The Holocaust memorial event at the Israeli embassy honored four Americans, including Sergeant Edmonds who refused Nazi demands to identify Jewish US soldiers to the Nazis. Despite the snowstorm, the event went forward with the Israeli ambassador pitching in to shovel snow.
Obama surprisingly showed up to speak despite the administration's previous anonymous attacks on Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer who was accused of being too close to Republicans. It was even a good speech. After years of delivering bland identical speeches, he seems to have upgraded his speechwriters. The State of the Union was better written and so was this. There were some lines, but Obama has a single agenda and so the speech contained a veiled attack on opposition to Muslim immigration to the United States. And then diverged into bizarre Muslim PR.
Every faith community has a responsibility. Just as all religions speak out against those who try to twist their faith to justify terrorism and violence, just as all faiths need to speak out when interpretations of their religion veer in an ugly direction, so, too, must they speak out against those who use their faith to justify bias against Jews, or people of any faith.
We know that there were Muslims -- from Albanians to Arabs -- who protected Jews from Nazis. In Morocco, leaders from Muslim-majority countries around the world just held a summit on protecting religious minorities, including Jews and Christians.
There were far more Muslims who were collaborating with the Nazis and openly calling for the mass murder of Jews and even killing Jews... than were protecting Jews. And that's the usual story.
More significantly, Muslim religious leaders, like Hitler's Mufti, the Mufti of Jerusalem, lent support to Nazi ideology. When individual Muslims dissented from it, as individual Germans and even Nazis occasionally dissented from Hitler's crimes, that was and is praiseworthy. But it obstructs the larger context.
The mention of the Morocco summit is even more bizarre. There are hardly any Jews left in Muslim countries. Most of the Middle Eastern Jews live in Israel. A country that Muslims are obsessively trying to destroy. There aren't all that many Christians left either and their numbers are diminishing by the year.
"Protecting" minorities has an ominous context in the Muslim world in which minorities submit to Muslim rule, become good Dhimmis, pay Jizya and are "protected" for it. When you talk about protecting people, you're treating them as inferiors. George Washington understood that and rejected it in his letter to the Newport Synagogue. "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights," Washington wrote to the Jews in Newport.
With Muslims, it's precisely that "indulgence" that is the root of Dhimmitude. Christians and Jews are protected at the indulgence of Muslims, as long as they pay their tribute and accept their inferiority.
Finally, the obsessive efforts by the left to claim that Muslims are now persecuted the way that Jews were, ignores the fact that Jews are being persecuted by Muslims.
Obama reads off that, "When we see some Jews leaving major European cities -- where their families have lived for generations -- because they no longer feel safe; when Jewish centers are targeted from Mumbai to Overland Park, Kansas; when swastikas appear on college campuses -- when we see all that and more, we must not be silent."
Those are nice lines, but he is silent because he doesn't mention who is responsible. That's like condemning the murder of Jews in 1941 without ever using the word "Nazis". Just Jews being killed by some phantom element.
"It means cultivating a habit of empathy, and recognizing ourselves in one another; to make common cause with the outsider, the minority, whether that minority is Christian or Jew, whether it is Hindu or Muslim, or a nonbeliever; whether that minority is native born or immigrant; whether they’re Israeli or Palestinian."
Making the outsider, the minority, into the key element is a major tenet of the left, but it's also wrong. We should stand with people who are wrongly persecuted, we should have empathy regardless of whether the person is a member of a minority or some vague majority.
Obama's speechwriters have gotten better, but underneath the fine sentiments, is the same rot.
The Americans who died on 9/11 were not a minority. They were murdered by a group that is technically a minority. But the underlying motive was the same basic bigotry. Muslims in Israel are a minority, Jews are a majority. But Muslims are a regional majority and murder Jews for bigoted reasons.
Obama obscures this fundamental moral equation and replaces it with a pat leftist formula about identifying with outsiders. But it's not about outsiders or insiders. It's about doing the right thing.
Meanwhile here's a little reminder of what life was like for Jews in Libya after the Holocaust when Muslims were "protecting" the Jews.
"After its liberation the Italians no longer ruled Libya, and all of their racial laws were repealed. However, the Jews of Libya were not left in peace: in November 1945, the Muslim population carried out a three day pogrom against the Jews, one of the most vicious pogroms in the country's history.
"One hundred and twenty-one Jews were murdered, hundreds more were wounded, synagogues were completely ruined, and hundreds of Jewish homes and places of business were ransacked and destroyed. This pogrom came as a great shock to the Jews, and as a result, many revitalized their sense of Jewish identity, as well as their wish to settle in Israel. After the establishment of the State of Israel, more than 30,000 Jews left Libya for the new Jewish homeland."
Muslim persecution is a big reason why Israel exists.