Someone at the White House just doesn’t “get” American Jews. Take a look at this, one of the many postings from the White House site (they are also emailed) that address us as if we just arrived from Poland or Russia.
Does the Obama team really think Jewish voters (or even those all-important and self-important big donors) are impressed by White House Passover recipes? Does anyone actually turn to the White House for help in preparing matzo ball soup?
Of course not. This is just the Obama administration pandering to a group of voters that it has decided is different from all other groups of voters.
The most ridiculous (and insulting) White House pander came at Hanukkah. This article from the New York Times about how the White House was made kosher for one event has to be read to be believed. Here is an excerpt, enough to cause James Madison to commit suicide if he wasn’t dead.
Into the kitchen rushes a Lubavitch SWAT team of three rabbis and an intern. Three men, wearing aprons and industrial-strength rubber gloves, take on the ovens and burners. The fourth, in a suit and a black hat, is Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad). He is the supervisor-in-chief.
He takes a long look around. He frowns.
“Who opened the brazier?” he asks, referring to the lidded counter-high vat, like a giant stainless steel pot, used for searing, reducing stock and braising meats. “The rabbi?” he asks, pointing to a colleague.
“No,” replies Chef Tommy, as his staff calls him.
“You’re kidding me,” Rabbi Shemtov says.
They huddle by the brazier. Rabbi Shemtov issues orders. The rabbis spring into action.
What happened, Chef Tommy?
“I’m a Buddhist,” he says, acknowledging that some of the finer points elude him. “But whatever he wants me to do, I’ll do.”
Rabbi Shemtov explains his concern. For a kitchen to be prepared for kosher cooking, any taste or aroma of nonkosher food has to be expunged. Utensils for cooking, serving and eating must be set aside for 24 hours before being cleansed by dipping them in boiling water. The day before, Rabbi Shemtov had overseen the sealing of flatware, utensils and the brazier, where they would be dipped tonight.
So why, Rabbi Shemtov wants to know, is the brazier open and filled with cool water?
Chef Tommy had merely poured water into it to be boiled for the dipping.
Rabbi Shemtov probes: “I have to know whether the water came from the tap or a bucket.” (The latter could have been compromised by food.)
It was tap water. But “just to make sure,” Rabbi Shemtov wants the brazier cleaned.
The job falls to Rabbi Binyamin Steinmetz, a Caracas-born mashgiach, or supervisor, who has been joking in Spanish with a Coast Guard prep cook, among the military personnel who help during party season. Now Rabbi Steinmetz pours boiling water into the brazier, adding ammonia. After the soaking, he dumps out the solution and rinses the brazier with boiled water. A third time, he dumps, rinses and dumps.
Rabbi Shemtov says his approach is so strict that no one can take issue. “We are very careful, we are meticulous but we are not O.C.D.,” he says. “Otherwise, no one would ever get to eat.”
He peers at a countertop. “Why so loose, the Saran wrap?”
Will this affect the first family’s meals? A White House aide explains that the Obamas rely primarily on a personal kitchen in the residence upstairs. Even so, a refrigerator has a sign on it that says “Family,” indicating it must remain shut.
Rabbi Shemtov continues his inspection while talking to Chef Tommy and working his iPhone and a BlackBerry. He glances up. Workers are even wrapping lights that dangle over counters. “You don’t have to do that!” he says. “We don’t use lights for cooki
It’s 11 p.m. The rabbis start the cleansing by fire, for ovens, racks, stove tops. Rabbi Steinmetz cranks up the heat on the wall ovens to 500 degrees, to burn off impurities.
How long should they remain heated?
The rabbi, who says he turned down a similar job at the Waldorf-Astoria that week for the privilege of working in the White House kitchen, sighs gently. “An hour, minimum,” he says. “Minimum, minimum.”
He covers the stove tops with foil, pokes holes above the burners and turns up the flames. The foil keeps the heat from escaping. Minutes pass. Finally, the metal turns red hot.
“It’s kosher,” Rabbi Shemtov says.
Absurd, offensive and utterly unnecessary. The percentage of Jews who require that level of “koshering” is infinitesimal and probably not 5 of them would be eating at the White House that night. Surely, they would not have minded eating a nice packaged kosher meal prepared specially for them rather than put the White House out like that.
But, of course, the White House didn’t do it for them. It did it to impress the same imaginary Jews who will decide who to support for president based on such nonsense. My guess is that the number of people who fall into that category is zero.
Spending God knows (!) how much to sterilize the White House is silly and offensive but it does no harm.
However the same exact impulse that causes the Obamas to blowtorch their ovens to Hassidic standards also leads the administration to be in perpetual suck-up mode to Prime Minister Netanyahu on matters like Iran and the Israeli occupation, matters of life and death.
Not a single administration policy that touches even tangentially on Israel is not determined based on political considerations. Actually, it is worse than that. Netanyahu, his lobby, and its cutouts like Dennis Ross determine the policies.
But again, like the kosher water at the Hannukah party, it is based on false assumptions. As this new poll demonstrates, only 4% of Jews vote or give money based on Israel. They vote based on American issues, including foreign policy, of course (which includes Israel).
The main thing we know about most Jews (80% or so) is that they vote Democratic, not because they think Democrats are more pro-Israel but because they are liberals. Pro-labor, pro-choice pro-gay and for strict separation of religion and state (which Obama clearly did not consider when he was busy blow torching the kitchen for Hannukah). They vote against Republicans because the right, quite properly, scares them to death.
A friend of mine told me the other day about a conversation he had with the late Eleanor McGovern, wife of 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern. She was complaining that Jews had “abandoned” McGovern in the election which he lost 49 states to 1.
My friend responded that if her husband had received the same percentage of the vote from other Americans, as he did from Jews (65%), he, not Nixon, would have won the biggest landslide in history. Maybe someday I’ll write biographies of Presidents who Jews supported overwhelmingly but will never have a Presidential museum: Presidents Stevenson, Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry (obviously Jews voted for the winning Democrats too).
Obama needs to stop pandering to the 4%. They will vote for Romney anyway (especially after yesterday’s Times reported that Romney and Netanyahu have been close personal friends since 1976). Anyone whose #1 concern is preserving the Middle East status quo and who wants a president who will never, ever say “no” to Netanyahu is voting for Romney. Sure, Obama never says “no” either but one day he might. The 4% will never take that chance.