web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Listening To The Great Orator


Did you hear the speech President Obama delivered in Cairo week before last? I don’t mean just the words but the sound, the tone, the delivery – the way he actually articulated his sentences, the cadences, the pauses and the breaks for applause.

I did. But I did not hear it quite the way so many pundits did. There is no question the president is a great orator. He has the ability to use words to gain attention and focus concentration on important components of his beliefs. He has a basic, even innate, psychological insight into how to use words and he does it very well.

Three things about the Cairo speech, though, disturbed me. The first relates not directly to Obama but to his audience. They were polite and did a great deal of applauding. That’s good. As president of the United States, Obama merits that basic respect and more.

But there was absolutely no applause whenever he mentioned Israel. I wonder if he or anyone in his entourage noticed. And if they did, how they interpreted it.

Obama made two statements about Israel that repeatedly echo in my mind. The first sounded like little more then a nod to fanatic Islam’s denials and lies about the Holocaust: “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

I would suggest that Obama read the history of the Jewish people and perhaps Ruth Wisse’s Jews and Power in order to understand that it is not just a tragic history that affords Jews the right to a homeland, but a strong history of faith and determination.

The president also stated, “many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.” The tone shift to this sentence indicated a fear, an emotional glitch of sorts, in Obama’s voice. The slight inflection, the shift of his shoulders, suggested he was not being completely honest about this point.

It is hard to know just where Obama was leading. Still, the confident orator did not stand firm on this point when he delivered it. The real question is whether Obama is trying to reestablish that old bugaboo of moral equivalence for acts of violence versus acts of self-defense.

Howard Fineman pointed out in Newsweek that Obama’s skills as an orator allowed him to convince the great majority of American citizens to overlook the fact that the Obamas sat in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church for so many years listening to Wright spew hate about America and Jews without so much as uttering a word in response.

In a speech Obama gave in Philadelphia during the presidential campaign he eloquently expounded on what it meant to be a black man in America. But in doing so he distracted voters from the main issue of the moment – his affiliation with Wright. Had he not done so, many believe Obama might not have been elected.

As someone who has lived through race riots and possesses an understanding of and appreciation for issues of human equality, I think America made a wonderful step forward by electing a black man as president. But in listening to Obama speak I have developed a concern not unlike that expressed by Newsweek’s Fineman.

I wonder whether Obama is not just a great orator but also a sophist – someone with an enhanced ability to manipulate rhetoric. He can debate all sides of a point with grace and ease but he may not have a fixed opinion or understanding of the broader issues – or worse, he is manipulating them toward a different end.

Obama was raised in a strong academic tradition of liberal discourse. The Ivy League education he received is second to none and better than many. Steeped in that tradition is the use of words: communication is viewed as the tool to heal all rifts.

As a professional who strongly believes communication is necessary for success, I admire his great abilities. But I also know that one must be honest in approaching those with whom you wish to communicate. Obama says he is doing so, but his audience, his shifting tonality, and his apparent leanings toward moral equivalence – along with his sophistry – leave me concerned.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Listening To The Great Orator”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Bibi: ‘Death From Above, Death From Below’ Will Not Continue
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Dr. Michael J. Salamon

The recent conviction of an unlicensed therapist in one of our communities has led to serious soul searching on the part of some and confusion for many others. The most strident argument of his supporters is that he was convicted without proof; that the accuser made up the story to get back at her community and directed her anger at this amateur counselor.

Salamon-053112-Taxonomy

Mental health specialists tend to speak about their patients according to a classification referred to as the DSM, which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This classification system was first published in 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association as a method to classify mental disorders and develop a statistical baseline through which disorders can be understood, studied and treated. It is not the only classification system available.

The New York Times got it right. In an editorial published on Thursday May 19, the Times castigated the Vatican for issuing “flimsy guidelines” for combating the sexual abuse of children by the clerical hierarchy.

We may not want to accept it, but abuse occurs everywhere, even in our own communities. The effects of abuse are devastating and long lasting – not only on those individuals who are abused but on their families as well. Even one act of abuse against a person, regardless of age, can have a significantly negative impact that may last a lifetime.

Did you hear the speech President Obama delivered in Cairo week before last? I don’t mean just the words but the sound, the tone, the delivery – the way he actually articulated his sentences, the cadences, the pauses and the breaks for applause.

My Feb. 22 Jewish Press op-ed article “Losing Rational Orthodoxy” seems to have struck a nerve. Much of the feedback was positive, some was negative, and even more was intensely ambivalent.

There is a growing crisis in the international Jewish community that I believe must be acknowledged if we are to survive intact and preserve our children’s future. The crisis is related to, but goes well beyond, the fact that we are in general too indulgent and tolerant as parents; it goes beyond the fact that we have acquired a level of wealth and comfort that we take too much for granted – even if we are not all wealthy nor all that comfortable; and it goes beyond any individual’s intensity ascribed to religious custom and tradition.
It is more about our willingness to abandon the balance of faith and reality that has helped us endure for centuries. This is not a crisis of abiding religious faith or observant practice per se, but rather a calamity of application and interpretation. And it has the potential to be a disaster of significant proportion.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/listening-to-the-great-orator/2009/06/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: