Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

That seems to be the message that Malcolm Hoenlein is spreading in Jerusalem. But, he’s saying it, in a strange I’m-not-really-saying it tone. That’s the story as Ha’aretz is covering it. He says that he’s afraid of the atmosphere of Barack Obama’s campaign. In his next sentence of course he covers himself and says that he’s not worried about Obama himself.
The same thing he says regarding American support from Israel. Supposedly Americans are open towards anti-Israel policies, but his only data to support this are polls showing record levels of support for Israel. Of course, those polls are aberrations.
I don’t get it. Yes, I am worried by the cult of personality surrounding Obama. I myself am energized by his presence and persona, and feel myself caught up in it. But, what’s wrong with charisma, if the person wielding it does good? By all accounts, Obama has done much good, and there is promise for him to do much more. Looking through is book, I see a man who shares my values, who cares about human beings, and yes – a man who gives damn good speeches. What is Hoenlien trying to do?
While we might not buy into him, Mr. Hoenlien knows that when he opens his mouth he represents the entire Jewish community. If he has a problem with a specific candidate, then air it out. Why plant suspicious comments, and then back off of them? Why mention hypothetical situations of Americans turning 180 degrees on Israel? Because fear works. Debate is tough. Debate you have to stick to issues. But, plant a little, frightful idea in people’s heads, no matter how unfounded, and it sticks. And, since it’s just a suspicion, you don’t need any evidence to go along with it, just a hunch.
I’m sick of it. We have all benefited from the good aspects of this presidential campaign, and I hope we stick to real debate. For the first time in my life, I like all of the people running for office. America will not be shamed by its next president. I will gladly support Clinton or Obama’s campaign should they receive the nomination, and while I don’t agree with him, and will never vote for him, John McCain seems like a good, principled person as well. So, let’s have these good people talk about their plans, their records, their values, and their visions. And let’s leave the swift-boating behind.

7 thoughts on “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

  1. Malcolm Hoenlein has been very right wing in his views for many years. I find it off-putting and unfortunate that he allows such attitudes to seep into his professional work.
    In this election matter, I think he has crossed the line. But will there be sanctions against him? Nope. Because he cozies up to many of the right (double entendre) people.
    Most American Jews feel that Bush has been good for Israel. I see it differently. I think he has had the best of intentions toward Israel. But the fiasco in Iraq has created instability in the Middle East. That can only be bad for Israel. If McCain continues to keep American troops in Iraq, or bases in other Muslim countries, we may be in for problems.
    Let us not forget the Hillary gaffe with Suah Arafat a few years back.
    There may be concerns about all of the candidates.
    But Barak Obama has no negatives on Israel. He is exciting. He may turn out to be good for the world which would be good for all of us.
    Honeline should pay with his job for such gross interference.
    But don’t count on it.

  2. I haven’t commented on Jewschool in like a year, but I thought it was worth pointing out that Hoenlein claimed pleaded ignorance on the definition of the word “zeitgeist”.
    I find that terrifying.

  3. Funny, I’m more worried about the cult of personality surrounding Malcolm Hoenlein.
    Balaam’s Donkey! Where’ve you been?

  4. Where have I been?
    Full time job. That’s what happened. Lots more time to comment on blogs when you’re a pseudo-employed grad student.

  5. Hoenlein is right that the Jewish community does not have a friend in Senator Obama. Obama’s troubling associations with a black fascist nationalist church need to be repudiated. It is neither honest nor fair that Obama’s religiosity, which he leverages so much to his advantage, should avoid critical scrutiny because it is a BLACK church. No one is saying that African American religion in America is intrinsically anti semitic; but Jeremiah Wright’s ministry seems to be. The fact that Obama is now frum because of this neofascist bigot seems at least as troubling as having a student of a Jewish fascist yeshiva running for political office. I am sure that such an eventually would not escape your critique. if Obama came from Ovadia Yosef land claiming that the coloureds in New Orleans deserved the biblical deluge for their bittul torah, or even if he split hairs on genocide like Lichtenstein, he would be pulled over the coals. The preposterous reverse racism at work in this case means that this feel good all american lanky kid does not even have to answer for his association with similar horrific sentiments. You are right on one thing; that we should not cultivate a politics of fear. Specifically, of being afraid to confront bigotry and nationalism in Alon Shvut, Ramallah or even “the South Side of Chicago.”

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