A long time ago I heard a couple of attorneys referring to someone as being a “schvartze.” I had never heard the term before so I was curious as to its meaning. I’d come to find out over time that it was a Yiddish word denigrating blacks like the ‘N’ word. I never heard it more than a few times but it came back to mind when I read a story about the wife of the Israeli interior minister Silvan Shalom. He is in charge of strategic dialogue with the U.S.
His wife, Judy Shalom Nir Mozes an Israeli television personality, passed along something she thought was humorous about our president Barack Obama which has him being “Black and Weak” That is supposedly the answer to the joke: “Do u know what Obama coffee is?”
My initial thought when I heard this was, “if that is the way she talks about him in public what must her private conversations be like?” Then the word schvartze came to mind. I could not avoid thinking that would be something she and those who passed the joke along would consider Obama.
When Judy Mozes was called on her racist remark she apologized and wrote: “President Obama I shouldnt have written the inappropriate joke I heard. I like people no matter about their race and religion.” I’m sure Obama is heartened to know she likes him even though he is black. Yet the question remains what was it in that joke that struck such a chord with her that she felt it appropriate to pass it on rather than suggesting to whoever told it to her that it was inappropriate?
I would not have thought to much of Judy’s statement had it not been that I read of a new book by Michael Oren who was born in the USA but left America at age 24 to become an Israeli. He was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from July 2009 to September 2013. So you have to figure he played a significant role in the relations between these allies.
Oren now is a member of the Israeli Knesset and a member of Netanyahu’s party. Less than two years after being ambassador to the U.S. he is now hawking his newly written book. Many have raised eyebrows that he engaged in the most undiplomatic of all moves writing a book attacking Obama.
It may be true that he is way out of line doing this. No one I have read can recall an ambassador from an ally to our country leaving his position and then undertaking to attack our president while he is still in office. The statements in his book about Obama are beyond the pale; but what makes them most egregious is if he thought of Obama when he was ambassador in the same manner he writes of him less than two years after leaving his post, there is no doubt that Oren had to be a big obstacle to our relations with Israel.
Oren seeks to find common ground with the American racists. He tells how when he became ambassador he studied Obama’s speeches and books very carefully. He suggest from his studies that at heart Obama is a Muslim: He writes, “Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. . . . Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia. I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.”
Think of it. After getting his job he is immediate thinking that Obama is seeking to please the Muslims from which would follow he is no friend of Israel. In proof of this he writes that Obama sympathizes with Muslim radicals pointing to his failure to attend a Paris rally saying “The president could not participate in a protest against Muslim radicals whose motivations he sees as a distortion, rather than a radical interpretation, of Islam.
To make sure the Muslim slur sticks he tells us that “Obama said “nothing good about America” in his memoir.” Going on he says of Obama, “Here was a man “without a word of praise or gratitude to America . . . ” These are the thoughts of the man Israel has sent to the United States to interact between our countries. Is it any wonder our relationship is not what it should be?
“Calling him a Muslim sympathizer and an American ingrate and all the other nastiness he attributes to him in his book just would not fly if Obama was not different from other American presidents. Obama’s only difference is that he is not white. I get the sense that Oren too would have found the “Black and Weak” answer right up his alley.
Oren and others in Israel’s leadership must stop thinking of Obama as a schvartze. They must give him the respect due our president. Unless they do things will not improve nor should they.