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It’s Been Quite a Week for American Jewry

Jews, next to African Americans, have been Obama’s most loyal supporters. Overwhelmingly Democratic, and liberal Democratic at that, they have swooned over health care, been delighted by the president’s efforts to pass climate-control legislation, taken delight in his defense of abortion rights, and cheered his unabashed embrace of big government. But there has been the matter of Israel. Oh, that.

It stunned some to be told by Obama to go engage in “self-reflection” about Israel. It rankled to hear the Obami declare that we needed more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. And the failed settlement-freeze gambit set teeth gnashing. But most American Jews bided their time. They hoped that with all that access and all the campaign money that had sloshed into the Obama coffers from Jewish wallets, there would be some way to influence the administration. Maybe the Obama team was getting up to speed. They’d learn! Hey, there were some good lines in the Nobel Prize speech, you know. Maybe soon we’d get those sanctions! It was, sadly, an exercise in self-delusion.

Then came the Obami’s verbal assault over apartment units in Israel’s capital. That was finally a step too far. As the Obama administration’s browbeatings of Israel  mounted — Biden to Clinton to Axelrod — the fury in the Jewish community overflowed. And one by one, the major Jewish organizations, reflecting the outrage of their members (mostly Democratic, mind you), stepped forward not only to demand an end to the barrage but also to critique the entire premise of the Obami Middle East policy, namely that settlements were the root of the matter and that forced concessions were the way to unlock peace. And oh, by the way, could we get back to the existential threat to Israel’s existence?

Beginning Sunday, AIPAC will hold its annual national conference, and thousands of pro-Israel activists will descend on Washington D.C. What will they say and how will they greet the administration’s featured speaker, Hillary Clinton? This is a time to assess where the Jewish community has been and whether “access” — the prized off-the-record briefing and the ticket to the White House Chanukah party — has been valued too highly and candor too little. And then decisions will need to be made about the support for this president. A keen observer probes those who invested (financially and otherwise) so much in a president who has made mincemeat of foreign policy generally and the Middle East specifically:

A year has passed during which your chosen one has made worse than a hash of that: It’s in deep disarray. It and he and all his dogsbodies have devalued us everywhere, pinballing reactively from crisis to disaster, and when they should be fighting withdrawing like snails into shells, leaving behind just the slime souvenir. And, worse, much worse, they’ve targeted our one true democratic friend and ally in the Middle East—a country whose existence you cherish—for censure and contempt, to your great shock and unhappiness. What do you do?

That’s the question before American Jewry. As many prominent leaders and activists gather, we’ll begin to find out their answer. But there is no denying it now — this was not the president many of them thought he was. If they wish to support him, despite his Israel policy (because the liberal agenda is so near and dear to them), they can do so. But there’s no kidding themselves any longer that, in the process, they will be supporting the most anti-Israel president since — well, ever.



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