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January 13, 2015 3:53 pm

President Obama’s Divided Loyalty Dilemma

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama, on March 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama, on March 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

With its Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in 1789, France emancipated its Jews. But there was a price: Jews were immediately tormented by the dilemma of divided loyalty. “Must one admit into the family,” inquired the Bishop of Nancy in the French National Assembly during the debate on the eligibility of Jews for citizenship,  “a tribe that is a stranger to oneself that constantly turns its eyes toward [another] homeland”? One answer came a century later, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an assimilated Jew, was tried, found guilty of espionage and dispatched to Devil’s Island.

For many assimilated Jews in other countries in the modern era – the United States conspicuous among them – Zionism provoked acute loyalty concerns. Where was their homeland? The very prospect of a Jewish state, to say nothing of the birth of Israel in 1948, tied many Reform Jews (including, most conspicuously, generations of Sulzberger publishers of The New York Times) into knots of discomfort over divided loyalty.

Who would have imagined that the first African-American president of the United States would be so acutely torn by his own divided loyalties that he would decline to attend the Sunday rally in Paris that drew leaders from all over the world and millions of French citizens determined to affirm their unity following yet another horrific outburst of Muslim terrorism? “America and Islam,” Obama declared in his Cairo speech (2009), “share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” But after Muslim terrorists had slaughtered a dozen journalists whose cartoons offended them, and four Jews whose Judaism offended them, such shared principles no longer seemed evident.

Instead, President Obama remained in the White House on Sunday, preferring – according to some reports – to watch football games. Even his strong supporters were astonished. “I had previously thought we had seen the absolute peak of badly conceived public relations,” wrote Rick Ungar ( “when the president elected to play golf immediately following his somber statement on the beheading of James Foley by ISIL.” The excuses were flimsy: too short notice; concerns for presidential safety. But it is not “poor judgments in communications strategy,” as Ungar claimed, that require scrutiny.

Rather, it is the divided loyalty embedded in the son of a father who converted to Islam and a Christian mother. “I am a Christian,” Obama proclaimed in his Cairo speech, “but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims.” Never in six years of his presidency has that internal conflict played out so publicly as it did when he stayed home on Sunday.  It was, to be sure, a shared Obama administration public relations disaster. Vice President Biden also stayed home and Secretary of State Kerry preferred to remain in India. So the United States was represented at the massive gathering in Paris by its unknown ambassador to France.

It was not merely a presidential “snub” or “gaffe,” as some claimed. Or even, declared CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “pathetic.” It was a highly revealing glimpse – not of botched public relations but of Obama’s internal conflict, torn between his American and Muslim identities. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance,” he claimed in 2009. But that is hardly what Islam has displayed to Americans since September 11, 2001.

To be sure, not all the forty world leaders who marched with more than three million French citizens on Sunday to defend freedom and protest against Islamic terrorism had clean hands. Especially those from Algeria, Russia and Turkey – to say nothing of the conspicuous front-row presence of Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, desperately in need of public approval wherever he can get it.

But President Obama’s absence was deeply revealing. Consider his previous statements about the “peaceful religion” of Islam; his self-proclaimed presidential responsibility “to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear”; his preposterous insistence in 2012 after the murder by Islamist terrorists of four Americans (including the Ambassador) at Benghazi that the “outrage throughout the Muslim world” was sparked by a YouTube filmmaker; his statement of “understanding” why “people take offense at this” (film);  and his insistence that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

It exposes a president torn by competing loyalties, who bends over backward to appease Muslims and cannot bring himself to stand with those who defend freedom against its brutal perversions by demented Muslim zealots.

Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner

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  • shloime

    i don’t see any signs of “conflict” – president barack hussein obama put the prestige of the white house behind the ground zero mosque proposal. and promised to “reset” america’s relationship with the arab world, and to “engage” diplomatically with iran. and he has also brought advisors affiliated with the american branch of the moslem brotherhood, into his administration, to advise him on “radicalism”.

    he has backed negotiations with the taliban in afghanistan, supported islamist rebels in yemen, syria, egypt, libya and tunisia. and his “best friend in the middle east” is islamist demagogue erdogan. in fact, his positions on the moslem brotherhood have alienated, at least, egypt and saudi arabia.

    no conflict at all.

    • Robert Honiker

      Obama’s Christianity is questionable, his sympathy with Islam is not. He swore an oath to honor our Constitution, but obviously resents constitutional limits to his power. America has gained nothing, and lost a great deal under his “leadership”.

  • rulierose

    thank you Mr. Auerbach!–someone is finally speaking the truth. why didn’t we go to the Paris march? because Obama is not on the side of the marchers. I mean, that’s the only way to put it.

    it’s painful to watch Marie Harf and Josh Earnest twisting themselves in knots to explain why this all has nothing to do with Islam. and it’s embarrassing. NOBODY believes them. you get the impression they don’t even believe it themselves.

    I was going to say I can’t remember the last time America looked so foolish on the world stage, but I do: 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from where he’d been living, in Paris (no comment), and took hundreds of Americans hostage for over a year. let’s face it: do you have any confidence that if–Gd forbid–we had another similar situation, that Obama and his crack foreign policy team (or is that “foreign policy team on crack”?) would be up to dealing with it?

  • Luigi Rosolin

    Is not doubt the Obama is sitting in two chairs! But if he is a Muslim ( for them he is as is father was) he is allowed by the cult to lies for promoting the Islamic cause. I thing is more that Islam with Obama: he should had been never elected in first place as look like is birth place was not in the USA and secondly his arising from nowhere must had been well drive and supporter by non USA force like Saudi Arabia?

  • steven L

    This is a FALSE and hypocritical argument.
    Every Jew anywhere in the world in the West, in Russia, in the Muslim countries (when there were Jews in these countries), in China, in Cuba, in India, in S-America, anywhere in Africa behind the Iron curtain etc ALWAYS respected the rule of the countries where they lived and live Even before WWI & II.
    Enough of pseudo-dual loyalty. Jews are always abiding citizens.

  • west129

    President Obama might be torn by competing loyalties, however, his absence in Paris proves a hypocrite he is not!

    Transparency he promised and -for once- transparency he delivered.

  • Ron

    I don’t think this man’s loyalties are divided at all. Actions speak louder than words. Despite his public protestations and speeches, since taking office he has diminished the US’s stature and influence, and his policies have destabilised the Middle East. He has promoted the Muslim Brotherhood – which even the Egyptians kicked into touch, – whose raison d’etre is to impose Islam and Sharia on the whole world whether it wants it or not; he refuses to acknowledge that that the motivation for Islamic jihad against America and the West is the Qur’an and it’s teachings; He regards Major Nidal’s attack at Fort Hood as “workplace violence”, not an act of terror by a devout Muslim who had been handing out copies of the Qur’an and making presentations justifying jihad; he reckons Benghazi is a “phony scandal” after lying to the American people that the planned terrorist attack – resulting in the deaths of 4 Americans whom he did not see fit to even attempt to rescue -was a spontaneous event caused by a video that had had only 17 views at the time of the attack. Need I go on?

  • Rocky B

    “In September 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush, who had no fluency in Arabic, publicly endorsed this latter view, stating that “Islam is peace”. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.” The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.” From Wikipedia.

    I wonder which Bush speech writer wrote this.

    See, both parties are quite capable of pandering to special interest groups.

  • Steven Kalka

    If his loyalties are so conflicted, he should not have run for President.

  • Abby Siegel

    Send this to the one who occupies the Oval Office…one named Hussein.

  • stan needelman

    As a Jew that voted twice for Obama; I am sad for my mistake. I expected more from Obama. He has surprised me often during the last six years. Not a pleasant surprise yet.

  • Efram

    Very accurate. However, I disagree with the “torn” part. His loyalties are clear. Jihadist Islam uber alles.

  • Richard


  • art

    The administration gave itself away by its refusal to attend the memorial services in France. Obama showed not the conflict but his support of an islam rampaging thru Europe and intimidating Europeans while bent on imposing sharia on Europe

  • Shalom-Hillel

    Sounds like a solid analysis. After all the flimsy excuses fall away this is what we are left with.

  • Elliott Sadle

    Mr. Auerbach praises Obama with faint damn. The president’s sympathies are overwhelmingly with Muslim.

  • BH in Iowa

    Small but important point – Barack Obama is not an African-American. He is half African and half American. Big difference.

    Barack Obama did not share the African-American experience. He does not have the history of slavery and discrimination that African-Americans have. Barack Obama does not understand the plight of the Jewish and African-American minority groups.

  • Dr.M.Otero

    I don’t think that if a candidate for the presidency had a Jewish father born in Israel that he would not be an acceptable candidate. Were we showing our guilt about slavery? Mr. Obama ts a well spoken black whose ancestors were not of the American cruel past.
    We have been advised repeatedly that usually one who makes the best candidate is a former governor although we have had such a president in the recent past who proved a disaster.

  • Debra glazer

    If Obama didn’t want to travel abroad – and we all know he’s logged a huge number of miles going all over the world – he could have chosen to attend the rally that took place in his own backyard, in Washington D.C., on Sunday. Or, he could have sent Joe Biden there.

  • Valery

    I assume that the criticism was absent from the rally in Paris, the American president is somewhat exaggerated.
    America does a lot for the fight against terrorism.
    Terror by Islamists kills dozens daily lives of civilians – in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya …
    Leaders gathered in Paris, did not have to be limited to solidarity with the victims of terrorist attacks in France alone. No victims of terror second or third grade.
    Journalists same, newly published million copies cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, behave just silly. This is not a civil courage, and irresponsibility, provoking further violence and terror.

  • Bernie Kessler

    The question then must be asked—- how influential is the Muslim Brotherhood as advisors to decision makers in the White House and State Department? Did they convince the President that his absence and the absence of a high-ranking designee would not be noticed??? I strongly suspect that if we carefully study the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood we will be able to follow the foreign policy and decisions we adopt. Egypt is the most dramatic example.

    • shloime

      yes, but…

      there’s plenty that we haven’t been told, like the real story behind benghazi (nobody knows how many advanced, shoulder-fired missiles ended up in jihadist hands), or syria, where the yarmouk brigades, trained and equipped by uncle sam, defected to isis, with at least 400 more stingers.

      which just might explain why the pentagon was so emphatic in denying that a jordanian f-16 was shot down, considering that it really made no difference. unless isis is using american-supplied stingers, that is.

  • Bernard Ross

    this article is superficial and the author is too concerned with meaningless hypocritical symbols. the march was a load of pure crap which will have nothing to do with the future.

    • shloime

      right. but barack hussein obama’s alignment with the moslem brotherhood, and his support for jihadists (including hundreds of stinger antiaircraft missiles), will.

      “symbols”, symbolize.

  • Mickey Oberman

    I do not believe that Obama has “competing loyalties”.

    His loyalties are to Islam and only Islam.

    • charlie johnson

      I believe the man suffers from a bloated ego.Look at where he takes vacations. He is not much like the blacks of the USA.He uses them as a tool to accomplish his mission.His white mother raised him yet he takes pot shots at whites because he blames whites for his childhood feelings of neglect. His father should have taken his duties a bit more seriously. Don’t throw all the blame on whites. He had an education paid for by whites.I like his brother in China a lot better.He may have been a better choice than the golfing parrot. Maybe in his mind he wants to be admired by foreigners who are not very pro USA.Notice he bowed to some ( Certain) foreign heads of state. This was to signify a new beginning for the USA.