Posts

The 5.5 Best Parts of Leon Wieseltier’s Essay About Obama and the Jews

There’s so much good stuff in Leon Wieseltier’s recent essay on why the Jewish community need not fear Barack Obama that we’re just going to pick out our five and a half favorite quotes: The quote: "Russert then broached the … Read More

By / March 24, 2008

There’s so much good stuff in Leon Wieseltier’s recent essay on why the Jewish community need not fear Barack Obama that we’re just going to pick out our five and a half favorite quotes:

  1. The quote: "Russert then broached the embarrassment of Obama's pastor, and his racialist and anti-Zionist assertions. Suddenly the wild broodings of the Jewish blogosphere were erupting into prime time." Why we like it: Sometimes it's reassuring to know other people think the Jewish blogosphere has a "wild brooding" problem.
  2. The quote: "As for Obama's notorious middle name: it is the rankest Islamophobia to suggest that all Husseins are the same. I run into Islamophobia in the Jewish community rather often. It is unpretty and it is un-Judaic. Barack Hussein Obama is as splendid a name for a patriotic American as, say, Abner Mikva." Why we like it: "Unpretty and un-Judaic" — well said.
  3. The first part of the quote: "It is true that sometimes American Jewish identity appears to consist in a great competition in worry, and whoever worries most, wins; and it is true that American Jewish culture is too consumed by the commemoration, or the anticipation, of disaster." Why we like it: "Whoever worries most, wins" is totally the motto of Judaism. I think it's in Latin on the Brandeis University crest. The second part of the quote: "Anyway, worry is also an expression of love. The more intensely you cherish something, the more regularly you contemplate the possibility of its disappearance." Why we like it: Because it's an empathic explanation of why the topic of Israel makes American Jews (us included) so crazy.
  4. The quote: "This Jewish need to believe in the friendship of the highest power in the land is a survival of the political mentality of medieval Jewry, with its preference for "vertical alliances" over any reliance upon the goodwill of the local population–a highly anomalous survival in the American case, in which horizontal alliances, at every level of politics, are a regular feature of Jewish existence." Why we like it: Because context is key.
  5. The quote: "September 11 drew the United States into a new and deep and justified engagement with the Arab world, and American Jews will have to accustom themselves to this historical complication–but hold the kaddish, because in American presidential politics now there is not an enemy in sight." Why we like it: Because it's true.
Tagged with: