Have We Lost Our Senses?
The following is the concluding paragraph of an article in the current issue of Mishpacha:
“The failure of American Jewry during the Holocaust pales beside that of American Jewry today. By virtue of its unshakable adulation of Obama, American Jewry has watched calmly as he placed 6 million Jews in Israel under threat of extinction from an Iranian nuclear bomb.”
What precedes these lines is of a similar nature, including the comparison of the interim understanding regarding Iran to the 1938 Munich Agreement entered into by Hitler and Chamberlain. We are told, however, that “the comparison of Obama to Neville Chamberlain is unfair to the latter.” How charming.
If the article was written by an obscure figure in Jewish life, concern about its extremism would be ameliorated by the acknowledgement that the writer was speaking his own mind and few would pay heed. The author of the Mishpacha piece is Jonathan Rosenblum, deservedly a respected writer, and the sentiments that he expresses are shared by a great many in the Orthodox community. This adds both to the impact of the article and to the obligation to call the writer to task for his indulgence in paranoia and worse.
Comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust are always odious and are to be avoided. What Rosenblum has written is odious and disgusting journalism. When such comparisons are made, it is necessary to protest.
What I write here has nothing to do with criticism of President Obama or his policy toward Iran. Reasonable people can certainly take issue with the President. There are boundaries, however and we religious Jews should not transgress by indulging in paranoid thinking.
I might note that four days ago many dozens of Orthodox Jewish leaders were in Washington at the White House for President Obama’s Chanukah celebration. They weren’t coerced to come. They eagerly came and many sought invitations. How strange that they would want to go to an event sponsored by a man who has consciously “placed six million Jews in Israel under threat of extinction.”
What part of the comparison do you find odious? Iran to Hitler, or Obama to Chamberlain?
As to the former, Iran has stated it wants to wipe Israel off the map, and is busily acquiring nuclear weapons for the purpose. Just shortly before the agreement was reached, the supreme head of Iran called Israel a “rabid dog” that has no right to exist. Is there any doubt that Iran, given the ability, would commit Holocaust II?
As for Chamberlain, he sincerely believed he was bringing Peace in Our Time. That was based a great deal on wishful thinking, fueled by a reluctance to engage in war by a generation that had been traumatized by WWI. Chamberlain and his generation were patriots who meant well. Yet they lead Britain, and most of the free world, into disaster.
By now, I would have expected the author of this piece to have caught on to dangers posed by President Obama, and maybe to have apologize for making his political cluelessness public in this forum. What we read here is really a tribute to the incredible power of bad old habits of thought. When he applies “odious” only to those who truly deserve it, we’ll be ready for the final redemption. For now, Jonathan Rosenblum was spot on and deserves our praise.
“They eagerly came and many sought invitations.”
As did the Jews- frum Jews!- of Shushan in Achashverosh’s time. He had kosher food, too.
This ties in very well with Rabbi Adlerstein’s article “Are They All Really Rasha’im?”. More and more extreme rhetoric is coming out of Israel, and it is all indefensible. Extremism breeds extremism in other areas (such as the Machlokes between Rabbis Shteinman & Kaniefsky). Perhaps (as Rabbi Adlerstein and others, such as Rabbi Berel Wein point out that it is a problem) it is time to deal with such extremism clothed in Frumkeit as being a problem, and not following Chazal and Halacha, no different than such cults like Lev Tahor in Canada and the “Burka Ladies” in Beit Shemesh.
I have always respected Dr. Schick, regardless if i agreed with his thoughts, politics, or comment; but i think he went too far in this one. Perhaps, perhaps one can assign a variant political view to the idea that what the Iran agreement did is actually helpful. Yet MANY respectable commentators in the secular media[mostly conservative thinkers, sadly] have echoed this same idea. This isn’t the rumination of a single individual who is a right-wing-kook, but the fear of a large swath of political thinkers-and most tellingly even the Saudis. To read of Saudi Arabia having a mutual convergence of interest with the Israelis, beyond the man-bites-dog aspect, is frightening.
Many considered Churchill a rabble rousing war-monger for his views expressed prior to WWII, but in hindsight we know how correct he was. All of us hope that the lines that Jonathan penned turn out to be nothing more than fear, but history and honesty should force us to consider the possibility that he may be correct, and at the least to consider its implications. I would even venture to say that there is an element of cognitive dissonance at play. The alternative is so frightening that we ignore it.
That said, Jonathan was entirely accurate. A lot of people supported Chamberlain in his time as well. Those who objected were called warmongers. Sound familiar?
“What I write here has nothing to do with criticism of President Roosevelt or his policy toward Germany. Reasonable people can certainly take issue with the President. There are boundaries, however and we religious Jews should not transgress by indulging in paranoid thinking.”
Wow! Marvin Schick is the voice of reason and almost everyone criticizes him! There is nothing that I can add to his cogent remarks, he is right on. I sometimes wonder why I subscribe to certain Chareidi periodicals that won’t print a picture of a female. It certainly isn’t to read the slanted interpretations of politics. I have theories why so many very orthodox Jews see the world so differently from me. But, what good would it do to share such ideas when their minds are closed.
On the other hand, Dr Schick and little people like me are able to criticize the current administration for policies that we feel are misguided without seeing the President and his administration as evil people. Hashem Yiracheim if we buy into the conspiracy theories and the insecurity that causes us to feel so hated, when , the reasons may have a lot more to do with realpolitic and the different agendas of the Israeli government and the United States interests. It is what it is but if you want anything from someone,don’t spit in his face first. I wish our Eretz Yisroeldikeh cousins would learn this lesson too. Kudos to Marvin Schixk, a voice of sanity in an insane community.
Has President Obama really placed “6 million Jews in Israel under threat of extinction from an Iranian nuclear bomb”? The threat was there long before President Obama was inaugurated; the Bush administration did nothing about the problem for eight years. And quite frankly, is there that much that President Obama could do, even if he did everything Israel wanted? American public opinion will not tolerate an American military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, no matter who is in power.
The Chamberlain analogy is also off the mark. At Munich, Great Britain and France successfully pressured Czechoslovakia to give up defensible land to placate Hitler. No one in our time has pressured Israel into giving anything up to placate anyone, and given the current administration in Israel, it is highly doubtful anyone can or will.
The paragraph shown below is an exact quote from:
Obama’s Iran Gamble, an article written
by George Crowley in Geneva, which appeared in
Time Magazine, 2013 December 9, page 32:
The agreement, which trades temporary relief for
Iran from international economic sanctions in return
for limits on its nuclear program, lets Teheran off easy,
Republicans and even some Democrats complain.
“We have just rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior,”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers told CNN.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk said the deal “appears to
provide the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism
with billions of dollars in exchange for cosmetic
concessions that neither fully freeze nor significantly
roll back its nuclear infrastructure.”
Spaces were added to the paragraph
shown above to make it easier to read.
It is interesting.
Centrist Jews often characterize the Chareidi world as so very narrow-minded and intolerant of reasonable disagreement. We so often pat ourselves on the back for our enlightened openness to a diversity of viewpoint on a broad range of issues, particularly religious questions.
Yet the response from so many otherwise measured, thoughtful, and reserved exponents of modern orthodox views, people quick to condemn the intellectual tunnel-vision of the chareidim to the recent Iran deal is striking. Reactionary, zealous, vitriolic, unconsidered, obviously single-minded. These are but a few of the more apt characterizations of many responses emanating from members of the modern orthodox community, who have taken to doing much of what Jonathan Rosenblum did in the criticized Mishpacha editorial.
I suppose we are really not so different, you and I.
It’s just a matter of which issues we all think are so obviously determinate and objectively clear that to disagree is not merely to be wrong but to be illegitimate entirely.
Did it ever occur to you that when you find little to criticize about Mr. Obama, but frequently refer to the Charedi community as “an insane community” it reflects rather poorly on you and your positions? It also does little to convince us of your sincerity when you lament the lack of achdus in the community or criticize the Charedim for being intolerant.
Yes – plenty of commenters [myself included] here disagree with Mr. Schick. They did so respectfully and by staying on topic. Why, if you agree with him, do you find it necessary to speak so negatively about an entire community of your brethren?
“No one in our time has pressured Israel into giving anything up to placate anyone…”
There has been tremendous pressure for Israel to give up pieces of land, and to release prisoners with blood on their hands.
Chamberlain was also afraid of public opinion. A good president will do what is necessary despite public opinion.
Mr. Rosenblum made a very cogent comparison, which works on many levels. Just because the Holocaust has been misused for other causes doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use the events to learn from for our current situation.
“No one in our time has pressured Israel into giving anything up to placate anyone?” I’m sorry, but did someone really write that?
A few weeks ago the venerable Dr Schick posted here his view that the chariedi media were irresponsible and wrong in their treatment of Obama as the president has been unwavering in his support of sanctions against Iran in order to prevent their nuclear ammbitions.He also lambasted the conservative political views of ma
ny frum people and their adherence to Rush Limbaugh and others.After the developments since that posting,namely the Iran deal, one would logically expect an elaborate full throated mea culpa from Dr Schick and a commitment to broaden his news sources to more than just the radical left NY times and similarly biased outlets.I thought maybe we would even get a post decrying those who put themselves ahead of the klal to shamefully attend said chanukah party and offer implicit encouragement to this modern day Chaimberlin(a comparson made by many including Dr Charles Krauthammer).How flabbergasted I am that Dr Schick inexplicably doubles down on his folly in face of indisputable facts and instead attacks Rabbi Rosenblum !!.
So much to say…
It’s a mystery how Jews have any clout left in politics. We’re so often ready to fall in line with our powerful opponents for ideological or allegedly pragmatic reasons. We’re taken for granted and no doubt ridiculed for this behavior, which is largely the residue of previous FDR-worship.
For years, I’ve read plenty of indignant purple prose lashing out against any comparison of the Shoah, on any level, to anything else. Do we have a vested interest in such silliness? And are we now to extend this no-comparison zone back to 1938? Comparisons can be true/helpful or false/harmful or a little of each; we’re capable of making distinctions.
There has been plenty of US and European pressure on Israel
1. Not to take out the Iranian nuclear threat
2. Not to take exception to deals that foster further nuclear weapons development by Iran
3. Not to act in any fashion as a sovereign nation
Like Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s, Israel has been locked out of crucial international deliberations central to its survival.
If Iran’s regime was becoming less stable under the economic conditions imposed by Western sanctions, and if its new leader had bragged in public about fooling the West earlier (which he did), what possible reason was there to let up? (hint: some want to cash in, others want Israel gone but not by their own hand).
Is every wrong move by Obama excusable because Bush blundered?
A thought question:
Try to name a few major domestic and foreign policy initiatives by President Obama, in concept and in execution, that are not consistent with personal enmity towards his own country and Israel.
>>Comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust are always odious and are to be avoided. What Rosenblum has written is odious and disgusting journalism. When such comparisons are made, it is necessary to protest.
Well, score another point for Godwin’s law.
Mr. Rosenblum was actually quoting Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal on that one, so it is kind of unfair to portray him as the originator. Regardless, I think you should discuss the more substantive arguments that he made. What Obama pushed here at this point is utterly incomprehensible given that the sanctions were actually starting to make a dent. Why push this deal now when he could have waited until Iran was the one desperate for a deal and not the US?
Mr Schick is spot on. Woe to us when so many others cannot see the problem in speaking in such radical terms.
Why doesn’t Dr. Schick also reference the expose in that issue of Mishpacha Magazine about the infiltration of Iranian lobbyists and the Obama administration? The fact is that Obams and his administration has, from the get go, cozzied up to Iran. If anything, Jonathan’s opinion piece makes perfect sense in light of this.
In response to E. Fink: No.
“No one in our time has pressured Israel into giving anything up to placate anyone?” I’m sorry, but did someone really write that?” Yes, and I was serious about it. Maybe I should have added the word “successfully.” Certainly, there are those in the current administration who have tried to pressure Israel, but Israel has been pretty resistant to pressure when it wants to be. And certainly not since Bush 41 has any US president threatened sanctions against Israel to force concessions. All the present administration (as well as the previous one) has engaged in is some aggressive “jawboning.” The day you see the US threaten to end all foreign aid and call in all loans if territorial concessions are not made is the day you can think about Munich. Even then, it won’t be an exact analogy unless Israel folds, something it is not likely to do.
I commend Dr. Schick on speaking out against paranoia and extremism. It is disconcerting that so many people would attack him for his straightforward and common-sense statements. In recent months, it has been heartening to see statements from people such as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Adlerstein, and this post from Dr. Schick speaking out against the extreme isolationism that has taken on a life of its own. The response from most commenters here tells me there is still a long way to go.
The frum world has vastly underestimated how much a toxic effect right-wing media (specifically talk radio) has had on its thought, discourse and behavior. It’s bad enough that frum people have adopted the paranoid thinking and mean-spirited platform of the worst elements of the conservative movement, but worse, they have also adopted the shrill and hyperbolic language which has no place among people who should be speaking with respect and equanimity, especially regarding the leader of the country that has granted them freedom and prosperity like no other in our history.
I commend Jonathan Rosenblum for speaking out against the “sha shtill” appeasers of the left, who’d like everyone to just be quiet and join them as this president’s lapdog. It is heartening that so many have spoken up in full throated agreement of Mr. Rosenblum, yet disconcerting that some of the older generation can remain so willfully disconnected from reality. Their comments tell me they have to expand their reading beyond their own echo chambers. Fortunately, extremist comments such as those of Dr. Shick are mere outliers, and for good reason. Kudos to rabbi rosenblum for speaking up in dissent, the highest form of patriotism.
I have little to say in response to the above short blog, other than to say that Jonathan Rosenblum is simply right. One may not like to hear the truth, but that does not make that truth suddenly false. Israel really is in terrible danger thanks to our current President essentially giving Iran the green light to build nuclear bombs so that it can destroy Israel with its ironically six million Jews living in it. This point is so obvious to me, that it would be an insult to demand proof of what is right in front of all of our faces. To quote American Founding Father John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things.”
Mr. Reisman, forgive me but you haven’t helped your case. It’s not just results that matter, but also intentions. By your logic, if the IDF thwarts a Palestinian terror attack or discovers a tunnel meant to be used for terror attacks (as happened only a few weeks ago)it’s somehow meaningless, simply because there was no “successful” attack. That’s ridiculous.
Moreover, you betray a narrow Americo-centric perspective. The EU has recently announced very threatening economic guidelines, due to go into effect on January 1, regarding dealing with the settlements or anything or anyone connected to the settlements, that is liable to cost Israeli industry and science tens of millions of dollars a year. Britain only last week warned its businessmen on an official trade website against doing business in the settlements.
I hope you don’t mean to imply that anyone who isn’t American is “No one.”
I agree with ‘MS’ because ‘ JR’ with his rhetoric is blinding readers to a basic principle in Yiddishkeit , that we Jews ourselves are authors of our destiny through our actions and behavior and the ‘ goyim’ are just G-d’s messengers. A Rosh Kollel here in Israel remarked that ‘machlokes’ was always a problem and G-d’s response has been to send someone to remind us that our behavior is unacceptable. When Obama and the Iranians are the bad guys and we are the good guys , there is nothing we can do wrong.
Living in Europe, I find the degree of dislike of President Obama by segments of the Jewish community, as well as other Americans amazing. From the over here, it does look like you are loosing your senses. It seems to me that the reason for this reflects the educational system, which allows so many Americans and Jews, for example, to dismiss Darwin. The other aspect that is missing is a realisation that when negotiating, both sides have to give up something important and it is usually the more powerful side that has to ensure that the weaker side does not loose too much face. I suspect this is particularly important given Iranian culture and politics. I thought President Obama’s speech yesterday in South Africa was first class and he took the opportunity to reach out to Cuba and issue a warning to other countries in Africa and elsewhere. The ability to reach an agreement between the ANC and the then South African Gov’t, or in Ireland, or the end of the Iron Curtain are examples where as Churchill described it, talk, talk is better then war, war. Compromises have to be made because if everyone insists on what they consider to be their rights, then there is no way forward. Diplomacy is about what is possible, not about what is ideal. I also wonder if I am the only woman to have made a comment here? Perhaps, the way forward is for the men to keep quiet and send women to do the negotiating, but then I have Chancellor Angela Merkel as a role model and hope to see President Hilary Clinton.
As a substative response to the article, one of the few groups that have any clout left with the Democrats are the Chassidim, who are a democratic stronghold and have the ears of the Clintons (at the very least). They haven’t said anything, so why should Republican leaning Yeshivish Flatbush Jews do so? What do we think it might accomplish?
Comparing anything to the Holocaust (except for perhaps the Armenian Genocide, to which Hitler himself compared it) denegrates those who lived (and died) through it.
SA – You are right in that Europeans are putting pressure on Israel; how successful the pressure will be remains to be seen. However, the issue was President Obama, and I have seen nothing comparable to what was done to Czechoslovakia at Munich. And also, the issue was to what extent the Jews of Israel are in the same danger now as Europe’s Jews were in 1939.
I have come up with 3 possible explanations to explain this post from Dr Schick who I’ve always admired for his dedication to klal yistoel.1.the FDR syndrome:many jews grew up in a generation where the democrat FDR was lionized for his perceived kindness in establishing social programs and for going to war against the Nazis.This gave birth to blind jewish democrat loyalty.It wasn’t till much later that his vile hatred of Jews(who he refused to help rescue) and the disastrous effects of his policies were discovered.Many Jews still can not rid themselves of this democrat allegience no matter how counter to torah values and common sense it runs.2 the legacy media syndrome:some otherwise intelligent people have yet to realize what is so obvious to the rest of us,that the old school news outlets like the NY times,Washington post,CBS,nbc,ABC,CNN ext. are nothing more than hard left propaganda sites that distort the truth,suppress the inconvenient and can not be trusted for anything other than the sports page.Hence one who gets his news from the aformentioned can read Rosenblum’s rather obvious Obama Chamberlain comparison and find it to be an example of chariedi extremism as the NY times ect. never informed the reader about the myriad radical Obama associations listed by JR in his piece.3 The baby with bath water syndrome:Many on this blog often provide the vital function of constructive criticism and solutions to the too many many ills that plague frum society.However this seems to lead in some to an indiscriminate mind set, that any widely held chariedi view is automatically wrong or at least debatable .Hence we have some critiques of Rosenblum’s column for those set on criticism auto pilot.If they would consider his points on the merits instead of resorting to insults they would easily recognize the truth.After being sickened by those who inconceivably attended the the Whitehouse chanuka party,the hyperventilating tone of those Obama defenders here provides me a little solace, as it seems evident that these delusional but well meaning yidden are a frustrated minority.
Contrary to what people are claiming is the noxious effect of the right-wing media and narrow-mindedness on the part of the Chareidi world, what I would call Dr. Schick’s opinion and many of the comments here is: “knee-jerk moderation”. The need to always try to be moderate, to use pleasant and appeasing language, just for the sake of appearing and sounding moderate. Why?
Like it or not, the President often appears not just at ease with the notion of America as the leader of the free world, but far more willing to view the US as just another once great country, whose time for greatness has passed, and whose actions not require the “approval” of the “world community” of third world dictators, Communists and KGB thugs in expensive suits. Such a course of conduct can fairly be caused a case of post modernist appeasement-escept in the politically correct quarters of the academic, cultural and political left
Anna wrote in part:
“From the over here, it does look like you are loosing your senses. It seems to me that the reason for this reflects the educational system, which allows so many Americans and Jews, for example, to dismiss Darwin. The other aspect that is missing is a realisation that when negotiating, both sides have to give up something important and it is usually the more powerful side that has to ensure that the weaker side does not loose too much face. I suspect this is particularly important given Iranian culture and politics. I thought President Obama’s speech yesterday in South Africa was first class and he took the opportunity to reach out to Cuba and issue a warning to other countries in Africa and elsewhere. The ability to reach an agreement between the ANC and the then South African Gov’t, or in Ireland, or the end of the Iron Curtain are examples where as Churchill described it, talk, talk is better then war, war”
The above, IMO, represents the rhetoric and logic of “peace in our time”, or appeasement in its full form, despite the fact that appeasement of Fascism led to WW2, and that the Cold War was won by Americans who liberated Europe and who protected Europeans from the post war threat of Communism, in Europe and elsewhere.
Divrei chachamim b’nachas nishmaim.
I guess some of us really want to think that the parade of terrorist prisoner releases by Israel’s current government has been Israel’s own idea. After all, how can you presume to negotiate at gunpoint with terrorist entities without first paying them off by releasing their buddies? Somehow, I think it’s American and European pressure that did the deed. We need our own special divestment program to divest ourselves of wishful thinking proven wrong over decades.
one of the few groups that have any clout left with the Democrats are the Chassidim, who are a democratic stronghold appeasers of the left, who’d like everyone to just be quiet and join them as this president’s lapdog. I commend Dr. Schick on speaking out against paranoia and extremism.Did it ever occur to you that when you find little to criticize about Mr. Obama, but frequently refer to the Charedi community as “an insane community” it reflects rather poorly on you and your positions? It also does little to convince us of your sincerity when you lament the lack of achdus in the community or criticize the Charedim for being intolerant.
I have quoted some salient comments and would like to respond. I do not understand why those who used tgo be frei think that it makes them more frum to be right wingers,what are they trying to prove? They should know better from history. The chassidim have a “tranactional relationship with the government, as do the chareidim in Israel.They will exchange their votes on major issues affecting the country for the reward they receive. Their support is bought not sought. As far as not criticizing, that is a straw man and an ad hominem and a tu quoque fallacy in logic ( I just learned these big words and want to show off).Nobody is happy with this adminsistration at the moment for good reasons. I personally did not vote for Obama the second time around. However, I don’t hate the man and I don’t believe in paranoia and extremism. I am not anybody’s lap dog and I am not an appeaser, but I do see the reality differently. “Trust but verify” is what Sec. Kerry is saying. He hasn’t gotten much traction from Congress ,so don’t despair that Israel has been sold out. That is an overreaction and you do not know what is going on behind the scenes, nor do I.This is a delicate situation and we are dealing with a large country that is also both very grandiose and very insecure (Iran).
As far as the Israeli Chareidm, on a personal level, they are the nicest people you can meet. They do chesed and give tzedaka and feel a kinship with their community. However, they are fighting a battle that need not be fought this way. They could show some understanding that the status quo has to change and they would enable their people to work and be a part of the country. As Yaakov Weinroth, the lawyer, said , the Chareidim believe they are the “Jews” in this country. We are an orphan generation and we desperately need leadership to take on their shoulders telling their people that the Ponzi sceme that has supported them is over. Now, let’s all have achdus and shalom and ahavas yisrael.
at about 5:45 you probably received the comment I only began, which was sent prematurely. Sorry!
I don’t have time to try again, but I’m hopeful that 1. we’ll all begin spending significant time really working to connect through davening to the only One who really knows which side of this issue to take (as Rav Moshe Wolfson asked why we weren’t storming the heavens when the threat of a nuclear Iran became real.) and 2. people will read the insightful and ultimately upbeat column of Seidemann in “5 Towns Jewish Times”).
Wishing you a good Shabbos.
R’ Schick writes: “We are told, however, that ‘the comparison of Obama to Neville Chamberlain is unfair to the latter.’ How charming.”
Interesting that Paul Johnson, in his book “Modern Times”, wrote that Chamberlain was worried that if Hitler was removed, the Communists would take over Germany. He therefore felt that dealing with Hitler at that point was the lesser of two evils—better to have two monstrous regimes that hate each other and counterbalance each other, than have one huge monstrous regime that will swallow everything.
It’s hard to tell whether similar real-world, hard-nosed, practical considerations of the threat from utter evil have motivated Obama to be so nice to Iran.
David Rosenfeld wrote: “A few weeks ago the venerable Dr Schick posted here his view that the chariedi media were irresponsible and wrong in their treatment of Obama as the president has been unwavering in his support of sanctions against Iran in order to prevent their nuclear ammbitions.He also lambasted the conservative political views of ma
ny frum people and their adherence to Rush Limbaugh and others.After the developments since that posting,namely the Iran deal, one would logically expect an elaborate full throated mea culpa from Dr Schick….”
Care to respond, Rabbi Schick?