Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hear O’ Israel - The Lord Our God, the Lord is One

I am so tired of this, already! Is there no end to those who will do or say anything to discredit our President? The latest is a WND article reprinted in the 5 Towns  Jewish Times. What did the President do this time? According to WND - he wore a ring on his finger with an inscription that proclaims the unity of God.

Why should that be a problem for anyone, especially for Jews? Well because of the way it is phrased. It is a phrase used by Muslims which reads, “There Is No God But Allah”. You would think that this newspaper just discovered that the President is secretly a mass murderer.

Not that they say that. They actually don’t comment on it at all. They just report “facts”. The question is why are they reporting those facts? Is it because they love him and endorse his re-election? Hardly. They are obviously trying to smear him. Guilt by association.

Implied in this article is that the President is secretly more of a Muslim than he would have any of us believe.  At least when he was in college, when photos of him wearing it were taken.  Why else would he be wearing a ring with the quintessential Islamic statement of faith?

And for good measure the article reminds us of the President’s close association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright whose name is synonymous with vitriolic anti Israel rhetoric!

This story has since been debunked. But even if it were true, it means absolutely nothing. There is no evidence at all that the President is anything other than a man of faith and a Christian. Even if it is true about this inscription, wearing a ring that easily could have been given to him by his father – thus having sentimental value - does not make him a Muslim. Nor is there anything wrong with saying that God is One. This is the very same statement made by Jews at least twice daily. Are we to criticize someone for wearing a ring on his finger for saying the same thing?

How desperate must these publications must be to defeat Barack Obama that they stoop to not so subtle smears like this one. Oh, I’m sure they will deny it and simply say that this was an interesting story about why he wore a wedding band on his finger in college – before he was even married. Right. If you buy that, I have such a deal for you on a really cool bridge in Brooklyn!

I have no problem with endorsing the President’s opponent, Mitt Romney. In fact I have not made up my mind yet as to which candidate I will endorse. I just have a problem with quasi-subtle smear campaigns.

Just to be clear, I have zero problems with anyone wearing a ring that says there is no God but Allah. Allah is nothing more than the word Muslims use for God. It is similar to the Hebrew word, Elokah. Though when transliterated into English both words are spelled differently, Elokah sounds something like Allah when spoken. Muslims do not have multiple terms for God. They fear that using different words might lead people to think that they believe in multiple gods.

Why have I not made up my mind about who I am voting for? Because nothing has really changed to sway me one way or the other since the last time I posted on this subject.

What was true in Bill Clinton’s era is still true today. “It’s the economy, stupid” read a sign at Clinton campaign headquarters. It was to remind the campaign staff that people vote their pocketbooks. If the economy has problems you exploit those problems to the detriment of the incumbent. The economy under Obama is a lot worse now that it was when Clinton ran. And that is how people are going to make their decisions.

Not long ago I analyzed which factors are important to Jews in this election. For me, nothing is more important than the welfare of my people.  Usually that means which candidate will be better for Israel.

Some may be uncomfortable with this position because there are people who will say that Jews care about Israel more than they do about their own country. I completely reject that notion as nothing more than subtle anti antisemitism  No one can ever legitimately say that I am anything less than an American patriot. I have written dozens of articles that show that. 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t consider the welfare of my people as paramount. There are over 6 million Jews in Israel that face threats of nuclear attack by a country that has promised to wipe Israel off the map. All while they feverishly pursue the construction of nuclear weapons. So as important as the economy is to me – and it is very important,  Israel’s welfare comes first.

In that post I said that as far as Israel is concerned, both candidates get favorable ratings from me and thus I didn’t see Israel as the deciding issue.  The President has proven his unshakable resolve to keep the American relationship with Israel strong by creating the strongest bond between the two countries in Israel’s entire history.  Mitt Romney has expressed his equally strong positions with respect to Israel.

My only criticism of the President is in his lack of any public display of warmth towards the Jewish State and a near antipathy of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact I tend to believe that the two men don’t particularly like each other. That won’t be true in a Romney Presidency.

But the fact that the US under Obama has increased cooperation with Israel in so many areas despite his antipathy towards its Prime Minister, actually adds to the President’s integrity. He does not base his support on his personal relationship with any given Prime Minster but on what he feels is the right thing to do. Clearly he feels that Israel deserves US support and that such support actually benefits the US.

That said, it would be nice to see a warmer relationship between the two leaders. That would very likely happen under a Romney Presidency.

With all the uncertainty about the future of the Middle East, where dictatorships are falling to popular uprisings - Syria’s Bashar Assad about to become the latest victim of that – Israel’s security has never been a more important factor in an election. It is apparent to me that the popular uprising favors a more fundamentalist approach to Islam.

Islamic Fundamentalists are the ones most stridently opposed to Israel’s existence. Egypt, the Middle East’s most powerful and populous country has now democratically voted into power one such Fundamentalist. A man who wants to have closer ties to another Fundamentalist country, Iran.

Although the new President of Egypt has said that he will continue to honor the peace treaty,  I don’t consider his promises to be all that reassuring. Fundamentalist fervor seem to be driving events in the Middle East right now.

Even Libya that has taken a more secular  democratic turn since toppling Qaddafi  cannot control their fanatics. Which is why Fundamentalists tied to Al Qaeda were able to successfully attack an American Embassy and murder American Ambassador Chris Stevens. Not to mention the fact that the American embassy in Egypt has been violently protested by Fundamentalists there.  None of this is good for Israel. In fact the so called Arab Spring could prove to be disastrous for Israel

Then there is the matter of Iran. Which candidate would have a better policy towards them? I don’t know. In fact I’m not even sure there is any real difference between them. Although Mitt Romney claims to have an identical view on this issue with Israel’s Prime Minister, I’m not sure that is anything more than campaign rhetoric.

The bottom line for me is that I am not sure which candidate would be better for my people. We have a proven bird in the hand with Obama. Is it worth changing that for promises of a warmer relationship? Again, I don’t know.

Nor am I completely convinced that Romney has any better ideas about fixing the economy than Obama does. Although I tend to agree more with the Romney’s free market economic philosophy than I do with Obama’s socially oriented economic philosophy, I am still not certain which one will improve the economy faster and sustain it longer.

I have to admit I am tempted to endorse the President precisely because of articles like the one referenced at the beginning of this post. But that would reactionary. I prefer to vote with my head. And as of now I have no endorsement.

Updated at 6:37 PM