A new collection of essays argues that the early rabbis succeeded by offering ordinary Jews the opportunity to be spiritual without renouncing a worldly way of life.
Holiness without Asceticism
The President Confronts Jewish Leaders with More Disingenuousness
On Friday, Barack Obama held a live webcast with a group of Jewish communal leaders. The purported aim was to assuage concerns about the deal with Iran, but Jonathan Tobin sees in the president’s remarks only more of the usual attacks on opponents, refusal to recognize opposing arguments, and “unmatched . . . ḥutzpah”:
[T]he real problem remains the disingenuous spin [President Obama] uses to defend a deal that fails to achieve the objective that he set for the negotiations when they began: to end the nuclear threat from Iran. He claims to be only arguing from facts, but at the core of his spin are two indefensible notions: a dismissal of the concerns of Israel and its friends as being “visceral,” [as opposed to] his supposedly rational stance, and a refusal to acknowledge that Iran is not planning to change and that the deal doesn’t give the U.S. the ability to do much to stop it from getting a bomb when it expires. . . .
[A]lthough the ostensible purpose of the webcast was to soothe relations with an angry and divided Jewish community, Obama stuck to his talking points and refused to acknowledge that he is even partially responsible for injecting a toxic tone into the debate while delegitimizing his critics. . . .
The president’s trademark sophistry was on display when in one sentence he claimed he had never called anyone a warmonger but then in the next went on to claim falsely that the only alternative to his policies is war. Though he claims that he only argues from logic, his dismissal of the claim that tougher sanctions had the potential to get a better deal was completely illogical. After all, Obama opposed the sanctions that brought Iran to the table. Just as the world was forced, reluctantly, to follow the U.S. on the issue before, it could [be forced to] do so again.