Obama raises specter of dual loyalty
President Obama spoke at a Washington DC synagogue last week and tried to convince his audience that he, rather than Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, represents Jewish values. Michael Doran, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council, found a disturbing undertone to President Obama's speech: Doran argues that Obama was raising the specter of dual loyalty of Jews - a classic indication of anti-Semitism. In this open letter to liberal Jews, he urges them to think about what Obama meant.
Here’s my question. As Obama donned his yarmulke and embraced your
community, did you also catch the hint of a warning? If you did, it was
because the president was raising, very subtly, the specter of dual
loyalty: the hoary allegation that Jews pursue their tribal interests to
the detriment of the wider community or nation. Obama was certainly not
engaging in anything so crude as that; nor is he an enemy of the Jewish
people. But he did imply that many Jews—that is, Jews who support
Benjamin Netanyahu—have indeed placed their narrow, ethnic interests
above their commitment to universal humanistic values. In his view, they
have betrayed those values. And so the warning was faint, but
unmistakable: if Jews wish to avoid being branded as bigots, then
they—you—must line up with him against Netanyahu.
“But the president is right,” many of you would no doubt reply. “Netanyahu’s values are not
my values.” That may well be the case. Yet this is also why it is a
trap for you to accept Obama’s claim that his fight with Netanyahu is a
struggle over “values.” The struggle is not over values.
Rather, at the core of the Netanyahu-Obama grudge match is one issue and
one issue only: the president’s long-sought détente with the Islamic
Republic of Iran.
To be sure, there are other sources of tension between the two men,
both personal and political. Among them is the Israel-Palestinian issue,
which the president dwelt upon at length in his remarks to you—but in
the service of a goal that has nothing whatsoever to do with
Israeli-Palestinian relations. If this sounds too calculating by half,
consider three key points.
But the real issue, says Doran, is Iran.
The president’s sophistry demonstrates a simple but profound truth: his commitment to the progressive values of tikkun olam
is governed by its own “red lines,” and is entirely utilitarian. Which
again raises the question: what was his purpose in stressing this shared
progressive commitment in his address to you, and what was his purpose
in subtly reminding you of the costs of failing to abide by its terms?
The answer, I hope, is obvious. On June 30, Obama will likely
conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. This will spark a faceoff with
Congress, which has already declared its opposition to the deal.
Congress will inevitably pass a vote of disapproval, which Obama will
inevitably veto. In order to defend that veto from a congressional
override, however, he must line up 34 Senators—all Democrats. This calls
in turn for a preemptive ideological campaign to foster liberal
solidarity—for which your support is key. If the president can convince
the liberal Jewish community, on the basis of “shared values,” to shun
any suspicion of alignment with congressional Republicans or Benjamin
Netanyahu, he will have an easier time batting down Congress’s
opposition to the deal with Iran.
Progressive values have nothing to do with what is truly at stake in
this moment of decision. Only one final question really matters: in your
considered view, should the Islamic Republic of Iran be the dominant
power in the Middle East, and should we be helping it to become that
power? If your answer is yes, then, by all means, continue to applaud
the president—loudly and enthusiastically—as he purports to repair the
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Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, dual loyalty, Iranian nuclear threat, liberal Jews, tikkun olam