On December 16, President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Union for Reform Judaism, the national umbrella for America’s largest liberal Jewish denomination. Obama’s speech was a naked appeal for campaign donations and re-election votes, with the standard cant about America’s “unshakeable” bond with Israel and the requisite omission of any mention of the Palestinian un-people. Obama also took time to praise the liberal legacy of American Jews, telling his audience, “You helped draft the civil rights act and the voting rights act, you helped liberate Soviet Jews. Without these efforts I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Obama was introduced with warm praise by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the outgoing president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and arguably the most prominent Reform Jew in the United States. Yoffie is a major Obama campaign surrogate, whose endorsement is featured on a pro-Obama website created by the liberal Zionist Israel lobbying group, J Street.
While Yoffie proclaimed during his introduction of the President, “Our movement stands for openness and embraces pluralism,” he has gone on the record in support of ethnic separation.
Earlier this year, Yoffie published the transcript of an argument he had with a right-wing friend who helped him lobby against the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the UN. He entitled the piece, “I prefer to live with Jews.”
Yoffie’s argument went as follows:
[Yoffie]: I care about humankind, but I love my own group a bit more. I am more comfortable with them. I care more about them, just as I care more about my family than other families. Without a two-state solution, Israel will not longer be a state for my group; it will be a bi-national state without a clear Jewish identity. That is not the kind of place where I, or most Israeli Jews, will want to live.
[Right-wing friend]: Are you saying you don’t want too many Arabs in the Jewish state?
[Yoffie]: Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.
Amidst a wave of mosque burnings and racist, anti-democratic laws aimed at driving Palestinian citizens of Israel out of the country, a key Obama surrogate — a self-proclaimed liberal, no less — has declared explicit support for planning and maintaining Israel’s ethnic majority at the expense of its indigenous minority population — something Israeli leaders call “Judaization.” “I don’t apologize for my views because I don’t apologize for Zionism,” Yoffie stated.
It is not hard to imagine how American right-wingers would react if Obama shared the stage with a black separatist figure like New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz. Nor is it difficult to predict what would happen if one of the Republican presidential candidates accepted the endorsement of a white nationalist like Jared Taylor. Not only would liberals go beserk (and with good reason), mainstream cable news channels would devote a week’s worth of segments to the relationship.
Meanwhile, Obama is campaigning beside a figure who espouses a philosophy that is not much more enlightened than the extreme views expressed by Zulu Shabazz and Taylor. The only difference might be that Yoffie advocates ethnic separation in another country. “Perhaps someday I will decide to live there,” Yoffie said. “And when that happens I want to be living among Jews. Not entirely, but primarily.”
This is a crosspost from Al Akhbar English. It went up on Saturday.