By Miriam Shaviv
April 22, 2010
A letter jaw-dropping in its stupidity, in this week's JC:
Miriam Shaviv, [JC April 9] wrote: "US President Barack Obama has confirmed that he is a bully, responding aggressively to weakness and snubbing allies while kowtowing to dictators and rogues."
I, and many other Jews, have a very different view. We regard President Obama as a reasonable and far sighted man who, because of the weight that he carries in the "Arab street" offers Israel a unique chance of making a peace settlement that might actually stick.
But my argument with Shaviv is not so much what she says as the way she says it. At least one group of people in British society would, I believe, find her remarks almost personally insulting.
I am a Jewish broadcaster working on a radio station which has a largely black management and listenership, I wonder if Shaviv truly appreciates the enormous esteem in which Obama is held in this community. His astonishing rise against the odds has been theirs too.
The JC has an influence much wider than that of its Jewish readership. So, if Jewish/black relations matter, Shaviv might be advised to use more judicious language in future. I am not suggesting that she should not be as critical of American policy as she feels she needs to be. But to be personally insulting is careless and unwise. This is not about censorship; it is about common sense and a sensitivity towards the feelings of others.
So, according to Mr Phillips, Jews cannot criticise Barack Obama personally because it will offend black people. Perhaps we should also avoid criticising Mr Brown because it might offend Scots, and Mr Cameron because it might offend toffs? Really.
Unfortunately, Mr Phillips falls into a category which is becoming increasingly common: do-gooders making ridiculous demands on behalf of a minority to which they do not belong, doing more harm than good.
The classic example is of the many liberals, here and in the US, who make it their business to demand that shops do not put up signs wishing customers 'Merry Christmas' in December, because it might offend Jews or Muslims. I can't recall ever hearing from a Jew or Muslim who actually cares.