Here is a CNN clip that reports on President Obama celebrating Passover 2009 in the White House. I vaguely remembered seeing it at the time, and found myself reminded of it by Professor Glenn Reynold’s latest controversial blog post. “Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews,” he writes. “That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.”
Other bloggers are criticizing Professor Reynolds for intemperance. But I think the objectionable thing here is the obvious factual inaccuracy. There are lots of actions President Obama has taken that suggest that he doesn’t hate Israel and Jews. Being the first president to host a passover Seder in the White House is one action that “suggests otherwise.”
Or consider candidate Obama’s 2007 speech to AIPAC:
Our job is to never forget that the threat of violence is real. Our job is to renew the United States’ efforts to help Israel achieve peace with
its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this vision. Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region.
That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel: our strongest ally in the region and its only established
democracy. That will always be my starting point. And when we see all of the growing threats in the region: from Iran to Iraq to the resurgence of al-Qaeda to the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah, that loyalty and that friendship will guide me as we begin to lay the stones that will build the road that takes us from the current instability to lasting peace and security.
A speech before a pro-Israel group that asserts loyalty to Israel and friendship with Israel — that suggests President Obama doesn’t hate the country. Of course, we needn’t go all the way back to 2007. Last week, President Obama described recent disagreements with Israeli leaders as follows: “Friends are going to disagree sometimes.”
Surely having seen just the evidence in this post, Professor Reynolds can at least acknowledge that some things in President Obama’s actions suggest that he doesn’t hate Israel.
So will he publish a correction?
In closing, it is worth a look at Professor Reynold’s entire original post:
WHY HAS BARACK OBAMA TREATED NETANYAHU SO RUDELY? “Obama would never treat the president of Equatorial Guinea that way.”
Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews. That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.
But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.
It is possible, given the way this post is written, that Professor Reynolds didn’t make a factual mistake — that he never actually believed that President Obama has never done anything to suggest he doesn’t hate Jews and Israel, but that he used that rhetoric in a post anyway because he decided to privilege the pithiness of his rhetoric, even at the expense of accuracy.