In light of Barack Obama’s historical victory, many, not just in the Jewish community, are responding with cautious hope. No one has captured this mood quite as eloquently as Hannah Friedman in this video titled “Oh Obama Don’t Break My Heart.” I’m not quite certain why Hannah is not wearing a shirt, but implied or actual nudity aside, Hannah embodies both the hopes and fears of many as the United States prepares to embark upon the Obama era. Godspeed.

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ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

75 Comments

  • Hannah is invited to my next seder, or any shabbat she’d like to come over, or really any old time she happens to have her guitar with her – who cares about religion anyway?

    Somebody give her a recording contract. Or a writing contract. Or a rhyming contract. Please.

    Oh and the t-shirt is optional, of course. I’m sure my wife won’t mind.

  • Christ, Lefties! We got you your intelligent, competent, (somewhat) left-of-center president. Don’t go too far trying to drag him around and into the political wilderness like you did with Clinton during his first two years in office!

  • Oh, and my apologies to Hannah – especially seeing as how it was she who originally drew attention to the vid on the 78% vote thread. It’s a good vid and I like it, just concerned that Obama would hurt his presidency early on due to too many chefs spoiling the pot a la Clinton. But if what you mean by not breaking your heart includes avoiding approaches that lead to problems like that as well, then hopefully he’ll oblige!

    Good luck. I’d love to see more of your vids. 😉

  • Not only that. He’s the son of a former Irgun member and the brother of the inspiration for Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) in Entourage. These guys are aggressive SOBs who take no bullshit and know how to “get things done.”* Old news by now. I’m pretty surprised Jewlicious hasn’t blogged on it. Jewcy’s way ahead.

    *So much so that Bill C. doubted he’d have won two elections without Rahm and his penchant for grabbing fat cat donors by the balls until they coughed up sufficient funds. And yes, I use the term “sufficient” intentionally.

  • You mean, MUL, that you’d like us to plug whatever Obama does? And fast? First of all, Emanuel is old news. Whoever’s read an article about Jeremy Piven knows about Rahm Emanuel.

    Second, it’s the Chief of Staff position, not Secretary of State. He’s going to be an enforcer to keep the Democrats in line. A policeman. He’s not Secretary of Defense, of the Treasury, or of anything other than the tough job of getting the folks on the Hill to do Obama’s bidding. In fact, I’m surprised he gave up a safe seat in the House to take a position where he’ll be fired/nicely asked to leave in 2.5 years when the Dems in the House do the opposite of Obama’s wishes one time too many.

    So please spare us. There may be other Jews in more important roles in Obama’s cabinet and we’ll possibly discuss those. And Rahm is certainly an interesting story and an impressive individual. But this? I don’t get it.

  • Awww, aww, aww poor Middle. When did I say what I’d “like” you to cover? I said, and I quote, I was “surprised” that you didn’t cover something. And as for the newsworthiness of Emanuel being Jewish, Yonah beat all of us to the punch on that. I don’t even think I had much to say about that fact in and of itself.

    But yes, the fact that he is seen as pugnacious has gathered a good bit of buzz in the blogosphere. And is there not good reason for that? I mean for months I heard you and Tom bleat on and on about how Obama’s a silly little wussy who will go to Iran and ask Mr. Ahmedinejad (who’s still not in charge over there and ailing politically and physically anyway) how much of Israel he’d like to have. So, regardless of how precisefly you’d like to define the Chief of Staff position, Emanuel’s personality seems to stand in stark contrast to the Obama-as-peace-and-love-and-cooperation-and-post-partisanship meme that was cultivated. Hell, Joe Scarborough seemed pretty beaten up about it. But, then again, Republicans are going through a tough time generally.

    Point being that, I’m no wonk, but I do get the impression that this guy’s personality and the reaction to his offer can be way to interpret 1) the seriousness and intelligence of Obama’s picks, 2) the fact that, like with the Bush White House, how the administration works internally and presents itself to others has consequences – both in terms of what it can get done and how it manages the way it is perceived, and 3) all misunderstandings on Sarah Palin’s and Dick Cheney’s parts notwithstanding, the president can have a very important role in shaping the legislative process – especially with a majority in Congress. And their Chief of Staff can be an effective part of that.

    From your 2nd paragraph, methinks you underestimate the role that an important personality can have on history. Methinks you misjudged this during the primaries too. But, as for what presidents can and cannot get the Congress to do, just ask Hillary how she thought LBJ got the Congress to pass civil rights legislation. It wasn’t just because he was a nice white guy.

  • Being seen as weak on defense doesn’t change because he chooses an attack dog for Chief of Staff. State and Defense are the posts that will reveal his inclinations. He hired Rahm because he’s been very effective at herding Dems in Congress. Now he’ll be doing what he did for Pelosi and the DNC for Obama.

    If you want to praise Obama, you can point out that he has picked the right people for certain jobs for quite a while now. That’s fair praise and let us all hope he continues to do so.

  • While Rahm’s job is to beat up on Democrats, he’s a partisan figure who underlines the marginal status of Hill Republicans in the legislating to come.

    While it’s reassuring that veterans like Summers and Volker will have a role in economic policy, it’s striking that Obama resorts to figures from the Clinton (Emanuel) and Carter (Tony Lake) administrations.

  • I can sympathize with your apprehension on what he will do when it comes to State and Defense, and in all honesty it’s a fair criticism to point out that we don’t have a great deal to go on at this point. But with his and his staff’s attendance now at the regular intelligence gatherings it’s probable that he wouldn’t (and couldn’t) make incredibly drastic changes (despite campaign rhetoric) on policy, at least not too soon – per reporting I’ve heard at NPR. He might seek to keep Gates in for a bit, but I have heard an interesting suggestion of Caroline Kennedy for a UN ambassador.

    As for the larger and more general argument of committing more troops in Afghanistan in exchange for drawing down more in Iraq, I think that’s the only likely tangible at this point vis a vis military strategy.

    I agree with you regarding his picks up to this point. Hopefully he will continue to make intelligent appointments. The expected dynamic between whatever team ultimately shapes up should be interesting to watch.

  • Geographically and culturally, it shows how the center of political power has shifted: From Texas to Chicago. Alex, (and I’m sure many others) might have commented that this attests to Obama’s “thug-like” mentality. I’m not sure if observations like that were meant to be tongue in cheek. But Emanuel’s someone who will give Obama tremendous loyalty, and the sort of trust that engenders, combined with Emanuel’s talent, will be a huge asset for Obama in his Chief of Staff. Those are probably the reasons he picked him first, and so early(?). But let’s hope that the subsequent appointments show considerations on Obama’s part that go beyond just that, and that the specific considerations fit precisely what he needs (and what we think he should need) in each particular post.

  • Tom, he seems to be appointing what could have become his fiercest critics and opposition within his own ranks. Suppose he knows well enough that the way to tame a politician is to offer them a position.

  • You’re either with the Australians, or yer against the Australians!

  • Or maybe he just would like to take inventory of what tools are at his disposal before deciding that just because George Bush had a hammer, every problem should look like a nail.

  • I’m hopeful that people who know more than he does will help him out.

    The presidency is a pretty overwhelming job. It takes someone pretty intelligent to figure out how to obtain good advice, and from whom.

    The other options are to declare that advice that you don’t like is off-limits, or to just discard the goal of doing a competent job. But those choices don’t seem likely at the moment. 😉

  • You are extremely talented, witty and beautiful. I hope my Chana grows up to be as self-expressive as you!

  • No it doesn’t.

    First of all, it takes picking the right advisors – not just having them handed to you on a silver platter.

    Then, it takes being able to achieve the proper balance between all the competing interests by which their fields of expertise, and personal sympathies, are guided.

    Of course, with George W. Bush, this analysis goes out the window. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never heard certain people here have a critical word for him.

    But to pretend that the presidency is a one-person-knows-all, one-person-does-it-all job is really the dumbest and most ill-informed (how appropriate) assertion I’ve ever heard. It’s utterly ahistorical. It was, however, the approach taken by Bush (and virtually no other president), who simplisticly and arrogantly referred to himself as “the decider”. But if that’s the model of presidential leadership that works for you, your country can have him. And then let me know how satisfied you are after a few years of having him run your country into the ground.

    I’m sorry to say it, and perhaps you’ll find this to be an unfair criticism to you, but the irony of being lectured through the use of simple platitudes on presidential leadership by someone from the country that subjected itself, and by extenstion the world (especially the U.S.), to the most disastrous example political and moral failure, is enough to choke a horse.

  • Oh, and in case it isn’t clear, the criticisms I make of Bush above, can also be applied, more or less, to his preferred successors: John McCain and Sarah Palin.

  • MUL, you could apply that criticism to the US political system as it grants the President a lot of power.

    Your criticism of me stating about anything obvious (not only to me but apparently foreign media as well) based on the political history of my country of residence is not unfair. It’s downright dumb.

  • Of course the criticism can be applied to the US political system.

    My criticism is only dumb if the statement in question was obvious (which it wasn’t until you clarified with your comment above). But it’s not dumb to question someone’s willingness to criticize other cultures and the problems that exist and have existed in them if it’s not clear that they are forthcoming, honest and willing enough to critique their own.

    I’m an American. When (and if) I preach to others on the strengths and weaknesses of decisions made by others, and the rightness or wrongness of their decisions, I do it with the humility that comes from accepting that my own culture’s decisions haven’t been perfect. If I were to criticize some other country’s stances on slavery, for instance, I would do it knowing full-well that my own country’s history on slavery and race relations is frought with problems, which allows me to accept that the situation elsewhere might not be as straightforward as I would like, making the situation less given to my pronouncing on it with simple platitudes. As a German you should (and anyone should) approach criticism of other countries with the humility that allows them to accept that the situations elsewhere also aren’t as straightforward as they’d like them to be. They are more complex than that and showing an appreciation for that fact rightly gives someone credibility when they proclaim the sorts of things that have been proclaimed in this thread.

    Seriously, what is so hard to accept about that?

  • Seriously, what is so hard about understanding that I’m neither legally nor ethically responsible for what happened during the Third Reich? Wherever do you get the notion from that I’m not critical of my government and political system? Would you require the very “humility” (i.e. self-censorship) from me if I weren’t critical of Obama? I highly doubt it.

  • If you’re critical of your own country’s history (it’s still the same country, restructuring your government does not escape Germany from the burdens of its own history – if it did, then the FDR wouldn’t have recompensated Holocaust victims for their slavery and other damages and atrocities it inflicted on them), then it would be nice to see that your analyses of other countries go beyond simple one-liners and platitudes, that’s all.

  • In order to look up what?

    Stop being a bitchy little child and just explain what your problem is with the above statement, or, if you prefer, with the following statement:

    Germany long ago satisfied the vast majority of claims pending from the war. Over the past half-century, it has spent an estimated $100 billion, adjusted for inflation, to compensate Jews and other victims of Nazism. Now it is dealing with a new wave of property claims filed in the early 1990s after the collapse of the communist East German government, which had generally refused to compensate Jewish losses from the Third Reich.

    On Oct. 1, Germany agreed to pay an extra $250 million in pensions over the next 10 years to Jews who were incarcerated in concentration camps or Nazi prisons. And last year, the German government agreed to pay $50 million to cover nursing care and other medical costs for elderly Holocaust survivors.

    Holocaust Survivors, Heirs Fight On for Compensation
    Though Germany Long Ago Satisfied Most Claims, Many Remain

    By Craig Whitlock and Shannon Smiley
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Sunday, November 25, 2007; Page A16

    Now just which history book do you want me to refer to in order to deny that:

    1. Just because Germany changed its form of government and political system, that didn’t absolve it from responsibility for restituting victims of the crimes of its “Third Reich”.

    2. That accepting responsibility for compensating victims of the crimes of the Third Reich means that the successor government assumes a measure of responsibility for the historical burdens of its predecessor’s crimes.

    3. That just because you feel conflicted as a German Jew doesn’t change any of this. Nor does it make the United States not responsible for correcting the burdens of slavery just because of changes to its regime in the form of the Emancipation Proclamation or the passage of the 13th amendment. Nor does it change the fact that either you or someone or some persons close to you paid taxes to a government that paid Jews and others for the crimes inflicted upon them for which that government assumed a measure of responsibility to correct.Which means that a measure of legal and ethical responsibility for those events WAS accepted by you or by them. A measure of responsibility that your immaturity prevents you from accepting, in contravention of any known legal norms, but a measure of responsibility that nevertheless exists. You don’t just get to change your government or political system, and then say, “Hey, everything’s hunky dory. It’s all ok. Nothing happened.” Because something did happen. Something very big happened. And justice is and was served by the actions of the agent of the perpetrator – an agent of which you are a citizen, whether you like that or not.

    Rehabilitating the criminal does not mean that the rehabilitated criminal is not still responible for compensating the victim. It just means that the criminal was rehabilitated.

    Grow up, Froylein.

    Or don’t.

    But either way, you’re wrong, and you know it. Or else you wouldn’t carry on like this.

  • German Compensation for National Socialist Crimes

    Since the Second World War, Germany has enacted a number of laws providing compensation for people who suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis. Over the course of its forty year-plus compensation program, these laws have resulted in billions of dollars being paid to hundreds of thousands of individuals.

    Compensation for crimes committed by the Nazi regime began soon after the Second World War when the occupation powers, with the exception of the Soviet Union, enacted laws in their individual zones restoring property confiscated by the Nazis to the original owners. The first such law was American: Military Government Law 59, which went into effect in November, 1947.

    The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) undertook its first compensation initiatives soon after its founding in 1949. Compensation was a high priority for Konrad Adenauer, the FRG’s first Chancellor, who stated on September 27, 1951: “In our name, unspeakable crimes have been committed and demand compensation and restitution, both moral and material, for the persons and properties of the Jews who have been so seriously harmed…”

    “In our name,” he said.

    Emphasis added.

    “In our name,” as took to carrying out compensation.

    FRG accepted responsibility. Your argument is with Konrad Adenauer. Take it up with him. Or read a history book and find a way to prove to me that he spoke these words and carried out these corrective actions on behalf of a different regime.

    You are so far out of your league it’s not even funny.

  • Alright, it may have escaped your attention, but in democratic states, there is no kin liability. Also, the source of the money used for compensating Nazi victims are those industries that immediately benefitted from forced labour respectively organizations that obtained expropriated items from those victims. I don’t know what WaPo’s source is, but an official estimate by the governmental body dealing with / mediating the claims and the payments (a few years ago famously presided over by former politician Otto Graf Lambsdorff) determined that so far only 20% of restitution had been paid.

    A selection of press articles on the topic were gathered by Hagalil and can be found here: http://www.schoah.org/holocaust/entschaedigung.htm

    Oh, and you still need a history book as you obviously really don’t understand the differences between the Third Reich and the Federal Republic of Germany. Maybe reading a few of the articles linked to above will give you a clue.

  • From the website titled “German Missions in the United States“, in a window titled “Commemorating Nazi Pogrom Night 70 Years Later,” I went to a link titled, strangely enough, “Historic Responsibility.”

    Think of those words for a moment. “Historic Responsibility.”

    Here’s what the German Missions website, which houses links to its Embassy in Washington, Consulates General, and other official government agencies, had to say:

    Historic Responsibility

    “Germany is profoundly aware of the historic responsibility it bears toward the Jewish community and toward the State of Israel as a result of the crimes of the Nazi regime. This responsibility, a cornerstone of German policy, requires remembrance, reconciliation and ongoing vigilance now and in the future.

    You will never admit you were wrong (let alone how wrong) you were on this one, will you?

    It would be incredibly embarrassing to be this wrong, or at least it would be to someone who wasn’t shameless.

    Good luck with your studies on the meaning of historical responsibility. The German government is waiting and could require you to take a civics test on it, if you’re not careful. 😉

  • Funny you mention it as I’m friends with survivors that were good friends with Adenauer when he was mayor of Cologne before he eventually had to hide from the Nazis himself. Those people, BTW, owe their survival to Adenauer. Had you taken the time to go into Adenauer’s, and later Kohl’s (a friend of my grandfather’s) elaborations on the topic, you’d have understood that Adenauer was speaking of the guilt of people of his generation that actually did actively or passively commit crimes during / in Nazi Germany. It was therefore important to both of them that restitution and punishment were gone through with as long as the criminals as well as the victims were / are alive. Kohl, a historian BTW, coined the phrase of “the blessing of late birth”.

  • Froylein, should I go to you on differences between the Third Reich and the FRG or to Adenauer and the website maintained on behalf of the German Missions?

    Because right now I’m not entirely convinced that you are a better resource on the point of contention between us in that regard than they are.

  • You’re conflating legal responsibility with historic / social responsibility. To give you the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume you just don’t know the difference and you’re ignorant of the actual extent of the adoption of either in the FRG.

  • Kohl may be a historian, but he’s not the only one. Although Goldhagen’s work is controversial, I think its message is a good one to those who are overly eager to absolve themselves of Germany’s “historic responsibility”, to use the phrase on what appears to be a government website.

    BTW, Kohl was also a Chancellor of Germany, right? If he got to go that far in the government, why couldn’t he successfully get the German government to declare itself absolved of its “historic responsbility”? Or was he just a better historian than he was a politician?

    I don’t know. You tell me, Froylein. Or else you can quit quibbling over the same original point that even your government seems to disagree with you on.

  • Fine. I’ll accept that I’ve conflated it, assuming you’ll accept that you initially tried dodging out of a point that you were obviously wrong on (Germany’s historic/social responsibility).

    It will be funny to see your response, given the topic of discussion.

  • There’s a difference between a historic / social responsibility and legal responsibility. The former means spreading awareness of the dangers of fascism and racism and fighting fascist and racist tendencies within our society (a responsibility, I think, even you would agree with). The legal responsibility is to pay restitution to those that suffered at the Nazis’ hands, the money for that is taken from Nazi funds plus industries that benefitted from forced labour and the return of expropriated goods. Kohl was indeed chancellor of the FRG, but while he was pushing restitution forward, he particularly faced struggles with industries, which still owe most of the money, that partly claimed paying restitutions would seriously impact business / force them to lay off workers (which is ridiculous as the amounts asked for are peanuts for huge companies plus such extra expenses can be made tax eductible here).
    I’m in line with my government there.

  • Even if you say you accept your government’s line now, it’s difficult to understand why you responded to a comment on historic or social responsibilities with a comment on legal or ethical responsibilities, unless you were trying to change the subject or conflated them initially. No big deal, it was probably unintentional.

    What qualifies as “Nazi funds”?

  • Oh, and if you care to read up above, I rejected ethical and legal responsibility for the Nazis’ deeds. I, as any other citizen of a democratic state, has got the social responsibility to stick up to democratic ideals, but I cannot be held ethically or legally responsible for what happened decades before I was even born. Otherwise we’d have to hold all offspring of anyone legally responsible for their ancestors’ wrongdoings. On a sidenote, it was Judaism’s “an eye for an eye” jurisdiction that first outlawed kin liability – a major progress in early civilized societies.

  • Nazi funds, for instance, are money deposited by the Nazi regime into foreign (e.g. Swiss) accounts, valuables obtained by Nazis officials on behalf of the state or the NSDAP etc. The problem with Swiss accounts is that Swiss banks still won’t permit access / insight into those accounts (and the huge stashes of gold the Nazis stored ad Swiss banks). A young Swiss banker who stumbled upon files in his bank concerning Nazi property and confiscated victims’ property still watched over by Swiss banks and who made just that public was declared a persona non grata in Switzerland; he now lives in the US as a refugee.

  • Froylein,

    I think you are ascribing a notion of “kin liability” to me to which I do not hold. I referenced people you are close to to emphasize the point, not to say you were responsible for them, but as a personal example – the same way you bring up your relatives’ associations with Kohl, etc.

    I think we agree that we are talking about historic/social notions of responsibility. I am not sure why you keep going back to a strictly legal understanding. My initial comments on the responsibilities of those lecturing others of different nationalities were completely in-line with a historical/social definition. Were they not?

  • The notion you brought up was an ethical / historical one, not a social one. You required humility from me because of Nazi German’s wrongdoings, not because of any democratic values.

  • I simply do not see where there was any financial or legal penalty I asserted or implied you would or should be responsible for when lecturing others without being considerate of the unique complexities of their own situations in relation to yours. This would seem to comport much moreso with a historical/social responsibility than a legal/ethical one. If not, then perhaps we are speaking past each other.

    If it is not clear to you that I never asserted you were personally responsible or ethically liable for funds paid by those other than (hypothetically) the FRG, then I certainly hope it is by now.

  • Och MUL… You may keep repeating yourself, but it still won’t change your call for “humility” based on a line of reasoning that can only be linked to ethical / legal considerations that simply do not apply in my situation. To state that any political situation / background is complex in this day and age is just banal.

  • Ok, I see I gave you a couple opportunities for this to be resolved in a civil way – an opportunity that you apparently became embarrassed at and responded to with more bravado, opinionated garbage and and insults, as predicted…

    And the dumbest attempt at deflection anyone could have come up with.

    “a line of reasoning that can only be linked to…” No. The crimes of the Holocaust gave you a social/historical responsibility that you finally admitted to – once you parsed it down to that little component and (after) I provided examples from the German Missions websites. If you don’t like the fact that social/historical responsibilities generally can apply to your more careful consideration of situations that you sneeringly pretend to understand, regardless of whether you do or don’t, that’s your problem.

    If they didn’t, then we could have imposed reparations on Germany after WWII that were as steep as those imposed after WWI. But we didn’t, because we learned from the history of doing so what the consequences of that might be – a big, raging German temper tantrum that resulted in a return to totalitarianism in Europe, the loss of tens of millions of lives, and examples of the worst crimes committed against humanity in history. That sounds to me like an example of exercising social/historical responsibility.

    You are not sticking up for democratic ideals when you say “anybody could be president as it obviously only takes an advisor-set,” with a little smiley-face after the comment, as it shows that you do not take the situation in America seriously. Nor is it accurate in the sense of what is required for a successful presidency – although it is not clear if the latter is your concern, let alone something you understand.

    Like usual, you are just trying to save (pseudonymous!) face and looking really, really stupid and boorish in the process. A little humility might not have been a virtue for Hitler, or for you, or for all the “Good Germans”, but it is for me and for most decent people. But your inflated pride and vanity is not winning you any arguments.

    “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

    Don’t be so afraid of admitting you were wrong that you’ll assert things without proof or evidence. “that can only be linked to”! This is the vaguest form of question begging bullshit I’ve ever heard. And your whole tirade rests on committing the fallacy of division, over and over again.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.