Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Compare and Contrast: Obama and Cruz

What is the meaning of Chanukah? We know that Jeremiah Wright’s protégé chose to mark the first night of the Jewish holiday by calling for an orgy of Islamophilia. And we are not surprised to know that he wants more and more Muslims to immigrate to the country.

The problem is: all cultures are not created equal. We must note that large numbers of Muslims are anti-Semites. One understands that Wright’s protégé would want them to come to America, but what excuse do Jewish leaders have?

Statistically, the truth is clear. David French reports in the National Review:

… the most broadly held hatred in the Islamic world, is anti-Semitism, with staggering numbers of Muslims expressing anti-Jewish views. In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League released the results of polling 53,100 people in 102 countries for evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs. The numbers from the majority-Muslim world are difficult to believe for those steeped in politically correct rhetoric about Islam. A full 74 percent of North African and Middle Eastern residents registered anti-Semitic beliefs, including 92 percent of Iraqis, a whopping 69 percent of relatively secular Turks, and 74 percent of Saudis.

Don’t let that stop you from thinking that Islam is a religion of peace.

Anyway, American presidents are obliged to issue proclamations on important religious holidays. So, Jeremiah Wright’s protégé was obliged to issue one for Chanukah. One notes with some chagrin that out president issues proclamations for Earth Day and for Ramadan, but not for Easter.

Now, Ted Cruz and his wife also issued a state of their own. Which of the two showed the most respect for Judaism? And that is not a trick question. If you know which leader showed the most respect, ask yourself which one Jews are likely to vote for.

Writing in the Washington Post Prof. David Bernstein compared and contrasted the two. The results were fascinating and indicative.

Obama wrote:

Tonight, Jews in America, Israel, and around the world come together to light the first candle of the Festival of Lights. At its heart, Hanukkah is about the struggle for justice in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

Cruz offered this:

Today Heidi and I wish the Jewish Community a very Happy Chanukah. On this holiday, we remember the miracle that enabled a freedom-loving people – led by the heroic Maccabees – to defeat the oppressive dictator Antiochus so that they could once again freely worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For the eight days of Chanukah, the Jewish people commemorate their liberation from oppression and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. As the Talmud teaches, God delivered ‘many into the hands of the few, strong into the hands of the weak, and evildoers into the hands of the righteous.'

Note that Obama did not wish anyone a Happy Chanukah. He preferred to see the holiday in terms of what he believes in, what Bernstein calls a universalist struggle for justice. He has no sense of the specific difficulties facing Jews in the world and especially in Israel today.

For his part Cruz emphasized the fact that the holiday commemorates the Jewish people’s gaining the right to worship when faced with “an oppressive dictatorship.”

As Obama continues, he drops the Jews out of the equation:

It’s a chance to reflect on the triumph of liberty over tyranny, the rejection of persecution, and on the miracles that can happen even in our darkest hours. It renews our commitment as Americans – as people who live by faith and conscience – to lead the way and act as unyielding advocates for the fundamental dignity of every human being.

Again, more universalist claptrap. Or else, Obama is saying that it's not about the Jews, it's about him. In contrast, Cruz identified the rising tide of anti-Semitism, in America and around the world. It all seems strangely suited to the Age of Obama:

Today, the Jewish people, together with freedom-loving people around the world, once again find their religious faith and liberty under attack from radical forces of oppression and intolerance. Whether it is the BDS movement on college campuses, anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, or radical Islamic terror in Israel and around the world, we need modern-day Maccabees to stand together and push back against the forces of evil. As a nation founded by a people seeking religious liberty, America stands with the Jewish people both at home and abroad in protecting the light of faith and liberty.

When he does mention the Maccabees, Wright’s protégé sees their struggle as part of the narrative of rebellion against oppression:

 As we recall the Maccabees’ struggle to free a people from oppression, let us rededicate ourselves to being the engine of the miracles we seek.

Bernstein notes that Wright’s protégé does not even mention which people the Maccabees wanted to free from oppression. He adds that Obama’s words are:

… the sort of vague, and vaguely agnostic, and universalistic Sunday school platitudes one might find in theologically liberal congregations around the country….

Cruz presented the story differently:

The victory of the people of Israel is a testament to God’s providence. On these nights when Jewish families around the country and the world celebrate with latkes, lighting the menorah, and playing dreidel, Heidi and I join with you to recognize, ‘Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,’ a great miracle happened there.

Bernstein explicates the meaning of the text:

Cruz’s Chanukah is both a specifically Jewish celebration and a “testament to God’s providence,” to which Cruz, evoking Ronald Reagan, also attributes the wonders of the United States.

Bernstein concludes that each man is addressing the segment of the Jewish community most likely to support his politics:

For Obama, it’s the culturally Jewish, universalist, theologically liberal or atheistic Jews who see in Judaism primarily a call to pursue “social justice,” and who often believe that Jews, as “white people,” don’t come within modern liberalism’s concern for marginalized groups.

For Cruz, it’s the religiously Jewish, theologically more conservative Jews, along with Jews who think that the Jewish position in the world is hardly so secure that they can ignore the fate of the Jewish people in favor of a purely universalistic ethic.


Ares Olympus said...

First, a couple typos?
Paragraph 3 (-clear): Statistically, the truth is clear clear.
Paragraph 6 (out --> our?): One notes with some chagrin that out president issues proclamations for Earth Day and for Ramadan, but not for Easter.

And on:
Stuart: ... Which of the two showed the most respect for Judaism?

My question doesn't start with a need for "respect": Which of the two is campaigning for attention and votes? I know it's unfair to judge a person's motives when they want something from you, but at least for Cruz, and you can assume he's trying harder.

Both Obama and Cruz, by their status as lawyers, we can assume they're both reasonably intelligent, but did they really write these themselves? It would be interesting to also know who wrote both of their public statements. It would make sense of Obama's speech writer was a liberal Jew, and Cruz's statement writer was a conservative Jew.

And if both speeches were written by Jews, it makes me wonder how they might compare notes and see what common ground they share. Do the left and right Jews have anything in common any more? Ideally you'd want to see Chanukah/Hanukkah as an opportunity to bring all Jews together, on common ground of heritage, rather than a preaching to partisan choirs, if that's what they are indeed doing.

And ideally they wouldn't be trying to make those bridges through Christian proxies, but maybe that's the only connection left and right Jews have now-a-days? That would be sad. I admit I don't know.

Someday we'll have a Jewish President I'm sure. For now all we have is Bernie Sanders on the social justice side of the fence. I wonder why?

And myself, I think Cruz is at least as hopeless to imagine as a nonpartisan leader as Sanders. They both only know how to preach to their respective minorities, and they can give their long winded speeches in the Senate, but no one believes they would be able to reach across any aisle for bipartisanship. They can't even make sufficient friends on their own sides to pass anything but wind.

My other Jewish choice for future president would be Minnesota's Al Franken, but another liberal. It does look like Left/democrat Jews are more politically ambitious (or successful) than right-leaning Jews, assuming party purity:

Hurray! I see one young one from New York!

Anonymous said...

Typos? AO, you are a true jackass.

Ares Olympus said...

Anonymous 10:03 AM: Typos? AO, you are a true jackass.

Thanks for your concern over my failed wisdom. Sensitivity to simple errors is a choice. I can be sensitive too sometimes, but a blog is "forever" so worth correcting I think. (I recall one old college math teacher used to give a silver dollar for every new error found in his text book. I was too proud back then but I'd tell other students to call them out.)

I see Stuart has an email listed,, so if I used that there'd no less need for name-calling.

While I'm here, I'll share a few Lee Zeldin video I found, from our new first GOP Jew in congress. I see we can all be glad that Israel's interests are now represented by a forceful advocate. Congressman Lee Zeldin on Israel Rep. Lee Zeldin Speaks on House Floor re: Effort to Defeat ISIS (6/17/15) CPAC 2014 - NY State Senator Lee Zeldin (NY-3)

Maybe he can also advocates to help Obama's agenda to get Congress to declare war on ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh?

And I while I see he doesn't have any statements about Chanukah on his website, but here's an opinion on Obama's speech.
... ISIS must be wiped off the face of the earth. The liberals in government and in the media just absolutely refuse to get to the heart of that reality and confront it head on. Their losing approach is the greatest victory that this terror group has achieved thus far in America. The President and his minions in Congress want to talk about anything else at all.

Radical Islamic extremism must be destroyed. Right now we do not have a plan to win. We are running in place at best. This isn't about trying to take out some of the bad guys and disrupting some of their command and control. This is about annihilating the threat.

If we want to pursue related domestic priorities, it should start by fixing our visa waiver program and stopping the influx of Syrian refugees. That may not sound PC, but this is about securing our country, not winning the hearts and minds of the most out of touch bleeding heart liberal in our country.

As far as our strategy overseas, another disappointing game being played is telling the American people that there will be no boots on the ground while placing boots on the ground at the same exact time. This shouldn't be about what rhetoric best serves domestic politics. This should be about which actions best serve our national security. Set up our troops to win or do not send them at all. Give their commanders the flexibility and resources to accomplish the mission. Don't limit the rules of engagement to tie their hands behind their back. We can and must win this effort. It's time to turn this around.”

It sounds like he's following Iran's rherorical lead, (i.e. wiping people off the map) and I have to assume he's more literal (world is real thing) than figurative here (maps are abstractions).

So he wants us to declare war, but first we need a plan how to win.

Obama said he's ready for opinions, although he's also sort of stubborn about avoiding another Iraq war, so its going to take some serious bipartisan convincing.

What we do know is wars are usually good patriotic times where people rally behind the president, which is bad for electing the opposition, so clever republicans will have to wait until 2017 before they declare war. D'oh!

Anonymous said...

I was a military speechwriter for 20-odd years. During most, History & Tradition & Respectful Honor for former heroes and great leaders was coin of the realm.

We stand on their shoulders, we follow their example, take confidence from their achievements, express gratitude for what they bequeathed to us.

A few years before I retired, things changed. Speeches had to be Numbers, Bottom Lines, New Initiatives, Jargon, Tech, Procurement, "dollars" - and the wonderfulness of the Speaker.

A Flag Officer's Aide came to my office. "NO MORE HISTORY! None." In Flag offices, books by tycoons and get-rich-quick replaced History, Biography, Strategy.

I was told my Memorial Day Speech "is too depressing". Jeepers. It's the day we honor those who died for us!!! Usually given in Cemeteries.

My last MD speech was trashed, in the garbage. Replaced by something from a Pentagon LT. One para about dead yadda yadda. The rest - see above.

I was replaced by a guy who Cut & Pasted from the Web. They liked it.

So it's not a new thing. I got out just in time. -- Rich Lara

Sam L. said...

Yes, Rich, they seem to have ordered "Full Left Rudder, Bos'n" and the bos'n answered "Aye, Aye (sotto voce, This is dumb, ignorant, stupid, and insane.), Cap'n!"

Anonymous said...

Rumsfeld was a major player in the New Order. He interrogated every US officer up for a star. My info was he bullied, intimidated, and brainwashed them into Yes Men.

A retired officer had first hand knowledge. He said, "Be prepared to place your stars on his desk if he traduces your Fundamental Ethics".

Far as I know, nobody did.

If I had remained much longer, my own Ethics would have been damaged. I resolved to NOT allow that to happen. -- Rich Lara