Barack Obama is personally hurt when people call him an anti-Semite, the president said in an interview with the Jewish newspaper the Forward. Obama says "there not a smidgen of evidence for" the accusation.
The editor of the Forward asked the president, "[D]oes it hurt you personally when people say that you’re anti-Semitic?"
"Oh, of course. And there’s not a smidgen of evidence for it, other than the fact that there have been times where I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue. And I’ve said before, and I will continue to say, that if you care deeply about Israel, then you have an obligation to be honest about what you think, the same way you would with any friend. And we don’t do anybody, any friend, a service by just rubber-stamping whatever decisions they make, even if we think that they’re damaging in some fashion," the president said.
"And the good news is that the people I’m close to, the people who know me, including people who disagree with me on this issue, would never even think about making those statements. I get probably more offended when I hear members of my administration who themselves are Jewish being attacked. You saw this historically sometimes in the African American community, where there’s a difference on policy and somebody starts talking about, well, you’re not black enough, or you’re selling out. And that, I think, is always a dangerous place to go.
"These are hard issues, and worthy of serious debate. But you don’t win the debate by suggesting that the other person has bad motives. That’s I think not just consistent with fair play; I think it’s consistent with the best of the Jewish tradition."
Although neither the White House nor the State Department released statements or posted greetings on the 67th Independence Day of the nation of Israel last Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden did attend the annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration at the Andrew W.
This morning at 10:00 a.m., in Israel, all activity came to a halt as sirens sounded, and Israelis stood for two minutes with heads bowed in memory of the 6 million Jews, one third of the Jewish people, who perished in the Holocaust. Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here are excerpts from his remarks:
As America prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death on April 15, fresh insight into the events that occurred a century and a half ago can be gleaned by seeing that entire week through the eyes of America’s Jews, and especially of those Jews who attended America’s oldest and most historically distinguished congregation.
Mark Strand died today at the age of 80. The Montreal-born writer, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1990-1991, was also a brilliant translator. When I was a junior editor at Ecco Press in the late 80s, Strand used to visit the editor in chief, also an excellent poet, Daniel Halpern, to work on a number of projects translating and promoting international poets, especially from Latin America and Central Europe.
Here, in the parlance of the times, is a “pro-tip.” When attempting to rebut the notion that anti-Semitism in Europe is largely a problem caused by young Muslim men, don’t cite two horrific anti-Semitic atrocities perpetrated by . . . young Muslim men.
Our friends at the admirable Italian newspaper, il Foglio, have announced a rally in front of their headquarters in Rome Wednesday night. The rally has two goals: First, to support the right of Israel to defend itself -- something that will be a useful challenge and rebuke to the anti-Israel rallies elsewhere in Europe. And second, to increase awareness of the persecution of Christians in Iraq and beyond. As a friend involved in organizing the rally put it in his email, "both the threats to Israel and to the Christians come from the same radical ideology."
Yesterday, on the last day of Passover, protesters surrounded the doors of Zabar’s—the iconic Upper West Side grocer famous for its knishes and lox—to demand the store stop selling the carbonated beverage maker SodaStream. The roughly 40 protesters, carrying guitars and signs decrying “Apartheid Soda,” represented a coalition of volunteers from Adalah-NY (meaning “justice” in Arabic), Jewish Voice for Peace, and m