Reaching for the Truth

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6 Responses

  1. Tal S. Benschar says:

    While not everything that Oren says in his book holds water, the Obama Administration seems to have a real problem with Israel and Jews. That was driven home when Obama made his infamous comment that “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concern when you have a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” As anyone with an ounce of brains can tell, the shooters chose a kosher deli for one reason: to kill and terrorize Jews. Yet our President cannot bring himself to call the facts as they are.

    (A White House spokesman later tried to defend the remark by claiming that the shooters did not know the individuals they were shooting. By that logic, the recent shooting of a black church in Charleston S.C. was “random,” since the shooter did not know anyone there. Imagine if a Republican had called that awful shooting “random.”)

    And all R. Shafran could say about Obama’s comment was that it was “unfortunate.” That tells you how much credibility R. Shafran has on the topic.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information (1992)
    by Jean Francois Revel gives a rigorous analysis of information, including the mis- and dis- varieties, we encounter. Once you make a cogent case, count on many others to try to balance off its facts with the many available non-facts.
    Marrying people to the truth that challenges their outlook is as hard as making a shidduch in general.

    You can safely let Rabbi Shafran have the last word. His arguments call on us to believe Obama and not our own eyes (Ref.: Marx Brothers).

  3. L. Oberstein says:

    It is fine to have these debates. They don’t “bahshmutz” one another,which is so different that what one seems to hear in Knesset arguments with shouting and name calling and guys getting ejected from the room. This is how Americans discuss an issue, with relative politeness. “My distinguished friend is totally out of his mind,but I love him”
    I didn’t read the book yet,but the publicity is great for sales.
    Obama is not going down in history as a great President. He is inept, arrogant, stubborn and has made many serious errors in foreign policy. I don’t know if he could have done more domestically had he been a better people person, but it couldn’t have been much worse.
    Jack Lew is a shomer shabbos Jew. I see him in shul whenever I am in Riverdale. It is a tribute to America that someone of his caliber can rise to such a lofty position and his Jewish observance is not a hindrance. Lately, I see that Joe and Hadassah are also davening more at the Bayit than at RJC. I hear that sometimes the two chat about stuff. Otherwise, Lew is careful to avoid too much interaction with people who will give him an earful. Otherwise, it would be hard to come to shul.

    Let’s remember that Jews are still a minority and that the USA is very important in Israel’s existence .As long as we don’t bite the hand that feeds us and as long as we don’t get an unrealistic picture of our own power, we are free to have these debates. We are in golus, the goyim can turn on us, Israel is isolated and alone and the USA is its main and often only major power friend. Presidents come and go but the permanent military and government bureaucracy stays. We need cool heads and shouldn’t get too big for our britches. That is how we said it back in Alabama.

  4. Shua Cohen says:

    > “I find it an odd enterprise to defend a book’s claims by recourse to…the book’s claims.”

    >> This morning’s comment-in-rebuttal from R. Shafran is, in-and-of itself, an IED which blows his entire argument to smithereens. R. Shafran finds it “odd” that an historian’s “claims” (i.e. firsthand accounts and analyses)are what? …offered as accurate and truthful? Really? I guess that in R. Shafran’s estimation NO ONE should write history (or at least not history that disagrees with his and Pres. Obama’s idiosyncratic Weltanschauung).

    Every historian knows that contemporaneous recordings of historical events by eye witnesses are the single most trustworthy for discovering the truth (albeit, with the need to examine the recordings’ objectivity being always prerequisite). In Mr. Oren, we have a recorder of history who is, by all measures, a distinguished scholar with nary a hint of reason to question his objectivity (not to mention his sincerity). The only critics who have the credibility to challenge him would be those individuals who were privy to the same level of first-hand knowledge as the one being criticized.

    R. Shafran would have us believe that for four years, he was a veritable aide-de-camp to Mr. Oren, during the latter’s service as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Therefore, we are further led to believe that, from his intimate familiarity with all of Mr. Oren’s experiences, R. Shafran can sweep aside “the book’s claims” and analyses as being disingenuous (to say the least). What HUBRIS!

    Unless R. Shafran can demonstrate otherwise, there is no presumption that he has any special connections to members of the diplomatic service in either the U.S. or Israel, that he was privy to any of the thousands of memos, cables, and other documents (whether official or off-the-record) that Mr. Oren was privy to, or that he has a clue as to the words and demeanor of the hundreds of interlocutors with whom Mr. Oren privately huddled with over the years of his ambassadorial service. I would pretty much postulate that all that R. Shafran can possibly know is exactly what any U.S. or Israeli citizen can know, from reading about events in the public media (and we know how reliable that can be, right?) to hearing the self-serving soundbites of government PR people.

    Sorry, but R. Shafran has zero credibility while standing in Mr. Oren’s shadow, and does a disservice to the frum community by his obvious and distasteful Obama-sychophancy…a veritable Stephen Wise for our times. How ironic it is what the noted historian, Benzion Netanyahu (Bib’s father), wrote about Stephen Wise, vis-à-vis his relationship to one of Mr. Obama’s predecessors:

    “He thought of himself as a servant of president Roosevelt. He referred to Roosevelt as “chief”, and he really meant it that way – Roosevelt was the chief, and Wise was the servant. Wise was happy to just follow along with whatever Roosevelt wanted. He was content as long as FDR just remembered his name or gave him a few minutes of his time every once in a while.”

    I feel very sad that R. Shafran is so comfortable in his role as the “Orthodox defender-in-chief of Mr. Obama.”

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    First of all, please don’t side with me simply because I allow comments. Rabbi Shafran’s other responsibilities prevent him from engaging with comments, and that is always been his policy on Cross-Currents.

    I guess we agree to disagree. The State Department was well aware that an absolutely extraordinary relief effort from Israel was on the way to Haiti, so the omission of Israel was certainly bizarre at best. Egregious: shocking, outstandingly bad. Nonetheless, Oren never said that that one incident was tremendously significant on its own — it’s better to read the book, because it is filled with incidents that, taken in a vacuum, might not signify much. The cumulative impact of dozens of such incidents is another story entirely.

    Again, Oren is an historian. When is the last time you’ve read a biography that didn’t try to understand the mindset of the subject, that this should be deemed a “loopy undertaking” on an historian’s part? Did Obama’s auto-biography, Dreams of My Father, not invite us to try to understand him?

    Similarly, Rabbi Shafran persists in focusing attention upon a poor word choice in Oren’s WSJ article, in lieu of addressing his central point — that Obama made deliberate steps to distance Israel from the US, changing US policy at least since Reagan.

    Clearly Rabbi Shafran has no children living in Ramat Eshkol. George Bush said that the major settlements and Jerusalem would be within Israel’s borders, so of course that meant Israel could build within those areas. That was Sharon’s “reward” for the Gaza withdrawal. Rabbi Shafran has neatly sidestepped the issue: Obama redefined “contested areas!”

    Stuxnet is but one example of close US-Israel collaboration during the past six years. There is no question that Obama is interested in helping Israel to defend its citizens — but his ideas about globalism and rapprochement with the Arab world have caused him to disconnect from Israel in a way that threatens its security, all the same.

  6. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    As the United States rushes to sign a deal that ensures Iran will attain nuclear weapons and gain hundreds of billions of dollars to pursue regional hegemony and buttress such allies as Hezbollah and Hamas, it simply defies belief to assert that President Obama has Israel’s security (or America’s, for that matter)uppermost, or indeed anywhere, in his thoughts.

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