Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Europe Is Just A Four-Letter Word

Following the Charlie Hebdo slaughter, which left twelve people dead, four customers at a Jewish delicatessen in Paris were murdered in a related attack.  Unsurprisingly, President Obama generically blamed "vicious zealots" because they "behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks."

Perhaps you didn't know this has been happening routinely. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough did, however, for on Monday he complained (video below) to co-host Mika Brzezinski and Repub Nicole Wallace on Morning Joe "I wouldn't be quite so smug about mocking somebody as Jews are being gunned down in the streets of Paris and being attacked across Europe."

This was part of a rant Scarborough's rant against the Democrats who have criticized John Boehner's invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, issued without notification to the President and in the midst of a political campaign in Israel.

Perhaps you also didn't know Scarborough, raised as a Southern Baptist, is Jewish, or at least has some special insight into Jewish feelings and sentiment, presumably gained by being a GOP politician turned media star. He added "Go ahead, be smug about it. You don't understand what Jews are going through. You go ahead and be smug."

Give the former congressman credit. He himself was not being smug (and Brzezinski, whatever her faults, is anything but smug). Intemperate, irrational, and presumptuous, obviously; smug, not.

Scarborough was outraged over some of the reaction to the forum offered the Prime Minister, who undoubtedly (initially) thought he had scored a coup by securing an invitation to speak before the legislative body of the world's major superpower and most important and loyal ally of his beleagured nation, home to more Jews than any nation but Israel itself. Netanyahu also has decried the negotiations being conducted by the Administration and other nations with Iran over the Persian state's nuclear program.

But Scarborough's tirade is significant for other reasons, reflecting a blind spot of both the President and the right.

In June, 2009 Obama plead in Cairo for understanding of "the Palestinian people," specifying "Muslims and Christians," neglecting to include the Jewish people, who settled long ago in the land of Palestine. He proceeded that omission by stating

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.  Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today.  Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

The President acknowledged that Jews had been persecuted "around the world," though unhelpfully he added "for centuries," implying that the worldwide persecution was from a far-off time. He then spent the next four-and-a-half sentences over-emphasizing the impact of the Holocaust in inspiring a Jewish nation.

Similarly, Scarborough put unnecessary emphasis on one attack (as horrific as it was) in Paris, echoing the remark by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in January, 2003 when he stated

Germany has been a problem and France has been a problem. But you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe, they're not with France and Germany... they're with the US.You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe....

If you're looking at the entire NATO Europe today, the centre of  gravity is shifting to the East.

Freedom fries, old Europe, and a stealth swipe at Europe from the President. Neither Republicans nor the President, however, took note when following the attacks upon Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Casher supermarket the Wall Street Journal explained

Three-quarters of France’s roughly half-million Jews are, like Ms. Bettach, of North African origin, Jewish community officials estimate. Their families moved to the safety of France mostly in the period between Israel’s creation in 1948 and Algeria’s independence in 1962, as persecution and discrimination emptied out the once-huge Jewish communities of former French possessions across the Mediterranean.

There was muted criticism by the GOP of the President's Cairo speech and- predictably- little or none of Obama trying to ascribe justification of the Jewish state almost to the Holocaust, and the Holocaust alone.  Republicans are too busy criticizing Barack Obama for trivial or trumped-up reasons. Figuratively blind with rage against liberal Democrats, Joe Scarborough characteristically missed the point on Monday.

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