Sunday, June 06, 2010

Israel and the Golem: Is Obama the Anti-President?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/7/10

Any comments on Israel, Helen Thomas was asked?

“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”

The Israelis should go home, said Thomas. Where is home?

“Germany, Poland.”

The inevitable statement of regret followed on her personal web site. But the You Tube clip shows her speaking instinctively; an old woman speaking her truth; speaking from the heart.

Jews live elsewhere – presumably she means Jews, as Israelis, she says, are merely occupiers of Palestine – including America, but it is interesting that Thomas, the daughter of immigrants from Tripoli, called Germany and Poland the “home” for Israelis, as it was there that Jews were driven out, hunted down and pressed almost to extinction.

Thomas is the doyenne of the White House press corp, having covered every President since the Eisenhower administration. And the White House press corp is virtually a secondary branch of government representing the mainstream of America; this current lot, a secondary branch of the Obama administration. As the great editor S.S. McClure said of the best journalist ever, Ida Tarbell, when she speaks, she speaks for millions of Americans. It must be said that coming from such a mainstream reporter, that Thomas’s screed likewise suggests widespread anti-Semitism among mainstream Americans.

In my correspondence I have been discovering new joy and awakening in Israel these past two months. Ideas and optimism from new quarters which have not been reported in the mainstream press. But strangely enough, the rest of the world, like Thomas, appears to be turning against Israel. Possibly they see Obama as the Anti-President; a global god king; theirs, rather than ours. Do those who hate America here, there and everywhere, love Obama? Those who actively dislike us like France and the Nobel committee? Do those who hate Israel love Obama? My sense is that Jews are being blamed for 9/11. What started for Americans on 9/11 isn’t over. We have complex responsibilities ahead, starting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Obama we hoped they would go away. Now, with Thomas, we are hoping that if the Jews would just go away our problems with Islamic terrorists would likewise go away. They won’t.

Immigrant families like Thomas’, like mine, face an existential situation when they get to America. There is no turning back. There is no place back to go to, because by leaving Ireland and Lebanon, we changed those places forever. We have no home other than America. Not so with Jews who have come to New York since war’s end. They face a choice, and as I’ve heard it in discussion with an orthodox baker in Jerusalem recently, the choice is, which is the path to God and which is the path of Golem? Jerusalem or New York?

Back in the 1980s, every day on page two in the New York Times city edition, came a warning from the orthodox Lubavitcher, bearded Russian Jews who travelled the streets in yellow school buses: Jews had to decide to go inward to Israel, or outward to America and the west.

Which was the path to God? Which to Golem?

I am finding that my Israeli correspondents, who support Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), the movement to advance Israel as a Jewish state instead of a “state for Jews,” that the question today is more relevant than ever. These Israelis are turning away from globalization and away from the Americanization of Israel. The world model is a generic model. They cannot survive that way. They cannot be happy or true that way. They can’t be Jews that way.