Obama: Why, some of my best friends are Jewish!

posted at 6:30 pm on May 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Many people have e-mailed Jeffrey Goldberg’s fascinating interview with Barack Obama on the subject of Israel, noting that he used the term “wound” and “sore” in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. He doesn’t call Israel either of those terms, despite what many have interpreted these remarks to mean, but Obama uses the interview to subtly play on associations as political capital. The key moment comes in the middle of the interview, when Obama suggests that he took political risks for having Jewish friends:

JG: Go to the kishke question, the gut question: the idea that if Jews know that you love them, then you can say whatever you want about Israel, but if we don’t know you –- Jim Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski –- then everything is suspect. There seems to be in some quarters, in Florida and other places, a sense that you don’t feel Jewish worry the way a senator from New York would feel it.

BO: I find that really interesting. I think the idea of Israel and the reality of Israel is one that I find important to me personally. Because it speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus, it describes the history of overcoming great odds and a courage and a commitment to carving out a democracy and prosperity in the midst of hardscrabble land. One of the things I loved about Israel when I went there is that the land itself is a metaphor for rebirth, for what’s been accomplished. What I also love about Israel is the fact that people argue about these issues, and that they’re asking themselves moral questions.

Sometimes I’m attacked in the press for maybe being too deliberative. My staff teases me sometimes about anguishing over moral questions. I think I learned that partly from Jewish thought, that your actions have consequences and that they matter and that we have moral imperatives. The point is, if you look at my writings and my history, my commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is more than skin-deep and it’s more than political expediency. When it comes to the gut issue, I have such ardent defenders among my Jewish friends in Chicago. I don’t think people have noticed how fiercely they defend me, and how central they are to my success, because they’ve interacted with me long enough to know that I’ve got it in my gut. During the Wright episode, they didn’t flinch for a minute, because they know me and trust me, and they’ve seen me operate in difficult political situations.

The other irony in this whole process is that in my early political life in Chicago, one of the raps against me in the black community is that I was too close to the Jews. When I ran against Bobby Rush [for Congress], the perception was that I was Hyde Park, I’m University of Chicago, I’ve got all these Jewish friends. When I started organizing, the two fellow organizers in Chicago were Jews, and I was attacked for associating with them. So I’ve been in the foxhole with my Jewish friends, so when I find on the national level my commitment being questioned, it’s curious.

Let’s put this in perspective. Obama wants American voters to feel comfortable with his approach to Israel, and so he explains that he has Jewish friends. In fact, without getting explicit about exactly who those friends are, he charges that he took political risks in having these friends and associates, and therefore we should take him seriously when he says he’s a friend to Jews and to Israel. In fact, based on those associations, he finds suspicion of his motives on Israel “curious”.

Fine. Taking this at face value, Obama says that his political and personal associations must be taken into account when determining how Obama would put policy in place. After all, Obama says that we can trust his approach to Israel because some of his best friends are Jewish. Given that, what about some of his other friends and associates?

  • Jeremiah Wright — His pastor for 20 years and a man to whom Obama gave over $26,000 in 2006 alone, Wright has feted and honored Louis Farrakhan, a virulent anti-Semite. Wright also believes that the government created HIV as a genocidal tool aimed at people of color, and that America deserved what it got with 9/11. Wright has also reprinted Hamas propaganda in the church newsletter on several occasions.
  • William Ayers — The former Weather Underground domestic terrorist employed Barack Obama at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama served with him on the board of the Woods Foundation, during which time both of them gave $75,000 to Rashid Khalidi, a Yasser Arafat toady. Ayers and wife Bernadine Dohrn refuse to express remorse for their terrorist and criminal activity to this day, and Dohrn spoke explicitly of “overthrowing capitalism” as late as November 2007.
  • Robert Malley — One of Obama’s foreign policy advisers, Malley resigned from the campaign after reports that he met with Hamas surfaced in the last few days. Malley has a history of opposing Israel; in the Clinton efforts to achieve a peace settlement, he was the only American adviser to blame Israel when Arafat refused to accept 95% of what he’d demanded in the final settlement.

Since Obama says that his association with a couple of unnamed Jewish organizers should make us comfortable with his approach to Israel and foreign policy, we can also take into account these associates with whom Obama has had much longer relationships. What do these associations tell us? It reveals Obama as someone comfortable in the culture of anti-American rhetoric, where people blame the US and Israel first on all occasions, and among people who at least give a pass to violence for the sake of political change. And all of those conclusions are at least as legitimate as Obama’s insistence that his Jewish friends make him a friend to Israel.

Glad he cleared that up. Obama seems intent on proving himself unready for major-league politics.


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The other irony in this whole process is that in my early political life in Chicago, one of the raps against me in the black community is that I was too close to the Jews.

Whoa.

Typhoon on May 12, 2008 at 6:41 PM

Some of my best friends are…

right2bright on May 12, 2008 at 6:45 PM

Schmuck.

profitsbeard on May 12, 2008 at 6:47 PM

“Well, some of my best friends are Black.” Don’t Blacks take this comment as a sure sign that someone is racist?

Buford Gooch on May 12, 2008 at 6:48 PM

Because it speaks to my history of being uprooted,

Uprooted from Hawaii and moving to Harvard? Poor baby.

peacenprosperity on May 12, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Move along, nothing to see here…

Laura on May 12, 2008 at 6:50 PM

BHO said he would talk to the little iran worm and the little iran worm want’s to kill every Jew alive, and all the citizens in the USA. I would like a list of bho Jewish best friends.
L

letget on May 12, 2008 at 6:53 PM

Which is exactly why John McCain is so much better-off — because he doesn’t HAVE any friends.

My collie says:

What about La Raza?

Okay, so he’s captured the illegal alien illegal vote. (I’ve always wanted to use illegal twice in the same sentence.)

CyberCipher on May 12, 2008 at 6:54 PM

one of the raps against me in the black community is that I was too close to the Jews.

Alinsky acolytes are only Jews in the technical sense.
BTW
Wasn’t Saul Alinsky the father of “community organizing”?

Beto Ochoa on May 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM

And yet he still has over 60% of the Jewish vote according to Gallup.

Typhonsentra on May 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM

And yet he still has over 60% of the Jewish vote according to Gallup.

Perhaps they wouldn’t be if they got some of their news in the blogs instead of exclusively the MSM.

Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM

Too bad you couldn’t photoshop a yarmulke onto Obama for that front pic.

baldilocks on May 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM

- in support of Obama, that is.

Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 7:02 PM

Acquaintances or friends? I have Jewish friends. I am Black. So what. I love them like brothers and sisters. Like family. They have protected me from physical harm, and always made me feel loved.

Obama has some politicos who helped him politically. Where they friends before they were “hired”?

To his credit, Obama’s rebuke of Farrakhan, balking at the notion that he is “a great leader” was refreshing. But he is a little too accommodating of A’jihad for me.

Agrippa2k on May 12, 2008 at 7:03 PM

I find Clinton’s statements about annihilation of Iran to be more genuine. Given the failure and frustration of Bill’s efforts, I find it credible that she has some resentment of Israel’s enemies.

Obama is a liberal. His Jewish friends are liberal. It is a better bet they are all ant-Israel. Christians? Jews? If you say so.

Agrippa2k on May 12, 2008 at 7:07 PM

As much as I hate Obama, I really don’t think he’s an anti-semite or hates Israel or anything like that. I think he’s just a typical moronic liberal shill who tries to please everyone (including people that don’t deserve to be pleased) and fails miserably.

Darth Executor on May 12, 2008 at 7:07 PM

Golda obama he is NOT!!!!

shooter on May 12, 2008 at 7:10 PM

Some of his friends are Jewish because many Jews bought into the Communist manifesto in the early 20th century. His friends were the red diaper babies raised by those early Communist leaning Jews. The University of Chicago and its surrounds were notorious for being a bastion of Communism. Solidly within his comfort zone.

dm60462 on May 12, 2008 at 7:11 PM

I think if he wins the presidency, Obama will dump Israel as fast as he can. We would do well to remember what God has said in his word.

“(Genesis 12:3)I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” And God, speaking to Israel, promises, “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent ” (Isaiah 41:11-12).

GoodBoy on May 12, 2008 at 7:14 PM

Some of my favorite comedians are Jewish.

RBMN on May 12, 2008 at 7:21 PM

As much as I hate Obama, I really don’t think he’s an anti-semite or hates Israel or anything like that. I think he’s just a typical moronic liberal shill who tries to please everyone (including people that don’t deserve to be pleased) and fails miserably.

Darth Executor on May 12, 2008 at 7:07 PM

I agree, you have to know where Israel is and that it is a Jewish state to have an opinion, and since I suspect Obama is still learning these things he probably is just following his liberal sheep.

right2bright on May 12, 2008 at 7:28 PM

So he’s been “too close to Jews”? Spare me.

How does Obama explain his long-running relationships with confirmed Israel-haters like Robert Malley, Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joseph Cirincione, and Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak.

And don’t even mention his Farrakhan-loving “spritual mentor” Rev. Wright, who blames pretty much everything bad on “The Joooos.”

If Obama gets the Oval Office, depend on there being immediate demands on Israel to give up the West Bank, allow the “right of return”, and tear down the fence. Oh, and if Israel would just cut its own throat, it would really help the Peace Process move forward.

Cicero43 on May 12, 2008 at 7:30 PM

Having Jewish friends who hate Israel does not make him pro-Israel.

We aren’t stupid.

daryl_herbert on May 12, 2008 at 7:36 PM

Because it speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus,

His history of being uprooted? To a condo in Hawaii? Or is he referring to his African father’s being “uprooted” from Africa when he was flown on a plane from Kenya and sent to Harvard, at the expense of some American benefactors? Or is he trying to claim that the African-American story of exodus is somehow part of his personal story — when we know it is not?

Oh my, our dear Obama has suffered so. No wonder he identifies so closely with the Jews.

AZCoyote on May 12, 2008 at 7:37 PM

That does not mean that I would agree with every action of the state of Israel, because it’s a government and it has politicians, and as a politician myself I am deeply mindful that we are imperfect creatures and don’t always act with justice uppermost on our minds. But the fundamental premise of Israel and the need to preserve a Jewish state that is secure is, I think, a just idea and one that should be supported here in the United States and around the world.

Very interesting admission….

Branch Rickey on May 12, 2008 at 7:44 PM

Fine. Taking this at face value, Obama says that his political and personal associations must be taken into account when determining how Obama would put policy in place.

You nail it, Barry. You too, Capt. Ed.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how any Jew could vote for Obama.

petefrt on May 12, 2008 at 7:44 PM

He’s been too close to the Jews???

This guy is always making the most outrageous claims about himself!!

He has stated “Nobody has spoken out more fiercely on the issue of anti- Semitism than I have.”

“So I actually have been much more vocal on gay issues to general audiences than any other presidential candidate probably in history.”

Yeah, he’s the best in his and his wife’s eyes.

If he was so close to the Jews, why were his friends for years, anti-Semites? Someone call him on this.

Nothing sticks to this guy. It’s so absurd.

Conservatives R Us on May 12, 2008 at 7:56 PM

And yet he still has over 60% of the Jewish vote according to Gallup.
Perhaps they wouldn’t be if they got some of their news in the blogs instead of exclusively the MSM.
Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM

O/T
Bust seriously, some of the above mentioned “The Jewish Vote” might be from my husband’s family wing of {not him though} Judiasm which = “The Anti-Semitic WASP-Wannabe Limo-Liberal Wing of ‘Reformed Judiasm.’” LOL b/c, “BHO just makes most of them ‘feel so important to vote for a minority”" – directly from their yammers.

Branch Rickey on May 12, 2008 at 7:57 PM

Too bad you couldn’t photoshop a yarmulke onto Obama for that front pic.

baldilocks on May 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM

You mean the Obamulke?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on May 12, 2008 at 7:59 PM

He has tied himself in knots with this explanation. There is nothing about him that tells me he would be a protector and defender of Israel.

JonRoss on May 12, 2008 at 8:03 PM

BHO said he would talk to the little iran worm and the little iran worm want’s to kill every Jew alive, and all the citizens in the USA. I would like a list of bho Jewish best friends.
L

letget on May 12, 2008 at 6:53 PM

Worm, as in What Obama Really Means? W.O.R.M., looks like Obama has an excuse for everything.

right2bright on May 12, 2008 at 8:03 PM

Worm, as in What Obama Really Means? W.O.R.M., looks like Obama has an excuse for everything.

right2bright on May 12, 2008 at 8:03 PM

Good

JonRoss on May 12, 2008 at 8:06 PM

A little off topic…
Ed, that was a stunning post. Best since you got to Hot Air. Yippeee!

marybel on May 12, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Wasn’t Saul Alinsky the father of “community organizing”?

Beto Ochoa on May 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM

Yes, if I remember the tactic correctly, it was something about creating discontent and poking it until it produced open sores, sorta like, wounds, you know?

This man is 100% dangerous, and the scary thing is how many people can’t see it, or worse, are fully aware and sharing his “hope.”

Maquis on May 12, 2008 at 10:16 PM

You know, I’m getting tired of Obama’s literary flights of fancy about his danged childhood every time someone asks him a question. He sounds like he’s writing another book in his head.

That’s because he doesn’t have an answer. And who wants Hamlet in the White House!

PattyJ on May 12, 2008 at 11:20 PM

Typhonsentra on May 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM

The implication in Goldberg’s question is that Jewish voters vote soley on a candidate’s position on Israel. Your stats suggest they don’t (or perhaps they don’t know his position). If that 60% percent wasn’t voting for a socialist, I’d commend their American-first-ism. Since they’re voting for a socialist, they should vote solely based on his position on Israel.

Spolitics on May 12, 2008 at 11:41 PM

Yeah. Obama is best friends with Jews like this one.

Connie on May 13, 2008 at 1:00 AM

I think for the most part that active American conservative Christians are much better at understanding and defending Israel than American Jews are. Most American Jews are much mre concerned about displaying their liberal bona fides, and voting for Obama is right in their wheelhouse. Watch their heads explode when McCain picks Joe Lieberman as his running mate!

rockmom on May 13, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Did someone mention Saul Alisnky?

This is the most thorough (and alarming) expose’ I have read of Alinsky.

Buy Danish on May 13, 2008 at 9:21 AM

BO: I find that really interesting. I think the idea of Israel and the reality of Israel is one that I find important to me personally. Because it speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus, it describes the history of overcoming great odds and a courage and a commitment to carving out a democracy and prosperity in the midst of hardscrabble land. One of the things I loved about Israel when I went there is that the land itself is a metaphor for rebirth, for what’s been accomplished. What I also love about Israel is the fact that people argue about these issues, and that they’re asking themselves moral questions.
Sometimes I’m attacked in the press for maybe being too deliberative. My staff teases me sometimes about anguishing over moral questions. I think I learned that partly from Jewish thought, that your actions have consequences and that they matter and that we have moral imperatives. The point is, if you look at my writings and my history, my commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is more than skin-deep and it’s more than political expediency. When it comes to the gut issue, I have such ardent defenders among my Jewish friends in Chicago. I don’t think people have noticed how fiercely they defend me, and how central they are to my success, because they’ve interacted with me long enough to know that I’ve got it in my gut. During the Wright episode, they didn’t flinch for a minute, because they know me and trust me, and they’ve seen me operate in difficult political situations.
The other irony in this whole process is that in my early political life in Chicago, one of the raps against me in the black community is that I was too close to the Jews. When I ran against Bobby Rush [for Congress], the perception was that I was Hyde Park, I’m University of Chicago, I’ve got all these Jewish friends. When I started organizing, the two fellow organizers in Chicago were Jews, and I was attacked for associating with them. So I’ve been in the foxhole with my Jewish friends, so when I find on the national level my commitment being questioned, it’s curious.

Yup, they’re all there.

drjohn on May 13, 2008 at 9:57 AM

BO: Yep, some of my best friends, BUT I wouldn’t want them living NEXT DOOR, or one of them MARRYING my SISTER…

pueblo1032 on May 13, 2008 at 11:21 AM

He’s angling to be the first Jewish President since there has already been a first Black President.

gabriel sutherland on May 13, 2008 at 12:45 PM