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Barack Obama—Friend of Jews, Scholar of Judaism

1:28 PM, May 30, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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From Haaretz:

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Obama and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew met about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders. ...

"I not going to tell you again how I even feel about Israel, but why [are] we still talking about it," Obama said, reminding his guests that all his friends in Chicago were Jewish - and at the beginning of his political career he was accused of  being a puppet of the Israel lobby. ...

Obama also stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it - and wondered how come no one asks Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner or Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel [sic] about their support to Israel." 

Amazing.

Three comments:

1. The reason no one asks John Boehner or Mitch McConnell about their support for Israel is ... because they really do support Israel. The reason people ask Barack Obama about his support for Israel is because his support for Israel has been equivocal.

2. It's truly pathetic that Obama has to reach for the tired (to say the least) trope that some of his best friends were Jewish. Actually, one wishes more of his best friends were pro-Israel Christians. They might have had more luck convincing him, a fellow Christian, that he should be pro-Israel.

3. And the claim that Obama knows more about Judaism than any president? His vanity boggles the mind. One could begin by citing Adams and Madison, who knew Hebrew, or Harry Truman, who knew Jewish history ... but it's silly to dignify this claim with a rebuttal. In thinking about the presidents since Truman, though, I'd guess the president who knew the most about Judaism was Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school and had a deep interest in religion. So let's stipulate that of the modern presidents, Carter and Obama "know" the most about Judaism. But what is it they know? In Obama's case, one could ask whether what he “knows” is what he learned from Rashid Khalidi and Jeremiah Wright.

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