I Doubt That Obama Is Anti-Semitic

Normally, the kerfuffle over Republican presidential nomination aspirant Dr. Ben Carson suggesting that President Obama is anti-Semitic:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he believes some of President Barack Obama’s actions are anti-semitic.

“I think anything is anti-Semitic if it’s against the survival of a state that is surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them and to sort of ignore that and to act like everything is normal there and that these people are paranoid is anti-Semitic,” Carson said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Carson did not specifically mention the Iran nuclear agreement, but said during a recent visit to Israel he could not find a single person who “didn’t think this administration has turned its back on Israel.”

wouldn’t interest me and I’d just ignore it. However, since it ties in with themes I’ve mentioned here before, I thought I might comment on it. Presumably, the logic goes something like this. The Iranians are determined to build a nuclear weapon. The president’s Iran deal leaves Iran on the path to building a nuclear weapon, either covertly now or, after the deal’s expiration date, in fifteen years time. Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon is a threat to the existence of the state of Israel whether now or in the future. Threatening the existence of the state of Israel is synonymous with anti-Semiticism. Consequently, President Obama is anti-Semitic.

I doubt that President Obama shares any of those assumptions. I don’t think that he believes that the Iranians are determined to develop nuclear weapons, that Iran’s thirst for nuclear weapons won’t be moderated with the passage of fifteen years, or that allowing a persistent threat to the state of Israel is ipso facto anti-Semitic. I have no idea what his views on the state of Israel are or whether he believes that Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon is an existential threat to Israel. I suspect that he is sincere in the claim that he has made any number of times that the deal that has been negotiated leaves Israel safer than it would be without it.

I think that the president makes the same error in dealing with the Israelis that he does in dealing with the Republicans (does that mean he is “making common cause” with the Iranians?): he dismisses the Israelis’ concerns as illegitimate and frivolous rather than taking them seriously. Disagreement with him about the Iranian deal is not provably wrong any more than it is necessarily emblematic of reflexive partisan opposition to the president’s policy positions.

It is possible for intelligent people to have different assumptions, different preferences, different appetites for risk, and it should be possible for them to disagree without being accused of bad faith. Let’s curb the accusations of anti-Semiticism and of purely partisan motives. They’re not persuasive; they’re barriers to persuasion.

9 comments… add one
  • jan Link

    “I suspect that he is sincere in the claim that he has made any number of times that the deal that has been negotiated leaves Israel safer than it would be without it.”

    Tensions and terrorism in the ME have only grown under this presidency, along with a greater tin ear to what you’ve denoted to be legitimate concerns of Israel and other neighboring countries regarding Iran and the terrorist organizations it funds. Consequently, for some to view the current POTUS’s behavior as less-than-conciliatory or constructive, hence “against” the well being of Israel, is not illegitimate, IMO. I think that’s what Ben Carson is describing as “anti semitic” actions on the part of this president — strong words for strained feelings between us and our ME allies.

  • steve Link

    Any criticism of Israel risks accusations of being anti-semitic. Tensions between the US and Israel will occur whenever we place our own needs above theirs. Frankly, it is bizarre how much we cater to their wishes when they are a country that has never, and never will I suspect, fought alongside us. Imagine being a Canadian and hearing that Israel is our greatest ally.

    “Tensions and terrorism in the ME have only grown under this presidency”

    Clearly much worse than the 1000s being killed and millions displaced under the prior president. But, we have a chance to replay that if the GOP wins in 2016.


  • jan Link

    “Clearly much worse than the 1000s being killed and millions displaced under the prior president. “

    Again, back to the Iraq War, are we Steve? When critiquing President Obama, there is always a deflection away from errors of judgment, conduct, policy-making, displacing anything and everything on to the past president. That way an honest discussion or measurement of present circumstances or the state of our foreign or domestic affairs can be indefinitely put on hold until the next president takes office.

    If it happens to be a dem, then there will be a continuation of Bush being responsible for any downgrades in people’s lifestyles or our overseas alliances. If it’s a republican then we can start anew to blame whoever it is for even the merest up tick of anything negative — whether it be in our foreign relationships, increased terrorism, racial relationships, poverty levels, discrepancies between men and women, accurate unemployment stats and so on. IOW, dems = good, and republicans = bad. Somehow that doesn’t seem like an unbiased, let alone healthy, way to analyze any administration’s pros or cons.

  • ... Link

    What I really want to know is, has the President been caught on camera making comments about “typical Jewish people” in a sneering tone of voice?

  • jan Link

    BTW, Steve, Have you ever compared the body count, under this administration and the last, resulting from both presidents’ flawed policies of action and inaction?

    Death toll from the Iraq war: 219,618. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as of June 9, the death toll was 230,618.

  • steve Link

    jan- We invaded Syria and i missed it? Darn! Anyway, what are the US soldier body counts? How many trillions have we spent in Syria? Why is it our responsibility to stop a civil war in Syria?


  • Why is it our responsibility to stop a civil war in Syria?

    I’d like to know what interest (other than humanitarian) we have in stopping a civil war in Syria? And why it’s in our interest to support Islamists there?

    It seems to me that the people who have the pressing interest to stop the civil war in Syria are the Europeans. Oddly, they don’t seem to be champing at the bit to get involved.

  • steve Link

    “Oddly, they don’t seem to be champing at the bit to get involved.”

    Not that oddly. They really like having us pay for everything, and if there are lives to be risked, let the US do it. A lot of the so called “tensions” that exist in the ME with some of our “allies” exist because they have had the US to carry the load. Now that we are not doing everything the way they want and bearing all of the costs, they aren’t so happy. Too bad.


  • jan Link

    Steve, unnecessary body counts result from failed approaches. Failed approaches can include aggressive invasions, such as Iraq, which you continuously point out. However, missing opportunities to limit problems before they get out of hand, is also the obverse side of a failed approach, amassing as much, if not more, chaos and civilian/military deaths.

    The latter approach — too little too late or missed opportunities — has shadowed the Obama administration’s foreign policy strategies throughout his time in office. From his silence during the Iranian Green Movement in 2009, his lack of follow-though in the early stages of the Syrian uprising, the infamous red line event, leaving Iraq without a SOFA in 2011, his baffling backing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Libyan debacle, his myopia in recognizing the reconstitution of an even a greater terrorist threat in ISIS — all these instances and more have created untold misery, death to hundreds of thousands of people, and much greater instability in the ME, which is only growing and spreading. Of course there is also Obama’s adventures in Europe which have seen Russia flexing muscles in Ukraine, and now selling arms to Iran.

    Consequently, inappropriate inaction can be just as deadly as it’s counterpart.

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