The Jewish people are compared to a lamb: Just as a blow to any part of a lamb, which is a small animal, reverberates throughout its body so a blow to any Jew is felt by every other Jew. It was said at the time of the Mendel Beilis "ritual murder trial" in the early 20th century: If you strike a Jew in Kiev, a thousand Jews cry out on the Lower East Side.
But along with the rapid decline in religious observance over the last century so has there been a rapid decline in social solidarity between Jews. A few years back, sociologist Stephen Cohen determined that half of American Jews 35 and under would not view the destruction of the State of Israel, and with it the death of over six million Jews, as a personal tragedy. That finding has been confirmed by American Jewry's slavish worship of President Barack Obama, even as he has paved the way for Iran to gain nuclear weapons and threaten six million Jews in Israel with annihilation.
FROM THE BEGINNING of Obama's meteoric rise there were good reasons to suspect that he is not, in the words of veteran peace-processor Aaron David Miller, someone "in love with the idea of Israel." One early piece of evidence: the twenty years he spent in the pews of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an outspoken supporter of Louis Farrakhan. More evidence: his warm Hyde Park friendship with former PLO apparachnik Rashid Khalidi. (The Los Angeles Times – allegedly a news organization -- is still sitting on the tape of Obama's speech at Khalidi's going away party before decamping from Hyde Park to take up the Edward Said Professorship at Columbia.)
None of this kept American Jews from supporting Obama more ardently than any demographic group besides blacks in 2008. During his first term, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was the only head of state subjected to 45-minute harangue at Obama's orders by his virago Secretary of State or left to cool his heals in the servants quarters while the Obama family supped upstairs. But that did not bother American Jews because their bible, the New York Times, certified that Netanyahu is "right-wing."
In his 2009 Cairo speech, the President echoed the Arab line that the state of Israel came into being as recompense for the Holocaust and ignored some rather more ancient connections to the Land. That too was excused as rhetorical flourish to reach out to the Muslim world.
After once again gaining overwhelming, albeit diminished, Jewish support in 2012, Obama has enjoyed rubbing American Jewry's nose in how little they concern him. First came the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of State. In the Senate, Hagel was one of the two most outspoken opponents of Israel and the "Israel lobby," and he has multiple ties to the Iranian lobby in America.
Next came the appointment of John O. Brennan to head the CIA. Brennan, Obama's former counter-terrorism advisor, has demonstrated a remarkable penchant for finding moderate elements in Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood, which he once described as a secular organization. As counter-terrorism advisor, he ordered all references to Islam and jihad scrubbed from U.S. anti-terrorism training manuals.
Obama pressured AIPAC to rally congressional support for American intervention in Syria after Assad trampled the President's "red-line" and employed chemical weapons. Then he left AIPAC out to dry and vulnerable to charges of urging America to go to war at Israel's behest when he changed course. To show his gratitude, Obama sent Vice-President Biden to give the keynote speech at the annual convention of J Street, an organization that has never discovered an Israeli government action worthy of support or an enemy's action worthy of condemnation.
BEYOND HIS EVIDENT LACK OF WARMTH FOR ISRAEL, Obama has been fascinated by the idea of American rapprochement with radical Islamic regimes. He eagerly supported and facilitated the Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt, and had only the most muted criticism of the Morsi government when it allowed mobs to overrun the U.S. embassy in Cairo. He opposed the military coup that ousted Morsi and took the unprecedented step of cutting American military assistance to Egypt, just as the new military government was engaging militant Islamists in Sinai.
And it now becomes clear that normalizing relations with the Iranian mullahs has long been a top foreign policy goal. Thus Obama ignored pleas from Iranian protesters for some sign of American support during the 2009 mass demonstrations following the stolen presidential elections. He backed down when Iranian client Bashir Assad crossed his own "red line" by employing chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war out of some fanciful notion that aiding Iranian hegemony in Syria will make Supreme Leader Khameini better disposed to the United States. And we now know that for the last six months or more, the President has been unilaterally weakening sanctions without informing Congress by failing to report violators of sanctions – an effective green light to all would be violators.
Even expressions of the most virulent Muslim anti-Semitism earned little reproof from the White House. Obama repeatedly called Turkey's Erdogan his "best friend" in the Middle East, despite the latter's repeated expressions of hatred for Israel. Egypt's Morsi echoed the Hamas Charter in referring to Jews as offspring of pigs and monkeys at no cost.
Iran's Supreme Leader ("Fuhrer" in Parsi) Khameini called Israel a "rabid dog" that is doomed to be "annihilated," without causing any pause in America's rush to conclude an interim accord with Iran on its nuclear weapons program. The best the Obama administration could do in response was to offer some sickening equivalence about unkind things said in the United States about Iran and calling on all parties to refrain from playing to local constituencies with unhelpful remarks.
It does not dawn on the Obama administration – or else they don't care – that Khameini really means what he says about Israel, just as Hitler meant what he wrote in Mein Kampf about his plans for the Jews.
THAT BRINGS US TO THE INTERIM NUCLEAR ACCORD negotiated through secret back channels between the United States and Iran. That accord would more properly described as an agreement to constrain Israel from striking Iranian nuclear facilities than as an agreement to constrain Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. As long as the agreement is in effect – and it can be renewed indefinitely – Israel would be treated as a "rogue" nation for attacking Iran.
The accord gives Iran legitimacy and removes it from the category of rogue nations for pursuing nuclear enrichment. The interim accord explicitly grants Iran the right to keep enriching up to 5% and contemplates a final agreement concerning a "mutually defined enrichment programme." The accord thus explicitly recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium, overturning, in the process, six U.N. Security Council resolutions to the contrary.
The U.S. administration touted Iran's commitment not to produce a nuclear weapon, but that commitment is laughable and only makes Iran look more responsible. Many elements of the Iranian nuclear program have no conceivable civilian use – e.g., its enrichment of uranium to 20%, the heavy-water reactor at Arak designed to produce plutonium for use in a bomb. Over the years, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has amassed a large dossier on Iranian work on nuclear triggers and weaponization. Finally, the entire enrichment program is economically irrational for oil-rich Iran, since it could purchase all the enriched uranium needed for a civilian nuclear program at a fraction of the cost of producing it itself.
Western nations entered the negotiations with the maximum leverage over Iran they are ever likely to enjoy. Yet rather than maintaining the pressure and even ramping up sanctions, the West provided Iran immediate sanctions relief of at least $7 billion, In return, Iran agreed to easily reversible steps that will do more than increase the time needed for a breakout to a bomb by a few weeks.
The U.S. and its allies negotiated as if they were the desperate party. Whenever Iran said no, the demand was dropped. Mark Steyn summed it up archly: Both sides got what they wanted: the West got an agreement and the Iranians got nukes.
The longer an interim accord remains in place the harder to sustain even the current level of sanctions. European companies are already chafing at the bit to resume business with Iran. Thus it is hard to envision Iran agreeing in the future to any steps that would materially set back the time needed to obtain a bomb.
Nothing in the interim accord comes close to doing so. Iran will not dismantle a single centrifuge nor limit its production of new ones. It did not even agree to hand over its stock of 20% enriched uranium (which is of use only for weapons), only to oxidize half that stock to 5%, from which it can quickly be enriched again to 20%.
Iran agreed only to heighten inspections in the enrichment facilities to which it admits. (No Iranian nuclear facility has ever been disclosed voluntarily.) But the agreement is silent as to inspection of sites of possible weapons research, including nuclear triggers. No mention is made of the Parchin site, which the IAEA is convinced was used for weapons research and testing. Iran did not agree to dismantle the heavy water reactor at Arak or its underground facility at Fordow.
Either the U.S. seeks to gain temporary relief from a current headache (much as was done with Syrian chemical weapons) or is operating on the entirely wacko notion that Iran – guided by an expansionist Islamic theology and currently the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism – will become a building block of a new stable world order.
Comparisons to the 1938 Munich agreement were everywhere in the air last week. Professor Alan Dershowitz warned Obama that he risked becoming his generation's Neville Chamberlain. Of greater worry is that Israel will become today's Czechoslovakia. (Too bad Dershowitz so eagerly certified to American Jews Obama's pro-Israel bona fides in 2008 and again in 2012.)
But as Bret Stephens pointed out, the comparison of Obama to Neville Chamberlain is unfair to the latter. Neither England nor France were militarily prepared to face Hitler in 1938. But the United States enjoys overwhelming military superiority over Iran, and Iran's economy had been crippled by sanctions.
I couldn't help thinking of another Holocaust era analogy, however. I remember how my friends and I were shocked in our youth to learn of the apathy of American Jews to the plight of European Jewry. Yet the Jewish community of that time was far weaker than today – less integrated into American life, far less affluent, and more fearful of still widespread anti-Semitism.
The failure of American Jewry during the Holocaust pales besides that of American Jewry today. By virtue of its unshakeable adulation of Obama, American Jewry has watched calmly as he placed six million Jews in Israel under threat of extinction from an Iranian nuclear bomb.