Israel and Truman’s Lesson for Obama

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More than one hundred years ago, George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.1 But Friedrich Hegel is quoted as saying: “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”2 In other words, all that we learn from history is that we never learn anything from history.

Today our president must decide from which philosopher he takes his inspiration.

Preaching on January 7, 2012 at a Jerusalem rally marking the 47th anniversary of Fatah’s founding, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein (the highest religious authority among Palestinian Authority Muslims) quoted a Hadith (an extra-Qur’anic text attributed to the Prophet Mohammad) predicting the ultimate annihilation of all Jews by Muslims:  “The hour of judgment will not come until you (Muslims) fight the Jews,” he said. “The Jew will hide behind the stone and behind the tree. The stone and the tree will cry, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’.”  A video of the rally, circulated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), showed the rally’s moderator introducing the mufti by saying: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs [i.e. Jews] is a war of religion and faith. Long live Fatah!”

Although the Mufti described his speech as nothing more than an “end-of-times” prophesy3, and not an incitement to mass murder, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Mufti’s speech as hateful and inciting to war, and called upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the Mufti’s words. Abbas did not.

Vitriolic and incendiary rhetoric by Muslim religious leaders against Jews and Israel is certainly nothing new in the history of the Arab-Israel conflict; and incitement to terrorism and mass murder by Yasir Arafat and other Palestinian leaders is well documented.4  Leaders from just about every Arab terror organization have for decades used references in Muslim religious texts to justify the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of its Jews and to re-cast their own attempts at mass murder of Israelis as an Islamic obligation.  The Mufti Hussein himself used similar language during a sermon at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque in January, 2010 (see addendum), where he was unambiguous in exhorting Muslims to kill Jews because they are “enemies of Allah.

Shortly after the Mufti’s speech, the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) called upon President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leadership of the House and Senate and the chairmen and ranking chairpersons of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to condemn this explicit call to the genocide of Jews. The NCJA also exhorted the Secretary General of the United Nations and leaders of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to join in this condemnation.

The UK’s foreign minister, Congressman Howard Berman, and Americans for Peace Now have condemned the Mufti’s genocidal diatribe and urged PA President Abbas to do so as well. Candidates for the Republican nomination have strongly and consistently condemned Palestinian incitement against Israel and criticized Obama and his cabinet for their silence on this issue.  Our President has remained silent.

Given our President’s attempts to represent himself as our country’s most pro-Israel president ever, it is strange that he does not speak out, even thought his silence risks losing Jewish votes; especially since history provides us with an amazingly similar situation 66 years ago.

In 1946, when Harry Truman was President,5 the current Mufti’s predecessor, the Hajj Amin el-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem6, delivered similarly blood-curdling diatribes calling on the entire Arab world to unite, kill all the Jews, and turn the Mediterranean Sea red with Jewish blood. Coming in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the emergence of the mind-numbing truth about the Holocaust, Husseini’s genocidal vitriol caused an uproar among many worldwide, including, but not limited to, supporters of Zionism in the USA.  As the 1948 presidential elections loomed near, Republican candidates used Husseini’s words as the springboard for their condemnation of Arab intransigence and anti-Jewish harangues. Republican presidential candidates Sen. Robert Taft and Gov. Thomas Dewey repeatedly spoke out in favor of the creation of a Jewish state, and they harshly criticized the Truman administration for its failure to do so.

While the Democratic Party followed with its own endorsement, being the first meant something to even the Jewish and Christian Zionist voters who were registered Democrats, hence the Republican landslide in the 1946 midterm congressional elections, and the election of the first Republican senator from New York in 30 years.

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  • stern

    IN answer to all the questions in the last paragraph, no. Obama will not speak out because it's the right thing to do. He may only speak out to avoid losing the rest of the Jewish vote. And the terrifying thing is that Jews will fall for it and vote for him in droves.

  • HolmesSimons

    Are you kidding? Until you realize that Obama does not have the interests of America as his goal, and never has, you will continue to write absurdities based upon false premises. Wise up! PLEASE!

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    No, Obama won't speak out against Muslim incitement to genocide; because his goal is to advance a world-wide Islamic caliphate, and destroy Israel and the United States in the process, even if it means that he loses the election. The analogy with Truman is a very good one, and very appropriate. Despite his anti-semitic leanings, Truman was a patriot; Obama doesn't know what "patriot" means. Very good article.

  • tzvimoshecooper

    on the other hand, Jews are fortunate to defy history. any other people would have succumbed to the attacks and hatred heaved on us in every age. it is up to every Jew and every sane citizen of the world to defy these villains.

  • kafantaris

    When Palestinian TV is on, it shows Sesame Street.
    When it shows Sesame Street, it shows Bert.
    When it shows Bert, it shows it might be OK to be gay.
    When it shows it might be OK to be gay, the TV censors come out. 
    When the TV censors come out, they get friendly with the Palestinians.
    Don’t let your TV censors get friendly with the Palestinians.
    Confiscate Palestinian TV.

  • artcohn

    Truman's close friend was Eddie Jacobson, who was Jewish. Jacobson was trying to get Truman to see Chaim Weitzmann in 1947 before the UN vote on the partition resolution. Jacobson later reported that Truman responded with an anti-semitic diatribe that shocked Jacobson, who never previously had seen such behavior from Truman, in all their years as friends, business partners or WW1 soldiers..
    Truman was under a lot of pressure from George Marshall and the arabists in the State Dept. Truman's eruption of anti-semitic name-calling might have been from exaspiration from one more person, a personal friend, putting pressure on him. In any case, in later years, Truman was most proud of his pro-Israel decision. He termed himself as Cyrus, the Persian King who ended the Judeans' exile in Babylon in the -6th century. See Ron Radosh's book on the subject

    • Sage on the Stage

      Truman's parents and wife were anti-semitic. In 1967, when David Susskind tried to interview Truman, at his home in Independence, MO; Truman wouldn't let him in the house. When Susskind asked why, Truman replied, "Because you're a Jew, David."