There was a time when European Jews used to flock to the lands of this "one" to seek protection. Today, some of their descendants are actively involved in drumming up venom and hatred toward any person deemed to have even the most tenuous link to "one".
Under the heading "But did you know he's a Muslim?", Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston talks about the resistance Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama is having in Jewish circles both in the United States and Israel.
Some cynics would argue: "Well, what do you expect? Those blasted Moslems are blowing themselves up in cafes in Tel Aviv and in Yeshivas in Jerusalem".
Yep, just like some Muslims tell me: "Irfan, why do you bother with them Jews? After all, they are the ones spreading hatred and venom against us through their columnists and think tanks and lobbyists".
But should I presume that all Jews are as hate-filled as Daniel Pipes or "Mad Mel" Phillips? Or that all Jewish organisations would sponsor and promote speaking and lecturing tours by Raphael Israeli?
Where do I find the Muslimphobia in George Soros? Or in Sven Alkalaj?
Not all Jews hate or despise or even resent Muslims, nor vice versa. But the Obama effort to secure the Democratic nominee is exposing some really ugly shades of opinion within Jewish circles that were not as apparent or widespread during Congressman Keith Ellison's entry to Congress.
Returning to Burston's column. He begins with Mel Levine, a former Board member of the hawkish American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as well as Middle Eastern adviser to Al Gore and John Kerry. he is now a key foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. And whether in the US or East Jerusalem, Levine must put up with a "viral rumor campaign" about Obama allegedly being in some way a Muslim. Here's how Levine puts it to Burston ...
A couple of Israelis I've spoken with - very smart, well-educated, thoughtful Israelis - told me that yesterday. I was a little taken aback, but why should I be surprised, when Americans tell me that all the time?Levine claims that the venom directed toward Obama is unprecedented. Writes and quotes Burston ...
... [Levine] has never seen the likes of the ongoing mass e-mail campaigns, which have leveled a succession of allegations against Obama, branding the senator a secret anti-Semite, a closet Muslim who took his official oath of office with his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible, and a disciple of fiery Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, further alleging that several of Obama's Mideast policy advisors are pro-Palestinian haters of Israel.So Obama might have ties to Islam. So his father and step-father may have been Muslim. So Obama may have attended a school in Indonesia and may have even entered a mosque. What should we make of this? That he is a Jew-hating extremist moron that will enter the White House wearing a suicide vest?
"I've been involved in politics for quite a long time, and I've never quite seen anything like this before," Levine says of the e-mail campaigns. "It's offensive to me, particularly as a Jew who cares very deeply about Israel and bipartisan American support for Israel, because the e-mails are filled with lies, innuendos, distortions and misrepresentations about someone who has been, and is, an extremely good friend of Israel, a strong supporter of Israel, a good friend of the Jewish community, and someone who has been a leader in helping to repair black-Jewish relations in the United States in a courageous way."
E-mails portraying Obama as bad for the Jews appeared in great numbers ahead of hard-fought primaries in states with significant Jewish populations, such as California, New York and Ohio.
The Obama camp has worked intensively to counter e-mails hinting at or "proving" the Democratic senator's ties to Islam, among them the photo of a turban-clad Obama and a Fox News video clip of radio talk show host Bill Cunningham saying, "His parents called him Barack Hussein Obama, not me."
Hardly 100 years after the Dreyfus trials, we are seeing the similar strains of innuendo being thrown around. I'm no fan of Obama or MacCain or Clinton any any other Presidential hopeful. But this kind of nonsensical ethno-religious lunacy is poisoning American politics. It also isn't doing alot for Jewish-Muslim relations.
Then again, some Jews are as disinterested in such relations as some Muslims.
Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf
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