A New Year’s greeting from Barack Obama

The holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight. For Jews it marks the beginning of the year 5771. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year to all our Jewish readers.
President Obama has noted the holiday. The White House has posted a video of President Obama’s Rosh Hashanah message (transcript here; compare with Obama’s 2010 Ramadan message here). In his inimitable style, Obama provides instruction to us, or “us,” as “we begin this New Year[.]” Obama admonishes us:

At a time when too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, it is up to us to do what we can to help those less fortunate.
At a time when prejudice and oppression still exist in the shadows of our society, it is up to us to stand as a beacon of freedom and tolerance and embrace the diversity that has always made us stronger as a people.
And at a time when Israelis and Palestinians have returned to direct dialogue, it is up to us to encourage and support those who are willing to move beyond their differences and work towards security and peace in the Holy Land. Progress will not come easy, it will not come quick. But today we had an opportunity to move forward, toward the goal we share–two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Obama’s “we” and “us” reminds me of the old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Reader Josh Levy comments:

How about just “Happy Rosh Hashanah”? Or how about not saying anything? The Jews of all people don’t need your preaching — certainly not from someone who attended an anti-Jewish “church” for 20 years. Don’t tell us to “help the poor” and “embrace diversity” and “move beyond differences.” We have been commanded to help the poor, to have one law for the stranger as for the Jew, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you can’t control your preachy impulse (and it’s clear you cannot), go tell it to someone who needs to hear your message. Go talk to Hamas, go talk to the Saudi-sponsored imams in mosques across America, go talk to the hate-filled leftists on university campuses.

I pray that “we” shall overcome.


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