I went to undergrad with Ben Shapiro, though my only dealings with him were listening to friends complain that his observations were overblown and his conservatism too caustic for even the tolerance crowd. He was a small-scale prodigy, entering UCLA at 16 and then attending Harvard Law School, but he was also an ideologue and a bit of a demagogue—which has served him well as a young, brash conservative pundit. While a student at UCLA, Shapiro penned a book on the liberal academic establishment—a preferred whipping boy of the right—though it was riddled with factual errors.
Oh well. The facts aren’t really of much concern to conservative columnists, or their counterparts on the left. And Shapiro has done pretty well for himself. In his latest column for Creators Syndicate, Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew and product of Los Angeles’ very own YULA, offers a jeremiad about how “Barack Obama is the most dangerous candidate for the State of Israel since its creation in 1948.”
Shapiro hammers at Obama’s weakness: a brief record of supporting Israel based more on words than deeds. But he veers into all the standard guilt-by-association maligning of Obama’s “friends”—one of the attacks that led Obama’s campaign to suspend debates with the Republican Jewish Coalition—and claims that Obama does not care about Israel.
“Any American Jew who votes for Obama ought to be ashamed of him or herself,” Shapiro writes, continuing:
Obama himself has demonstrated his ambivalence about Israel. Before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in July 2008, he stated that he supported an undivided Jerusalem. After pressure from Palestinians, he backtracked within 24 hours. He also declares that he will meet the leaders of Iran without preconditions, despite the fact that Iran wishes to turn Israel into radioactive wasteland.
Barack Obama is no friend to American Jews. I challenge Professor Dershowitz to a debate, any time, any place, on that question. I would challenge Sarah Silverman as well, but she will undoubtedly ignore the challenge.
Most of all, I challenge American Jews to hear the true facts about Obama before voting. In Barack Obama, they find a Democrat in the mold of Jimmy Carter, not Harry Truman. Jews — and Americans more broadly — cannot afford another Jimmy Carter.
To be clear, I’ve got nothing against Shapiro and even feel a little guilty calling him “a bit of a demagogue,” but I find this type of fear mongering so insulting and, worst of all, unhealthy. Political leanings aside, this is not the nourishment of democracy but the spoiled fruit of a divided country and Jewish community, which I wrote in this week’s Jewish Journal cover.
The complete column can be read here. After the jump is Shapiro’s accompanying video for the “Jewish Case Against Barack Obama”: