Obama’s White House: Where Jew-baiting is the new norm

Tablet Magazine is not exactly a bastion of conservative thought among Jewish American publications. In fact, the editors didn’t appear impressed with Senator Chuck Schumer’s decision to oppose the deal with Iran that Barack Obama and John Kerry insist that Congress refrain from rejecting, calling it “calculations” geared toward Schumer’s “self-interest.” But they have been even less impressed with the rhetoric coming from the White House and the Left in demanding support for the deal, calling it “Jew-baiting” and worse. The editors blasted Obama for using the kind of rhetoric they would expect from white supremacists, not a President with a good case for supporting an agreement with Iran:

What we increasingly can’t stomach—and feel obliged to speak out about right now—is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple. Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or ofselling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.

This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.

We do not accept the idea that Senator Schumer or anyone else is a fair target for racist incitement, anymore than we accept the idea that the basic norms of political discourse in this country do not apply to Jews. Whatever one feels about the merits of the Iran deal, sales techniques that call into question the patriotism of American Jews are examples of bigotry—no matter who does it. On this question, we should all stand in defense of Senator Schumer.

It’s a big contrast with Schumer’s own argument, writes David Adesnik at the Weekly Standard. Schumer probably didn’t win many brownie points with his extensive thoughts on opposing the deal, but it comes across as “courtly,” Adesnik says, especially in comparison to the White House’s rhetoric:

If Schumer’s goal were to lose the fewest friends possible, he could have provided a tepid rationale for his position that did not lend so much credibility to the arguments made by the deal’s opponents. But Schumer also makes his arguments in a thoughtful, even courtly manner– in sharp contrast to President Obama, who insisted in a mean-spirited address on Thursday that the merits of the deal are so obvious that one should dismiss any criticism as “knee-jerk partisanship” or mercenary opposition bought and paid for by wealthy donors.

Almost from the moment John Kerry returned from Geneva, the Obama administration has tried to steamroll this agreement through Congress by bluster and bullying rather than any sort of nuanced explanation of the purported benefits from the deal. That is certainly one indicator that the deal doesn’t have any to extol, other than the fact that Obama and Kerry agreed to it.  Instead, Obama has worked himself up into a bona-fide hysteric by insisting that this is the only path to avoid war, and that any opposition is tantamount to treason.

One has to wonder whether this will backfire in the end. Schumer’s position has undoubted influence on Democrats on Capitol Hill, but had the White House just stood pat and let him vent, it probably would have dissipated. By attacking him and others with such vehemence, it exposes a deep insecurity in their position, and it makes one wonder whether Obama might just lose this vote after all. Those disgusted by the Left’s easy resort to anti-Semitic tropes certainly can wonder about whether this deal might be designed to leave Israel in the lurch against Iran.

Update: Jeff Dunetz wrote more about this yesterday, with more examples.