Obama Comes Clean

When I came to Israel thirty years ago, my first home was the northern town of Kiryat Shmonah. I was quickly adopted by a young family–they were my age but already had two children–who were part of a small group that had come to Kiryat Shmonah from Israel’s big cities. Under the inspiration of the Kiryat Shmonah’s Ashkenazi rabbi, Tzefaniah Drori, they had come to this poverty-stricken town, under constant attack by Palestinian katyusha rockets, to serve as teachers and community workers.

During my months in the town I attended synagogue services led by Rabbi Drori. He’s a dedicated man with many fine characteristics. But, as a student and spiritual heir of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, he subscribes to a doctrine of Israeli territorial maximalism and political messianism that I find abhorrent.

People choose religious communities for lots of different kinds of reasons. So, while I think the politics of Reverend Jeremiah Wright abhorrent, I assumed from the start that many in his church don’t hold the same beliefs–Barack Obama among them.

Obama has done the right thing by making this explicit:

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

I’ve been a supporter of Hillary Clinton in the fight for the Democratic nomination, but I admire Obama for having the courage and forthrightness to address the issue of Reverend Wright straight on and unequivocally. Furthermore, he’s done so without talking down to his audience. Instead, he offered a complex and nuanced view of his religious and racial identity. I think Clinton would make a fine president, but it’s hard to imagine her making a speech like this.

People may still have reasons for opposing Obama, but his association with Reverend Wright should not be one of them.

3 thoughts on “Obama Comes Clean”

  1. The issue is: Why did Obama just wake up now to the racist, anti Israel and anti Semitic remarks of his preacher who has been preaching these unacceptable things for over 20 years.

    The issue is: the Obama who sat in the pew and what he didn’t say nor did he do for the past 20 years in a church lead by a racist Farakan supporter.

    The issue is: Why did it take Obama 20 years to make this statement about the minister who in the meantime counseled him, married him, baptised his children and gave a lifetime achievement award to Farakhan, a man who in Wright’s words “epitomizes greatness”. The same Wright also preaches that America had 911 coming and that Jews are blood suckers.

    Obama initially said he never heard any such hateful remarks from Wright. Please. Only a public outcry lead to his recent statement in which he still did not completely disassociate himself from Dr. Wright.

    This 20 years of silence is going to haunt Obama all the way to the democratic convention and no speech can cover up that silence.

  2. “Abhorrent”? A bit exuberant, no? Why can’t you just “strongly disagree”. Does all criticism have to be a tongue-lashing exercise? I mean, how bad can he be if he’s still in Kiryat Shmonah and not in Kedumin?

    As for Obama, are you too mesmerized? The wrong Wright relationship, friendship with Said and Khalidi, fund money to terrorist-linked groups, the Rezko sleaze connection, et al.

  3. Could whoever reads this, have Rabbi Gordon Papert contact me, if you know how to reach him? I would like to speak with him and this is the closest to locating him that I can find, when doing a search by his name.
    Thank you
    Janet Silbert Randolph, MA

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