November 13, 2008
Dear Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin: I apologize for the Jewish vote for Obama
While you have written, spoken and, yes, even prayed in strong opposition to any retrofitting of American policy on behalf of the Jewish state, nearly eight out of every 10 American Jews failed to demonstrate similar resolve on Election Day.
Those dancing along with the Democratic faithful in Grant Park included Jews from almost all sectors of American life: young and old, Reconstructionist and Orthodox, wealthy and poor. So enamored were the revelers of the symbolism of electing a man of color to the Oval Office that they fatefully overlooked what he stands for and,worse, what he will not stand against.
Who would have ever imagined that it would fall to our non-Jewish neighbors to take up the cause of Israel's survival and the necessity to be ever vigilant against the gathering clouds of Holocaust II?
In the wake of such Jewish philistinism, how am I to respond to my non-Jewish friends who wonder, with increasingly vocal and justifiable irritation, why Protestants and Catholics and Mormons recognize the threat that electing Barack Obama poses to Israel's existence, yet the vast majority of American Jews won't?
All that I can say, really, is "I am profoundly sorry."
And, please, let me be very clear for what sin I beg forgiveness.
For generations, the Jewish people craved legitimacy and community. Only in America, since the establishment of the State of Israel, have the Jews found a country and a vast portion of its non-Jewish populace to stand side by side with us as true friends and allies.
And how do we repay this miracle? By leaving those who stand with us standing alone.
It is not that I wish my non-Jewish friends to be understanding of the 78 percent of American Jewish voters who cast their ballots for Obama, even when they were well aware of his proclivities to associate with anti-Jewish, anti-Israel friends and preachers. I do not forgive such willful callowness.
Nor do I make apologies for those American Jewish leaders, such as Marc Stanley of the National Democratic Jewish Council, who sought to minimize Obama's close personal ties to Jew haters, such as Rashid Khalidi, by touting all the good Hamas has provided to downtrodden Palestinians. Indeed, on Election Day, Stanley actually told conservative talk show host Gallagher that in Gaza, Hamas "is the United Way." (If I were the United Way, I'd sue for slander.)
I wish no forgiveness and make no apologies for the Marc Stanleys of our community. For them, I must draw deep upon my Jewish neshamah (breath) to feel anything but scorn.
No, it is on behalf of the 22 percent of American Jewry -- including myself -- who had the reasoned sense and maturity not to vote for the feel-good candidate, that I offer my humblest apologies to our non-Jewish countrymen.
We have not been good shepherds of our brothers and sisters. We have forgotten both our biblical and modern history -- wherein a minority of Jews has always been required to exercise true leadership. We failed to act soon enough and forcefully enough to prevent nearly four out of every five of our kin from wandering off in the political desert.
This column has generated quite a few Letters to the Editor
While the political pundits speak of this being the first post-baby boom American election, we should have measured the significance for Jewish people differently.
The Jews in the world today are in a transitional period. We are the conduit generations -- bridging the pre-Israel, pre-Holocaust world of our people with a future that will not be ours. Our role, the responsibility of our lifetimes, is to always act and behave on behalf of all who perished at the hands of evil and to be guardians for those still unborn who will inherit the fortune and folly of our deeds.
To our past and our future, I also apologize for our insufficient leadership.
For now, we must leave the Lost Tribes of Obama on their own. If their ears could not hear and their eyes could not see all the pre-election warnings that a President Obama may cost Israel its very survival, and in a domino effect destabilize the Western world and America, I have yet to discover the magic words that would wake them from their trance.
Instead, I believe the immediate focus and the tasks ahead must fall to those of us in the politically incorrect minority -- just 22 out of every 100 American Jewish voters.
What do we do now?
I don't yet know the answer. I do know that we can no longer count on sensibility to save the day. I do know that the people, countries and way of life we hold most dear are under serious assault, and we are summoned to disrupt the calmness of our pre-election lives to acknowledge as much. And I do know that we can't count on non-Jewish allegiance to have eternal patience.
This is no simple lost election where we lick our wounds and pledge to fight on for another day. On Nov. 4, the world, especially the Jewish world, was set on a new, frightening course, and we must soberly acknowledge as much.
A month before the election, Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, warned that not since Hitler's time has civilization teetered so perilously on the brink of catastrophe.
"So when you cast your ballot this election, make no mistake: You are voting for or against a nuclear holocaust," she wrote.
Nuclear holocaust won.
Dean Rotbart, a former columnist and news editor at The Wall Street Journal, is a Los Angeles-based publisher of media-related Internet sites. He can be reached at email@example.com.