by Annika Hernroth-Rothstein
If you believe that Jews not only run the world but also are the devil incarnate, it is perfectly rational to use whatever powers and weapons you have at your disposal to try and wipe them off the face of the earth.
This past week was dominated by U.S. President Barack Obama's apparent outreach to us, the Jews -- first, in the now infamous Jeffrey Goldberg interview in The Atlantic, and later in the week, in Obama's address to Washington's Adas Israel Congregation on Iran, Israel and his relationship to the Jewish people.
The Atlantic piece was referred to as "The Middle East Interview," but whatever he said about the Gulf states or minor "setbacks" (his word, not mine) in regard to the Islamic State group was not half as enlightening as his thoughts on anti-Semitism, the Iran deal and how it relates to Israel. When asked whether Iran's open and aggressive anti-Semitism worries him in regard to a nuclear agreement, Obama had the following to say:
"Well, the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn't preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn't preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn't preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn't mean that this overrides all of his other considerations."
Many things about this statement are highly objectionable, but one main point jumps out at first glance -- the fact that Obama seems to misunderstand the nature of the anti-Semitic worldview. If you believe that Jews not only run the world but also are the devil incarnate, it is perfectly rational to use whatever powers and weapons you have at your disposal to try and wipe them off the face of the earth. Using nuclear weapons to kill Jews is not irrational to the Iranian regime; it is at the very core of their logic, and this deal is presenting them with a strategy no one can argue with. To put it plainly, if Iran in fact understood that anti-Semitism was irrational, they would not be anti-Semites.
Anti-Semitism is not about finding Jews annoying, nor is it a superficial flaw. It is an ideology and a plague. The American president is either unable to understand the difference between views and beliefs, or he is fully aware and is making a judgment call based on what he sees as a historical injustice. He is righting perceived wrongs by making Iran the de facto arbitrator and police of the Middle East, thus making Israel and the Jewish people into collateral damage.
Whether it is ignorance or malice or both, Obama is now making an effort to set up this geopolitical shift as a moral choice, rather than one based in chilling amounts of realpolitik. During his speech at Adas Israel, Obama pointed to the Jews as a people bearing a particular burden of ethical responsibility. Without shame or irony, he told us that he has "high expectations" for Israel, and that the idea of tikkun olam (repairing the world) somehow obligates us to roll over -- even if that motion eventually puts us in a pit. No word on how far Iran has to go, or why he chose to bring them in from the cold while leaving the rest of us with frostbite.
If I were to interpret this president's words in the most generous way possible, I would say he is dangerously ignorant about the world he is attempting to change and is applying a Western mentality to an Eastern problem. But what seems more likely is that he has decided to remodel the Middle East and is telling the world in general and the Jews in particular that his vision will come to pass, come hell or high water, and we may as well relax and let it happen.
These past years have been the darkest in Jewish history since World War II, and I find it deeply disturbing that the leader of the free world is not only choosing to side with an openly anti-Semitic regime against the Jewish state, but also has the chutzpah to tell the Jews that Jewish morality obliges us to take it on the chin.
"It's my name on this." Those are the words Obama used to describe the Iran deal. He said this as if to demonstrate that he can be trusted, that he is in it with us, just as hesitantly and just as warily. Those were comforting words to Goldberg, and they would be to me if I did not begin to understand what this president hopes to leave as a legacy. It's not a new deal -- it's a new world, but with an old and familiar scapegoat.
Annika Hernroth-Rothstein is a political adviser, activist and writer on the Middle East, religious affairs and global anti-Semitism.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.