Rachel Avraham explains how from day one, Obama was one of the worst president in US history for the Jewish people in recent years. She believes that he was greatly influenced by the anti-Semitism of the progressive left.

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In a few days, US President Barack Obama will be retiring and the United States of America will have a new president. According to internationally acclaimed legal expert Alan Dershowitz, he will go down in history as “one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever.”  The question is, was he any better for the American Jewish community, who largely voted him in twice?  In my humble opinion, he failed American Jews just as much as he failed Israel and the Middle East in general.

Obama was inaugurated into office in January 2009 and instantly around that period of time following Operation Cast Lead, there was a rise in anti-Israel sentiment on US college campuses.   For example, the University of Maryland at College Park, which was once a bastion for pro-Israel students, instantly became inundated with anti-Israel propaganda that did not exist previously.   The Muslim Students Association, which used to be mainly focused on religious activities, instantly started to host events such as Palestinian Solidarity Week, where they hosted anti-Semitic speaker Mauri Salakhan who claimed that Israel did not have a right to exist, and Allison Weirs, who called Judaism “a ruthless and supremacist faith.” They also hosted Gaza Day in the middle of campus, where a mock separation barrier was created.

Out of all of the Jewish groups on campus, only ZOA fought back by hosting two events to counter Palestinian Solidarity Week and holding Sderot Day in front of Gaza Day. The rest of the Jewish groups were living in fear.  Furthermore, the local school newspaper the Diamondback refused to publish a single article written in protest by a pro-Israel student. It is critical to note that any Jewish student who protested by taking matters into their own hands by standing up against these events was silenced by the authorities. The semester afterwards, the Students for Justice in Palestine was started on campus by Sana Javed, who proudly posted a picture of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist on her Facebook page as a profile pic and who partook in the Gaza Freedom March.  Recently, they have become so prominent on campus that they recently published a list of demands in the Diamondback that includes silencing pro-Israel students who call the SJP anti-Semitic, providing “protection” for Muslim students during Israel Fest and to prevent the American Sniper from being shown on campus because the movie offended them.

The University of Maryland at College Park was not the only college who previously experienced no Jewish-Muslim tensions to start having these issues around this period of time. It was a trend that started from the day that Obama became US President and it continued throughout his time serving as US President. According to the Forward, the Israel on Campus Coalition stated in 2009: “Over the course of the spring semester, beginning with the conflict in Gaza, we’ve seen a significant rise in anti-Israel activity on American college campuses, both in terms of the numbers and in terms of the quality and intensity of what we’re seeing. It’s a dramatic change.” These words ring as true today as they did then.

This dramatic rise in anti-Israel activism on campus did not occur in a vacuum. Throughout his time serving as US President, Obama was almost silent about the BDS Movement and the anti-Semitic ideology rising to prominence on campuses across the US. In fact, Obama even encouraged the BDS Movement when he refused to let Israeli products made over the green line be marked as “made in Israel.” Towards the end of his term, the Washington Post reported that he did make a speech against rising anti-Semitism to a Jewish audience proclaiming “We are all Jews.”

But nevertheless, according to Algeimener, the US Justice Department under US President Barack Obama stonewalled requests for information to be utilized in the fight against anti-Semitism. To the contrary, they reported that if a crime occurred against a Muslim, the Obama administration would speak out loudly against it and was very cooperative. Prior to his “we are all Jews” speech during his last year in office, Former Senator Rick Santorum stated in 2015: “There are four times as many acts of violence against Jews as there are Muslims but I never heard the president talk about them.”

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic that was cited in the Jerusalem Post, Obama provided a clear if incomplete definition for anti-Semitism and how it affects the State of Israel.  Obama said that an anti-Semite is someone who refuses to recognize the 3,000-year connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel. An anti-Semite is also someone who refuses to recognize the long history of persecution that the Jewish people suffered in the Diaspora. According to Obama, an anti-Semite is someone who refuses to understand that this history of persecution together with the Jews’ millennial connection to the Land of Israel is what justifies the existence of Israel in the Land of Israel.  Moreover, according to Obama, anti-Semites refuse to understand that Israel remains in mortal danger due to the continued existence of anti-Semitic forces that seek its destruction. As he sees it, even if you do understand the legitimacy of Israel’s existence and recognize the continued threats to its survival, you could still be an anti-Semite by employing double standards.

The issue is that many Jewish American groups including the Zionist Organization of America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have argued that Obama engaged in anti-Semitism according to his own definition during his time serving as US President. In his famous Cairo speech, he claimed that Israel was created because of the Holocaust and not because of the 3,000 year old connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel. When US President Barack Obama equated a KKK attack upon a Jewish Center in Kansas in 2014 with the mass flight of Jews from Europe in recent years, he demonstrated that he did not ‘recognize” the systematic persecution European Jews have been experiencing namely because of the increasing number of Islamist immigrants coming to the continent and the lack of response by the European authorities in the name of the very same political correctness that Obama champions. After all, Obama is a president who cannot even call radical Islam by its name. According to many observers, this obscures the issues faced by European Jewry. Moreover, by increasingly pressuring Israel over settlement construction while employing almost no pressure on the Palestinians for their incitement and terrorism, he is employing a double standard that is best illustrated by him breaking the US tradition of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council. By pushing for a two-state solution in an era when ISIS and radical Islam is on the rise, he has demonstrated that he does not understand that Israel remains in mortal danger by anti-Semitic forces that seek its destruction. 

Given this, many people in the Jewish community feel that Obama’s unprecedented financial assistance package to the State of Israel, his assistance with the Iron Dome alongside other projects, his condemnation of the Goldstone Report and all of the other anti-Israel resolutions that he did veto at the UN Security Council is not enough to undo the damage caused by the recent UN Security Council Resolution, the Paris Conference, the Obama administration’s public statements, Kerry pressuring Israel into releasing Palestinian terrorists with Israeli blood on their hands, Obama pressuring Israel to stop building in the settlements, Obama pressuring Israel into ending operations crucial for her security early, Obama almost not pressuring the Palestinians over their incitement, their refusal to negotiate and their terrorism, the existence of the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, Obama’s lack of leadership in fighting against ISIS and radical Islam, and the list just goes on.  

All of these disastrous policies contributed towards creating a negative climate for American Jews to live in. Under Obama, the Black Lives Movement has risen to prominence and together with their ascendance, there has been a lot of anti-Semitism. They issued a platform calling Israel “an apartheid state that implements genocide against the Palestinian people.” They support the BDS Movement. Dream Defenders, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter, even met with convicted Palestinian terrorist Mahmoud Jedda, who served 17 years in prison for planting bombs in Israel and one of their educational projects even goes as far as glorifying the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an internationally recognized terror group. Nevertheless, despite the anti-Semitism promoted by the movement, Obama has supported them.

Another far left group that promotes anti-Semitism which has risen to prominence under Obama is the Occupy Wall Street Movement. According to the Washington Post, Occupy protester Patricia McAllister proclaimed: “I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government… they need to be run out of this country.” This woman’s statement that got widespread publicity is not an isolated incident. Unfortunately, this woman represents one of many of the anti-Semites who are active in the Occupy Movement under Obama. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has even received the endorsement of the American Neo-Nazis Party, David Duke of the KKK and other extremist anti-Semitic elements.  While not everyone active in the Occupy Wall Street Movement is anti-Semitic, the more moderate liberals’ active in the movement and also Obama failed to speak out against the ones who were.

The truth of the matter is that US President Barack Obama relied heavily upon the far leftist progressive groups mentioned above for political support. This is problematic because in recent years, this section of the American population has been dominated by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Starting after the September 11 terror attacks, elements of the progressive left began spreading conspiracy theories about how the Mossad toppled the Twin Towers and ordered Jews not to show up for work that day. Later on, right wing Jews such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle were blamed for America’s disastrous war in Iraq instead of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.  

In high school and during my first two years of college, I was a student leader against the Iraq War and I witnessed the rise of left wing anti-Semitism personally. In fact, the anti-Semitism at many of the progressive rallies in Washington, DC got so bad that at a certain point, I just stopped being active on that issue. People were waving around Palestinian flags, keffiyahs and anti-Semitic signs, even though Israel had nothing to do with America’s war against Iraq. Furthermore, I bumped into local Islamists at those rallies, who at one point freaked me out so much that I reported one of them to a local Police officer.  

However, there is a big difference in the level of anti-Semitism in America under Bush verses Obama. Under Bush, these people were at the margins of American society. But once Obama became president, these people rose to prominence and for American Jews, this is the legacy that Obama leaves behind.  It is a legacy where the rise of anti-Semitism in the progressive left has become so dominant that Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton did not even feel comfortable making pro-Israel statements publicly, preferring to defer such statements to Jewish donors that supported her.  Some believe that this may have caused her to lose Jewish votes in key states such as Florida, which in turn may have influenced the election results for the present climate in the Democratic Party did not allow her to present herself as a moderate who would be an improvement over Obama. For that, she can only thank Obama alongside her poor decision to serve under him as Secretary of State for a full term, even though she herself acknowledged that he was not experienced enough to be US President. Had Clinton remained in the US Senate and differentiated herself from his failed policies, I believe that she and not Trump would have been sworn in as US President.