June 2, 2015

"You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office."

Said Barack Obama, according to David Axelrod. Context: "For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or, even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts."

ADDED: New York Magazine got there first, with this cover from September 18, 2011:



The story, by John Heilemann, was "The Tsuris/Barack Obama is the best thing Israel has going for it right now. Why is that so difficult for Netanyahu and his American Jewish allies to understand?" From the article:
In the last days of the 2008 campaign, the former federal judge, White House counsel, and Obama mentor Abner Mikva quipped, “When this all is over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president.” And while that prediction has so far proved to be wildly over-optimistic, there is more truth in it than meets the eye....

The irony is that Obama—along with countless Israelis, members of the Jewish diaspora, and friends of Israel around the world—seems to grasp these realities and this choice more readily than Netanyahu does. “The first Jewish president?” Maybe not. But certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister—and, if you look from the proper angle, maybe even more so.

131 comments:

FleetUSA said...

Another howler

Jeff Roth said...

He is the embodiment of Big Lie propaganda.

Dr.D said...

"It hurts." Oh, my, we mustn't do that!!

The lying creep! Has he ever spoken the truth on anything at all, no matter how trivial?

Bobby said...

If the President really did say that (and let's put this in perspective: there's never really greater than a 50-50 chance that David Axelrod is telling the truth about anything, ever), then... Wow.

Temujin said...

I'd like to just kick him in the balls at this point.

Mick said...

Taquiya. The Quaranically approved practice of lying in the advance of Islam.
He has said the shahada is the "most beautiful sound"
Reciting the shahada is all that is needed to convert to Islam.
"I will stand with the Muslims when the ill winds blow" (or something like that)
He has stated that he was a Muslim-- before.
To renounce Islam is to be an apostate.
He has sought to replace all secular Muslim leaders with hard line Islamists.
The policy of arming Syrian rebels through Libya, which ended up in the killing of an American Ambassador was the progenitor of ISIS.
His administration is full of Muslim Brotherhood advisors.
He is a fag, abused in his youth like many Muslim boys.
Thus he is a Muslim, and the farthest thing from a jew.

Johanna Lapp said...

And Franklin Rosenveldt was, what, chopped liver?

Rob said...

Reminds me of the comedian who said he dated a girl "who is the closest thing to Abbe Lane--she looks just like Xavier Cugat." At the risk of offending both President Obama and my fellow Jews, I'll avoid speculating on who's the closest thing to a Jew.

Bay Area Guy said...

The President has a recurring problem of "grading his own papers" -- and, amazingly, giving himself an A, to boot.

He should be asking the people of Israel, whether he's done a good job, not telling us that he has.

sane_voter said...

Obama has been the most transparent president.

Transparent to his extreme dishonesty.

Tank said...

Con man. Liar.

Old news.

Hagar said...

Well, he does say some astounding thigs, doesn't he?

Terry said...

So Obama is basically telling us that he is cut.
TMI!

Gahrie said...

Jeez...Obama is even better at being a Jew than a Jew is!

Unknown said...

Is it still sedition if the horrible death I wish for him is due to natural causes, like being eaten by a very patient shark?

The Drill SGT said...

ROFLMAO

Roughcoat said...

Next thing you know, he'll say he's Spartacus.

Fritz said...


Unknown said...
Is it still sedition if the horrible death I wish for him is due to natural causes, like being eaten by a very patient shark?


http://www.grindtv.com/fishing/randy-llanes-killed-by-a-swordfish-off-kona-known-for-his-aloha-spirit/#81J2ev5DD5ve1FLr.97

lemondog said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....gasp **wipes tears** ahhh.........HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
HAHA.....gulp...giggle....snort......

Good one, BO, good one.

Terry said...

Overheard in the garment district of NYC: "Only a Chinaman can out-Jew a Jew!"

Rob said...

It does occur to me that the closest thing to a Jew in the Oval Office was Bill Clinton's putz.

traditionalguy said...

That degree of commitment to delusion and a false narrative has seldom been seen on earth. The last thing Obama is is a. Friend of the Iranian targeted Dead men walking in the tiny enclave lying between Jerusalem and the sea.

pm317 said...

Why do people still write puff pieces about him like that? Because he has nothing, nothing else to show for his time.

Hagar said...

It is in the same universe where he has restored America's standing in the world.

Terry said...

"And I am not only a better political director than my political director, I am a better Jew than any Jew! And I mean that literally."
"Don't you mean 'figuratively', Mr. President?"
"No. Just ask Joe Biden."

Gordon said...

"and if you look from the proper angle"

The problem is, one has to engage in six-dimensional gymnastics in order to achieve that "proper angle."

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well, Jews don't like being jerked off, so I can understand why the honesty Obama shows Israel confuses and dismays Republicans.

readering said...

I'm not Jewish, but I am always struck by the accusations of antisemitism against Jimmy Carter, whom I would have thought it fair to call the "first Jewish President". But in both the cases of Carter and Obama I think it's wrong to view the "Jewish President" question so heavily through the prism of their relations with right-wing Israeli governments. After all, Dick Nixon evidenced being one of our more antisemitic presidents, although he went to DEFCON 3 during the 1973 war. Obama has the benefit of having been raised in an era when antisemitism in the Ivy-League dominated circles in which he traveled had pretty much disappeared. Is there urban black antisemitism still? Sure, but I've seen no evidence it ever rubbed off on him. And that view seems to be widely held, if not among commentators here. Otherwise, he would not have gotten 69% of the Jewish vote in 2012 (much better than Carter did in 1980).

YoungHegelian said...

Sadly, for many Americans Jews, they probably do believe that Obama is one of them. I mean, he's got the right politics & the right connections? What else is there to being Jewish anymore? It certainly isn't a matter of having the proper faith, is it?

Paul said...

This man is the President of the United States of America..... that means that enough citizens of this country voted for him to elect him. Twice!

We are truly an idiocracy. We no longer possess the wisdom to sustain this magnificent civilization. We are obsessed with absurdities like men marrying other men and women marrying women, as if the notion of a man and woman producing progeny and building a family was just peripheral part of the idea of marriage.

It was a good run. The lunatics are running the asylum now and feverishly patting themselves on the back over over the great progress they are making advancing society.

Rhythm and Balls said...

What else is there to being Jewish anymore? It certainly isn't a matter of having the proper faith, is it?

It never really was, you otherwise supposedly educated man. They couldn't care less what people believe and care much more about what people actually do. Fixating on what's in (or not in) one's mind is more of a Christian thing.

chickelit said...

Rhythm and Balls said...
Well, Jews don't like being jerked off, so I can understand why the honesty Obama shows Israel confuses and dismays Republicans.

I had no idea that Obama was so wildly popular in Israel.

ndspinelli said...

Obama has a 15% approval rating in Israel. FIFTEEN PERCENT!!

Rusty said...

What a twat.

chickelit said...

David Axelrod need to be excised from the American political lexicon. He absolutely ruined an otherwise moving story about Beau and Joe Biden. Can the man fucking shut up about partisan politics for one second? Man, I despise him.

Terry said...

Israel, 1967.

Moshe: The Syrians are shelling our villages in the Galilee! How can I stop this? I know! I will order an attack and take the Golan Heights from Syria!

Obama: General Dayan, I need to speak with you.

Moshe: What is this? A little shvarzer? Wearing a yarmulka? He can not be more than four years old! What are you doing at the front, little shvarza?

Obama: I am here to help you win this war, General Dayan, without taking the Golan Heights.

Moshe: But without the Golan Heights, we will lose!

Obama: You won't lose, General Dayan. Use your superior air power to bomb the Syrian artillery positions in the Golan. They will retreat, and your villages and kibbutzim will be safe, and eventually you will learn to live and work side by side with the Syrians.

Moshe: I am supposed to trust you with the future of the Jewish people? You are nothing but a shikhputser!

Obama: The Arabs are not the enemies of the Jews, General Dayan. It is the Jews' own parochial and racist attitudes that are their enemies. One day, when I am president, I will teach you that.

Richard Dolan said...

There is an interesting parallel with the feminists' embrace of Bill Clinton, and these claims by lefty Jews that Obama is philosemitic. In both cases, partisan loyalties trump all else, including the ability to see what's staring you in the face.

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

It never really was, you otherwise supposedly educated man

Oh, what bullshit! And, pray tell, what rabbinic source did you get that from?

You have bought the nonsense put forth by Reform & Conservative Jews that Judaism isn't about doctrine. Go read the Talmud, go read Maimonides, go read Isaac Luria, or the Hasidim, and tell me it isn't about doctrine. The Reform don't want it to be about doctrine because it means they really aren't Jews anymore if it is.

Do you know, R&B, that Orthodox Jewish men pray at a minimum, three times a day, for the Resurrection of the Body. That the RotB is one of Maimonides' 13 foundational principles of Judaism. Ask a Reform Jew about the RotB, and they'll stare at you blankly & say "oh, that's a Christian thing. We don't believe that stuff!" Except, until about 1890, even the Reform did believe it.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I had no idea that Obama was so wildly popular in Israel.

That's not his constituency. They can do to themselves whatever they want.

m stone said...

Definitely in the pride and oblivious category. Close to blasphemy if blasphemy applied.

Larry J said...

I wonder sometimes whether Obama actually believes the shit he says or if he's playing some kind of sick game to see how outrageous he can get without the press calling him on it.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Thanks for the lesson, YoungYankeleMendellsohn. When you attempt your conversion, go tell the rabbi how well versed you are in all those observations of yours regarding "articles of faith" and we'll see how quickly they let you in the club.

Tell them it's all about what's in your heart. Tell them you don't need to learn to do anything. No study, no actions, just belief. Tell them, "it's a sum thin' I feeeeeeeel real strong-like-ah! Down-a in-a mah heart-ah! The spirit of belief has ah-entered-ah me-ah! I believe it a so-strong-ah! The lord-ah! will allow me to handle snakes-ah! And the spirit-ah! is-a com in' outta my mouth while I speak a tongues-ah!"

The closest Hegelian got to a Jew was watching the Christian Zionist pilgrimage tour on his local access station.

paminwi said...

On a visit to Israel I can tell you the citizens of Israel think Obama is a putz.
I can use that word in English and have bad feelings about using that word and much worse to describe this President.

Sebastian said...

O is right. If being Jewish means being properly Progressive. Which it does for many American Jews.

He's a Judt Jew.

tim in vermont said...

Well, he certainly feels entitled to tell Jews what is good for them and how they should run their own affairs and defend their sovereign country. He certainly feels like he is smarter than they are and they should just shut up and take the consequences of his 'policies.' Whether that makes him a Jew? I am not so sure.

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

Is being an arrogant cunt your default setting? Don't answer that. We know the answer.

Did I say it was about just belief, that Judaism was "sola fides". Did I turn Judaism into Evangelical Christianity? No, I did not.

But, what about things like Maimonides 13 Principles? How does one be a Jew without believing what Jews throughout history believed until the day before yesterday? It may be possible, but it sure as hell isn't obvious that that's any way to run a religion.

I have no intention of joining any form of Judaism. That doesn't mean, as part of my knowledge of Christian theological history, I don't know Jewish theological history as well. Trust me, I can (& have) held my own against a Reform rabbi.

Bob Ellison said...

I am Thor. Stubbed my toe this morning.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Trust me, I can (& have) held my own against a Reform rabbi.

Well that's kind of funny. I wonder who the arbiter was?

Hopefully you can take that as a joke instead of as (yet) another reason to take offense.

Anyway, you're largely right about those principles, but the whole reason behind the quip about conversions is that you would have discovered the ritual of testing your seriousness. That's what matters during conversions and I can tell you it's a hell of a lot more about testing your commitment than about testing what you're "supposed" to believe. Ask anyone who's converted.

There's a reason for that. Judaism is still a hell of a lot more democratic than Catholicism, or even most branches of Christianity. Conversions and practice are very much a function of every individual congregation's and/or rabbis priorities and principles. The three branches may issue some guidance, but on the whole they don't lay out an emphasis on anything near as "faith-based" as the majority of Christian denominations do, and therefore lack codes of spiritual compliance for congregational membership or whatever, let alone individual membership.

The difference between nearly all branches of Christianity and nearly all Jewish sects on the emphasis of "faith" versus "practice" (or some other behavioral/educational commitment) couldn't be more stark. That's just a huge part of the difference between the two religions. There's no getting around it. I really don't understand why you seem to antagonistic to that fact, but I notice that oftentimes arbitrary antagonism sometimes tends to be your own "default".

Bob Ellison said...

All of the good, Odin-fearing Vikings left long ago for Iceland. There's nobody left on the continent to worship properly. Oh, for a young goat...

AprilApple said...

He loves Jews and Israel. That's why he wants to help the mad Mullahs get a nuke.

Big Mike said...

Has anyone on his staff or in his administration called up sufficient nerve to tell Barack Obama that it takes more than putting on a yarmulke -- or having one photoshopped onto the back of his head -- to be a Jew?

Rhythm and Balls said...

It may be possible, but it sure as hell isn't obvious that that's any way to run a religion.

Yeah, I think that's where you're missing the point. When a religion's congregations are more about participation than about asking for belief in certain things, then it works pretty well, actually. Praying in a different language also helps.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Has anyone on his staff or in his administration called up sufficient nerve to tell Barack Obama that it takes more than putting on a yarmulke -- or having one photoshopped onto the back of his head -- to be a Jew?

Perhaps, not, Rabbi "Big Mike." Why don't you tell everyone here what it takes?

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

but on the whole they don't lay out an emphasis on anything near as "faith-based" as the majority of Christian denominations do, and therefore lack codes of spiritual compliance for congregational membership or whatever, let alone individual membership.

NO! That is true for Reform & Conservative! It is not true for the Orthodox. The Reform & the Conservatives do not constitute the whole of Judaism, even if they'd like the goyim to think they do.

If you doctrinally fall out of line in an Orthodox congregation, they will bounce your ass out on the street in no uncertain terms. There are consensus opinions in rabbinic thought. There are non-consensus opinions. But, there's the red line of heresy, too. You cross that line & you stay crossed, you're out. There may be vocal atheists in Reform Congregations, but they keep that secret to themselves among the Orthodox.

YoungHegelian said...

When a religion's congregations are more about participation than about asking for belief in certain things, then it works pretty well, actually.

Oh, that must be why Judaism is the fastest shrinking faith in the US, with the least participation (i.e. membership in a congregation) of any American ethnic group.

Praying in a different language also helps.

You mean "English"? Very few Jews have more than rote knowledge of a few Hebrew prayers now. Hebrew is just too difficult to learn well, unless you really work at it for years & years.

Terry said...


Walter Sobchak: I'm saying, I see what you're getting at, Dude, he kept the money. My point is, here we are, it's shabbas, the sabbath, which I'm allowed to break only if it's a matter of life or death...
The Dude: Will you come off it, Walter? You're not even fucking Jewish, man.
Walter Sobchak: What the fuck are you talkin' about?
The Dude: Man, you're fucking Polish Catholic...
Walter Sobchak: What the fuck are you talking about? I converted when I married Cynthia! Come on, Dude!
The Dude: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
Walter Sobchak: And you know this!
The Dude: Yeah, and five fucking years ago you were divorced.
Walter Sobchak: So what are you saying? When you get divorced you turn in your library card? You get a new license? You stop being Jewish?
The Dude: It's all a part of your sick Cynthia thing, man. Taking care of her fucking dog. Going to her fucking synagogue. You're living in the fucking past.
Walter Sobchak: Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax...
[shouting]
Walter Sobchak: You're goddamn right I'm living in the fucking past!

Big Mike said...

@Rhythm, atheists are pretty much disqualified from being a rabbi. But you'll understand Judaism when you understand the following joke:

Two Jews were shipwrecked on a deserted island. They were rescued safe and sound a few days later, and their rescuers noticed that they had erected three huts on the little island.

"Why three huts?"

"Well, this hut is my schule. That hut is his schule. And the third hut is a schule neither of us will attend."

Big Mike said...

Make that, you'll start to understand Judaism when you get that joke.

Rhythm and Balls said...

When did atheism become the only "belief" variant? I'm sure each Orthodox congregation is stricter. I'm also sure they have tons of minute variations in what each of them emphasize or otherwise differ from each other. Tons of people who went from one to another, for whatever reason. And again, at least as often due to preferences that had nothing to do with what they "believed" but just for reasons of personal practice or preference.

The designation of "Orthodox" as a single category is itself nonsense. There is "modern orthodox", which is the most sensible - (although who knows, maybe not enough for you). But then there are a whole bunch of Lubavitcher and worse where it is plainly evident that there is no getting around Judaism as a close-knit tribal family with little else. There are sects that ban use of the internet. There are sects that probably ban music, or other minute markers of behavioral normalcy. The only way they are able to keep tabs on that is the fact that they function more like a tiny tribal community than a community of common belief. The kids who are threatened with or become excommunicated are as likely to experience that through ridiculous behavioral transgressions than they were by "saying" or proclaiming the "wrong" thing. It's more like the way the Amish are, if you need an example. And it really sounds like you do.

Yancey Ward said...

I have quit being surprised at the ability of people in this administration to tell obvious lies, or to give out the most ridiculous propaganda.

YoungHegelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Godfather said...

What I find most offensive about the claim that Obama is or is not a "Jew" is that it equates being a "Jew" with helping Israel. This plays right into the "dual loyalty" canard about American Jews who support Israel. I'm not Jewish, but I support Israel (because I believe that this is in the best interests of my country, the USA) more than an awful lot of left-wing American Jews do.

Obama supports Israel the same way Chamberlain supported Czechoslovakia.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh, that must be why Judaism is the fastest shrinking faith in the US, with the least participation (i.e. membership in a congregation) of any American ethnic group.

That, and intermarriage, Mr. Know-it-all.

Praying in a different language also helps.

You mean "English"? Very few Jews have more than rote knowledge of a few Hebrew prayers now. Hebrew is just too difficult to learn well, unless you really work at it for years & years.


I don't think that's true. Semitic languages have predictable word construction and grammar, based on an interesting 3-letter root stem. Of course, I find linguistics interesting so perhaps not everyone agrees. But when your language is written in consonants and uses three of them, with minor variations to the vowels or suffixes, to construct words according to very predictable patterns, that's a lot easier than conjugating English verbs, let alone memorizing vocabulary.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well, Mike's joke @9:35 actually does illustrate what I'm saying about membership, somewhat.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh, and immigration from Muslim and Catholic (and Hindu, etc.) countries, Mr. Know-it-all.

Michael K said...

"he certainly feels entitled to tell Jews what is good for them"

He feels entitled to tell everyone that. The fact that he knows nothing is immaterial, especially to idiots like R&B.

The question is whether Obama is stupid or if he is on the other side.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Yes I'm not willing to succomb to this anti-Steel Panther; not today.

But indeed, do.

Terry said...

In the 2002 anti-war speech that would catapult him to fame in the Democrat party, Obama said:
"What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."
I grew up in inner city Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, Black community organizers were organized against Jewish landlords, Jewish grocery store owners, Jewish lenders, and Jewish liquor store owners. It is difficult to look at this paragraph from Obama's speech and not see it as anti-Semitic. "Perle and Wolfowitz will sit in their comfortable offices in D.C. while young Black and Hispanic men die in foxholes for Israel."

Rhythm and Balls said...

It isn't so much that (idiots like Michael K) are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

Oh, and immigration from Muslim and Catholic (and Hindu, etc.) countries, Mr. Know-it-all.

How does immigration make the number of people in a faith shrink? It's not a question of percentages, except among the ethnic group itself. And even if it is intermarriage, why are they choosing to marry out & abandon the faith? Face it, R&B, you can't run a religion made up of agnostics.



Terry said...

Sorry, "Perle and Wolfowitz will sit in their comfortable offices in D.C. while young Black and Hispanic men die in foxholes for Israel." is not a quote, it should not be in quote marks.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well Terry, maybe if he had a history of the kind of rhetoric that Pat Buchanan had, then I could see your point.

Actually, Buchanan said it much like how you wrote your last sentence.

And then Bush's Secretary of State Jim Baker famously said (re: Mid East policy), "Fuck the Jews! They don't vote for us anyway!"

Big Mike said...

Well, Mike's joke @9:35 actually does illustrate what I'm saying about membership, somewhat.

You didn't get it. Try again.

YoungHegelian said...

Well, R&B, it could be worse for the Republicans & the Jews.

The Republicans could be living in Hymietown.

Lydia said...

I guess this is why the LA Times is still sitting on that 2003 Khalidi dinner tape. Obama comes across as just too darn Jewish in it.

/sarc

Terry said...

I once read the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia on the topic of the conversos, Jews who had converted to Christianity rather than face expulsion from Spain. The weird thing was that the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia, in 1906, still seemed to consider the conversos to be Jews, just not very good Jews, and, in the case of conversos who persecuted Jews, very, very wicked Jews. But still Jews.

Rhythm and Balls said...

It's not a question of percentages, except among the ethnic group itself.

First of all, every stat I've seen IS quoted in terms of percentages.

Second of all, you keep up this stupid bullshit about "the ethnic group itself" not being equivalent to the religion. They are one and the same, asshole. That's what Judaism is. They have their own religion, as does Japanese Shintoism, Tibetan Buddhism, whatever. The only people I hear denying that is hard-core Hitler-lovers on YouTube, and apparently YOU. In fairness, I didn't realize that's a point you weren't getting until this comment, though.

And even if it is intermarriage, why are they choosing to marry out & abandon the faith?

Again, you make it evident that you don't know a single Jew. Jews are a tribe, not a faith. If you don't believe me, just watch how much easier it is for a reform (or "unaffiliated") Jew to join an orthodox or Lubavitcher congregation, than it is for you. You are a fucking moron for refusing to understand that whole point.

Face it, R&B, you can't run a religion made up of agnostics.

I'll leave "running" a group based on what I tell them they have to believe up to fascist idiotic assholes like you, thank you very much.

Rhythm and Balls said...

The Republicans could be living in Hymietown.

Yes. Jessie Jackson was so much more powerful and influential than George Bush's very own cabinet members.

But let's go there. How about Pat Buchanan? Very unimportant Republican, wrote speeches for Nixon, got as far in his primaries as Jessie Jackson ever did. Great friend of the Jews, right?

Big Mike said...

@YoungHegelian, not funny at 9:40.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Next thing you know, Senile Hegelian will start spitting cries of "inauthentic!" at Armenians he sees for being insufficiently true to the principles of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Terry said...

The Coen bros. movie A serious Man has a great subplot where the protagonist college teacher (physics or chemistry, I forget which) wants answers to his questions about life from his rabbi. The first rabbi isn't very helpful -- he could've passed for a Methodist -- so the teacher seeks out higher and higher level rabbi, and at each step they become more ethnic and less comprehensible.

Clyde said...

Oy!

Terry said...

I know that it was a long time ago, R&B, but doesn't your "action, not faith" theory run into problems with Spinoza?

Original Mike said...

"You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office."

There must be a point at which delusion shades into mental illness.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Maybe it would if Spinoza was running congregations today, Terry. But he's not.

I thought he was excommunicated and wandered into an implicitly Christian life, anyway?

Terry said...

I'd have to check, but I think that Spinoza was ejected from his synagogue for being impious. It was very strict, and amounted to a ejection from the Jewish community, not just an order to "go away and think about what you've done!"

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

I thought he was excommunicated and wandered into an implicitly Christian life, anyway?

Because, pantheism is somehow Christian? Uhhhmmm, what? The Jews of Amsterdam didn't kick Spinoza out for being a Jesuit, R&B. They kicked him out because his writings were, quite obviously, incompatible with what anyone at the time could imagine as being Jewish theology.

@Big Mike,

Offending item dutifully deleted.

Terry said...

This what the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia says about Spinoza:

Epoch-making for the development of Spinoza's thought was his acquaintance with the works of Descartes, who led Europe in the attempt to found a philosophy based upon reason, not tradition. But the application of such an idea to Judaism could only be disastrous, and shortly after leaving the Pereira yeshibah rumors became persistent that young Spinoza had given utterance to heretical views, such as had led Uriel Acosta and Orobio de Castro into trouble. It would appear that no action was taken during the life of Spinoza's father, who died March 28, 1654, and there is evidence that Baruch was "called up to the Law" in synagogue on Dec. 5, 1654, offering a small sum as a "mi sheberak."It is recorded that his relatives disputed his claim to any share in his father's estate, and that he found it necessary to resort to legal proceedings, or the threat of them, to secure his rights; but, having obtained them, he took possession only of the best bed as a kind of heirloom.

This was probably after his heretical views had been formally ascertained, according to rabbinical law, by two of his companions, who put questions to him which elicited his opinion that, according to the Scripture, angels were merely fantoms, that the soul is identified in the Bible with life and is regarded as mortal, and that in calling God "great" the Scripture attributes to Him extension, that is, body. This last statement is of considerable interest in view of Spinoza's later philosophic doctrines on this point. He was summoned before the bet din, and seems to have made no concealment, of his views; it is claimed that his teacher Morteira offered him, on behalf of the congregation, a pension of 1,000 florins a year provided he would not give public utterance to his heretical views. This Marano expedient was refused, and the congregation proceeded to his formal excommunication on July 27, 1656, which was regularly reported to the Amsterdam magistrates. This latter action shows that the main object of the excommunication was to disa vow on the part of the community any participation in Spinoza's pernicious views, and was a natural precaution on the part of a set of men only recently released from persecution on account of their opinions and only half trusting in the toleration of the authorities of the land. At the same time there is no doubt that considerable feeling was aroused by Spinoza's views, and it is reported that a fanatical Jew even raised a dagger against him as he was leaving either the synagogue or the theater. Freudenthal suggests that this happened during an altercation with Spinoza himself.


Rhythm and Balls said...

I'm not surprised if freedom of thought in 1650s Amsterdam was greater outside of Spinoza's own community than within it. I'm also not surprised that Terry first used the term "impious", which jibes with what I've been saying. Point being, that before the "emancipation" of Europe's Jews under Napoleon, separate lives (and vastly separate extents of rights) in Europe were generally a fact of life. Nowadays we much more readily ascribe beliefs to individuals instead of to communities at large, but my guess is that this was not the norm in Spinoza's time.

Eric Landgraf said...

Its been observed that compulsive liars' brains undergo a structural change during the course of a lifetime of lying. Perhaps, Obama can no longer cognitively recognize the truth.

Perhaps his practice of surrounding himself with 'enablers' who mask the truth or deflect it has resulted in a man living in a room full of mirrors where every image is a powerful picture of falseness and deception.

Falsus Unum, Falsus Omnibus.

Eric Landgraf said...

May God grant that he remain in that wilderness of deception until his death or until he repents.

richardsson said...

You always get in deep trouble when you start believing your own bullshit.

Terry said...

The reason I used the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia cite for Spinoza's ejection from his synagogue is that I wanted to know what Jews thought of him. I do a have a problem with the JE article, though, where it says that ". . . that he found it necessary to resort to legal proceedings, or the threat of them, to secure his rights; but, having obtained them, he took possession only of the best bed as a kind of heirloom" because it really isn't correct that the legacy of a bed was just a sort of heirloom. In the medieval tradition of heriot, a bed was considered the most valuable piece of portable property. It was a sort of birthright of the eldest living son to inherit. Inheriting his father's bed may have meant, to Spinoza, that he still laid claim to his birth right and all that entailed.

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

Again, you make it evident that you don't know a single Jew

My Jewish wife would be very surprised to hear that.

Jews are a tribe, not a faith.

That's what the Reform would like to believe, R&B. They're welcome to it, no matter what alleys it leads them down. I support everyone's 1st A. rights. But, for the Orthodox, Jews are a tribe AND a faith. Both are necessary, and an ethnic Jew is an incomplete Jew until he faithfully follows God's Word as set out in the Tanakh & expanded on by the Tradition.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Lol. God's "Word". Is that what the orthodox call it, now?

Is your wife an "incomplete" Jew, then? It doesn't sound like she's orthodox if you're not Jewish. Hopefully you don't think she's being led down the wrong, er, "alley".

Just saying.

Later -

James Pawlak said...

When I read this, I rent my clothing.

Ian F. Shield said...

What an obnoxious, condescending little man Obama is. What the fuck does he know about being Jewish? Does he know anything about the persecution Jews in the Middle East endured under Islamic rule for 14 centuries? Does he even realize that not all Israeli Jews are of European origin? For him, being Jewish just means supporting his leftist political agenda, while wearing a silly-looking beanie. What a narcissistic ass.

If there had been a Jewish president before Obama, could he have gotten away with saying "I'm the closest thing to a black president the country has ever had"? I think not.

YoungHegelian said...

R&B,

Lol. God's "Word". Is that what the orthodox call it, now?

Yes, because if you knew your Targums, you'd know that one of the one of the words used to replace God's Name in the readings was the Aramaic word Memra which means "word". This usage continues under the rabbis, but with Memra being replaced in favor by the "shekinah" (Presence) or the "kavod" (Glory). Just as the 1st century AD Alexandrian Jew, Philo discusses God as logos, which means, you guessed it, "word". So, yes, "Word" as a divine attribute goes back in Judaism to at least before the Common Era.

My wife is agnostic, and has no use for Jewish belief of any sort. I am much more enamored of it than she is. However, she is very well-studied girl, reads both ancient Greek & Hebrew, and is tolerant of my Catholicism, which is all I ask. There is nothing in our discussion tonight that she hasn't heard before, and more or less agree with. I mean, it's not for her, but she sees the strength of the theological arguments in their own terms, and, whatever Judaism may ultimately be, it sure seems as if the Orthodox have the strongest claim to the title.

Smilin' Jack said...

But certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister—and, if you look from the proper angle, maybe even more so.

But you have to get your head pretty far up your ass to see it from that angle.

Rhythm and Balls said...

I hear a lot of wanting to have things both ways in all that, but it seems to be what you're intent on believing so there's not much point in saying anything more.

YoungHegelian said...

@R&B,

but it seems to be what you're intent on believing

What, you mean like seeing the state of modern Judaism in the same terms as the state of Israel does, i.e. you're Orthodox or you're a genteel atheist.

Really, how can I hold such an outre' position?

Rhythm and Balls said...

Really, how can I hold such an outre' position?

You probably answered that in your last post - the one where you declare your attachment to the form of Christianity most intent on its own ornate sense of dogma, authority and authenticity: Catholicism. Over and over again, it becomes obvious you're superimposing a Catholic way of understanding religion onto Judaism. It doesn't work. Just like it doesn't work to answer a question regarding what's true "now" with an answer about a word no one remembers from 2000 years ago. History and modern practice are actually different things. Perhaps you lack the faith to understand that point.

The state of Israel doesn't define Judaism for any purpose other than for granting immigration and identifying population segments. And it does so on the same basis that the Orthodox do: the Jewish identity (most acceptably, by ethnicity) of one's own mother. (Or by having one Jewish grandparent, for immigration purposes - as Hitler did). Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't get less belief-based than that.

I've never heard a more simultaneously insistent and confused series of proclamations on Judaism in my life than I've heard from you tonight. While you've learned how to spout a valid, questionably relevant fact here or there, you seem to want to miss the point of nearly everything you're saying.

Maybe you should ask the Pope what Jews believe or what practices they follow, as popes used to do in the past. Perhaps he will agree with you that you should admire the Orthodox (and again, which stream? Carlebachian? Hassidic? Ultra-orthodox? Haredi? Sephardic? Chabad? Hovevei Torah? Modern Orthodox? Religious Zionist? Neturei Karta?) for their insistence on a mode of practice that matches your fervor for dogma. Even when it's wrong.

Good luck with whatever you're trying to accomplish. Seriously.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Oh, and neither Israel nor its Orthodox rabbis categorize Jews according to "belief", let alone atheism. They do by level of observance. 45% percent of them are considered secular, or "hiloni". Only 20% are orthodox or ultra-orthodox. You can believe they categorize them all as Jews, no matter how disillusioning that is to whatever it was that informed your view of Judaism in Israel.

Rusty said...

Makes you wonder if the current resident is connected to reality at all.

Brando said...

Remember how stupid Toni Morrison--a black woman, no less--sounded when she called Bill Clinton the first black president? At least Clinton wasn't the one calling himself that.

What would be really neat is if instead of trying to be the first "black" or "jewish" or "gay" or "puerto rican" president, we had someone who wanted to be a "good" president. You know, for the whole country?

tim in vermont said...

You know, and I hate to agree with R&B, but I see this same argument about who is actually "playing golf" and who is not. Some hold that if you don't follow to the letter the ROG (Rules of Golf) you aren't a golfer. I always ask what are those people out on the course who kick the ball from behind trees, throw the ball out of sand traps after a couple of tries, etc, doing then? Whacking at a ball with sticks on a golf course? No, they are golfers.

If your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish. You may not be Orthodox Jewish according to some long dead rabbi, but you are Jewish.

Obama is not Jewish. Obama seems to me to viscerally hate Israeli Jews even while he smarms on about his certainty of what is best for them. Same as Chamberlain and Hitler worked out what was best for the Poles. Hey, we all have our problems with Israeli Jews, FISH as some people would have it, but it is all in the family and nobody wants to visit genocide on them. Obama is so sure of his theories worked out with Bill Ayers in the University of Chicago faculty lounge no doubt, that he is willing to risk genocide of the Jews because he can't possibly be wrong.

Obama isn't Jewish, he is just one more foreign leader who is trying to arrogate to himself the right to decide Israel's fate.

Brando said...

"Obama isn't Jewish, he is just one more foreign leader who is trying to arrogate to himself the right to decide Israel's fate."

I think it's simpler than that--Obama is not Jewish by any measure, as he is not recently descended from Jews and happens to be a practicing Christian. I'm not aware of any loophole that would make him Jewish unless we go by the idiotic "he fits certain stereotypes" standard that made Clinton a "black" president (maybe if Obama likes lox on his bagels and prefers dating Asian women?).

But Jewish or not, Americans shouldn't be deciding Israel's fate in any case--it's a sovereign country! Let them decide their own fate! It's not good for us or for Israel to have us meddling in their affairs.

Paul said...

"......and happens to be a practicing Christian."

Not even close to being a Christian...Obama worships himself, the only "Supreme Being" he recognizes

Bruce Hayden said...

I find this so esp hilarious. Obama has repeatedly defecated on Israel and its leader. His foreign policy is nakedly pro-Islamc, at the expense of both Christians and Jews in the Middle East. He fetes antisemitics like Al Sharpton and other Black leaders. Etc. Rationally, Jews should have packed up their shekels and taken them over to the Republican Party. So, in order to counter this, Obama calls himself essentially the first Jewish President. There is a Yiddish term for this starting with a "c". They should laugh at him.

The insane thing is that so few Jews call him, and their Democratic Party out on this. I can get my Jewish friends to admit that the biggest reason that we haven't emerged from the Obama Recession, after nearly seven years, is the feckless and counterproductive economic plans of Obama, his Administration. That the reasons that the inner cities of so many big American cities have become violent hell holes is, again, Obama and Dem policies. That they hate Israel, and greatly prefer the radical Muslims in the area. That right now Evangelical Christians are Israel's best friends. And their reasoned response? The evangelical Christians are only doing this for the Rapture, the Republican Party is controlled by these Evangelical Christians, and the Koch brothers are evil for all the money they give Republicans. You would think that the consonant dissonance of this would drive them into at least psychotherapy, if not the Republican Party. Instead, they accept that the President they helped elect with their money is essentially the first Jewish President. And that is essentially all it takes to keep them in the Democratic Party.

tim in vermont said...

If by "practicing Christian" you mean claims to be one when politically convenient, for example when being a politician in a heavily religious area like the Chicago black community, sure.

I seriously doubt we will see him darken the door of a church outside of any weddings he may attend after he leaves his current job.

Douglas said...

G-d help us. Obama, whatever his personal feelings about Jews, is doing everything humanly possible to put Israel into mortal jeopardy. Thanks for nothing.

Brando said...

"If by "practicing Christian" you mean claims to be one when politically convenient, for example when being a politician in a heavily religious area like the Chicago black community, sure."

Whether he's a Christian in his heart neither I (nor anyone besides him) can know, but for the sake of my point he's not a practicing Jew and has at least belonged to Christian churches--for show or otherwise.

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Todd said...

tim in vermont said...
Well, he certainly feels entitled to tell Jews what is good for them and how they should run their own affairs and defend their sovereign country. He certainly feels like he is smarter than they are and they should just shut up and take the consequences of his 'policies.' Whether that makes him a Jew? I am not so sure.

6/2/15, 8:48 PM


Well between the guilt trips, the ill thought out advice, the "know it all" attitude, and the telling everyone what to do, he could be America's first Jewish Mother President...

Richard Fagin said...

I get the distinct impression Mr. Helielmann would have been a sonderkommando in a Nazi extermination camp.

Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

@YoungHegelian, thank you. And have your wife explain the joke at 9:35.

Skeptical Voter said...

When I read this clown's conclusions, I want to call a Jewish friend and say, "Help me out here. What is the Hebrew for horse manure?"

And I should call one of the Three Stooges for the appropriate response to Obama's assertion that, under his "leadership" the USA is now the most respected nation in the world. Kayuck Kayuck Kayuck is the appropriate stooge-ism.

hombre said...

"...and has at least belonged to Christian(ish) churches--for show or otherwise."

There, fixed. Black Liberation Theology isn't Christianity.

Brando said...

"There, fixed. Black Liberation Theology isn't Christianity."

Well, some church went and made Al Sharpton a reverend. Standards have dropped!

Birkel said...

"Rhythm & Balls" attempt at distraction within a comment thread cannot hide the fact that President Obama is the worst president the United States has ever known.

jr565 said...

"The irony is that Obama—along with countless Israelis, members of the Jewish diaspora, and friends of Israel around the world—seems to grasp these realities and this choice more readily than Netanyahu does. “The first Jewish president?” Maybe not. But certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister—and, if you look from the proper angle, maybe even more so."
What angle is that? The angle of an Iranian? The angle of someone who wants to divest from Israel? You will have to back that up wih words.

Terry said...

Both Obama and and Congressman Keith Ellison have been open about the fact that they chose their religion to further their politics.

Sam L. said...

That guy is soooooooome kind of deluded.

JackOfClubs said...

Well, he couldn't be the first black president because that was Clinton.

Note that in both cases the ideal supersedes the reality. Clinton did more for black people than an actual black person would have, so he gets to be first. Obama does more for Jews than an actual Jew would, so he also gets to be first.

gerry said...

You have bought the nonsense put forth by Reform & Conservative Jews that Judaism isn't about doctrine.

A street has three synagogues on it, one Orthodox, one Conservative, and one Reformed. It is the tenth of December. How do you tell which one is the Reformed synagogue?

It's the one with the crèche scene in front of it.

Big Mike said...

@Birkel, James Buchanan, Lincoln's immediate predecessor in office, may give Obama some serious competition. Buchanan argued that secession was illegal, but it was equally illegal for him to do anything about it. Also Woodrow Wilson, who ran for reelection in 2016 on the slogan "He kept us out of war" turns out to have been actively planning America's entry into World War I even while he was campaigning. He's a contender, too. And let's not forget Dick Nixon.

But even so, you could be right.

Birkel said...

The Buchanan example moves the needle not at all. There was a serious constitutional debate about the power of the federal government to bind a state to the Union. Even today many consider Lincoln's actions unconstitutional, especially suspending habeus corpus.

Woodrow Wilson ran a century earlier than you allege. Further, his lies pale in comparison to Obama's.

Finally, Obama has given us the worst of the 1970s. He has the ambition to control the economy and paranoia that Nixon had. And he has the fecklessness of Carter.

Plus, there are 18 months to go during which I expect the worst. And that colors my perception. I hope I am wrong.

Big Mike said...

@Birkel, I must have 2016 on the brain.

Moneyrunner said...

What’s hard to understand? It’s why Ann voted for him in 2008. He wasn’t Bush. He wasn’t John McCain who would bomb, bomb, bomb everyone and turn the Middle East into a killing field just when things were settling down. He didn’t have a ditzy woman with straight kids and an Alaskan accent as his VP. He WAS good looking and voting for him was the right thing to do because it would bring the races closer together. You knew he had to say what he did about gay marriage because he had an election to win, but you knew in your heart he was just lying to the rubes in flyover country. He had a new understanding of foreign affairs and promised “Smart Diplomacy” and that was what it took. He was a better speech writer than his speech writers, a better diplomat than his diplomats and a better Jew than real Jews. He had the personal charm and charisma to make the Arabs and Israelis come to the peace table. And, come on, all the smart people were for him. Even today he would win the faculty of UW Madison in a landslide. So obviously the first black Jewish President is Barack Obama. You got a problem with that?

Kirk Parker said...

Where's the lie?

I have absolutely no problem believing the Obama really, truly does think that.