Rabbi Stern is right to protest that we should not be judging someone on their religious affiliation. However, he is wrong to uncritically pass along the very information that has been circulating in anti-Obama email smears.
If Rabbi Stern had checked out his sources, he would have discovered that the right wing articles he cites are full of inaccuracies. If he had checked with any impartial journalistic source, like the New York Jewish Week, he would have discovered that Zbigniew Brzezinski does not serve on Obama’s campaign and has had no input on Obama’s Middle East policy. Rather, Obama’s Middle East foreign policy advisors include such strong pro-Israel advocates as former Clinton advisors as Dennis Ross, Dan Shapiro, and Anthony Lake.
As for Samantha Powers as a foreign policy advisor in Obama’s campaign, a spokesperson for the NJDC, recently told me that Powers does not advise Obama on Middle East matters and that his Middle East advisors include many conservative pro-Israel advisors. The spokesperson said, “…The most important thing to keep in mind is that Obama has a strong voting record on Israel, his campaign has a released an array of strong pro-Israel proposals and he speaks eloquently in support of Israel. As Jewish Democrats, it is comforting to know that whoever our nominee is will be pro Israel.” That is supported by recent statements from AIPAC, as I mentioned in my last post.
Closer to home, Rabbi Stern also says he is waiting for Obama to get “in front of the issue” to denounce the anti-Semitism of his pastor. Obama did just that at the nationally televised Cleveland debate and when he spoke before the Cleveland Jewish community, the transcript of which is available from the New York Sun. Most importantly, Obama is willing to denounce anti-Semitism even to black-only audiences, as I already posted.
The former journalist in me bristles that our currect state of journalism, which includes blogging and instantly available electronic commentary, does not require a rigorous commitment to fact checking.
Rabbi Waxman started this discussion with a warning about Lashon Hara. How true. Lashon Hara (gossip, slander, and all forms of negative communication) comes in many forms. Passing along unsubstantiated information is just one of the many things we should be wary of as the Jewish community.