I’m sure President Obama would claim that some of his best friends are Jewish. He and his supporters—and most of his critics—have denied that he’s anti-Semitic.
Barack Obama became a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988. The senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ was Jeremiah Wright, who had taken charge of the congregation in 1972. Obama remained a member of the church from 1988 until 2008, while he was running for President of the United States.
Jeremiah Wright has repeatedly made some comments that could be easily construed as, well, anti-Semitic. And obviously he is no friend of Israel. After Barack Obama had become president, Jeremiah Wright was quoted as saying:
"Them Jews aren't gonna let [Obama] talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office."
"The Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote that's controlling him that would not let him send a representation to the Darfur [Durban] review conference that's talking this craziness because the Zionists, they will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. Ethnic cleansing is going on in
Gaza. The ethnic cleansing of the Zionists is a sin and a crime against humanity. They don't want Barack talking like that because that's anti-Israel." (from an interview with Newport News, VA-based newspaper The Daily Press June 9, 2009)
Later, in 2012 Wright served as an “official adviser” to the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) whose organizers included leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It was described as a peaceful protest aimed at highlighting the so-called “Judaization of Jerusalem.” The organizers rejected the concept of the two-state solution and wished to see the destruction of the Jewish state.
Jeremiah Wright attended the announcement that Barack Obama was running for President in February 2007. He prayed with Obama beforehand. He was named to the Obama campaign's African American Religious Leadership Committee.
Only on March 14, 2008 after some of Wright’s comments about the United States and Israel became known to the public at large, did Obama force him out of that position and seek to distance himself from him.
On March 18 Obama gave a speech: “A More Perfect Union.” He denounced some of what Jeremiah Wright regularly taught.
It is an excellent speech and was well-received. He succeeded in putting his pastor—who by then had become his former pastor—behind him.
However, Obama is a politician and—unsurprisingly—often says and does things only for political reasons. As he was working to get his health care plan passed by the U.S. Congress, and while he was running for re-election, he gave many speeches in which he assured the American public that “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period” and that if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor. Over and over again he made the same statements, and demonized any who questioned him.
It turned out, of course, that Obama knew all along that what he was saying simply wasn’t true. We have words for people who say something that they know full well isn’t true. “Politician” is only one of them.
The health care situation is not the only time that the president has been caught behaving as a politician, of course. He’s been guilty of several politician-level proclamations.
So, in 2008 he supposedly denounced the anti-Semitic ravings of his now former pastor of two decades. We today shouldn’t doubt that Obama was telling the truth that he doesn’t agree with his former pastor. Obama without question must therefore be a genuine friend of the Jews and of Israel.
But American relations with Israel have rarely been worse. He has nothing but criticism to offer the current Israeli government. He’s angry about the current prime minister making a speech before a joint session of Congress. Perhaps it’s just disagreements about policy. He doesn’t much care for members of the Republican Party either; that doesn’t make him anti-American. The former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was simply rude to say what he said about the President, right?
President Obama refuses to use the term “Muslim extremist” or “Islamic terrorism.” When he commented “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you've got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris” we shouldn’t read anything into the fact that he didn’t mention it was Muslim extremists targeting Jewish customers at a Kosher deli. Meanwhile, neither he nor anyone else of importance in his administration went to Paris to join the other national leaders who stood in solidarity with those who perished when Islamic extremists murdered writers and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. I’m sure he was busy with more important matters.
But I still can’t help but wonder: does he like Israel or the Jewish people? It’s hard not to have doubts.