"I've got a home in that rock, just beyond the mountaintop ... God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water - but the fire next time."
- African-American spiritual
It's become a fashion, here and abroad: Jews who are convinced that they love Israel more than the rest of us - and certainly better than the rest of us - have told anyone who will listen that one way to express love of the Jewish state is to revile Barack Obama.
This month, as the American president visited the Middle East, the fashion turned ugly. On the Sabbath, Israeli television viewers were treated to the "recorded-on-a-weekday" observations of Areleh, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron, grinning as he watched the progress of a fire intentionally set on Palestinian land near Havat Gilad, an icon of the outlaw outpost movement.
Asked by Israel Channel 2 TV reporter Shai Gal how he would respond if security forces arrived to evacuate the outpost, Areleh replied: "At most, they'll demolish one measly shack, so they'll have something to show ... that kushon [a Hebrew slur equivalent to the "N" word] in the United States, in order to have an etnan [the biblical term for a fee paid to a prostitute] to give him - if you [secular] guys know what an etnan is."
And should that happen, according to Areleh, it will be followed by yet another fire - a form of preemptive revenge and the price Palestinians will be forced to pay each time Obama presses Israel to "lay a hand on any settlement of any kind, any place in Judea and Samaria."
For sheer racism and Obama-hate masquerading as love of Israel, however, nothing comes close to the filth documented in a new short film entitled "Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama's Cairo Address." This three-minute video, by Americans Max Blumenthal, a journalist-filmmaker, and Joseph Dana, a recent immigrant to Israel, has become an overnight Internet sensation. It shows a collection of U.S. Jewish visitors to Israel, most of them college-age and plainly and proudly drunk, toasting each other in a Jerusalem bar as they vie for the twin crowns of lover of Israel and loather of Obama.
"He's a Muslim for sure, and who even knows if he was born in the United States," says one young woman, who identifies herself as a political science major. "We haven't even seen his birth certificate yet. Bullshit - he's not from the U.S. He's like a terrorist."
Another of the young American Jews calls Obama "just another n----- from the town."
Understandably, Jews abroad have voiced fears that the unapologetic racism embodied in this ostensibly ultra-Zionist criticism of Obama could spark anti-Semitic incidents, further strain black-Jewish relations and add fuel to anti-Israel fires.
The anti-Obama slurs come at a time when confusing hatred of "the other" with support for Israel is becoming increasingly trendy. From historically liberal Minnesota, Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman contributed the following to an "Ask the Rabbis" discussion conducted by the North American Jewish magazine Moment, in which respondents were asked, "How should Jews treat their Arab neighbors?"
"I don't believe in Western morality - i.e., don't kill civilians or children, don't destroy holy sites, don't fight during holiday seasons, don't bomb cemeteries, don't shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral," Rabbi Friedman began.
"The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)," he continued.
A storm of criticism ensued. Friedman later issued a clarification, stating that it was "obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion."
Seldom has such an attitude been less obvious. We live at a time when an avowed Kahanist is a serving Knesset member, when overtly anti-Arab Knesset bills blacken Israel's name the world over, and Jewish talkbackers and bloggers think nothing of denigrating Islam and African-Americans in the name of some cockeyed personal battle against world anti-Semitism.
The haters of Obama, the haters of Arabs, and the outpost gunslingers should bear in mind what happened at the end of that Channel 2 report on the Gilad Farm activists: Not long after they started the fire on their neighbors' field, smoke and flames were licking at their own houses.
Bradley Burston is senior editor of haaretz.com.
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