Jewish Journal


January 15, 2008

Six degrees of separation: Obama and anti-Semitism


Barack Obama has courted Jews early and often in his rapid political ascendancy, even if he did falter a bit in May. But there have been some rumors circulating that Obama’s not the philo-Semite he seems to be, culminating in a Richard Cohen column in today’s Washington Post.

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama’s spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright’s daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said “truly epitomized greatness.” That man is Louis Farrakhan.

Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan “epitomized greatness.” For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler—“They helped him get the Third Reich on the road.” His history is a rancid stew of lies.

M.J. Rosenberg sees something more insidious at play here: Dirty politics.

the whispers about Obama go like this. “You know, Obama’s minister is a big Farrakhan supporter.” “He’s also Muslim, or half Muslim.” “He studied in a madrassa.” “And he’s very anti-Israel.”

No one knows if any campaign is behind these charges. According to the informative analysis and poll by Shmuel Rosner in Ha’aretz, the right-wing of the Jewish community does not like Obama and strongly favors Giuliani and Clinton because of their hardline stances on Israel.

But I don’t think any campaign is behind this round of swiftboating because it bears all the markings of the Jewish far right, the camp that cheered Rabin’s assassination. Nevertheless, the smears will have an effect, regardless of its origins. It will be felt on Super Tuesday when hundreds of thousands of Jews vote in New York, California, and elsewhere.

It’s pretty ugly and today columnist Richard Cohen is taking it mainstream. Check out his column in the Washington Post. He shares the story of Obama’s Farrakhan-admiring minister and sounds the alarms to Jews everywhere. He demands Obama repudiate the pastor. What idiocy! ...

Cohen should be ashamed. But, rest assured, none of the people involved in the race-baiting of Barack Obama are capable of it.

Considering the number of Jews involved in Obama’s campaign, from the most official level to the grassroots, it’s hard to believe he’s really a closet Jew hater.

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