When It Comes to Israel, Barack Obama’s Memoir Is Filled with Distortions

While Michael W. Schwartz finds much that is praiseworthy in the 44th president’s account of his first term in office, he considers Barack Obama’s treatment of the Jewish state to be “not just an inaccurate mess but an inaccurate mess of a very particular sort—a propagandistic mis-telling.” Schwartz writes that a reader coming to the book without prior knowledge would learn

that the roots of the Jewish state lie in a unilateral declaration by imperialist Great Britain issued while it was “occupying” “Palestine”; that the subsequent growth in the territory’s Jewish population was the result of “mobiliz[ation] by “Zionist leaders” who “organized highly trained armed forces” to protect their “settlements”; that the UN resolution calling for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in the territory was rejected by the Arabs because “they were just emerging from colonial rule”; that the resident Arabs were “driven from their lands” by the Jews; . . . and that the formation of the PLO [in 1964] was the “result” of Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel took control of the West Bank from the Jordanians.

Whence all this falsehood? Schwartz believes the most likely culprit to be the education Barack Obama received at Columbia University, and the influence of such prominent academics as Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi, who have done much to propagate the view that the Zionist project is inherently unjust:

What is most deeply disappointing about Obama’s parroting of the Said/Khalidi line in his memoir is not merely that it puts the prestige of a former U.S. president behind its distortions, but that it represents a huge missed opportunity to probe and question a false narrative—one that has caused untold violence and suffering. What might be called the lachrymose version of Palestinian history has left its adherents stuck in a world of grievance, envy, violence, and hatred. . . .

For all Obama’s interiority and self-questioning, he somehow couldn’t bring himself to apply that skeptical and self-challenging mindset to this particular subject. It is a perverse compliment to the power of this phony narrative that even a man committed to avoiding “truth decay,” and who has nothing more to achieve in his political life, could not put it under the magnifying glass, but mindlessly repeated it.

Read more at JNS

More about: Barack Obama, Edward Said, Israeli history, Rashid Khalidi


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University