A good walk spoiled?

Woodmont Country Club is located in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. Its membership is predominantly Jewish owing to the fact that when it was formed, Jews were excluded from most, if not all, clubs in the area.

President Obama has played golf at Woodmont several times. There is speculation that he would like to join the club now that he intends to grace our area with his continued presence.

According to the Washington Post, Woodmont’s members are split on whether to accept Obama as a member. Opposition to him joining is based on his recent actions toward Israel.

One longtime Woodmont member wrote that Obama “has created a situation in the world where Israel’s very existence is weakened and possibly threatened.” Therefore, in this member’s view, “he is not welcome at Woodmont.”

Another member wrote that Obama’s stance on Israel should make it “inconceivable” that he would be admitted to Woodmont. He urged members who have views on the matter to “make them known quickly” because “timing is critical.”

Not surprisingly, some Woodmont members would be delighted to have Obama join their club and others simply disagree with imposing a political test. The Post’s article offers no information as to what portion of the membership falls into the various camps.

I’ve never belonged to country club. If I did, I probably wouldn’t object to having Obama join mine.

I agree with the view that Obama has created a bad situation for Israel. And I can well understand that seeing Barack Obama on the links might well “spoil the walk” for those who strongly support Israel.

Yet even in the Washington, D.C. area, it ought to be possible for folks with divergent views about the Middle East to co-exist at a country club. No doubt they already co-exist at Woodmont.

Obama arguably represents a special case because unlike other members, he has been able to impose his views, and to the detriment of Israel. But Obama’s not the only D.C. resident who has been behind controversial policies. It wouldn’t have sat well with me if high-level Bush administration officials had been excluded from club membership over the Iraq war (who knows, maybe some were).

Golf isn’t politics. Better if folks manage to put their political and policy preoccupations to one side before teeing off.

The Post says there has been no official indication that Obama wants to join Woodmont, though there is speculation that he does. If the speculation is correct, it will be interesting to see whether he retains this desire now that he knows (presumably) that some members are strongly opposed to him joining.

Don’t be surprised if he does. Obama doesn’t seem like someone whose behavior is influenced by what others think. He’s unlikely to care whether he spoils the walk of those who disagree with about Israel.


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