Jan 24, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

Former-President Barack Obama’s recently published memoir has been criticized for presenting an inaccurate revisionist anti-Israel version of history but others have pointed out his use of anti-Semitic tropes to describe world leaders. 

Obama Describes Sarkozy the Jew

Last month, Penguin Random House released “A Promised Land”, the first 768-page volume of a two-volume set of Obama’s autobiography for which he was paid a record-setting $65 million advance, which also included his wife’s already published memoir. Obama was highly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Despite the animosity between the two leaders and the US leader’s overt anti-Israel policies, Obama went on to garner more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote.

But even more egregious was Obama’s treatment of Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president from 2007 to 2012. His unsavory description of the French leader echoes Medival references to pushy Jewish Shylocks.

“With his dark, expressive vaguely Mediterranean features (he was half Hungarian and a quarter Greek Jew) and small stature (he was about five-foot-five but wore lifts in his shoes to make himself taller), he looked like a figure out of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting.

“Conversations with Sarkozy were by turns amusing and exasperating, his hands in perpetual motion, his chest thrust out like a bantam cock’s, his personal translator… always beside him to frantically mirror his every gesture and intonation as the conversation swooped from flattery to bluster to genuine insight, never straying from his primary, barely disguised interest, which was to be at the center of the action and take credit for whatever it was that might be worth taking credit for.”

 

Media Silence About Obama’s Anti-Semitism

Perhaps even more disturbing was the media silence which almost allowed Obama’s anti-Semitic description to pass unnoticed. The only journalist to call Obama out for his anti-Semitism was economist Henry Ergas in The Australian who accused  “the normalization of casual anti-Semitism on the ‘progressive’ side of politics.”

“If anti-Semitism involves using the label ‘Jew’ to evoke, emphasize or explain an interrelated complex of unattractive attributes, Obama’s description of Sarkozy is unquestionably anti-Semitic,” Ergas states, noting that “not one of the gushing reviews” from left-wing papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post, “considered Obama’s statement even worth mentioning.”

Obama’s Use of Racial Stereotypes

But Obama’s book was shockingly replete with generalizations and stereotypes. Obama compared Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, to the Chicago mob-bosses, who were “unsentimental characters who knew what they knew, who never moved outside their narrow experiences, and who viewed patronage, bribery, shakedowns, fraud, and occasional violence as legitimate tools of the trade.” 

While noting German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “skeptical” of him at first due to his “lofty rhetoric and speech-making skills”, he stated that this skepticism was a safeguard from slipping into the country’s Nazi past. “I took no offense,” Obama wrote. “Figuring that as a German leader, an aversion to possible demagoguery was probably a healthy thing.”