Obama: 'I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office'he really said that (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Obama’s close advisor David Axelrod was more critical of Netanyahu.
“The world of politics everywhere is divided into two categories: the first and more common is the people who run for public office because they want to be somebody,” he explained. “A smaller group is made of respectable people who run for public office because they want to do something – something positive. Shape the future in a positive way. I think Benjamin Netanyahu completely falls in the first category. He is a great politician. He knows what he needs to do to get through the next election. But it seems to me that Israel has to think about what they need to do to get through the next generation.”
Boo. Hoo. If you don't expect any appreciation, you'll never be disappointed. Obama seems to be disappointed all the time.He also recalled Obama venting in a moment of contemplation, telling him, ‘You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office. For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or, even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts.’
But he's far from being a Jew. And what he thinks being a Jew means comes from all the wrong places.
Bret Stephens reports that Obama supporter Peter Beinart says that we have it all wrong. Obama's views on Israel came from a group of far Left Chicago Jews, who “bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state” (Hat Tip: Herb G). (For those who - like me - do not have online access to the Wall Street Journal, you can find the full article here).
At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1969, Wolf staged a synagogue protest in favor of Black Panther Bobby Seale. In the early 1970s, he founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
And, in 1996, the rabbi “was one of [Mr. Obama's] earliest and most prominent supporters” when he ran for the Illinois state Senate. Wolf later described Mr. Obama’s views on Israel as “on the line of Peace Now”—an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in “his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s.” Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, “still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups” and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street. Among other things, it was she who “organized the rally against the Iraq War where Obama proclaimed his opposition to an American invasion.”
Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF’s world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”
What I have to wonder about is the source for the David Axelrod quote and the others (Martin Indyk, Dan Shapiro). This is Eliyahu Berkowitz's opener to the article:
In advance of an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama, Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan interviewed the people who were most close to the president in the past years, finding out what happened to the US-Israel relationship and what was really said behind closed doors.And then she went around discussing it? This wasn't on background or off the record? You don't think that the White House planted some things it wanted to get out there with the generally sympathetic Yonit Levy and asked her to make sure they made the news in Israel, do you?
Here's Levy's 2010 interview with King Hussein. And here's a summary of her 2013 interview with him. Hmmm. It sounds like she's a little beholden to The One.