Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama in the Synagogue

The rain was just getting started outside, small drops pelting down and the occasional fat drop sticking to the stained glass of the windowpanes. The humid warmth of the day had gone and in its absence was the chill of the night.

Three men sat around the worn metal table in the synagogue, each of them well on the far side of the whitening years of old age. In their talk, as in the talk of old men often does, the past and the future blended together in one whirling snowstorm of memories and thoughts.

"I remember this one guy, he had a horse and wagon," 'Jack' said. Easily into his seventies, tall and stooped, he leaned wearily over the table with hands and face still reddened from a day of working the fruit stand, a battered Yankees cap still wet from the rain hanging over his forehead. "After each day he had to carry money home, so he dressed like a bum. Then when he saw any group of dangerous men, he'd ask them for a cigarette."

Mr. Beitner nods and taps his pocket absently for a cigarette. He wears a faded fedora and a suit jacket over a dark woolen vest. Next to him is a leather case in which he carries some of the tools for his small business, customizing certain metal parts. There is little demand for it these days.

"So they thought he was a bum," Mr. Oschow chimes in eagerly. For much of his life he worked as a mail carrier and he still walks with a characteristic stoop. A stump on his right hand marks where he lost his index finger during the Korean war. He is always the first to come, the first to leave and the most eager to learn.


"So Hillary's out? Obama's going to be President, what?" Jack asks.

"No," Mr Beitner says, "I read that was a phony story. She isn't out. They just said she was out. They still haven't announced the winner."

"But he gave a speech and everything," Mr. Oschow said.

"So he gave a speech," Mr Beitner said. "Anyone can give a speech."

"They said he was the winner."

"He declared himself the winner," Mr. Beitner said. "Anyone can declare himself the winner. I can declare myself a winner."

"The news was reporting, it wasn't true?" Mr. Oschow said.

"Listen to me, in my business you have to know the bums. If you don't know the bums, you wind up without a penny," Jack said, "and I'm telling you he's a bum."

"He might be President," Mr. Oschow said.

"Don't give me that," Jack said, "he's not going to be President. The country will never go for it."

"Because he's black?" Mr. Oschow asked.

"No forget that," Mr. Beitner said, dismissively waving his hand, "it's not about that. Do you know he belonged to a church for twenty years that hated whites. Now he left because he wants to be President. But you think he left, he didn't leave."

"Yeah," Jack said, "a real bum."

"And his wife, she said she hated America. Now he's running for President, she likes America."

"Those people complain all the time and they're rich, they went to Harvard and never had to work a day in their life," Jack said, turning over worn reddened hands that had been lifting boxes and unpacking apples, peppers and tossing out cabbage all day. "They act like we should feel sorry for them."

"I'm telling you if he gets in, it's the end of America," Mr. Beitner said gloomily.

"He won't get in," Jack said. "All of Boro Park will vote for him, the other guy, what's his name"

"McCain," Mr. Oschow said. "Something. Good man."

"Now that's a real man," Mr. Beitner said. "He wasn't sitting around with the drugs when the war, like him. It's disgusting."

"Boro Park is McCain territory," Jack repeated.

A young Hassidic boy with long black earlocks walks by with iPhone headphones in his ears.

"Hey," Jack calls to him, "who's Boro Park voting for?"

"Hillary," the boy says.


"No, listen," the boy says, pausing his song, "first everyone voted for Hillary, so she would win and go up against McCain and then we would all vote for him." He grins. "Neat trick, huh?" And then he's off again, running around the room.

"See Boro Park is voting for McCain," Jack says confidently.

"How many Chassidim are there in Boro Park anyway?" Mr. Beitner asks.

"Enough. Plenty," Jack says.

"Not that many," Mr. Oschow says. "Not enough to win an election."

"There'll be more of them by the time the election comes," Jack says, "it's like China. A billion more by the time the polls open."

There is a break in the conversation as the rain tapers off outside and darkness creeps around the bright colors of the stained glass windows.

"It's gonna be real bad if Obama gets elected," Mr. Oschow says. "He can talk all he wants now, but you know what he's gonna do to the Jews once he gets in."

"He's a bum, he won't get in," Jack says.

"They've elected bums before," Mr. Beitner answers.

"Not me," Jack says. "I never voted for a bum in my life. Not for any of them and I'm not gonna vote for this bum either. Let anyone do what he likes, maybe this country don't have no standards anymore, but I do. No bums. No druggies. No trash."

The doors creak as the rest of the men come in from the cold and the wet and soon the prayers will begin. Prayers for rain that have already been fulfilled, for peace, for plenty, for life. Prayers of thanksgiving and of love.

The three men open their prayer books, worn hands that have handled lifetimes of work creakily turn the pages. They leaf through page by page and though they move slowly, they do not shake. Watching them I know there and then that their convictions will not be shaken either no matter how many speeches Obama gives or how many editorials the mainstream media churns out reproving, imploring and chastising them for their obstinate rejection of the second coming of JFK.

On they turn the pages and their hands do not shake. Their hands will not shake at the polls either when they vote against Obama. They are better informed than the media realizes and the community leaders that Obama solicits cannot reach them. They vote based on a lifetime's experience that has taught them to know right from wrong the hard way. Unlike their media savvy grandchildren, they will not listen to ObamaGirl's crooning, care about the trendy stylized posters or feel guilty for any doubts about Obama.

Also unlike their grandchildren they will go the polls in greater numbers and percentages, in New York and in Florida and in scattered communities across America. They don't know about swing states or where their votes might best make a difference. They don't vote with that kind of calculation in mind. They simply vote because it's the right thing to do.

And they will never vote for a bum.


Keli Ata said...

That's what I'm putting my faith in--that people with common sense and an ability to recognize a bum when they see one.

That plus senior citizens having a high voter turnout.

Yobeeone said...

That was cool!

Lemon said...

Hope they are not unusual. Many seniors find Mc Cain too old.. as I posted about.
I hope they wise up that youth is the quickest way to hell.

steve klein said...

Sultan, why didn't you discuss Barack Obama's speech before AIPAC. Perhaps you read Ted Bellman's analysis?

By Ted Belman

Obama stuns AIPAC. Me too.

"The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper — but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

There are many things in this speech I am not happy with including Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesvie unless perhaps it is in Jordan. Has McCain called for an undivided Jerusalem? Bush?

Sultan Knish said...

Obama is mirroring Bush's own campaign rhetoric during his own election, not to mention Hillary Clinton's own rhetoric,-calls-for-undivided-Jerusalem

"It says Clinton, the U.S. senator from New York and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination "believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned."

Back in 2000 when he was running for office, Bush told Bnai Brit that he would move the embassy to Jerusalem as one of his first acts

Bottom line, anyone who seriously believes anything a Presidential candidate promises about Israel in an election season is a moron.

You look at a politician's background, his alliances and what he supported before campaign season

listening to his promises at AIPAC and BB dinners is 10x10 meaningless

steve klein said...

Is this what you are referring to?

"Earlier that month, responding to a request by the American Jewish Committee to spell out his views on Israel and Middle East peace (a request also made of, and fulfilled by, Vice President Gore), Governor Bush issued a ringing endorsement of a close U.S.-Israel relationship, making it clear that he would "always stand with Israel," not attempt to "make Israel conform to [Washington's] own plans and timetables" for peace, and would "never interfere in Israeli elections."

The Governor went even further, telling AJC: "My support for Israel is not conditional on the outcome of the peace process. America's special relationship with Israel precedes and transcends the peace process. And Israel's adversaries should know that in my administration, this special relationship will continue even if they cannot bring themselves to make true peace with the Jewish state. Something else will happen when I take office in January 2001: I will set in motion immediately the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital, Jerusalem."

This was in a letter to AJC. Did Bush make this pledge in a speech as Obama did yesterday?

Bush violated his pledge. He lied. This is the reason I think Mr. Bush is such a miserable human being; as you know I believe this. Here he claims to be a born again Christian, a man of deep faith in God and he tells all these lies about Israel "occupying" Arab land; about the Jews humiliating the Palestinians, etc. Both he and Rice do this.

I would agree we should not take public statements from politicians regarding Israel too seriously but as Obama said, "Don't tell me words don't matter."

I'm sure you know, the Arab world is in shock today. If Obama is seeking the anti-Israel leftist, anti-Israel African American vote -- not insignificant in terms of numbers -- here in the U.S. and the Muslim American and Muslim-Arab American vote in the U.S., he went a long way to antagonize these groups. Why would he take this chance if he were not in some way sincere? He began by saying he was going to speak from the heart. It seems to me these words are not insignificant.

Again, has McCain pledged he would support an "undivided Jerusalem?"

Sultan Knish said...

Bush didn't need to promise an undivided Jerusalem back then, because dividing Jerusalem wasn't on the agenda.

Obama is promising it because it is on the agenda now.

I would agree we should not take public statements from politicians regarding Israel too seriously but as Obama said, "Don't tell me words don't matter."

Words don't matter. Not words from politicians running for office. Go back and look at what the last bunch of Presidents promised Jews when they were running for Israel, if you can't figure that out for yourself.

Obama went to AIPAC and played their game as so many Presidents have done before him.

I'm sure the Arab world will have 5 minutes of irritation that Obama sacrificed his principles before shrugging and saying, "whatever it takes to get him elected."

steve klein said...

I'm sure the Arab world will have 5 minutes of irritation that Obama sacrificed his principles before shrugging and saying, "whatever it takes to get him elected."

Maybe so. I read a piece today in the J. Post by Herb Keinon. Keinon wrote in part: "..the candidate who has so much of America on fire has left so many... cold in the country's corridors of power...according to officials in Jerusalem...change is good, but when Jerusalem looks at its relationship with Washington, the feeling is, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it..."

Do you know what I think about the virtues of "corridors of power" in Jerusalem? The corridors of power in Jerusalem are about as low on the moral scale as you can get. This is the best endorsement Israel's corrupt leaders could give Obama?

Perhaps you are aware there are Jews who support Obama for this very reason. The corridors of power in Israel don't trust him. Like Bush, they trust McCain.

Flanders Fields said...

I'll take your three old men as candidates, Sultan. Them - I know we could trust. I also think that what they had to say is how it will work. It may not get us the best, but I hope we at least get the least harmful.

Lemon said...

Obama, who is always more than willing to throw anyone under a bus to get a vote or an 'okay' will say whatever needs to be said about Jews, Jerusalem and so-called terror state of Pal O'Stein.

The man is a liar who loves such men as Jew hater Farrakhan and Wright and Pfleger and hobnobs with mad bombers like Ayers.
Thinking that he cares about Israel is fairy tale thinking

Sultan Knish said...

Steve, your rationalizations are senseless as ever

by your logic there is a great deal of worry about Iran in Israel's corridors of power

clearly you should support Iran for that reason, as you support Obama

and as you are no doubt aware there are Jews who support Iran for that very reason

Keli Ata said...

I can't believe anyone would be dumb enough to really take Obama's claims about Israel seriously. Yeah, he said he wants Israel to be a single state but didn't say whether that single state should be Jewish or Muslim.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Anonymous said...

There are only about 5 miliion people in the US who identify as Jews. Alot of those are voting for Obama. Even if there are people like these who know better than to elect him, it's hardly something to give us a sense of security about the outcome of the election.

steve klein said...

Sultan, Israel's corridors of power have good reason to worry about Iran and I suspect Obama's expressed willingneess to negotiate with Iran's murderous leaders provide Israel's corridors of power even more reason for concern and rightly so. Senator Obama apparently has not read Winston Chuchill's "The Gathering Storm."

The bottom line in my view, America is not likely to act against Iran's nascent nuclear sites; even a President John McCain is not likely to act against Iran. Americans, unlike Israelis, by and large do not see Iran as an immediate existential threat. To me, this is shortsighted. I believe it is the perception however.

Thus in my opinion, Israel needs to act against Iran's nuclear sites unilaterally inspite of the risks. The sooner Israel's corridors of power understand this the better. America will not save Israel from Iran.

Israel's leaders, hoping that a President John McCain will act preemptively against Iran might prove deadly for Israel.

On a related matter, it is reported, U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee is looking at lifting the ban on sales of the F-22 jet fighter to Israel. F-22 can avoid radar detection.

You say I support Obama for U.S. president. Quite honestly I do not know what I will do come November. It is unlikely I will vote for Senator McCain. We'll see. I've been told it is flat out wrong to simply turn the page. Are you of this view?

I might consider voting for John McCain should he reverse Republican party policy that now supports the establishment of a Palestinian terror state in the Holy Land; supports the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel's God-given land. Should McCain repudiate this immoral policy; should he execute a policy reversal at our national party convention this August - September, I might consider voting for John McCain.

Sultan Knish said...

the question isn't the next president will attack Iran, though McCain may well do it while Obama will take steps to see that Israel is prevented from hitting Iran...

the question is what kind of action he will take against Israel

with an Obama administration, you get the people in power who support empowering Iran and destroying israel

steve klein said...

Zbigniew Brzezinski is indeed a scary proposition.

I think you know my position. What America and Israel are facing is a direct result of Bush's appeasement policies post 911, fully supported by the Republican party establishment as well as conservative and Republican party activists. Republicans might pull it off in November though I wonder if the GOP has history and heaven on its side. Since you mention Munich in your piece, consider the following:

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: “I call on the Western democracies and primarily the leader of the free world, the United States: Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a convenient temporary solution. Do not try to appease the Arabs on our expense. This is unacceptable to us. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism.”

Israel and the U.S. Involved in a Public Spat
Aired October 6, 2001 - 09:21 ET


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As the president tries to build this international coalition, a major target of the White House effort, moderate Arab nations. But as the president reaches out to the Arab world, some tensions and remarkably blunt exchanges back and forth between the United States and a long- time ally.

(Placed in context: Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland, agrees that Bush formally made creating a Palestinian state the goal of U.S. policy, largely to appeal to the Muslim world at a time when the United States had attacked Afghanistan.


(voice-over): A truce after a rare and blunt war of words between Israel and the United States. In a statement issued late Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon noted the, quote, "deep friendship and special relationship" between the two nations and saluted President Bush for a, quote, "bold and courageous decision to fight terrorism."

It was an about-face from a day earlier, when Sharon lashed out.

KING: What angered Washington most was Sharon's comparison to Europe ceding parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, suggesting that in its aggressive effort to court Arab nations for the coalition against terrorism, the United States was turning its back on Israel's security.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The president believes that these remarks are unacceptable. Israel can have no better or stronger friend than the United States, and better friend than President Bush.

KING: Secretary of State Colin called Sharon once to voice the president's displeasure, then again later, after the prime minister agreed to issue a conciliatory statement...."

Bush made the establishment of a Palestinian terror state in Israel a formal goal of U.S. policy at a time when Bush was about to invade Afghanistan; later Iraq. Bush sought to buy off Arab goodwill by sacrificing Israel. George W. Bush put enormous pressure on Ariel Sharon to concede territory to the Palestinian jihadists in the vain hope he might appease our many Arab enemies whom Bush calls "friends." Sharon's Czechoslovakia analogy was the proper one. Had he only stood by it instead of retreating from God-given land!

Now we have a languishing economy, along with rising oil prices, the Republican's worst nightmare. Not only that, we've got a weak Republican candidate who is essentially alienating his conservative base in a vain effort to reach out to voters on the left and the middle.

John McCain further potentially antagonized millions of Christian voters by jettisoning the support of a couple of high-profile pro-Israel Christian ministers who reject the Bush / Saudi road map. I'm not sure all this bodes well for the Republicans. We'll see. I certainly have no control over world events. I believe there are things in our hands and there are things beyond our control. This may be one of those years. Bush and the Republicans may have gone too far in their war against God's land and His people. That is what this is about Sultan. As a Jew you should know this is about Israel. The way America treats Israel is central to God's covenant with Abraham. "I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you, I will curse."

Bush has and is cursing Abraham and his descendants. By any standard of measure he has cursed us.

Sultan Knish said...

Bush is besides the point here now.

The bottom line is we get to choose between Obama and McCain and even if McCain pursues Bush's policies, it doesn't even begin to compare to an Obama White House that will ally itself with Israel's enemies

and you might want to remember that it was the Carter Administration that Obama is heir to, which began the whole cycle of land for peace deals

steve klein said...

And what if God chooses Obama, in order to test us? What will you and conservative activists do?

You will have to fight him.

Unlike what we've seen with the conservative movement's mostly complicit silence in the face of the evil Mr. Bush has done to our only ally in the Middle East -- you will have to fight Barack Obama's every move.

What is the expression? "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph..."

Good men have done nothing on the Bush watch. Evil is on the rise. God's looking for a few good men. I don't see any. Do you?

"Now the Lord saw.
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
And He saw there was no man."

Sultan Knish said...

What if God chose Hitler to test us? What if God chose you to propound long senseless digressions?

What we're trying to fight is the rise of evil. What you offer is convoluted reasoning fueled by personal bitterness.

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