhaps we Jews have become too comfortable in America, too complacent and too secure. Judging from the blogosphere comments surrounding Thomas’ fall from grace there are a hell of a lot of people that agree with Helen Thomas. Perhaps her crude and coarse comment and reactions ought to serve as a wake up call to all the yefe nefesh in America.