By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet
I woke up this morning to a real furore. I was astounded to find numerous emails in my inbox from friends and family decrying my alleged support for Barack Obama. I have since received many more emails with clips of things he is to have said in the past and numerous dangerous affiliations he has maintained.
First to deal with the supposed quotes: There is a paper here in London called the Jewish News. I am a regular weekly columnist for the paper so remarks I make are not intended for headline grabbing purposes as some allege, but part of a regular feature when the paper canvasses opinions. If anyone bothered to read the paper rather than the way it was portrayed on the COLlive.com, they will have come across my remarks couched in the middle of numerous other remarks and quotes, including a general survey done amongst English Jews for which the majority was in favour of Obama. The headline itself in the paper said nothing about me or any other Rabbi endorsing Obama. It reflected the overall survey that was done.
That’s because the impression here is distinctly different to what is being generated on the other side of the pond. The view here is that John McCain is an extension of George Bush and since Bush has been in office Israel has been through eight years of terror, parts of our Holy Land have been tragically rescinded back to the Arabs, there was a disastrous Lebanon war and even as Israel wanted to respond to Iran it was Bush who held them back. Of course most elections are also based on the economy and after eight years of Bush America sits in deep recession.
I should stress, these are not necessarily my views, but they reflect a general sentiment that is out there, hence many want to see change and link Obama to that very theme of change. What most are not aware of, and I include myself in this, is the many links, emails, websites that link Obama to modern-day terrorism, and even one who purported that there is a phone bank in Gaza getting Americans to vote for Obama. To be sure, we’ve seen some of the links here and read some of the stuff in the press, but most of it has been taken with a pinch of salt. The UK press itself, and this includes the Jewish press, by and large disregards most of the comments and perceives it more as scare-mongering and typical political shenanigans.
Again it should be stressed my remarks were given to an English paper for an English audience reflecting an overall Anglo-Jewish perspective. It’s the choice of COLlive.com to publish it in such a way where it can be seen and taken in a completely different light and distorted out of context. It’s the choice and indeed irresponsibility of COLlive.com to flag it up in such a way where it can be misconstrued as an official endorsement, let alone a Chabad endorsement, and to make that as public as it had done.
If it is the case that the various links, articles, etc. reflect a truth about Obama in being a highly suspicious character that is to the detriment of Israel and the Jewish people, then I hold my hands up and apologise for my naiveté and retract any remarks which, however subtle and innocently intended, allowed for the possibility for them to be exaggerated in the public arena.
May we merit an era of true universal peace with the one true Commander in Chief – through the coming of Moshiach Tzikenu speedily.