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‘Because of the high volume of emails, at this time we are unable to respond’

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Some four years back I received my first unsolicited MoveOn email and pondered why I’d been added to the organization’s mass email list. While I am generally in agreement with positions MoveOn’s taken on issues with which I have strong affinities, I’d never contacted them, never made a contribution, and never openly or otherwise supported them.  In a cheap ploy, last year MoveOn advised that, because a Mona Somebody, a resident of Hot Springs, AR, some 30 miles from where I reside, is a close friend of mine, I was urged to make a donation.

Turns out that Hot Springs’ Mona Somebody is a fictitious name concocted by Michael Moore’s underlings to make me cough up some greenbacks!

About the same time the first MoveOn email showed up in my mailbox and several months prior to Obama’s re-election bid, I received an email from the White House; the sender was no other than Barak Obama himself sending me a Happy Rosh Hashanah greeting.

Little did the White House liaison know that I am a Palestinian American, an immigrant who, in Eric Trump’s lexicography, is described as a “skittle.”

Since that first Obama email popped up in my inbox, I’ve received no less than 35 White House emails whose subject matter have included, but were not limited to: L’shanah Tovah; Chag Sameach; Shabat Shalom; Happy Hanukkah; Pesach Sameach;   “my support for Israel is unshaken;” “I will do everything to make sure that Israel’s military superiority is maintained;” “support the Iran nuclear deal because it is in Israel’s best interest;”  “at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon the President will hold a press conference: tune in;” “I’ve just signed an agreement guaranteeing Israel 38 billion dollars,” and a whole bunch of PR platitudes laced with servility and pandering of the worst kind.

In addition to feigned Obama-sent messages, I’ve received numerous emails from White House communications liaisons whose sole responsibility appear to be to address issues of concern to the American Jewish community.

After I received the second ghost Obama email, I responded with a query about O’s Near Eastern policies. Within seconds I received the following response:  “Because of the high volume of emails we receive, at this time we are unable to respond.”

On September 30, 2016  Chana Weissman, White House Office of Public Engagement staff member, sent me the following email informing me that Barak Obama, President of the United States (of Israel) had issued a proclamation “declaring all flags on public grounds, military posts, naval stations and naval vessels be flown at half-staff until sunset [that] evening.”

From: “Chanan Weissman, The White House”
Date: September 30, 2016 at 2:21:02 PM CDT
To: Raouf J. Halaby
Subject: ICYMI: Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former Israeli President Shimon Peres
Reply-To: “White House Office of Public Engagement”

THE WHITE HOUSE

Friends,

Earlier this morning, President Obama led a Presidential Delegation to attend the State Funeral of former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres “z”, where he delivered remarks at the memorial service in Jerusalem.
After President Peres’ passing earlier this week, President Obama issued a statement honoring the historic leader as one of those people “who we share this world with who [sic.] change [sic.] the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves.”
President Obama also issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring that all flags on public grounds, military posts, naval stations, and naval vessels be flown at half-staff until sunset this evening.

You can watch a video of President Obama’s remarks at the memorial service here or read the full transcript here (also included at the bottom of this email).

May the memory of Shimon Peres eternally be for a blessing. Baruch Dayan Emet.
Wishing you a restful weekend, a Shabbat Shalom, and a Shanah Tovah U’metukah,

Chanan Weissman
Associate Director

The White House | Office of Public Engagement

Welcome to the new Orwellian-One-Way-Cyber-Messaging, a newfangled world in which one is led to believe that the sender holds the addressee in high esteem, while at the same time employing the fiber optic destinations to bombard the unsuspecting public with self-serving, self-aggrandizing, vacuous political messaging and manufactured propaganda.

I liken this charade to looking at a two-way mirror, a kind of Platonic cave experience in which email recipients are led to believe that they are valued partners in some larger design whose blueprints are national and international issues of great import to the nation and its citizens. Only thing is this type of messaging is a one-way street benefiting the sender.

Hardly a day has gone by without my having received MoveOn emails in support of Hillary Clinton’s election, and most emails have solicited a $10 to $100 donation. By far, the most frequently beseeched magical figure has been a $2.70 one-time-shot – or a monthly pledge. I’ve wondered whether Bernie Sanders’  “the average contribution to my campaign is $27.00” refrain is intended to appeal to Sanders’ millennial supporters to donate 10% of the “average” Bernie contribution, an amount equal to the 10% tithing to one’s church, synagogue, or mosque.

Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, singer/actressAlicia Keys and others have sent “Important Request” pleas on behalf of MoveOn  to “kiss the Senate goodbye;” “ to shout, ‘Trump you’re fired’ ;” to claim Trump’s fall from grace as “our century’s Hindenburg implosion;” and a “dangerous, you can’t look away” imminent catastrophe.  And “limited edition MoveOn election gear” ads have been peddled, with the admonishment “to order while they last” sales pitch. Several back to back from Elizabeth Warren (for whom I’d vote in a heartbeat) have pleaded with me not to delete her emails on MoveOn’s behalf. Two days ago Michael Moore sent a plea for a measly $3.00 donation under the heading “I never thought I’d vote for her.”

Really, Mike?

About the time I was ready to wind down this script, the following text (2 photos were deleted) dropped anchor in my mail box.

From: “Chanan Weissman, The White House”
Date: October 26, 2016 at 1:56:49 PM CDT
To: Raouf J. Halaby
Subject: The White House Celebrates the Jewish Holidays
Reply-To: “White House Office of Public Engagement”

Friends,

From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur and Sukkot to Simchat Torah, it has been a whirlwind month of Jewish holiday celebrations!

Throughout, President Obama hosted a conference call from the Oval Office with hundreds of rabbis nationwide before Rosh Hashanah; issued a video message in honor of Rosh Hashanah; and released a statement wishing all an easy and meaningful Yom Kippur fast.

Last week marked the festival of Sukkot, a holiday that goes by many names including Z’man Simchateinu or “the Time of our Rejoicing” as well as the “Festival of the Harvest” to commemorate the end of the harvest season.

To celebrate Sukkot, we invited White House staffers and Rabbi Levi Shemtov from the American Friends of Lubavitch, who brought with him the Arba Minim or “Four Species,” also known as the Lulav and Etrog. Rabbi Shemtov gave a brief d’var torah, or explanation about the traditional custom of waving the Lulav and Etrog, after which each of the staffers had an opportunity to observe the tradition and recite the blessing.

Additionally, because Sukkot is a time in which we celebrate the agricultural harvest and times of plenty, we invited representatives of the organization, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, to the White House. They delivered more than 1,000 paper plate letters collected from young Americans who learned about hunger and food insecurity in America while attending Jewish summer camps around the country. The letters were addressed to President Obama thanking him for the steps he has taken to ensure all children have the nourishment they need to learn, grow, and reach their full potential, and also to encourage the Administration to continue these efforts in the remaining days in office.

Thank you, as always, for the work you do.
Chanan Weissman
Associate Director
The White House | Office of Public Engagement

In describing the Yom Kippur feast and the Sukkot feast that’s associated with the fall harvest, the  Jewish Learning site states the following: “Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. According to rabbinic tradition, these flimsy sukkot represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.”

To all my Jewish friends across the world, I wish you a blesséd season of harvest during which you urge the Israeli Government to stop razing olive and fruit trees on Palestinian lands and to allow Palestinian families to harvest their olives without government sanctioned and sponsored bulldozing, Settler harassment, killing, and maiming.

To all Jewish people of conscience, Yom Kippur, that Holy Day of Atonement, should be a day on which you should demand that the “flimsy”  Palestinian state be allowed to come to existence so that 68 “years of wandering in the desert” of despair will come to fruition through statehood and a just peace.

For in reality, Israelis will never be free unless they extend the same freedom to their Palestinian counterparts. Then, and only then, will the Israelis be truly emancipated from the occupation mentality into which they’ve boxed themselves.

About Raouf J. Halaby

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, a sculptor, a photographer, a peace activist, and an avid gardener.

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9 Responses

  1. echinococcus
    echinococcus
    November 7, 2016, 6:26 pm

    I never, in my most pessimistic days, even imagined the level of abomination the US Gov pandering has sunk to.

    Bombarding people with treacly religious propaganda without as much as consulting them on their preferences or consent –and on behalf of a religious superstition that only has 2% nominal preponderance, with admittedly only a tiny fraction of whom religious!

    It’s past time to hire competent and eager lawyers to raise a huge Establishment Clause stink here. These mailings must be publicized to a max. It was bad enough to think that the Obamination is living in the Zionist entity mothership. Now he also is the Head Chacham of Saudi Arabia.

    As for that slimy Qanan or whatever his face, he should be hit so hard by a First Amendment suit that he’s head rebounds on the wall.

  2. Citizen
    Citizen
    November 8, 2016, 12:54 am

    I’ve been getting about three dozen emails a day, asking for political contributions from all sides, and organizations of the political fence, and from candidates in many states–many pretend to solicit my views by participation in a short multiple choice poll, full of loaded questions presupposing my political party loyalty, & ending with a solicitation for money donation. I guess I asked for this as over the last few years I have participated in various single issue petitions online…

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      November 8, 2016, 2:00 am

      Citizen,

      There is one part of the harassment that I am enjoying, though: the personal phone calls (and never mind the do-not-call-listing.) They are mostly for Democrat candidates, managed by clueless young persons, and they are all under orders to listen politely and never hang up.
      The poor things are a captive audience for their target –some even asked smart questions, others answered questions, got references and gave signs of being ready to jump ship. Pure pleasure.
      Those callers who are effectively as dumb as Zionist Arabs were, to my surprise, barely a majority.

      • Tchoupitoulas
        Tchoupitoulas
        November 8, 2016, 10:08 am

        @echinoccocus — Me too. I like the door-to-door canvassers for the same reason. I harangue them for a while and then send them on their way with instructions to make my complaints known at HQ. I tried to give a copy of Goliath to one woman but she said she couldn’t be seen holding that book whilst ringing other doorbells.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        November 9, 2016, 6:39 pm

        Gawd. Don’t tell me they still do home visits. Didn’t that disappear along with the family doctor visits already?

  3. amigo
    amigo
    November 8, 2016, 12:11 pm

    “Because of the high volume of emails, at this time we are unable to respond’ ”

    Just like my internet provider.Sales dept/ accts payable always fully staffed.Customer complaints dept—well, not so much.

  4. genesto
    genesto
    November 8, 2016, 12:51 pm

    This would be hilarious – if it wasn’t so damn frightening!

  5. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    November 8, 2016, 3:59 pm

    Eight years ago – nearly nine, now – I wrote to all five people contesting the Democratic nomination, and asked: If you are elected president, will you pardon Leonard Peltier? He’s the Native American convicted on perjured testimony, extradited from Canada on perjured testimony, in prison for life.
    Not one of them, not even Dennis Kucinich, answered the question. Only reply was from John Roberts, asking for money.
    So no surprise at these messages from Obama et alia. I’m so glad I’m not on his Jewish email list.
    Many of us were taught that it’s rude to just hang up the phone, or shut the door. But sometimes you have to do it. Or unsubscribe.

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