The latest dustup in U.S.-Israel relations is one that makes you wonder if Obama administration officials have a shred of self-awareness. The Jerusalem Post reports that the president is unhappy with the Israeli government because his consistent opposition to sanctions on Iran is not meeting with universal approval from American Jewish groups. And why does this make him upset with Israel? Because he apparently believes that such dissent must be the product of foreign influence:
A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.
The president and secretary of state would like American Jews’ foreign handlers and sponsors to please stop riling up the Jews, because those Jews then practice their voodoo on members of Congress. Now, while this is obviously a very stupid thing for the president and secretary of state to believe–conspiracy theorists love the Walt-Mearsheimer dark tales of Jewish influence, but rarely do serious or intelligent people fall for it–it is even dumber to, you know, say out loud.
But that’s not to say it’s a slip of the tongue; these statements are usually calculated warnings: nice special relationship you got here, etc. The phrase “Jewish activism in Congress” is especially clumsy, because it’s so obvious and appalling and insulting. I suppose we should be thankful the official managed not to use the word “elders.”
In one sense, it’s ironic: American Jews vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, and this is the thanks they get. But in another sense, it’s typical of the enforced groupthink of the American left: “overwhelmingly” is not enough. Everyone needs to get in line, lest any unapproved thought escape someone’s lips and influence others, unleashing the dreaded “Jewish activism.” When people are permitted to speak freely, who knows what the Congress will do? Better to not find out, according to the Obama administration.
It’s also extremely creepy behavior, because it aims to chill legitimate political speech by warning Jews–specifically–that if they disagree with the Obama administration they will be seen to be acting on orders from a foreign government. And it then transfers that suspicion of dual loyalty to the members of Congress whose constituents include the Jews of which the administration disapproves.
The sentiment as expressed to the press and attributed to Obama and Kerry appears to be a fusion of the two: Obama’s distaste for dissent and Kerry’s inability to communicate. The problem the White House is having is this: the president’s deal with Iran was not a good deal, and that fact is becoming more and more obvious to everyone, even those not under the spell of Jewish voodoo. So left to their own devices, many in Congress and in the public are going to draw the correct conclusion–the president is getting played–and the president does not like that prospect.
But how is the president going to chill the speech of others? Take, for example, Fareed Zakaria, a man of the left and someone Obama consults on foreign policy. As the Washington Free Beacon notes, Zakaria interviewed the Iranian president and was left with the same sinking feeling as others. Zakaria’s reaction:
This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. For the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. So this seems like — you know, this is still — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about.
Do Obama and Kerry believe Zakaria is acting under orders from a foreign government? Or do they understand how repellant such talk is when removed from under the weight of their Bibi derangement syndrome?