“I don’t know whether I’m happy about Obama”, my friend Rachel, a fellow Brit, informed me this morning as we walked our dogs down Rothschild Boulevard, “but it’s great that there will be a black President”.
Why is it so “great”? And why should we be happy?
There has never been a turquoise President. And I wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops if one of those got elected. Nor has there been a Hispanic/Latino (they outnumber African Americans in the US), Asian, or Native American President.
Would I particularly want a Jewish President? I wasn’t doing cartwheels of joy when Al Gore selected Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2000, not because Lieberman isn’t a good man or wouldn’t have done a good job, but because we Jews are always rather reticent about having other Jews in highest public office. There was a hushed sigh of relief from many British Jews when Michael Howard resigned as leader of the Conservative Opposition in 2005, and a further one when Sir Malcolm Rifkind dropped out of the race to replace him.
Many of the rumours surrounding Obama – that he is a Muslim, for example (not that there would be anything wrong with that, some of my best friends are . . . well, not really, but I did fall for one last year!) – would appear to be just that.
If, however, there is any truth in the suggestion that large portions of his election funds came from shady Middle Eastern sources, then I don’t want a black President.
If Obama’s private views echo those of black Jew-haters like Louis Farrakhan, or even Jesse Jackson or Spike Lee, then I don’t want a black President.
Or if Obama, after taking office, fails to distinguish between the dreams of the large majority of Israelis, to live in peace alongside their Arab neighbours, and those of the large majority of those neighbours, of Israelis floating in the Mediterranean, then I don’t want a black President.
The jury is out. Let’s judge the man on his actions.