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Obama’s Cynical Synagogue Speech

Obama’s Cynical Synagogue Speech

Obama wasn’t reaching out, he was reaching in

President Obama’s speech a week and a half ago at Washington D.C. synagogue Adas Israel was alternatively promoted as both an opportunity to address the scourge of anti-semitism, and a chance to reach out to American Jews. The speech did nothing to advance either goal and was tone-deaf to any Jews, or Americans for that matter, who don’t buy into the president’s foreign policy.

As far as his reaching out, the president simply rehashed all of his administration’s arguments about closing off Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon. He offered nothing new. Of course, he said that the deal he’s trying to make with Iran will make Israel safer. He made a point of saying that he shares the goal with Israel of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; but he said it with no real conviction. He was just repeating a talking point. Repeating all of his talking points isn’t going to convince someone who doesn’t already agree with him.

Notably, he repeated his 2012 line about having Israel’s back. But with Israel’s political establishment – Isaac Herzog is no less skeptical of the emerging deal than Benjamin Netanyahu is – doubting the efficacy of the ongoing diplomacy, that claim hardly seems credible. He says that he welcomes debate, but the night before Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress, Obama gave an interview to Reuters attempting to undercut Netanyahu’s arguments.

Instead of addressing reservations with the deal, Obama simply repeated his own arguments. Again that’s not how you convince doubters.

The same dynamic was at work when he discussed the peace process.

And it is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel — it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America — that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland. (Applause.) And I believe that’s two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. (Applause.) Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people on their land, as well. (Applause.)

Now, I want to emphasize — that’s not easy. The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners. (Laughter.) The neighborhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility.

But what’s been noticeable about President Obama’s approach to the peace process since he’s been president is that because he has such “high expectations” of Israel, he only expects efforts from Israel. He’s asked nothing of the Palestinians. (This conceit prompted Eli Lake to ask why Obama couldn’t care a little bit less about Israel.)

Last year Israel’s former peace negotiator Tzipi Livni told an interviewer that last year’s American-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were torpedoed by Mahmoud Abbas, who refused to accept an American-sponsored framework that Netanyahu reluctantly accepted. When that happened there were no administration leaks about how Abbas was missing a historic opportunity or questions about his commitment to peace. And there was certainly no public haranguing of the Palestinian leader. Is there any reason to expect that when President Obama decides its time to start a new peace process he won’t demand some upfront concessions by Netanyahu to convince the Palestinians to negotiate?

In other words, whether addressing Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Obama offered no reason for a skeptic to change his mind. So his purpose was clearly not outreach.

And what about anti-semitism? Obama’s mentions of anti-semitism were general. He spoke of it as a “scourge,” but didn’t address a single specific instance of official anti-semitism. Why not? In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg earlier in the week Goldberg asked him about the official anti-semitism of Iran, so it isn’t like Obama could claim ignorance of the issue. Robert Wistrich, perhaps the world’s top authority on anti-semitism, passed away a few days before Obama spoke, but Obama didn’t mention his name.

Neither of the purported reasons for Obama’s talk were addressed (seriously) by the president. As Michael Doran noted, in A Letter to My  Liberal Jewish Friends, published last week in Mosaic Magazine, Obama was speaking specifically to the “liberal Jewish community.” You could say he was preaching to the choir, making sure that one of his most loyal constituencies doesn’t stray. The pre-speech PR was misdirection, to make the president appear conciliatory and magnanimous. The speech itself was motivated by cynical self-interest.

Doran goes through the various reasons the president chose to speak as he did at the synagogue, but in the end he comes down to what was Obama’s likely calculation.

The president’s sophistry demonstrates a simple but profound truth: his commitment to the progressive values of tikkun olam is governed by its own “red lines,” and is entirely utilitarian. Which again raises the question: what was his purpose in stressing this shared progressive commitment in his address to you, and what was his purpose in subtly reminding you of the costs of failing to abide by its terms?

The answer, I hope, is obvious. On June 30, Obama will likely conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. This will spark a faceoff with Congress, which has already declared its opposition to the deal. Congress will inevitably pass a vote of disapproval, which Obama will inevitably veto. In order to defend that veto from a congressional override, however, he must line up 34 Senators—all Democrats. This calls in turn for a preemptive ideological campaign to foster liberal solidarity—for which your support is key. If the president can convince the liberal Jewish community, on the basis of “shared values,” to shun any suspicion of alignment with congressional Republicans or Benjamin Netanyahu, he will have an easier time batting down Congress’s opposition to the deal with Iran.

I think Doran is correct. Obama knows that a deal with Iran is not popular. He also knows that despite the limits that Corker-Menendez puts on him, it still means that a future nuclear deal with Iran will stand if the Senate cannot override his veto, even if Congress is not convinced that he made a good deal and initially votes the deal down.

As more news stories like Tuesday’s that Iran has increased its enriched uranium by 20% since the Joint Plan of Action was agreed even as Obama and his administration insist that Iran has abided by its terms, skepticism of the deal will only increase.

So as Doran pointed out, President Obama was asking his hardest core supporters to stand by him and ensure that minority who will support his bad deal with Iran will be a big enough minority to ensure that the deal stands.

[Photo: The White House / YouTube ]


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NavyMustang | June 3, 2015 at 8:36 am

Schmuck, schlemiel, putz. That’s how Obama is Jewish.

“And it is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel — it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America — that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about…”

It’s too late now, of course, but…

1. when you hear Barracula use any term like “honestly” in a speech, you are assured he is lying particularly badly, and

2. both America and Israel could both have done very nicely without being “loved” by the toxic ball of pathologies that is Pres. ScamWOW, and

3. Putin, Castro, and Chavez must have sussed out that being on the “low-expectations” scale of “Obama love” is the sweet spot.

    GrumpyOne in reply to Ragspierre. | June 3, 2015 at 9:34 am

    A thousand Pinocchios for yarn spinning by the little poser puppet wanabe emperor!

    His nose continues to grow exponentially…

He’s asking people to buy his BS using words he thinks people want to hear so they won’t look at what he does. The only thing he cares about is making himself look good and if that means lying and spinning a lousy deal, then so be it.

I think you misinterpret Obama’s intentions with this speech. The content is never the point. He believes that by allowing people to experience his own magnificence, he is reaching out. Likewise, the arguments aren’t intended to change minds, since he expects people to change their minds spontaneously, simply because of the wonderfulness of being near him.

Obama considers himself the most interesting man in the world. Nearly everything else he does follows quite logically from that.

    David Gerstman in reply to irv. | June 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

    irv – I agree. Obama believes that he’s right and everyone is wrong. He effectively said, I know that the Iran deal will be good for Israel. I know how Israel can make peace with the Palestinians. (I know that’s not exactly what you wrote.) Still I think here his goal was to keep his supporters in line.

    Obama is the most interesting man in the world in one respect: he is a product of the most perverse affirmative action scam in world history.

    And of course, the bozo believes his own press.

PoliticiansRscum | June 3, 2015 at 9:34 am

If he were a Jew, then there would be a valid reason for anti-Semitism (SARC)

“Notably, he repeated his 2012 line about having Israel’s back.”

If I were Israel, having Obama standing behind me would not be a comfort. I would be tense and waiting for the knife.

Obama is betting that American Jews are easily fooled by even the most transparent lies told by a Democrat. History supports Obama’s cynical conclusion.

Henry Hawkins | June 3, 2015 at 11:28 am

This was another legacy-establishing speech. It’s Obama’s signal to a still adoring, still sheltering media that these are the things I want you to say about me as I stumble through my lame duck period. He also recently told them he has returned America to global supremacy of favorability, that he is never ever divisive, that the American economny is rocking, etc., etc.

Funny you mention Herzog. I read just last night that Herzog is on a public I-told-you-so rant tearing Netanyahu apart for damaging Israel’s relationship with the United States, with none other than President Obama’s remarks as Exhibit A, B, and C. Maybe he’s skeptical about Iran, but at least in public, he is 100% credulous about Obama, and is using whatever ammunition Obama provides to blast away at Netanyahu in domestic politics.

    David Gerstman in reply to JBourque. | June 3, 2015 at 11:53 am

    JBourque – keep in mind two things about Herzog 1) he’s a politician and 2) he’s not prime minister. Regarding 1) he’s an opportunist so like all politicians so he’ll try to draw a line between himself and his rival. Regarding 2) he thinks that Obama would treat him differently if he had won. There’s a gap between where he stands and where Obama stands and Obama would have exploited that to show that Herzog, not he, is unreasonable.

      Vascaino in reply to David Gerstman. | June 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Whatever Herzog is, he is not trusted by the public because of some nefarious behavior earlier on in his career.
      As it was, watching him and Livni at work, with her baggage as well, the public was scared of him running things and having a war with Hezbollah, ala Olmert, or Hamas. He doesn;’t have the those “Mexican things”.
      If it wasn’t for all those foreign govt.’s, pumping funds into NGO’s and setting up a group with some of Obama’s puppets to buy votes Herzog would have done even worse.
      As for his interpretation of Obama’s remarks to scold Bibi, he obviously shows his lack of knowlege of the Israeli public’s opinion of Obama, in general.

If Obama has Israel’s back, they had best watch out for a knife to be put in that back. It really is time for American Jewish voters to exit as a block from reflexive support of liberal democrats who talk a “support Israel” line but act quite differently. Israel’s strongest supporters are in the Republican Party and its commitment to strong national defense and a powerful armed force.

Please correct if I’m wrong. Didn’t Obama’s 2009 stimulus package include approximately one billion dollars for Gaza/Hamas? Aren’t those the same people who say that all Jews between the (Jordan) river and the (Med) sea should be exterminated? Doesn’t this administration consider religious Jews (and people of non-Islamic faiths) to be radical and potential terrorists?

Sammy Finkelman | June 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm

The defense of what Obama has done about Iran is getting ridiculous.

“First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd,” Harf said. “Under the JPOA (Joint Plan of Action), Iran can fluctuate its numbers in terms of their stockpile. They can go up and down as long as at the end of fixed date they are back down below a number.”

    Ronin0985 in reply to Sammy Finkelman. | June 4, 2015 at 7:52 am

    It’s so unbearably pathetic and hypocritical, when you consider just how cynical and snarky the Left got over the Bush Administration’s defense of the Iraq war towards the end of their time in office.

‘The neighborhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility.”

Remember what Mr. Existential Risk did for Baltimore and Ferguson and…?

I hope the Ten Commandments were posted near where Obama spoke, standing for Truth.