Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerThe writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .
Bibi absolutely must make that speech. I do not know whether it will do any good, whether it will change anything. But he must make that speech to Congress.
We now have a President in the United States who has absolutely no comprehension as to how to deal with tyrants, dictators, bullies, and thugs. Worse — much worse than that — is that this President does not know what he does not know. He believes he is a genius, the smartest person in the room. He surrounds himself with sycophants who tell him that he is the smartest person in the room. Yes, history will clear it all up, recording him among the five least competent or qualified of all American presidents. Possibly the least of all.
Jewish People in general — and the State of Israel in particular — cannot afford to wait for history to be published in paperback.
But the Jewish People in general — and the State of Israel in particular — cannot afford to wait for history to be published in paperback.
Barack Obama became President without ever governing, without ever encountering the real world of terror and dictatorship. He lived a charmed life, albeit with the usual familial setbacks that come from a broken home. He grew up in Hawaii. He went to Columbia Universityas a transfer student. He then went to Harvard Law School. He will not authorize the release of his transcripts — not the courses he took, not the grades he got, not in college, not in law school.
At the law school he became president of Law Review. As someone who has been Chief Articles Editor of a great American law review, I know personally that one cannot attain such a position unless he or she produces a legal commentary of profound scholarly distinction, a published law review article (sometimes called a “Note” or a “Comment” when authored by a law student). Obama is the only such person of whom I ever have known who rose to such a law review position — selected not based on grades, merely selected by peers — without having produced any published scholarship whatsoever. In other words, he began life by learning how to leverage some special grace that persuaded people around him to open doors for him, allowing him opportunities that most other people obtain only after earning the opportunities by achievement.
In time, he ended up in Chicago as a community organizer. Some propound a myth that he was a Constitutional scholar, a law school professor of distinction at University of Chicago Law School. That is not true, and the record speaks for itself. Rather, he taught courses a few times. He was not tenured. He produced no written scholarship. He is not a scholar of the American Constitution. I write this as someone who clerked for a brilliant United States Court of Appeals judge and as someone who practiced high-stakes law for more than a decade and has taught law as an adjunct professor for more than a decade.
He has enjoyed a grace of opportunities without achievements, opportunities that others have been able to attain only after they charted achievements.
He became a state legislator in Illinois. He often voted for or against controversial measures that required courage and principle, simply casting his vote “Present, in attendance.” When he sought the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for U.S. Senator from Illinois, he was an underdog running against a field that included multi-millionaire securities trader Blair Hull until a remarkable news story broke: Hull’s wife, going through a divorce, filed papers that the man she was divorcing — her husband, Obama’s opponent — often beat her and engaged in other domestic abuse. Somehow these secret court filings ended up in the news, eradicating Hull’s electoral support, and Obama was nominated virtually by default to run against the popular Republican candidate, Jack Ryan.
During that Senatorial election, news somehow broke in the midst of the election campaign that the Ryan’s wife, also in the midst of divorcing, had filed secret papers in court that alleged that the man she was divorcing — her husband, Obama’s opponent — had forced her to engage in certain sexually aberrant behaviors. Overnight, Jack Ryan was forced to withdraw from the election, and Obama skated in. Somehow those sealed court papers had ended up in the newspapers.
As a U.S. Senator, Obama immediately began laying the groundwork for running for President. It turned out that his experience as a community organizer — though mocked by his opponents — was valuable. He ran a good campaign against a remarkably weak Republican opponent, John McCain, who never quite got a handle on how to debate Obama, and Obama was elected President.
Many who voted for Obama were excited by the prospect of electing America’s first Black president, marking an exciting historic end to America’s shameful and horrific centuries of enslaving Black people. Barack Obama had become President of the United States without having experienced real danger, real life, without having demonstrated what he knew of foreign affairs or of dealing with dictators. And soon thereafter, again without having done anything to justify such grace for which others have to strive through a lifetime of achievement to attain, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Having lived the life of grace — and it is hard to imagine that even half of this happened for him in his life if it were not so public (except for his college and law school transcripts) — he legitimately and understandably has evolved a sense that anything he touches will work out his way. And, indeed, his first few years as President further fed into that narrative, as he enjoyed a huge Democratic Party majority in both of America’s federal legislative chambers, the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
However, through six years of his Presidency and his dismal record on domestic issues and foreign affairs, the American people have taken that all away from his political party: the Senate, the House, and control of three quarters of the country’s fifty states now are securely in Republican hands.
Convinced of his charm and ability to attain any end he desires simply by presenting himself, he proceeded to travel to Egypt to re-set America’s Middle East policy. He determined to effectuate a re-set of America’s relations with Vladimir Putin. He turned against America’s historic allies in East Europe while reaching out to dictators like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the Castro government of Cuba, Putin, Assad inSyria, and even the Iranian mullahs. When thousands were in the streets of Teheran, risking their lives and facing horrific tortures during the Green Revolution, he remained silent, persuaded that he had a better way to bring Iran into his orbit of grace.
It is imperative that Israelis — and everyone else — understand that Obama not only despises Netanyahu, as he has from Day One — but will despise any Israeli Prime Minister who builds in Jerusalem, who builds anywhere in Judea or Samaria, or who resists giving up land to Abbas and signing a peace agreement that Obama dictates. He dictates to friends, and Obama sincerely believes a Mideast narrative that is popular among American left-wing ideologues and psudo-intellectuals: that Israel is a White colonialist settler state, created and propped up by Western imperialism, aimed at suppressing an indigenous Third World population of victimized people who lived in that land long before Jews did, from time immemorial.
It also is imperative to understand that, as a governing authority, Obama does not accept upon himself the usual restraints on the executive that the American Constitution assigns in its separation of powers. When Congress tells him to enforce a law he does not like, he responds by claiming “prosecutorial discretion” — that it is impossible to prosecute every single lawbreaker, so he will not prosecute those who break laws he chooses not to enforce.
He similarly abuses another principle called “Executive Privilege” to violate the will of Congress in other areas. The only way that Congress can deal with these overt violations of the law is by suing him in the American courts, a step that Congress now is taking, but that process takes two or three years for each issue to be adjudicated. (Congress also has one other Constitutional option for stopping a President who commits high crimes and misdemeanors: impeachment by the House and removal from office by the Senate. However, for political reasons, that is not a realistic or practicable option, and no sensible Republican can entertain that step, regardless of what Obama does.)
In terms of Iran and the nuclear bomb, Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that he cannot negotiate effectively with tyrants and dictators. He lacks the experience or knowledge. He dealt with law students among his classmates at Harvard and his occasional students in Chicago. He deals with sycophants in government. He has limited experience in knowing where to stop compromising when someone says “No.” Similarly, he has little experience in understanding that sometimes “Yes” is an outright lie that means “No.”
Most recently, for example, he opened America to Cuba, lifting an embargo of half a century, but the decision is remarkable not for its historicity in terminating the embargo but for how little he got in return. On his watch, Vladimir Putin has deciphered that he can add the Crimea to the Russian polity, and Putin further is emboldened on defying Obama over the Ukraine.
When Obama saw the nascent ISIS just beginning, he told the media that it is merely a “Junior Varsity” — a sports team comprised of the juniors, not the grown-ups, so need not be countered at its start. Even this week, commenting on the recent terror murders of French Jews in the Kosher Supermarket, he brushed the matter aside as a “random” hold-up at “a deli,” the kind of street crime that the mayor of a city should be handling, not the head of a country.
Obama believes a Mideast narrative popular among left-wing ideologues and psudo-intellectuals: that Israel is a White colonialist state, created by Western imperialism, suppressing an indigenous population who lived in that land from time immemorial.
Israeli intelligence knows the deal that Obama is about to make with Iran. Congress knows what he is doing but Constitutionally cannot stop him. Congress only can stop a treaty, not a handshake that says that America will not bother you as long as you keep your promises. The moment is desperate, particularly because the United States, which should be leading the world’s fight for freedom and security, instead is in the stewardship of a narcissist whom Providence has blessed with a unique grace — until a few years ago, when the charm and the luck ran out. Yet, luck or no luck, that deal with the mullahs may be signed by March 24.
During the midst of the Holocaust, no Jew had the power to speak out powerfully to America’s power brokers, to shake the halls of Congress as to what was happening and what needed to be done. A group of rabbis came to meet with President Roosevelt, but he would not agree to meet with them — so they left Washington politely without a whimper. With a President then making decisions that contributed to millions of Jews not being rescued, the American public never heard what was at stake. That is the lesson of 70 years ago.
The lesson is not to worry about whether a President, who already hates Bibi or has mixed views on Israel, will hate Bibi even more and remain even more mixed on Israel. There is no “more” that he can hate Bibi, and Obama cannot be worse to Israel than he is because, for reasons beyond his control, he is as bad as he can be.
Despite some wild comments that Obama wants to see Israel destroyed and does not like Jews, that is not true. Obama does want to see Israel alive, just truncated to pre-1967 lines that he believes, because he simply does not understand — and does not understand what he does not understand — would result in a thriving peaceful Middle East. He historically has surrounded himself with several leftist Jews, including top advisor David Axelrod, former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and several Jews whom he has appointed to financial posts. It is a myth that he does not like Jews, just as it is a myth that he would like other Israeli Prime Ministers better than he does Bibi.
The Israeli leaders whom Obama liked are the ones who gave up the Gaza unilaterally, the ones who gave Yasser Arafat the reins of Government with control over television, radio, newspapers, school education, summer camps, and police. He will like new Israeli leaders who will agree to cede Judea andSamaria, to permanently stop building in Jerusalem and to cede sections of Jerusalem to Abbas. That is the price for Israelis for his love for the last twenty-one months of his Presidency.
In every generation of Jewish history, there comes a crossroads moment when the right word may perhaps invoke a change, may save Jewish lives.
Religious Jews call it “hishtadlut” — trying to do our part, as we seek the protection of Heaven. At such times, the wise and prudent advisors always counsel “Not now. You will make things worse.” But a speech to Congress by Bibi Netanyahu will not make things worse. Things between Israel and Obama will not get worse because they cannot get worse. But when history is written, that speech may — just may, depending on how it is crafted and delivered — result in a Congressional response that assures that Iran not get the nuclear bomb. And then, when history records the moment in March 2015 that Bibi spoke to Congress, Israel will continue to exist and be able to reflect on those days gone by.
And America still may exist, too.
Rabbi Dov Fischer is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky: 1985). His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Los Angeles Times, and in other major American publications. He formerly was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California. He is author of Jews for Nothing (Feldheim: 1983) and is in his fifth year as a member of the National Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings can be found at RabbiDov.com As with all of Rabbi Prof. Fischer’s writings, this commentary expresses his own views.