Rabbi tells why he is for Obama
By Rabbi Ben Kamin
SAN DIEGO—Editor Don Harrison of this publication asked me to write an article about why I signed up with Rabbis for Obama. I’ve wanted to contemplate it for a while so that any attempt to respond would be based purely on positives. The national campaign underway is already contaminated with enough negativity and mistruths and both sides, desperate to strike pay dirt in our attention-depleted, gossip culture, have resorted to made-up factoids and character distortions to both shock and appeal to voters.
I am a rabbi for Obama (although more so a citizen for him) because he is a refreshingly serious person who speaks fluently and deliberates extensively about policy and people and it does not appear that he has to “re-invent himself” in order to stand for reelection. I like him exactly because he does not seem to relish campaigning and glad-handing and precisely because he is not attempting to invite me for a beer in order to garner my vote. He is inviting me to think—about very hard and pressing issues that have always defined the ethos of this nation: social justice, health care, a judicious foreign policy (more on that below), and the very ability of our chief executive to mingle with intellectual alacrity among the presidents and prime ministers of other nations.
President Obama has never played the race card (although it is used cravenly against him regularly) because he doesn’t think of himself as our black president. He just thinks of himself as our president. (Ironically, a good number of my friends and colleagues in the African American community are critical of him because of this; they are misguided). Nor does President Obama spoon-feed nostalgia into the national debate; he doesn’t vacuously rant about “restoring America” or “making us the envy of the nations” and all that.
“Restoring America” means rebuilding our dilapidated national freeway system, our dangerously deteriorating bridges, our shamelessly inept educational system, and our penchant for starting wars and having our kids die for what are disingenuously corporate interests.
I’m not nostalgic for a time when a person of color could not be elected president, when the secretary of state could not be a woman who had lost the nomination to the incumbent, when the attorney general could not be black, or when the opposition candidate for the White House could not be a Mormon. I honestly believe that a good degree of the visceral opposition to Barack Obama has to do with the fact that his post-racial, global persona threatens some kind of oligarchic psychological syndrome that still cleaves to the Anglo-Saxon marrow of American history.
Here is a guy who works hard, never complains out loud that the job is difficult, has never been associated with any kind of scandal, sexual or financial, and whom I can understand when he talks. And he remains gracious about a notoriously obstructionist Congress that is much more committed to hurting him than helping us.
Finally: President Obama is hardly an enemy of Israel! He is routinely exalted by Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister, former Prime Minister, and the most decorated general in Israel’s history as “the finest friend Israel has ever had.” The most extensive military compacts ever signed between the two nations have been consummated under this administration even as the Jewish state has enjoyed a robust economy, record-level tourism, and a significant period of peace during all the years that Obama has been president. I don’t need our president to be in love with Israel; I just want him to understand and value it. I do want our president to love peace and that is why I am a rabbi for Obama.
Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=30867