Our friend Tevi Troy is under attack from Salon for a piece he recently wrote, which reacted to a report in the Jerusalem Post that the Obama White House is cutting back on the size of the White House Chanukah party — a party that President Bush started early in his presidency. Now far be it for this Catholic to wade into matters Judaic, but there are a couple of points that are worth making here. First, as to the White House’s response that it hasn’t done any such thing, Tevi was merely responding to a news report from another source, not breaking any news himself. But more importantly, Tevi was simply using the White House party to illustrate a broader point about this administration’s relationship with Israel. As he notes:
Over the past year, the Obama administration has given the Jewish community a number of reasons to fear that it takes its votes for granted. For instance, there is the administration’s pressure on the Israeli government over settlements. And many Jews are concerned with the selection of Mary Robinson — a leader of the Durban conference boycotted by both Israel and the United States for its anti-Israel bias — to win a Medal of Freedom. In addition, the administration attempted — but eventually backed away from — to put Israel critic Charles Freeman at the head of the National Intelligence Council.
In light of Obama’s first year in office, there are reasons that things that, as Tevi concedes, “may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things” get blown out of proportion, as evidenced by the Jerusalem Post’s coverage of this “controversy.” I think Tevi was doing nothing more than cautioning against tin-ear handling of the little things by this White House in light of its posture toward Israel in the big picture. He’s hardly starting a Holy War. Now, I invite Jonah to give the appropriate ecumenical response.