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Windows and Doors

Jon Voight Ignored Rabbinic Wisdom in His Letter to the President

Actor Jon Voight attacked President Obama in an open letter published in the Washington Times. Telling the President that he “will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when (he) said that (he) would defend Israel.” The letter continues by asserting that Mr. Obama is “play(ing) a very dangerous game so (he) can look like a true martyr.”
Were this letter not making the rounds among so many different Jewish circles, I might not have paid much attention. But when I get dozens of forwards and multiple phone calls about one letter, it pays to pay attention. And in this case, while I recognize the sincerity of Mr. Voight’s concerns, the way in which he frames them typifies much that is wrong with contemporary debate, especially about Israel.
Without challenging his claims that President Obama is both putting Israel “in harm’s way” and promoting anti-Semitism throughout the world, both of which are things about which reasonable people can disagree, why must Voight resort to the Joe Wilson School of public debate? Why must it be that those with whom we disagree are necessarily lying? Can’t they simply be wrong?


Of course, it is more viscerally satisfying to call the President a liar, but what evidence do either Mr. Voight, or any of those who are circulating his letter, adduce to prove that claim? Answer, none.
Ultimately, this open letter substitutes personal invective for reasoned argument. Sadly, that is increasingly typical of all public debate in this country, especially about issues of real concern, and nobody is well served by it.
Those who agree with Voight may get a quick hit of moral superiority and righteous indignation off of his letter, but will anyone not already in agreement with them be convinced? Of course not! So what’s the point? Clearly, it’s not to make things better. And if it’s not to make things better, even as understood by Voight, he should put down his pen until he figures out a real answer to the question of what would.
It’s also of concern any time people confuse actions with motives, as does Mr. Voight. How does he know that the President does what he does in order to “look like a martyr”? Perhaps Mr. Obama has taken the positions he has because he thinks they are best for America and possibly, though this will be especially hard for Voight to understand, also for Israel.
Of course, the President may be wrong, but that doesn’t mean he is insincere or conniving. It just means he is wrong. Perhaps, especially as Mr. Voight is fond of celebrating Jewish wisdom, he might recall the rabbinic prescription to assume the best about those with whom we deal. Nowhere do the sages of the Talmud teach that presuming the best about each other should silence or even limit debate. In fact, a rabbi without a good debate is barely a rabbi!
It’s precisely because we need real and vigorous debate about important issues, including Israel – debate with fierce proponents from both the left and right, that we need an ethic of fierce debate. Without that ethic, debates become shout fests, popular involvement becomes mob-ocracy, and we all ultimately lose, regardless of which party happens to hold sway at any given moment.

  • Beverly

    Lets look at what the world is offering the USA now.
    We have “PRO-ISRAE” politicians who do not love the “United States” and are not “PRO-AMERICAN CITIZENS”. All the while our people are suffering, poor and homeless. Does Israel, care about our Country “NO”. In fact Israel, begs all the time for more money from our slavery taxes we good loving Americans, work hard for and our Country is broke now as we suffer with it.
    Here we have Zionist in Senate and Congress who do not care about Americans suffering all they vote and live for threw APIAC and Zionist Political Organizations, is free trips to Israel, donations to campaigns, business deals for friends and family promised votes. Selling our The United States each day.
    Look at how Senators and Congress invested in war arms then voted to go to war. All so they could become wealthy knowing that it is blood money and Americans dying they profit from. Let us true humanitarian humans not forget the blood money profiteering off babies and humans who die in the war.
    Jon Voight never cared about the deaths of all these humans. Just support Israel and to hell with American the Great-
    151 Congressmen Derive Financial Profit_134
    Has one of them even offered to donate one cent of their war profits to lessen the debt that increases more …Congress Human Rights Abuser Profiteer Pro-Isreal not Pro-American Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) $100870 to $100870 ……/151_congressmen_derive_financi.html – Cached – Similar

  • David N. Friedman

    BradH: Without challenging his claims that President Obama is both putting Israel “in harm’s way” and promoting anti-Semitism throughout the world, both of which are things about which reasonable people can disagree, why must Voight resort to the Joe Wilson School of public debate? Why must it be that those with whom we disagree are necessarily lying? Can’t they simply be wrong?
    Resp. What a weak retort!! Of course the entire point here made by Jon Voight is that Obama is wrong-headed. And to say that the accusation that Obama is putting Israel and harm’s way and promoting antisemitism is “a matter that reasonable people can agree or disagree” about–gives Voight’s central point total validity.
    So I suppose if your neighbor’s house was on fire, Brad, you might excoriate him for yelling to the fire department instead of merely making a polite phone call.

  • Laurence

    Of course, even one who is dishonest or deceptivene might , on occassion, be accidentally or intentionally telling the truth. However, why MUST Mr. Voight (or anyone else) assume that Mr. Obama is telling the truth? About the only thing this president has been totally upfront about is that achieving his goal “by any means available” is OK. Unfortunatly, with this president I believe that trusting him as a course of normal response will only lead to disappointment quite often. At least he shut down Gitmo… wait…

  • robert

    Executive order #6 By law, As of 2012; (1) The United states of America will preempt or respond with “Emergency Action” to all military aggression against civilian’s or non-aggressive countries. (2) A preemptive strike will be sufficient to deny aggressive nations ability to Command and Control, including the capability to wage offensive war. (3) All “responsive” emergency actions will be against military and government targets of an offending country. (4) The “Country of Origin” will be held responsible for any offence by proxy. (5) A response of 100 times the force used against The United States of America, one of its allies or a smaller nation without the capability of defending itself. (5) The response shall be immediate, with little warning and void of negotiations.

  • withyobadself

    if god wants you jews to protect israel … like you jews keep talking about…then he wouldnt let anything bad happen to it…where is your faith… there is none … there is no faith in the jewish religion… jews that do have a relationship with god … dont care what happens to israel or the world… are there any jews that are not involved in the world??? I dont think there are … all you jews have no faith in god… you jews only have faith in your self made religion and yourselves… you jews have no faith in god…

  • Alfred Neuman

    Everything Voight said in the letter is painfully true, and congratulations to him for having the courage to write it. Unfortunately there seem to be still quite a number of very liberal Jews in the “Obamazombie” camp who have difficulty accepting that that this emperor has no clothes and continue to worship at the altar of this demonstrably incompetent and dishonest President–undoubtedly the worst we’ve had in generations.
    He’s gone back on so many of his campaign promises that even the Conservative sites have lost track. His treatment of Israel is both duplicitous and extremely bad foreign policy, beating up on the U.S.’s only reliable Middle East ally, and courting favor with demonstrably unstable and bellicose Islamic theocracies.
    If it weren’t for an American media very much in Obama’s pocket, there would be strong voices for impeachment by now.

  • withyobadself

    there are only two types of republicians….1.very rich…2.ignorant and backwards who cant stand seeing a nigger in charge

  • Hector

    There is only one type of withyobadself: a bleepin’ moron.
    Hirschfield writes: “Perhaps, especially as Mr. Voight is fond of celebrating Jewish wisdom, he might recall the rabbinic prescription to assume the best about those with whom we deal.”
    Did the rabbis indeed say this about all people with whom we deal? I believe the answer is no.

  • Paul K. Fauteck

    It’s not surprising when some Jew hater takes this opportunity to spew his ignorant venom. It’s disturbing to me, however, when a Jew echos spews the same kind of hatred we expect from fascist dictators. Obama is the worst president in generations? Be serious! The last one all but destroyed America. Nixon and LBJ were war criminals. Obama has done a great job considering the mess we were in when he took office and how much obstructionism he faces daily.
    Media in his pocket? Like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News? What planet do you live on, Alfred Neuman?
    Interesting that some Jews excoriate him for not being sufficiently pro-Israel, and hordes of non-Jews accuse him of giving Israel the store.

  • S.Smith

    Great job Mr. Voight!
    I have so much respect for him because he spoke the truth.

  • Clarifier

    I have few words to Mr. Voight, like anyone else if you prefer Israel’s interest over US then go there and live. It goes for you Mr. Voight as it goes to other foreign loyalty oriented people. The people that brought to the world the 10 commandments, as you stated, are not all political Zionists and bigots.
    This is my answer to this Zionist, not because I agree that Obama has forsaken Israel’s interests over the US’s interests as he claims, but because of his Zionist distorted views of humanity and politics; by way of deception, the Mossad motto.
    By the way do not mix US issues with foreign issues, there is no relationship except mixing and muddying the water for ideological and propagandist purposes that are self serving; The world knows Israel is a rogue and criminal country and none democratic.
    Mr. Voight our young are fighting and dying to implement Israeli foreign politics. Refer to “Clean Break “document written for Netanyahu in 1996 by some of our neocons dual citizenship carrier policy makers that are under or were under investigation for espionage; I trust you know who I am speaking about.
    The good American or humanitarian that looks deeper than the skin level is labeled terrorist, now-a-days, because he/she dares to question the validity of the rogue and criminal Zionist entity’s actions around the world (covert most of the time), and the deceivers with their well coordinated propaganda organs are the none terrorists; what an interesting times we are living in!

  • withyobadself

    alfred neuman…republicians are for .. less government.. no breaks…no unions…for who????? THE RICH..there are not enough rich people in america to keep the republicians in office…so the republicians along with fox news spread republican propaganda to the…NOT RICH …FOR VOTES ONLY…it doesnt benefit anyone who’s not rich to be a republician… in the george bush days..the NOT RICH.. was told ,if your not republician then your not a true americian, you have no morals,your not a good christian…and ignorant backwards people believed that…why do people vote republician if they are not rich… the government is not coming after you..this kind of unfairness will never stop…children of god are supposed to have nothing to do with the world… christians are the worst kind of people…. god bless america… no god is punishing america… and the rest of the world..

  • John Heininger

    Israel was attacked on all sides by the media outlets in Australia over the flotilla episode,to the point where Christian supporters of Israel felt it necessary to mobilize to get truth out, to the media and via the Internet. Friends in Israel sent me video of what really happened and our Pro-Israel Christian network went to work to get the truth out, and the media started to give a more factual report. In short, as was previously stated, “Everything Voight said in the letter is painfully true, and congratulations to him for having the courage to write it.”

  • gayle

    David Friedman:
    LIKUD stooge Jon Voight is certainly a moral examplar, and therefore worth heeding. Just ask his daughter, Angelina Jolie, what
    a wonderful (ABSENTEE!) parent he was to her!

  • withyobadself

    john heininger …. christians believe jews are going to hell… so what is a pro israel christian…MONEY… is whats bringing these two religions together.. lucifer made all religion…

  • hed

    Rabbi Brad always takes the high road, maybe Voight is right and Obama is a liar. Maybe

  • stienmanhamberg

    hed i think your mom has had sex with black men and thats why you hate black people

  • FirstNorn

    Thank you for a sane and very articulate reply to Voight’s letter. Everyone should be aware of the link to a speech by Laurence Vance.

  • claire montrose

    Jon Voight and his daughter Angelina. And idiot and a skank.

  • claire montrose

    Okay, that was a typo. AN idiot and a skank.

  • Wordpress Themes

    Good brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you for your information.

  • Claire Cameron

    Again, I applaud Rabbi Hirschfield for his perceptions and understanding of the ways of humankind!

  • Hot babe

    Watch my lips.

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