Don’t Let Obama Rewrite History to Sell the Iran Deal
President Obama, no doubt, is deeply offended by recent accusations that he is resorting to Jewish stereotypes to sell the Iran deal. But while we do not to know what is truly in Mr. Obama’s heart, there is ample indication that his rhetoric has crossed the line into classical anti-Semitism, revealing a complete disregard for the lack of civility that Mr. Obama has strongly criticized when directed at other identity groups. Equally troubling is the president’s falsifying the history of America’s entry into Iraq, and the role of the Jewish community in that policy decision.
Addressing leftist Jewish organizations that support his Iran deal, including the progressive J Street and the National Jewish Democratic Council, the president had this to say: “In the absence of your voice, we will see the forces that got us into the Iraq war forego this historic opportunity and put us on the path to a potential military conflict.”
This is not even thinly veiled but a wholesale resurrection of an accusation that is manifestly untrue—that American Jews and pro-Israel groups who are now rallying to stop the Iran deal are the same people who mobilized to push America into the ill-conceived and unnecessary war with Iraq.
Let us be eminently clear. Despite the president’s revival of this canard, none of the major Jewish organizations supported America’s entry into the Iraq war. Indeed, they strongly opposed it. Individual Jews overwhelmingly opposed the war by 77%, a figure that surpassed all other mainstream religious groups.
Moreover, the Israeli government opposed the war in Iraq because the preservation of the balance of power between Iraq and Iran was vital to Israel’s security. America entered the war in Iraq over Israel’s objections—not with its support. Mr. Obama knows this.
If Mr. Obama wanted to accurately talk about Iraq, he would have noted that his policies in Iraq were indistinguishable from President George Bush’s, the only difference being that Mr. Bush unflinchingly took responsibility for exercising the final decision to go into Iraq while Mr. Obama rushed to take responsibility for leaving Iraq because it was politically beneficial. The status of forces agreement for America’s exit from Iraq, which Mr. Obama chose not to extend, was negotiated under the Bush administration. Mr. Obama has no shame when it comes to rewriting history.
Alluding to British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond’s accusation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was opposed to any deal with Iran – an accusation for which Hammond had not one scintilla of evidence – Mr. Obama used the exact phrase, “opposed to any deal with Iran,” to malign his critics during the conference call.
Then Mr. Obama turned his criticism toward the “well-financed lobbyists,” as well as the “big check writers to political campaigns,” and the “billionaires who happily finance super PACs.”
He complained about the millions spent running ads against the deal, a less than subtle reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) campaign.
American Jewish opposition to the deal fell within the context of the various screeds about the so-called illegitimate, omnipotent Jewish lobby; American Jewish support for the deal did not. Somehow AIPAC was to be scorned as part of a vast illegitimate conspiracy, but J Street’s ad- campaign promoting the deal was simply good old American patriotism.
And while there were veiled references to pro-Israel financier Sheldon Adelson as marshaling resources to fight the deal, nothing was said about clueless Jewish celebrities like Jack Black who are being mobilized to support the deal. When did Jack Black become an authority on the Middle East? Asking celebrities about Middle East policy is like asking Woody Allen for dating tips.
In Mr. Obama’s scenario of Jewish stereotypes, there are wealthy American Jews out there fighting him and wanting to create another Iraq-style war for which, in Obama’s phony historical reconstruction, they are responsible.
Of course, there are also rich, liberal Jews out there mobilizing to support Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran, but somehow those Jews are simply exercising their constitutional rights in America’s pluralistic society.
The tactics Mr. Obama is employing to support the deal are not nearly as dangerous as the deal itself. As noted by Harvard professor Ruth Wisse, a leading authority on modern-day anti-Semitism, Mr. Obama’s deal promotes and strengthens a regime that repeatedly calls for genocide against the Jews.
The Iran regime makes no attempt to even hide, as the Nazis did, their intention to eradicate the Jewish people.
Mr. Obama has jumped into numerous forays to promote his idea of eliminating black stereotypes, even throwing the prestige of office behind the dispute between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police. Yet, when it comes to Jews, Mr. Obama seems willing to traffic in Jewish stereotypes to promote his policy objectives.
Was Joel Pollak too harsh when he noted in Breitbart that if Mr. Obama does not want to be thought of as an anti-Semite, perhaps he should stop acting and sounding like one?
Even if the deal were the right thing to do, it should have been promoted on the facts, not by hurling defamations, resurrecting stereotypes, and promoting a false and offensive historical narrative. To accomplish that would take honesty, integrity, and some real presidential character. To date, Mr. Obama’s false historical rewrite has not damaged the Jewish community as much as it has damaged the president.
When Nathan Guttman of the leftist Jewish Forward, a newspaper known for its tepid Zionism and sycophantic deference to the president, questions whether Mr. Obama hit the right note in his call to the Jewish community and needs to remind his readers that the organized Jewish community did not support the Iraq war, you know the president has a Jewish problem.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. This article was originally published by The Washington Times.