"Hello everybody"

The Zionist Organization of America today issued a press release comparing President Obama's recent messages on the respective occasions of the beginning of Ramadan and Rosh Hashana.  The contrast is disturbing.  As the release notes, in his Rosh Hashana greetings last week, Obama

... never actually mentioned 'Jews' or 'Judaism' even once, referred to 'Jewish tradition' only once, and said nothing about the Jewish contribution to American life or anything else. (This is in stark contrast to President Obama's August 2010 Ramadan Message, in which he referred to 'Muslims' six times and to 'Islam' twice, stated that "American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country," and praised "Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings ... a faith known for great diversity and racial equality").


Instead, in his Rosh Hashanah Message, President Obama discussed chiefly general world developments.
If you're inclined, as I initially was, to think perhaps this is much ado about not a lot, you might want to click through to read the actual text of the messages.  While that discussion of general world developments does refer, at least, to Israel, doesn't this sound rather more like a campaign speech than a holiday greeting?

That is why my Administration is doing everything we can to promote prosperity here at home and security and peace throughout the world - and that includes reaffirming our commitment to the State of Israel.  While we cannot know all that the New Year will bring, we do know this: the United States will continue to stand with Israel, because the bond between our two nations is unshakable.
Such stumping about what his "Administration is doing" is curiously absent from the Ramadan remarks.  And as the ZOA piece points out, while Obama addresses those remarks "to Muslims in America and around the world," his Rosh Hashana message is directed to "everybody" and, at the end, to "all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah."  Who might that be?

A comparison with this year's Ramadan message raises questions as well, such as why he felt it appropriate there to recall

... [t]he heartbreaking accounts of lost lives and the images of families and children in Somalia and the Horn of Africa struggling to survive ...
but not to mention in his Rosh Hashana address the victims of terrorism in Israel this past year who were targeted purely because they were (or were presumed to be) Jews.  The Fogel family comes to mind, as well as those dozens killed or wounded in the August terrorist attack near Eilat.  And all of those living within rocket range of Gaza.

Our president has a very odd sense of balance when it comes to addressing the different faith communities in America.  No doubt this is due to his belief that, if not for his constant reminders, we might forget that "Islam has always been part of America" whereas our Judeo-Christian heritage can be taken for granted.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn B. published on October 4, 2011 6:06 PM.

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