Dinesh D’Souza, the political commentator, author and movie-maker came under fire four years ago when he wrote a column for Forbes Magazine, “How Obama Thinks” that speculated President Obama saw the world as split in two: those nations who colonized and oppressed and the victim nations and people who were colonized and were the oppressed.
D’Souza expanded on this theme in his blockbuster documentary 2016: Obama’s America that — despite or maybe because of — its being a huge hit was snubbed by the Academy Awards. However it did win D’Souza a federal indictment for behavior that, if proven, earned merely a misdemeanor charge when a donor to John Edwards engaged in the same alleged fundraising violation.
Was D’Souza right?
Barack Obama certainly does not care for Winston Churchill who did inherit imperialistic dreams from his ancestors as D’Souza speculated Obama inherited the anti-imperialistic dreams of his father. Churchill’s bust was soon thrown out of the White House when Obama assumed office.
And he did engage in an apology tour for America’s actions overseas over the years ; was the first American President to say that America was responsible for the 1953 coup in Iran and suggested some of that nation’s ire towards America was rooted in that history.
But Obama may have also unwittingly tipped his hand — as he often does when his mouth is not controlled by a teleprompter or by his handlers — when he has talked about Israel.
A little history may be in order.
To dispel concerns that he is anti-Israel Obama has repeatedly boasted of his knowledge of Judaism and his dedication to fighting anti-Semitism. They were, like much of what he has says, not quite true.
When Barack Obama began his presidential campaign, concerns were raised when it was discovered that Jeremiah Wright, the man he called his “moral compass” and the pastor of his church, was a severe critic of Israel and anti-Semitic as well (“them Jews“). The tip off to me came when Wright told New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor that when Obama’s “enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli” to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.”
Further research led to the discovery that Wright was afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder when it came to attacking Israel from his pulpit over the years. Close ties with Farrakhan, including the awarding of a medal to him by Obama’s church exacerbated concerns — as did the church’s support for Hamas and Hezb’allah over the years. Wright made clear in his sermons that Israel was a colonial entity that oppressed Palestinians.
Contrary to the campaign’s claims that Barack Obama never heard this drumbeat of denunciations of Israel because he did not attend church during those episodes, he had earlier boasted of his reliable attendance record and Stanley Kurtz in his book Radical in Chief provides further proof that he heard these anti-Israel rants — and kept coming back to attend the church, along with his wife and young daughters.
The media did its best to cover for him, yet when videos came to light, courtesy of ABC News, of Wright’s chortling over 9/11 and assorted rants against America, whites and Israel, Obama had to respond — and, is his wont, engaged in hyperbolic boasting.
Barack Obama said “Nobody has spoken out more fiercely on the issue of anti-Semitism than I have”. This elicited ridicule from ABC’s Jake Tapper in “Somebody Call Abe Foxman” (the head of the Anti-Defamation League):
Really? No one?
Elie Wiesel? Simon Wiesenthal? Alan Dershowitz?
Of course, the claim by Obama was nonsense: there was no record, repeat, no record of his ever having spoken out against anti-Semitism. His actions since then have belied his boast.
After being elected President he rewarded Hannah Rosenthal, one of his Jewish supporters, with the post of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (she must not have raised enough money to be rewarded with an Ambassadorship or even a grant to boost green energy schemes).
What kind of anti-Semitism fighter was Rosenthal? One that blamed Israel for generating anti-Semitism, for which she was rebuked by none other than Abe Foxman. His choice for Ambassador to Belgium felt the same way. One would be hard-pressed to find any positive impact she made during her tenure..
Barack Obama certainly has no problem with one of the people who has done the most to spread anti-Semitism around the Arab world. His favorite foreign leader is Turkey’s autocratic Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a fount of anti-Semitism and used the organs of the state to spew the same.
Nor has Obama had a problem associating with groups that spread anti-Semitism in America. Yet Jeffrey Goldberg — one of the few journalists to whom Obama deigns to grant interviews (perhaps correlated with their willingness to do his bidding) — insisted on calling Obama the “most Jewish President ever.”
And didn’t Obama himself stress his knowledge of Judaism?
Daniel Halper of the Weekly Standard, took note of this particular Obama boast (he makes so many of them) back in 2012:
President Obama met yesterday with “about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders, thanking them for the work they do to improve communities around the country and discussed their shared commitment to rebuilding the U.S. economy,” Haaretz reports.
In the meeting, Obama reportedly boasted about his knowledge of Judaism, telling the leaders that he thinks he knows more “about Judaism” than all past presidents. He said he gained this knowledge of Judaism from reading.
“Obama … stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it,” Haaretz reports.
He also said that many of his Chicago friends were Jewish. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens noted in “The Jewish President: Don’t believe Obama when he says he has Israel’s back” the Jews Obama called “friends” in Chicago were not fans of Israel. I wrote about one of them, Arnold Wolf, in “Barack Obama’s Curious Rabbi,” because he was a harsh critic of Israel’s going back to the founding of the state in 1948.
Even Peter Beinart, a relentless critic of Israel, said “this small coterie of people bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.”
Bill Kristol mocked Obama’s claim of omniscience regarding Judaism in “Barack Obama-Friend of Jews, Scholar of Judaism”
It’s truly pathetic that Obama has to reach for the tired (to say the least) trope that some of his best friends were Jewish. Actually, one wishes more of his best friends were pro-Israel Christians. They might have had more luck convincing him, a fellow Christian, that he should be pro-Israel.
And the claim that Obama knows more about Judaism than any president? His vanity boggles the mind. One could begin by citing Adams and Madison, who knew Hebrew, or Harry Truman, who knew Jewish history … but it’s silly to dignify this claim with a rebuttal. In thinking about the presidents since Truman, though, I’d guess the president who knew the most about Judaism was Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school and had a deep interest in religion. So let’s stipulate that of the modern presidents, Carter and Obama “know” the most about Judaism. But what is it they know? In Obama’s case, one could ask whether what he “knows” is what he learned from Rashid Khalidi and Jeremiah Wright.
Incidentally, the most Jewish president ever got the date of Hanukkah wrong by two weeks and flubbed the lighting of the Menorah to boot. Yet he has shown his ignorance of Judaism and Jewish history in more startling and disconcerting ways — and unwittingly offers evidence that supports Dinesh’ D’Souza’s claim that Obama views the West as being guilty of colonialism. Through various statements over the years Barack Obama seems not to appreciate the historic role that Israel has played for the Jewish people. Furthermore, he absolves the Muslim world of responsibility for thousands of years of anti-Semitism.
How can this thesis be supported?
Barack Obama, in his grandiose 2009 Cairo paean to the “Muslim” world (filled with inaccuracies) he mentioned Israel in passing:
“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.”
As Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes noted “This strange reading of Israel’s origins confirms the Islamist view of Israel – as a concession made by Westerners guilty about their treatment of Jews”.
Pipes was not alone in recognizing that Barack Obama completely neglected the thousands of years of Jewish history — a history that long pre-dated the rise of Islam in the region. His view of history ignored the long history of Zionism that began long before the Holocaust. He also specifically indicted European anti-Semitism and not Muslim anti-Semitism; he seemed to indicate that the European colonial powers imposed Israel on the Middle East to atone for the Holocaust. This distorted view is quite popular in the Middle East.
He again-and quite recently-made the same telling mistake.
Michael Taube writes in “Obama’s Flawed view of Muslim anti-Semitism” about Obama’s recent interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick and in particular these remarks
What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict, but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing buses being blown up. If you can start unwinding some of that, that creates a new equilibrium.”
Taube notes the basic flaws in Obama’s view:
Mr. Obama is claiming Muslim anti-Semitism is only a few decades old at best.
This statement is so baffling that it’s hard to know where to start. Clearly, he hasn’t read a great deal on this topic. If Mr. Obama had ever delved into the work of pre-eminent historians such as Will Durant, Paul Johnson and Bernard Lewis, he would quickly discover that his knowledge of this important topic was severely lacking.
Islamic anti-Semitism is as old as Islam. Many examples of anti-Semitism and calls to kill Jews are found in the Koran, as Andrew Bostom noted in his articles (many for American Thinker) and in his book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History.
But if Obama erases this long history, he replaces it with his own version of history in a way that further confirms D’Souza’s views that Obama views Western nations as imperialistic colonizers. He dates Muslim anti-Semitism as going back “decades.” Why decades? Could it be because Israel was established as a state in 1948 –just a few decades ago?
He seems to imply that the genesis of Islamic anti-Semitism dates from the founding of Israel — blaming the victims (strange for man who touted his own credentials as an anti-Semitism fighter). He ignores the many prayers in Judaism calling for the founding of Israel and the call at every Passover “Next Year in Jerusalem”.
For a man who claims he knows a lot about Judaism he does not seem to know a lot about Judaism.
His views reflect instead a man who thinks of Western nations as being colonial oppressors and Israel as being one of its creations.
And he intends to correct that mistake by weakening Israel and becoming the father of a new nation: Palestine.