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'Obama ... Stressed He Probably Knows About Judaism More than Any Other President'

"[A]ll his friends in Chicago were Jewish."

12:36 PM, May 30, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama met yesterday with "about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders, thanking them for the work they do to improve communities around the country and discussed their shared commitment to rebuilding the U.S. economy," Haaretz reports.

Obama in Cairo

In the meeting, Obama reportedly boasted about his knowledge of Judaism, telling the leaders that he thinks he knows more "about Judaism" than all past presidents. He said he gained this knowledge of Judaism from reading.

"Obama ... stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it," Haaretz reports. "[He] 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."

Similarly, he said to the group, "I [am] not going to tell you again how I even feel about Israel, but why [are] we still talking about it?"

He then suggested that he should not be questioned about his commitment to the Jewish state because "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," Haaretz reports.

According to Ynet's account of the meeting, President Obama insisted that the perception that he's not a friend of Israel is the work of Republican bigotry:

During the meeting, Obama told the rabbis that when he was running for Senate some accused him of being the Jewish lobby's "puppet" because of his many Jewish associates in Chicago. Now, he said, the Republicans are trying to portray him as not being supportive of Israel by stressing the fact that his father was Muslim and he has a Muslim name, as well as by claiming that he had been overly aggressive in pushing Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu to promote the peace process with the Palestinians.

White House chief of staff Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, also attended yesterday's White House meeting.

NOTE: Bill Kristol responds here: "Barack Obama—Friend of Jews, Scholar of Judaism."

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