Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

In Holiday messages, Obama lectures Jews while praising Muslims

As has been typical throughout all the years that President Obama has been in office, his latest holiday message to Jews differs significantly from his holiday message to Muslims in troubling ways for the Jewish community.

In past years, President Obama’s Rosh Hashanah messages hardly mention the word “Jew” or “Judaism,” while his messages on Ramadan frequently mention the word “Islam” and “Muslim.” In addition, the president has never lectured Muslims on how to behave or urged them to repent for their sins. Yet Obama’s Rosh Hashanah messages frequently lecture Jews on numerous matters, including supporting a Palestinian state, and “repenting for our sins, helping those in need, believing in the power of humanity and compassion, repairing our world, helping those less fortunate, and embracing diversity.” On Passover, President Obama told Jews to “think today of freeing people who are not free” (apparently referring to Palestinian Arabs who in fact have full autonomy in Gaza and in almost half of Judea and Samaria that they control except for security). This is despite the fact that Israel has twice offered a state to the Palestinian Arabs, the Jewish community’s philanthropy is unmatched, and Jews have made major contributions to civil rights causes. 

Moreover, President Obama’s holiday messages to the Jewish people say nothing of their numerous and extraordinary contributions to the United States and the world in virtually every field of human endeavor. In contrast, his messages to Muslims on Ramadan are filled with compliments. He has proclaimed that “Islam has always been part of America and... American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.... Islam is part of the fabric of our nation—from public service to business, from healthcare and the arts to science... Muslim Americans help strengthen our country and enrich our lives...” In other Ramadan messages, President Obama has stated that “millions of Muslim Americans enrich our nation everyday—serving in our government, leading scientific breakthroughs, generating jobs and caring for our neighbors in need... Muslim Americans contribute to our country as entrepreneurs, activists and artists.” Obama has profusely praised “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings... a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.”

This troubling contrast in the President’s messages was again evident this month. Obama profusely praised the beauty of the Muslim holiday Eid-ul-Fitr, extolling its “festive gatherings, gift exchanges, and feasts among friends, neighbors and families. The diversity of traditions paint the vibrant images we see from around the world capturing the spirit and excitement of Eid—colorful dresses or white garments decorating the masses of people standing in lines for prayer, lanterns and ornaments lighting up bazaars and neighborhoods, intricate henna designs painted on hands of young girls and women, and an abundance of delectable foods and aromatic cuisines.” He added, “I had the opportunity to meet inspiring young Muslim Americans who are leading efforts for greater understanding and unity across diverse communities. Following the Iftar, one of the young attendees helped spearhead an effort that raised more than $75,000 for the churches burned in the wake of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.”

In contrast, in his latest Rosh Hashanah message, President Obama neglected to mention the generous help that Jews have given to the church, or the strong support from Jewish groups for rescuing Syrian refugees, or the enormous philanthropy of Jews in support of African American causes, including initiating and funding the NAACP and supporting African American colleges and the civil rights movement, as well as medical research, universities, the arts, etc. In fact, Jews give charity at ten times the rate of the typical American.

In the President’s shorter Rosh Hashanah message, he again lectured the Jewish people to repent, saying, “We are required to atone where we have fallen short. And to do whatever we can to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. And to love the stranger and treat him as we would want to be treated... These things are not easy... Peace is hard... Let’s write the next chapter in a way that speaks to the best of our traditions and the highest of our ideals.” (Again, this is another seeming reference to the Palestinian Arab issue.)

This Rosh Hashanah lecture would actually have been appropriate to deliver on Eid-ul-Fitr—to ask Muslims to accept a Jewish state, to urge them to stop inciting hate and violence against Jews and Israel, and to explain that Muslims degrading Jews and the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site—is not treating others as “we would want to be treated.” But such a lecture has never been delivered; over the years, while President Obama has repeatedly criticized the Jewish state and the Jewish prime minister, he has almost never criticized the Muslim leaders of the Palestinian Authority or Iran for their anti-tolerance, anti-peace, anti-U.S., or anti-Israel words and actions. 

In addition, President Obama missed an important opportunity in his Rosh Hashanah message to atone for his own sins. He should have apologized for using rhetoric during his recent push for acceptance of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which offended many in the Jewish community.

The dramatic difference in tone and substance between the President’s holiday messages to Jews and his holiday messages to Muslims strongly suggests that President Obama has far greater regard and respect for Muslims than he does for the Jewish community. We also worry that these holiday messages, as well as the President’s other actions, may reflect a coolness, or even hostility, toward the Jewish State.


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