Jews all over the world this week celebrate Passover, remembering their long ago emancipation from Egypt. But one thing they may choose to forget is the Passover “message” offered this year by President Obama.
In it, Obama compared the Jews’ flight to freedom with the revolutions engulfing the Arab world this year.
The story of Passover – which recalls the passage of the children of Israel from bondage and repression to freedom and liberty – inspires hope that those oppressed and enslaved can become free, The Seder, with its rich traditions and rituals, instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and responsibility it entails.
This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.
This is an insult to the Jewish people. Most of the very Arabs seeking to overthrow their leaders would gladly pause in their work to partake in the destruction of Israel if offered the opportunity. They hate Israel, and many or most are enthusiastically anti-semitic. Obama has no business giving them a role in this cherished Jewish holiday.
Obama didn’t intend this as a slight, I’m sure. But it’s another example of how out of touch he can be. It’s insensitive to Jews, and it shows how little he understands the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The president, I’m sure, entirely misses the irony that one of the ways these threatened Arab regimes have stayed in power is to deflect the anger of ordinary Arab citizens away from themselves and onto Israel by stoking pro-Palestinian outrage. Or that the overthrow of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is a catastrophe for Israel, which had relied on him as a force for peace for 30 years. What follows Mubarak can only be worse – and possibly much worse – for both Israel and the United States.
I’m sure Obama views the Arab-Israeli conflict as a balanced argument and not what it is: the desire of Arabs who never accepted Israel’s existence to finally drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea after having failed numerous times to do so.
I know, this is all terribly insensitive and politically incorrect of me to say. But let’s look at some facts.
A 2010 Brookings Institute Arab public opinion poll asked the following question:
When you watch Israeli civilian casualties in the conflict with the Palestinians, which two of the following best describe your feelings?
“Israelis brought it upon themselves” was selected by 75 percent of the Arabs interviewed. “Revenge for the Palestinians” was chosen by 59 percent. “Empathy with the Israeli victimes was chosen by . . . three percent. “Angry with the Palestinians” by one percent.
How about the following question: “When you watch a movie or a program about the Jewish Holocaust, which of the following is closest to your feelings?
Well, fully 97 percent chose “Empathize with the Jews who suffered under the Nazis.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Well, it would make sense, if it were true. Sorry to mislead you. In actuality, the number of Arabs who said they empathize with the Jews who suffered under the Nazis was three percent.
Fifty nine percent chose “resent it as I feel it brings sympathy toward Israel and Jews at the expense of Palestinians and Arabs.” Twenty nine percent charitably selected the option, “I have mixed feelings.”
One of the nice things about doing this blog is that, in my research for it, I learn something new every day. For example, I WASN’T AWARE IT WAS POSSIBLE TO HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST.
Mr. President, please, in the future, leave the Arabs out of Jewish holiday greetings. Thanks.