The Corner

Obama and Jews

Over at Commentary’s site, Edward Alexander writes:

In his inaugural address President Obama jettisoned the long-established locution that embodies the generally-accepted notion of “the Judeo-Christian tradition.” That tradition, in America, mandates the phrase “Christians and Jews,” with Christians in first place for the good reason that the roots of this country and most of those who founded it are Christian. Obama, however, said on January 20 that “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims,” and then, after a slight pause, “Jews and Hindus,” another slight pause, “and unbelievers.” Later, in his Al-arabiya interview, he demoted the Jews still further, calling America a country of “Muslims, Christians, Jews.”

This seems a tad oversensitive.

Alexander continues by criticizing the president’s alleged “obsession with appeasing the forces of militant Islam through flattery and oily sycophancy, embodied in his now famous bow from the waist before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. His public utterances have been characterized by a hammering insistence on the need to ‘respect’ Islam.” Wise or unwise, appalling or not, Obama’s actions seem motivated by a desire to separate peaceful Muslims from militants rather than to appease the latter.

Then there’s this: “[Obama] also said, cryptically, that Islam had made great contributions to America — by which he meant not the massacres of 9/11 but the fact of his having had a Muslim father. Listening to him, a new arrival from Mars might well have gotten the impression that it is Muslims and not Jews who are the constant target of physical and verbal aggression throughout Europe.” Well yes, Obama’s use of himself as a symbol of the possibilities of American pluralism, while legitimate, constantly risks solipsism. But is it really offensive for a president to suggest that Muslims have contributed to our country–as I suspect any president would? I should hope not.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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