Monday, February 19th | 4 Adar 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

January 29, 2015 9:21 pm

Paris, Argentina, Iran: An Opportunity for Obama?

avatar by Edward Alexander

Email a copy of "Paris, Argentina, Iran: An Opportunity for Obama?" to a friend

“In the warmest of hearts there’s a cold spot for the Jews.” Irving Howe wrote these words to me in 1972 in a letter (actually, a postcard) of bitter reflection about the fact that A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, the great work of literary salvage that he and Eliezer Greenberg had published in  1954, “never got reviewed in any American literary magazine.”

Those words returned to me as I read the shocking report of the death on Jan. 18  (in highly suspicious circumstances) of Argentinian federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman. In 2006 he had indicted  seven Iranians, who are still at large, and a Lebanese suspect (now dead) for the massacre of 85 Argentinian Jews in the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center. Nisman had also concluded that the Iranians were responsible for the 1992 attack on Israel’s Buenos Aires embassy, which killed 29 and wounded 242. Nisman was scheduled to present, on Jan. 19, evidence that Argentinian President Kirchner and her Foreign Minister Timerman had entered into a secret agreement with the Iranian government to release the killers in exchange for an Iranian oil agreement to purchase Argentinian grain.

Moreover, as Lee Smith has convincingly argued (in Tablet Magazine, Jan. 23), “what distinguished Nisman’s investigation was the motive he attributed to the Iranians—to punish Buenos Aires for first stalling and then cancelling [under pressure from the Clinton White House] bilateral agreements on nuclear technology.” The bombings exemplified the Iranian regime’s long overseas outreach to murder Jews, both as an immediate end in itself and as a means to pursue its nuclear ambitions, whose ultimate end is the destruction of Israel, where over half of the world’s Jewish population now lives. In Lebanon, for example, Hezbollah acts on behalf of Iran in waging war against Israel. (In France the Iranians pay the salary and living expenses of the antisemitic comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala, whose main contribution to French culture is a Gallic version of the Nazi salute. )

The  dismal news from Argentina followed hard upon the early January murders in Paris and converged with the long-running melodrama of America’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, otherwise known as Obama’s version of détente. What has this torrent of misfortune revealed about the Jewish condition apart from the obvious– that the second erasure of Jews from Europe in less than a century is well under way, and that Jews in many other countries (as well as in Israel) are a constantly beleaguered people? Does it, for example, tell us whether the heart of Barack Obama (whose White House is a very different place from the aforementioned Clinton White House) harbors a cold spot for the Jews?

Since Jewish voters invariably, and by huge (if diminishing) majorities, vote for him, the question seems absurd. But is it? Obama, during his first campaign for the presidency, was the first candidate for that office to campaign in Europe as well as the United States, as if his popularity there would redound to his credit here. In July 2009, before a Berlin crowd of 200,000 people, he called himself “a citizen of the world” and an ardent advocate of “global citizenship.” Although European civilization had, between 1933 and 1945, destroyed its Jewish minority, Obama kept offering “apologies” for American misbehavior all over the globe. He promised, for example, that he would be more respectful of Europe than President George W. Bush had been. Could Obama have been thinking of the fact that, unlike Bush, who at London’s Whitehall Palace (November 2003), vigorously warned European leaders to cease tolerating Jew-hatred,  he did not express  unmannerly disapproval of Europe’s resurgent hatred? Nor did Obama return to the (not very distant) past to remind European leaders that the world of European Jewry came to an end in the ashes of Auschwitz and Maidenek at the time and place where European civilization itself collapsed.

By 2009 several critics of the new administration had begun to call Obama “the first anti-Israel president.” His appointments favored people who detested Israel or could not mention the word “antisemitism” without equating it with that imaginary phenomenon called “Islamophobia.” Jewish leaders who met with Obama in those days reported that he very much wanted to “change the way the Arabs see us” by putting “space” between America and Israel; and his public utterances displayed a hammering insistence on the need to “respect” Islam. His first presidential grand tour of the old continent took place a week or so after the Religion of Perpetual Outrage had been expressing its outrage over Israel’s actions in Gaza by staging violent pro-Hamas demonstrations throughout the old (and increasingly post-Christian) continent. The worst riots took place in Turkey, where they were orchestrated by PM Erdogan. Yet this did not prevent Obama from telling Turkish audiences that America is not and “never will be” at war with Islam, or from declaring, repeatedly, that Recep Erdogan, Europe’s most antisemitic head of government, was his favorite European political leader.

When, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Kasher murders of early January, an estimated two million people took to the streets of Paris to declare “Je Suis Charlie,” there were two notable absences: France’s Muslims and the president of the United States. Speculation about Obama’s absence still abounds. Could even the self-fascinated bunglers who comprise  his inner circle of security and public relations advisors have been so incompetent as to be blind to the importance of the presence of “the leader of the free world” alongside other world leaders? Was Obama nervous about the fact that he had, in the not so distant past, excoriated cartoonists, including those of the French weekly, who “mock The Prophet” and said they would have no part in the future? Did he perhaps fear getting photographed next to one of the three or four marchers (among the millions) whose signs read “Je Suis Juif” rather than “Je Suis Charlie”? Did he, as Jerold Auerbach has suggested, stay home because of his dual loyalty problem—i.e., torn between the world of Islam and that of non-Islam?

Having six years earlier failed to criticize European leaders for their indifference to the continent’s resurgent antisemitism, he now found himself lagging behind even such time-servers as French president Hollande  by failing to condemn it publicly. (As for the journalists, they deigned—well over a decade late—to notice its European “return,”  but only because the murders of the Jewish grocery shoppers coincided with that of the “Charlie Hebdo” staff members. Neither did any of the ones I read or heard think it worthy of mention, in a story about Jews murdered because they were shopping  in a kosher grocery, that the outlawing  of  kosher ritual slaughter  has been an obsession of European do-gooders, with Germans in the lead, for years.)

And while all this was going on the charade of the endless (and repeatedly extended) negotiations with Iran over that country’s development of nuclear weapon delivery capacity dragged on, its length uncertain, but its  conclusion entirely predictable. It is hardly a secret that the Obama administration has rejected the dubious principle of “My country, right or wrong,” for a still worse one: “The other country, right or wrong.” Lest we forget what détente with the Iranian mullahs will make the first order of business  once Iran acquires its bomb,  “The chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the elite forces will continue to help the anti-Israeli axis of resistance in the Middle East region until full obliteration of the Zionist regime. The IRGC will continue and deepen its support for the Muslim combatants and fighters in the region until full removal of this very epitome of evil from the geopolitics of the region, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said  in a statement on Tuesday” (January 20). This was only a slight variation on Ahmadinejad’s mantra—”Israel must be wiped off the map”—but its timing, in the midst of Obama’s tempestuous quarrel with John Boehner over the latter’s invitation to Prime Minister  Netanyahu to address Congress, was impeccable.

The trading of undiplomatic and indecorous blows between President Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress appeared to begin on January 16,  when the president took it upon himself virtually to  endorse David Cameron in the United Kingdom’s pre-election competition, thereby  infuriating England’s Labor Party opposition.  London’s Daily Telegraph reported that “Cameron received a significant pre-election boost on Friday, after Mr Obama said Britain’s economic recovery is evidence he ‘must be doing something right.’  He went on to describe Mr Cameron… as a ‘great friend’ and one of his ‘closest and most trusted partners in the world.'” But, during their joint news conference, it became clear that Obama had previously conscripted the British Prime Minister to lobby American senators to oppose the  enforcement of penalties upon the Iranian regime for its latest skulduggery in the nuclear weapons charade. Obama was fulfilling his side of a sordid bargain. John Boehner then retaliated by inviting  Prime Minister  Netanyahu, without Obama’s approval, to address the Congress on just why Israel takes it amiss that Iran should be allowed (if not actually encouraged) to pursue its acquisition of nuclear weaponry. This enraged Obama and Secretary of State Kerry who, weeks earlier, had taken it upon himself to declare that Israel, which has been under siege, living with a constant burden of peril, for 67 years, was “not interested in peace.”

Given the convergence and interconnectedness of the Paris murders, the return to prominence of the (Iranian organized) Argentina massacres of two decades ago, and the crisis in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, a president  with imagination and the desire to show the world that he really is serious about crime and punishment, the iniquity of Islamist terror, and the sanctity of Jewish lives, would now insist that, as a precondition of further negotiations about matters nuclear, Iran turn over the killers of 1992 and 1994 for extradition to face trial in the Republic of Argentina. But will he? A president with a sense of history (and a less prickly ego) would recognize in Netanyahu not an insolent, unmannerly, and  “undiplomatc” rival but  the voice of a people that, within the memory of many of us, lost well over one-third of its number between 1939 and 1945, and now faces the very real prospect of a second Holocaust.

Irving Howe, a few years after he lamented to me that “cold spot for the Jews…in the warmest of hearts,” lamented its presence  in a far more important place than literary magazines: the White House. In World of Our Fathers (1976) he wrote about President Franklin D. Roosevelt (whom Obama considers his spiritual predecessor) and the Jews as follows: “The record of [FDR’s] administration in helping to save or admit Jewish refugees was not at all a good one … the truth is that, with regard to the Jewish refugees in Europe, the record…was shameful …And the Jewish organizations lacked political leverage with the Roosevelt administration precisely because the American Jewish vote was so completely at the disposal of the president.”

Edward Alexander’s book Jews Against Themselves is forthcoming from Transaction Publishers.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Joy D. Brower

    Excellent analysis – and I love the fact that, considering the dissembling and outright lying (if not anti-Semmitism) we read in the MSM, Edward Alexander really doesn’t pull any punches, and he goes a long way toward addressing the very real conundrum, “Why do so many Jews support an obvious anti-Zionist and, dare we say, anti-Semite, such as Obama?”

    Thankfully – but will it be in time? – more Americans of ALL stripes are beginning to see (and smell) the truth of Obama – and it ain’t pretty! At best, I’ve pegged him as pro-Islamist and pro-Iranian – with all the implications of other loyalties & disloyalties that implies.

    And bursting the eternal bubble of our Great White Father, FDR, is satisfying to the extent that the truth of his virulent anti-Semitism (and that, indeed, of the Dept of State going back more than a century!!) is finally being exposed. The irony, of course, is that the immigrant Jews of the late 19th and early 20th century pretty much universally worshipped him; but those, like my father who was in “the biz” (show biz!) always recognized FDR for the “carny guy” he truly was – especially with those “fireside chats!”

    And now that Israel is facing a truly existential threat to its very existence, sober people around the world need to speak out and support the truth, as ugly as it is. Obama, Iran and “the bomb” are a lethal combination!

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    Obama is a hypocrite and an opportunist! That man does
    not have any conception of truth!

  • The biggest disgrace of all are the 3 million American Jews that voted for Obama the second time. For the first vote their ignorance and stupidity could be used as an excuse but certainly not the second time around.

  • victoria brandeis






    Brilliant analysis.

  • Paul

    Excellent article.

    Please, however, do not use the term “ritual slaughter”. Expressions like “slaughter according to Jewish religious rules” are preferable.


  • elle

    Thank you for the article ,i hope it makes a difference for the better.

  • judithg

    all our lives would be different if Americans had a president or a commander in chief or even a leader in the WH, but we don’t. whatever walks there walks alone. but is never lonely. Jew haters are like that. they also smell pretty bad. the odious hitler, in fact, farted continually day and night. worth mentioning.

  • Edward Alexander importantly quotes Irving Howe’s 1976 reflection: “The Jewish organizations lacked political leverage with the Roosevelt administration precisely because the American Jewish vote was so completely at the disposal of the president.” Howe’s reflection is still pretty much valid today, as we think about President Obama’s own frightening “cold spot” to the Jewish People and Israel.

    From his first day in office, President Obama consistently worked to drive a wedge between “American Jews” who strongly support Israel and “Jewish Americans” who stubbornly privilege the USA Democratic Party, no matter what!

    Together “American Jews” and “Jewish Americans” are simply not Israel’s main allies in the USA. Rather Israel’s principal USA friends are to be found mainly among — those 77% of Americans who self-identify as “Christian,” with 41% actually devout; and the overlapping demographic of Americans who regularly vote for the Republican Party, now supported by less than 30% of USA Jews of whatever stripe.

    Together “American Jews” and “Jewish Americans” amount to a negligible fraction of the USA population. Thus, both “American Jews” and “Jewish Americans” are able to contribute relatively little in comparison to that powerful army of circa 62% of Americans who — pollsters tell us — have solidly supported Israel over the last decade. For very profound cultural reasons, most American Christians strongly favor Israel, and absolutely nothing is going to change that reality in the several years ahead.

    President Obama is animated by that terrible “cold spot” in his heart. He knows that, though “American Jews” still love Israel, there are hundreds of thousands of “Jewish Americans” who neurotically feel that Israel is something of an embarrassment, what with all that inelegant need to regularly fight for survival in the Mideast! Such “Jewish American” discomfort with Zionism was true as early as 1917, when prominent “Jewish Americans” faulted President Woodrow Wilson for approving the draft Balfour Declaration before its adoption by the UK Cabinet.

    Recent reactions to Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress remind us of that 1958 bestseller, “The Ugly American.” With respect to Israel, countless “Jewish Americans” are genuinely “ugly Americans,” because they really do hold to the astonishingly primitive belief that a little country like Israel should simply do whatever the USA President instructs.

    “Jewish Americans” are understandably concerned mostly about their own social status in the USA and their standing as USA citizens. Moreover, “Jewish Americans” regularly put their loyalty to “the Democratic Party” ahead of any sense of obligation to one or more of Jews, Judaism, the Jewish People and Israel. As Norman Podhoretz cannily remarked in “Why are Jews Liberals?”, “Jewish Americans” have replaced the torah of Judaism with the torah of liberalism.

    So, “Jewish Americans” should finally understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to Congress not to speak to them or on their behalf. Rather, he is climbing Capitol Hill to address the entire American people on behalf of that small Mideast country that he leads.

    None of this has much to do especially with “Jewish Americans,” except to the extent that they too might perhaps also be sincerely interested in some very pressing matters pertaining to the national security of both Israel and the USA.

    In this connection, President Obama has just signed into law a bill recognizing Israel as the USA’s “major strategic ally.” If the President is true to his word, why would “Jewish Americans” or anybody in the White House feel uncomfortable about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation from Speaker Boehner?

    Perhaps there really are many hundreds of thousands of “American Jews” and “Jewish Americans” who really understand that President Obama frequently is two-faced and often does not keep his word, as several foreign leaders have already learned to their deep dismay?

    In their heart of hearts, “Jewish Americans” most surely know that this President really dislikes Israel, which he is determined to significantly harm before he leaves office in January 2017. Nonetheless, many “Jewish Americans” still stubbornly prefer to follow Barack Obama. And make no mistake, this is certainly no matter of loyalty to the USA per se, because in that democratic country, citizens can still freely choose to express their dissent, and support whatever political party or politician.

    • Larry Andrews

      There is absolutely no doubt that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have done substantially more to assist Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. That is a
      fact. But, no one reading this has first hand knowledge and familiarity with life in the United States during the 1930’s. That was at least 75 years ago, and that generation is almost completely gone from this earth.

      It is easy to play “Monday Morning quarterback”, but at least look at the facts. America in the 1930’s was
      virulently anti-Semitic, and a significant percentage of Americans were either Isolationists or pro-German
      (Nazi Germany). Two prominent Americans who were pro-German (Nazi Germany) were Charles Lindberg and Joseph P. Kennedy who was America’s ambassador to England, and
      who was expelled by the British government for his support of Nazi Germany (one of his sons was John F. Kennedy who became president of the United States).

      Now, look at a map. How close is the United States to
      Nazi Germany and Europe? Please tell me exactly how you are going to transport Europe’s Jewish population to the United States?

      In addition, the United States was in no position to militarily challenge Nazi Germany. Look at what happened to England and France when they challenged Nazi Germany after that country’s invasion of Poland.

      In June, 1941 Hitler’s armies invaded the Soviet Union.
      This marked the beginning of the end for Hitler and Nazi Germany. But, that end would not come until April and officially early May, 1945.

      On December 6, 1941 Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, and President Roosevelt then declared war on Japan. Since Nazi Germany and Japan were allies,
      Hitler declared war on the United States. The United States of America was now at war with Japan, Nazi Germany and the other countries (i.e. Italy) part of and supporting the Axis powers.

      The Holocaust occurred between 1939-1945 directly as a result of Nazi Germany. Approximately fifty percent of
      Nazi Germany’s Jewish population (300,000 people out of a total of 600,000)fled Nazi Germany prior to the beginning of World War II in September, 1939. Unfortunately, almost all of these Jews settled in countries that would be conquered by Nazi Germany and were subsequently murdered by the Nazis and their auxiliaries.

      Now, tell me specifically how many European Jews President Roosevelt could have saved? Obviously, one is better than none, but logistically it would not have been in the hundreds of thousands. To believe that is absurd based upon reality.

      America today is completely different from America in the 1930’s and during World War II. That is why America’s Jewish so-called leadership needs to forcefully and fully support Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

      The Islamic Republic of Iran has the world’s second largest reserves of both oil and natural gas. Why would a country blessed with massive natural resources need nuclear energy? The answer is obvious. The Islamic Republic of Iran wants nuclear weapons to be the dominant military power in its area, and be on equal footing with its nuclear armed neighbor Pakistan. It’s that simple.

      President Obama has been the most anti-Israel president in American history.

      A designated foreign terrorist organization by the United States government fires thousands of missiles into a vibrant democracy attempting to kill as many civilians as possible. And, how does the President of the United States describe that? These are President Obama’s exact words “extraordinarily irresponsible”.
      “Extraordinarily irresponsible”??!! “Extraordinarily
      irresponsible” is what college students do when drunk and engage in vandalism.

      President Obama deliberately withheld a shipment of armaments to Israel during its conflict with Hamas.

      President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt even after a popular uprising by the Egyptian people forced the ouster of this Islamist regime.

      Fortunately, almost 30% of American Jewish voters are now voting for Republicans who overwhelmingly support Israel and its fight against Islamist terrorism.

      Every American Jew needs to support Prime Minister Netanyahu and his fight to stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from getting nuclear weapons. What is the lesson of the Holocaust? The fact that it happened once means that it can happen again. Think about that
      next time you vote.

  • Lewis

    I don’t believe Obama is pro-Islam or anti-Israel. His problem is that he’s an idealist and naively hopes that the Iranians will “come around” by embracing his appeal to utilitarianism. Historically, Obama has most in common with a failed world leader from the past who believed he could make a mass murderer “listen to reason.” That man of course was Neville Chamberlain.

  • Lewis

    I don’t believe Obama is pro-Islam or anti-Israel. His problem that he’s an idealist and naively hopes that the Iranians will “come around” by embracing his appeal to utilitarianism. Historically, Obama has most in common with a failed world leader from the past who believed he could make a mass murderer “listen to reason.” That man of course was Neville Chamberlain.