Obama assures Orthodox Jewish delegation of his “fidelity” to Israel
Nathan Guttman reports in the Forward that President Obama received a copy of George Washington’s historic letter to the Jewish community from a delegation of Orthodox rabbis and communal leaders visiting the White House on Tuesday. In the letter sent in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, President Washington promises that the United States would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” The political message behind the delegation’s gift was no doubt not lost on the current president, as he eagerly sought to dispel perceptions of his alleged “persecution” of the Jewish state. Writes Guttman:
According to accounts provided by participants in the closed-door meeting with Orthodox leaders, Obama, just as he did a week earlier with the Conservative movement, gave an open and detailed account of his relations with Israel, an issue that has won him criticism especially in Orthodox circles.
To the small group attending the meeting, Obama said there should be no doubt about his “fidelity” to Israel, adding a request to understand that disagreements do not necessarily impact the friendship between the nations.
When asked what lesson he had learned from attempts to broker an Israeli–Palestinian accord, the President responded that his key takeaway is that “it’s really hard” and that trying to get the parties to agree entails great potential for misunderstanding. Obama attempted to dispel the notion that he had pressured Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu unfairly and said that his administration was, in fact, “more attentive” to Israel than to the Palestinians.
Perhaps some group such as the Council for the National Interest should consider giving Obama a copy of another historic Washington document — his farewell address, in which the first president warns that:
a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
The only problem is that they’d probably have to post it to the White House, as groups who fail to “devote themselves to the favorite nation” lack the access to the president — who reportedly only “dropped in on a meeting” the delegation was having with Obama’s Orthodox Jewish Chief of Staff Jacob Lew — afforded to those who do.
- Obama says Washington is ‘more attentive’ to Israelis than Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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