This week we have been witness to two transparent attempts to sell liberal American Jews a bill of goods. And from the looks of things, both were successful.
The first instance of liberal American Jewish credulity this week unfolded Monday night in Washington. At a five-star hotel, eighty Jewish donors shelled out between $25,000-35,800 to attend a fundraiser with US President Barack Obama.
:Yale University launches new program on anti-SemitismJews decry Yale closing anti-Semitism study center
As has become his habit, Obama opened his remarks by talking about his commitment to Israel’s security. And as has become his habit, Obama went on to say that it is his job to force Israelis to bow to his demands because he knows what is best for Israel.
Speaking of his ongoing efforts to force Israel to concede its right to defensible borders before entering into negotiations with the Hamas-Fatah unity government, Obama said, “There are going to be moments over the course of the next six months or the next 12 months or the next 24 months in which there may be tactical disagreements [between the US and Israel] in terms of how we approach these difficult problems.”
Obama went on to say that he expects his American Jewish supporters to take his side in his attacks on Israel.
As he put it, the quest for peace between Israel and the Hamas-Fatah
government is “going to require that not only this administration
employs all of its creative powers to try to bring about peace in the
region, but it’s also going to require all of you as engaged citizens of
the United States who are friends of Israel making sure…that you’re
helping to shape how both Americans and Israelis think about the
opportunities and challenges.”
And how did the Jewish donors respond to Obama’s presentation? They
loved it. They were, in the words of Obama donor Marilyn Victor,
Speaking with Politico, New York businessman Jack Bendheim said, “I
think he nailed and renailed his commitment to the security of the State
of Israel.” Other attendees interviewed in the article echoed his
Imagine how they would have swooned if Obama had confessed a secret love for bagels and lox.
What does Obama have to do for these liberal American Jews to accept
that he is no friend of Israel’s? Apparently the answer is that there is
nothing Obama can do that will convince his many American Jewish
supporters that he is not Israel’s friend.
They will never believe such a thing because doing so will require them
to choose between two unacceptable options. The first option is to admit
to themselves that in voting for Obama, they are voting against Israel.
The self-righteousness shared by many of Obama’s Jewish supporters makes
this option unacceptable. These are people who demonstrate their
goodness by embracing every politically correct liberal cause as their
own. From abortion to socialized medicine to free passes for illegal
immigrants, to opposition to the Iraq war, liberal American Jews are
ready to go out on a limb for every cause the liberal media supports.
But ask them to support anything that in any way compromises their
self-image as do gooders and liberals and they will shut you out.
Consider their willingness to turn a blind eye to Obama’s 20-year
association with his anti-Semitic preacher Jeremiah Wright. Just this
week Wright was back in the news when he delighted a crowd of thousands
of African American worshippers in Baltimore by libeling Israel saying,
“The State of Israel is an illegal, genocidal … place. To equate Judaism
with the State of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor
During the 2008 presidential campaign liberal American Jews attacked
critics of Obama’s longstanding devotion to his Jew-hating preacher as
McCarthyites who were spreading allegations of guilt by association.
And now, when Obama has made supporting Israel a socially costly thing
for his supporters to do, rather than pay the price, his self-righteous
American Jewish supporters refuse to admit that Obama is not pro-Israel.
They attack as a liar anyone who points out that his policies are
deeply hostile to Israel.
For instance, Monday National Jewish Democratic Council Chairman Marc
Stanley told reporters, “Key donors are much more savvy than Republicans
would have you believe and have taken a much more critical eye towards
Republican attempts to lie about the president’s record.”
Aside from being morally inconvenient, the other problem with admitting
that Obama is anti-Israel is that it requires his Jewish supporters who
are unwilling to consciously abandon Israel to contemplate the
unattractive option of voting for the Republican nominee for president.
And this is something that their liberal conceit cannot abide.
The inability of many liberal American Jews to abide by the notion of
supporting someone who isn’t part of their fancy liberal clique was on
display in their responses to another event that occurred this week.
Just hours before Obama snowballed his Jewish donors in Washington, Yale
University engaged in a similarly transparent bid to romance its
willfully gullible Jewish supporters.
Yale University’s announcement two weeks ago that it was shutting down
the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism
(YIISA) unleashed a storm of protest. Students, faculty, alumni and
major Jewish organizations all expressed anger and disappointment with
Yale’s surprise move.
Yale justified its decision on the basis of two falsehoods. First it
claimed that YIISA had failed to undertake sufficient top quality
scholarship. Yet in the wake of the announcement dozens of leading
scholars of anti-Semitism co-signed a letter authored by Prof. Alvin
Rosenfeld, who directs Indiana University’s Institute for the Study of
Contemporary Anti-Semitism, praising the YIISA as “a pioneer in
advancing research on contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism.”
The second reason that Yale claimed it was closing YIISA was because
there was insufficient faculty and student interest in its programs.
This falsehood was ridiculous on its face since several dozen Yale
faculty members served on YIISA’s various academic committees and boards
And in the wake of the university’s announcement that it was shuttering
YIISA, several faculty members and students protested the move angrily.
The main suspicion provoked by Yale’s decision to close YIISA was that
it was doing so to appease Islamic critics. YIISA’s Director Prof.
Charles Small focused its attention on contemporary forms of
anti-Semitism. Since the most dangerous form of contemporary
anti-Semitism is Islamic anti-Semitism, Small made Islamic anti-Semitism
a focus of YIISA’s research activities. The concern arose that Yale
closed YIISA in order to end campus research and discourse on the topic.
Monday Yale tried to quell the controversy surrounding its decision to
close YIISA by announcing that it was forming a new institute called the
Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism. Yale announced that its
tenured professor Maurice Samuels will serve as director of the program.
Samuels is a scholar of French literature.
In his acceptance announcement Samuels addressed Yale’s critics
promising that “YPSA will discuss both contemporary anti-Semitism and
He also said that in the coming year YPSA will hold a major conference on the topic of French anti-Semitism.
Samuels’ statement is notable for two reasons.
First, if it is true, then the only difference between YPSA and YIISA is
the director. And the only thing Yale was really interested in doing
was firing Small. The question is why would they want to fire him? The
answer to that question appears to be found in the second notable aspect
of Samuels’ announcement: his planned conference. At a time when
millions in post-Mubarak Egypt assembled in Tahrir Square and cheered as
the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi called for the
invasion of Jerusalem, and with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on
the brink of nuclear weapons, why would YPSA want to place its focus on
France? Following Yale’s announcement that it is launching YPSA, Small
released a statement in which he said, among other things, “It appears
that Yale, unlike YIISA, is not willing to engage in a comprehensive
examination of the current crisis facing living Jews, but instead is
comfortable with reexamining the plight of Jews who perished at the
hands of anti-Semites. The role of a true scholar and intellectual is to
shed light where there is darkness, which is why we at YIISA, are
committed to critical engaged scholarship with a broader approach to the
complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global
As Small hints, it appears that by forming YPSA, Yale proved its critics
right. It closed YIISA because it found Small’s concentration on Muslim
Jewhatred ideologically problematic. And it opened YPSA because Yale’s
administrators’ trust Samuels to keep researchers and students focused
on historic forms of anti-Semitism.
To offset criticism of its transparent move, Yale has been waging a
whispering campaign against Small. Yale administrators have been
insinuating that because the university did not hire him as a regular
member of the Yale faculty that Small is not an academic, or somehow not
good enough for Yale.
This campaign brought Holocaust scholar Prof Deborah Lipstadt from Emory
University to pen a column in the Forward attacking Small. As she put
it, “Part of Yale’s discomfort might have come from the fact that a
Yale-based scholarly entity was administered by an individual who, while
a successful institution builder, was not a Yale faculty member and who
had no official position at the university.”
But Small was in fact on the Yale faculty. He was a lecturer in the
Political Science department and ran one of Yale’s post-doctorate and
graduate studies fellowship programs. Despite his intensive work
building YIISA, Small taught a heavy course load.
But while its actions vindicate its critics’ greatest concerns, just as
Obama was able to win over his Jewish supporters with empty platitudes
so Yale’s decision to open YPSA has satisfied its most powerful critics.
The ADL released a statement applauding the move. Yale’s Rabbi James
Ponet emailed his colleagues and friends and urged them to email Yale’s
president and provost expressing their support for the move.
Their willingness to support Yale’s bid to curtail research and
discussion of Islamic Jew-hatred and allow Yale to scapegoat Small
demonstrates an affliction common to liberal American Jews today. It is
the same affliction that makes them unable to countenance voting for a
That affliction is class snobbery. By insinuating that Small is not up
to Yale’s academic standards, Yale was able to rally the Jewish members
of its larger community by appealing to their snobbery. The fact that
Yale didn’t mind Small serving as a dissertation advisor to its doctoral
candidates is immaterial. The facts be damned.
The same Ivy League snobbery that makes it socially unacceptable to vote
for a Republican – and certainly not for a Sarah Palin or Michele
Bachmann despite their deep-seated and consistent support for Israel –
is what allowed Yale to get away with ending its study of Islamic
anti-Semitism by besmirching Small’s academic achievements and good
name. Remove him from the club, and you end opposition to his
academically unjustifiable firing.
The great circus master P.T. Barnum said famously that there is a sucker born every minute.
Liberal American Jews aren’t born suckers. They become suckers out of their own free firstname.lastname@example.org