A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
“As the dust settles in the wake of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s dramatic altercation with President Barack Obama, one is now able to evaluate the repercussions,” said Isi Leibler in The Jerusalem Post. “Obama’s ambush of Netanyahu was utterly counterproductive.” It’s the United States that must figure out its stance now, said Aaron David Miller at Foreign Policy. “The Obama administration—with the best of motives (Arab-Israeli peace is really important to U.S. interests) but lacking a real strategy—made this situation worse, at least for America.” Netanyahu’s visit gave us some insight into President Obama’s feelings on the issue, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. “For better or for worse, presidential attitudes shape US foreign policy, and it is clear that the current president, unlike his two predecessors, feels little instinctive warmth for Israel.” It was only when Netanyahu spoke before Congress and got applauded that we recognized America as a true friend to Israel.
Jews and Medicare
Adam Hasner, a Jewish Florida politician, is a strong backer of Gov. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, and could run for Senate next year. This leaves Jewish voters in a bit of a spot, said James Besser in The Jewish Week. “History is with the Democrats on this one, but 2012 promises to be an unusually volatile election year. Stay tuned; Florida could once again be the epicenter of Jewish politics as the campaigns get underway.” There are no tough choices here, said a St. Louis Jewish Light editorial. “As Jews, we help each other, and we do so through various forms of tzedakah. We fairly discuss whether and how to build safety nets, both within and outside our Jewish community.” And Ryan’s plan shows “an alarming lack of empathy and respect for seniors,” so he won’t get our support. That could be devastating for Republicans in 2012, as the Jewish community “is considered to have the largest percentage of members older than 75 of any religious group in America.”
Is Obama really losing the Jews?
The Republican Jewish Coalition reportedly made 20,000 calls recently recruiting new members. The initiative was launched while Jewish support for Obama was low in the wake of Netanyahu’s visit. It seemed like the perfect time. However, “conversations with nearly a dozen of the top Jewish fund-raisers in New York reveal a much different reality, as rainmakers say they continue to back the president they overwhelmingly supported three years ago,” said David Freedlander in The New York Observer. Well, duh, said Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. We hear about this all the time, how “Jews are on the verge of breaking with Obama,” which is now a “frequent refrain” that pipes up whenever it’s convenient. “But I doubt that it will meaningfully erode Obama’s support among Jewish voters, and it’s certainly not driving away big Jewish donors, despite the right’s confident predictions to the contrary,” Sargent added.
Obama’s Poland trip
At the end of his recent Europe trip, President Obama met with Poland’s Jewish leaders and laid a wreath at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes. “Despite being such an important and meaningful political figure, President Obama found time to stop for a moment and consider the lessons of history,” said Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities. “He seemed clearly moved by the memorial, lingering to talk to a line of people and posing for a group photo,” said Mark Landler in The New York Times. But with the American Memorial Day holiday just days later, and Obama a no-show, some wondered where the president’s priorities are. “It is good and right for the American President to pay homage to these important sites, but it does make one wonder what ‘his people’ are doing?” asks Martha M. Boltz in the Washington Examiner.
Tiki’s Anne Frank gaffe
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) denounced Tiki Barber’s recent comparison of his experience of hiding from his wife to Anne Frank’s plight, calling his comments “outrageous and perverse,” reported Haaretz. “I am no scholar on Anne Frank, but I do know one thing. A professional football player who hides out in his own home so the pesky media can’t interview him is no Anne Frank,” said Rabbi Jason Miller at The Huffington Post. The quote appeared inside a Sports Illustrated profile about the former NFL player’s comeback attempt. “Lost in all of this is that the article was actually relatively positive. How quickly one Anne Frank reference can change things,” said Ryan Rudnansky at Bleacher Report. He doesn’t need any more bad press either, said thesportsbank at ChicagoNow. “I never underestimate the ability of egocentric and clueless celebrities to play the victim card, even when they have all the money, fame and sexy babes in the world, but this still shocks me. Barber is really effing stupid, immature and oblivious.”