Rabbi Shafran: Barack Obama is a Friend of Israel


avi-shafranBy Rabbi Avi Shafran

1) Hamas is evil.

2) Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

3) Anti-Israel sentiment is usually simple Jew-hatred in (not very good) disguise.

4) The United States needs to be fully supportive of Israel.

5) It has been.

Some would take issue with that last sentence. They are wrong. And it behooves Klal Yisroel, which is meant to be imbued with the concept of hakaras hatov, to recognize that fact.

Over the past six years, some have come to imagine that the current occupant of the White House is some sort of adversary of Israel.

Anyone, of course, can disagree with President Obama on any or all issues, even, perhaps, to just dislike him for no good reason, as some apparently do. But for those of us who (even though we expected the worst, considering some of the baggage he brought to Pennsylvania Avenue) have carefully observed him, he has proven himself more than worthy of Jewish respect.

Yet he was pounced upon, after his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world for, well, the simple decision to address that world; and for basing the state of Israel’s legitimacy on the Holocaust. What seemed to be overlooked, though, was that he made a full-throated argument for Muslim acceptance of Israel and rejection of terrorism. And he can hardly be faulted for not raising a Torah-based argument on behalf of the Jewish right to Eretz Yisroel.

In subsequent years, he had the US boycott the Durban Conference, rejected the Goldstone Report, strongly backed the Iron Shield and David’s Sling programs (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, beyond the $3 billion the US has given Israel annually) and bluntly, publicly reiterated that the entire Arab world needs to accept Israel as a Jewish state. He wasted not a minute in the middle of the night to, by threatening Egypt, effect the rescue of endangered Israeli embassy guards in Cairo, and condemned the Palestinian Authority’s denial of the Kosel Ma’aravi’s connection to the Jewish people.

Under Mr. Obama’s watch, moreover, the US conducted the largest joint American-Israeli military exercise in history. And he has demonstrated determination to neutralize Islamic terrorists, including with drones and targeted assassinations (like that of Mr. Bin Laden), gravely disappointing many of his left-wing long-time supporters. They are not likely much heartened, either, by his recent decision to launch airstrikes against Islamists in Iraq.

When Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, was reported missing, an anti-Israel, or even Israel-neutral, leader would simply have considered him a prisoner of war. Mr. Obama publicly demanded his return. And in asking for a cease-fire, the president made any final truce unconditionally dependent on a demilitarization of Gaza. To ignore any of that is to forfeit any claim, leave aside hakaras hatov, to fairness – or emes.

Nor is it fair to characterize the president’s words of concern for civilians in Gaza as somehow antithetical to his support for Israel’s right to defend herself; he explicitly reiterated the latter each time he voiced the former. Nor is it justified to lambaste Secretary of State John Kerry, a stalwart defender of Israel for the nearly 30 years of his public service, for promoting a draft peace proposal that, in fact, he had never put forth.

Some Israeli media are not guiltless here. They slurred Mr. Kerry and “reported” details of a purported private telephone call between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu; the transcript, it turned out, was a fabrication, according to both the White House and Mr. Netanyahu.

To be sure, there has been friction between the Israeli and American leaders over past years, but which of them is at fault for that is entirely arguable. In our zeal to defend Israel, we sometimes forget that Mr. Netanyahu, whatever good qualities he may possess, is neither a novi nor a godol. He is not, we do well to realize, beyond either errors of judgment or faults of character. The issue here isn’t the relationship between two men, but rather Mr. Obama’s support of the state of Israel’s needs. And in that he has acquitted himself well.

Yes, the US State Department harshly condemned an apparent Israeli shelling of an area near a school filled with Gazan civilians that killed ten people, and urged Israel to do more to “avoid civilian casualties.” Yet that entirely understandable reaction (who among us didn’t cringe at the news ourselves?) didn’t prevent President Obama from, the very next day, signing a bill to give Israel $225 million to restock its Iron Dome missile defense system, or from declaring as he did that his administration is determined “to make sure that Israel is able to protect its citizens.”

There is a reason that people like left-wing political activist Professor Cornel West have declared Mr. Obama a “war criminal” for his support of Israel.

We’re still in golus, of course; Tisha B’Av was only days ago. And in golus, Klal Yisrael is supposed to be, and always has been, respectful of even less-than-friendly leaders of the lands in which we live. The phrase “kal vachomer” is inadequate to convey how we should feel about the United States’ current leader.

As events distant and recent alike well attest, Klal Yisrael has enough true enemies out there. Why in the world would we want to treat a friend like one?


{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I love it! Rabbi Shafran hits the nail on the head every time.
    People have been hitting on Obama from day 1 but he has been a true friend.

  2. i am an agudist & i find this article very condescending by saying anyone who disagrees is lacking emes.
    i feel very srongly that barack obama is no friend to us or to israel for many reasons which r quite obvious

  3. Finally, some common sense and decency, from someone who looks at the facts, not just mouths off with the current radio talk-show cant.

    Now let’s see which of the trolls have the courage to badmouth Rabbi Shafran.

  4. @3 which of R’ Shafran’s points do you disagree with?
    I don’t like BHO, didn’t vote for him and wouldn’t vote for him as dogcatcher if given that chance. Nonetheless, I agree 100% with R’ Shafran and find the Obama hate SPECIFICALLY regarding Israel only perplexing. I think R’ Shafran for eloquently stating what are my feelings as well in regards to the President and the State of Israel.

  5. Totally ridiculous. Our hakaras hatov isn’t and shouldn’t be to this president, its to this country and its founding principles. Mr. Obama is no friend or defender to Israel or any Jew. His talk is cheap and means nothing to us here in the U.S., let alone the Arab nations. He boasts and is a massive haughty president that has failed the Jews and the United States as a whole, lowering our image, destroying our economy and defending our enemies. Rabbi Shafran should and I’m sure does have a much longer list of this public white house elected figure, that’s shows all the lives he’s ruined and not defended here and across the globe. Don’t be fooled by this nonesense

  6. Rabbi Shafran, with all due respect, this is simply your political opinion versus ours. We beg to differ…..but nice try anyway.

  7. Hashem is our only friend – let’s not fool ourselves: no goyshe politicians are our friends. At best we can have a pragmatic relationship choosing the better of two evils – at this point Obama and the Democratics are a much-much worse choice than the Conservatives. Is Obama the worst opponent through our history?-of course not. Is his (actual)foreign policy(not speeches) of appeasing Iran, supporting muslem brotherhood, ISIS and Hamas constitute a direct danger to the Jewish lives?-very much so. Are there American political groups that are much closer at representing our interests in foreign, social and economic spheres?-yes-and it’s conservatives.

  8. There must be a Torah reason or Rabbi Shafran wouldn’t write this. The facts show otherwise in every case mentioned, Obama clearly sides with the Muslims against Jews and against US interests. The only other choice is that he doesn’t have a clue, but R. Chaim Brisker said that even a fool is wise for those things pertinent to him.

    Why don’t you just say he is our enemy but we need to treat him otherwise? Is there a reason for us to fool ourselves too? Please clarify.

  9. I agree with the Rabbi–All US Administrations have had issues with Israel–remember Ronald Reagan who sold AWACS to Saudi Arabia in the 1989’s and who held up the delivery of F-16’s after Israel bombed Lebanon?

    The Middle East is one complicated place–there are no real solutions!

  10. Rabbi Shafran is right on the money. Despine the media hysteria and hypocrisy, the Obama administration is doing things in the national and global security arena behind the scenes which would make Ronald Reagan look like a leftist. These things will never be made public (at least not for another 40 years), and the Administration and all the silent heroes implementing its policies will press forward with no expectation of recognition.

  11. I beg to differ. isis or hamas, or some other such group (I forget which) has asserted that one day the flag of islam will hang in the white house. it is already there

  12. Rabbi Avi Shafran is an articulate person and he writes extremely well but he is not always correct. With all due respect, one can see through his emotional diatribe.
    I am of the belief that one must maintain his Torah values above his liberal values.

  13. Rabbi Shafran is wrong and he probably knows it. He still needs to say what he says because it is important to treat Barrack Obama as a friend of Israel, because he could be much worse if he didn’t feel the need to maintain the appearance of friendship.

  14. Everything obama did in reply to what happened in events above is just a fake game to fool YOU that he supports Israel and stands up for Jews and Yiddish Keit

    But don’t fool yourselves he is a Muslim. I.e. Bnei Ishmael and they believe they have a mitzvah to destroy yidden just like we have r mitzvah to destroy amalek .

    BOTTOM LINE. Barack insane Obama cannot go against his own Muslim brothers even if they are terrorists and even if they bomb his own country the USA. Versus any other country C”V

  15. This article does not smell right, Bibi ran out of Gaza, a day after he said do t second guess me”. What do u think happened? Perhaps Obama told him ” do u want 225 million? U better do as I say!!! And Bibi RAN!!!

    He is no friend of the Jews but neither was the previous few presidents, it’s all politics. (Remember president Reagan, 1981 Iraq bombing….)

    The problem we have with Obama has very little to do with Israel in itself, it has to do with ID ideology, he is a lefty and therefore his policies will be any Israel not because of he hates the Jews (that may also be the case) but because his mind is twisted and he is, what the gemorah calls a Merachem al Hoachzor on the expense of good people… In order to make him look compassionate!!

    Pure evil!!!!

    The world is in chaos!!! And Hashem used him as a shliach just like he used as Pharoh, Stalin and Hitler. They were all shluchim, Hashem used each ones character to achieve what had to be achieved. Can we blame them? Yes!!!

    Eisov sonei L’yakkov! Obama, Bush, Clinton are all on that boat

  16. I usually agree with much of what Rabbi Shafran says but this time, I must vehemently disagree.

    I am not going to go into a whole discourse here – the comments section is not the place for a full-blown article – but suffice it to say that Mr. Obama’s behavior both towards Netanyahu and the twisted way in which he creates a moral relativism between Hamas and Israel are just two examples of his indifference at best, and antipathy at worst, toward Israel.

    His silence in the face of abducted and murdered U.S. citizen Naftali Frankel hy”d, side-by-side with his outspokenness regarding Trayvon Martin and even the treatment of a U.S. Palestinian citizen who was beaten up after taking part in an anti-Israel rally in Israel, speaks volumes.

    I could continue…

  17. Avrohom. Rabbi Shafran gave at least 10 reasons proving his point that we do owe the president hakaras hatov. You gave none. If you are going to post something, please back it up. Please, then, list the “many reasons which r quite obvious”.

  18. Shafran has singing Obama’s praises since he had a meeting with the President and got a little pat on the back from him.
    Sorry, but with all due respect to Rabbi Shafran, he sounds like a court Jew, making apologies for someone like Obama who does not attempt even to conceal his contempt for Israel.
    His presidency is ideologically driven, and is not practical. The repercussions of his stance towards Israel will reverberate for a long time to come. He plays games with the lives of Israeli citizens and has recently stopped a shipment -temporarily – of arms for Israel just to flex his presidential muscles.
    I have a lot of respect for Rabbi Shafran, but sorry, he is sounding like an apologist for an Obama in a very unbecoming way.

  19. I totally disagree with rabbi shafran…If he truly was a friend like Canadian pm harper , he would not constantly harp on ceasefires with Israel’s sworn enemies whose only wish is the total demise of the jewish state c”v!!!!Rabbi Shafran—why don’t you ask the prez whether he would talk ceasefire with al quaida and/or isis!!! definitely not!!! so why pressure Israel on an exact same situation??? does that not say to you that this administration has an extreme double standard when it comes to Israel vs the rest of the world!!!!!He is probably between the least-friendly presidents to Israel!!!!! I would respectfully request an answer to these points , if possible…

  20. I can write a very long article disproving everything here, but I wont bother. We get that R’ Shafran needs to be politicaly correct, so I don’t blame him but whoever cant see that this man is a misguided bafoon, with a twisted wold outlook and a anti Israel bias, is deluding themselves

  21. With all due respect to you Rabbi Avi Shafran but your article is very self serving and for obvious reasons. For one you look to bolster your point of view with a few good points to show Obama is a real friend of Israel, but in all truth it’s Israel’s friends in Washington DC that should be getting the credit and not Obama or his administration. Furthermore there are many instances where the president has shown lack of interest and at times disdain towards the Jewish state and it’s prime minister. With regards to John Kerry, let’s not waste time on it but it would be a hard sell to any fair minded person to believe that Kerry has Israel at heart. The only thing he cares about is his legacy. And so while I disagree with the many that make the case that the president is antisemitic or worse, still I wholeheartedly believe the president is no real friend of the Jews or Israel by any stretch. For anyone to think otherwise must be either very naive or just not up to speed or must simply have another agenda.

  22. People have friends; countries have allies. As Jews, we should be circumspect in publicly criticizing BHO, although it is evident that he is being manipulated by Soros et alia, and lacks personal integrity and deep knowledge of world politics. Best to support those in the political arena who can help advance conservative values.

  23. I totally disagree with Rabbi Shafran. Obama is not a true friend of Israel. He’s thrown us under the bus at every opportunity. I don’t know how Rabbi Shafran reached this conclusion, but I can only hope whatever caused this disconnect from reality is only temporary.

  24. Rabbi Shafran, as you yourself have in the past made use of the maxim “Chachomim Hizharu Bediveraychem”, a politician’s words must be carefully measured both for their content and for their omissions.

    When the “Meraglim” described the experience of their expedition to Eretz Yisroel, they initially reported that the land was indeed exactly as promised by Hashem. However, they appended one word to their narrative: “Effess”, meaning to say, “true, but…….”. By equivocating their testimony with the addition of one small word “but”, it was the beginning of the process by which they systematically negated all the positive qualities which they had previously attributed to the land.

    Each and every time President Obama expressed his support for the State of Israel, he would qualify that support with the addition of some concern about the “legitimate” [quotation marks have been added by myself] grievances of the Palestinian people.

    Every time.

    Without exception.

    As if he would choke on words of unqualified support for Israel.

    As we say “Malach Ra-ah B’all Korchoi ya-aneh omain”, the evil angel agrees, but with great reluctance.

    Many Americans viscerally feel that Israel is a kindred state to theirs, much like England is, but friendlier. These include such media pundits as John Bachelor, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter, to name a few. They all feel that Jews have a right to Israel, because, well, because it’s just the right thing, plain and simple.

    When President Obama expresses his support for Israel, he sounds as sincere as when he promised that under the Affordable Care Act if you liked your doctor you could keep him , period. Several years later he explained that he meant that you could continue to be treated by him, if the doctor would agree to provide services, gratis.

    W.C. Fields had a reputation of not being fond of children, but he protested that this portrayal of him was inaccurate. “I like children,” he declared, “if they’re properly cooked.”

    President Obama voiced admiration for the Jewish state seems to convey similar sentiments.

    How could we feel other than being pandered to when we he hear Obama expressing support for Israel while simultaneously lauding the contributions of Moslems to American society and likewise extolling the long standing tradition of Islamic love of tranquility and its history of peaceful co-existence with other states. By Moslem contribution to American society, might he be referring to the Moslems who helped bring about the urban renewal of downtown Manhattan? As to Islamic love of peace, who knows what he could have been thinking of?

    In short, we have no gratitude for someone who confided in Vladimir Putin that he would have more freedom to take action in his second term. We know what that meant. As to what he intends to do regarding currents events in the Middle East we‘re not sure where he stands.

    And he only has himself to blame for our lack of confidence in his having the best interests of Israel in mind.

  25. What gives, Reb Shafran?
    What are your facts based on???

    You might want to broadcast that it is improper behavior for American Jewry to insult or show disrespect to Obama due to our fragile situation here, that can be understood but to claim FRIENDSHIP …. just ridiculous.

  26. I agree with Avrohom and anonymous. Why would he not sell Hellfire missiles to Israel. I don’t think he “has our back”.

  27. Rabbi Shafran has made several good points. President Obama has been strongly supportive of Israel in the current conflict (at least for the most part). American financing has been hugely helpful in the development of Iron Dome, which has protected Israeli citizens and saved many lives.
    Rabbi Shafran has overlooked a key point in President Obama’s condemnation of Hadar Goldin’s perceived abduction – the attack in which he was murdered occurred during a “truce” period, and even the U.N. Secretary-General (not known for being pro-Israel) demanded Goldin’s immediate return due to that fact.
    Also, there seems to be personal antipathy from President Obama to Prime Minister Netanyahu, going back almost to the beginning of the Obama presidency, when he left Netanyahu to cool his heels while Obama ate dinner with his family.
    Furthermore, the U.S. is now delaying and possibly withholding weapons shipments intended for Israel.
    In summary, as Jews we owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. and to President Obama for their actions; not to acknowledge this would be ingratitude, and kafui toiv is a strong moral failure. Nonetheless, there are clearly some aspects of the Obama-Israel and Obama-Netanyahu relationships that we feel could be better.

  28. Thank you, Rabbi Shafran, for clarifying this murky topic. While Barak Obama is certainly not Ronald Reagan, we must give him credit where credit is due.


  30. It appears that there is no end to this naive nonsense. What will “those of us who carefully observe him ” say about Obama,when Iran gets nuclear weapons,and Israel will be forced into a permanent ceasefire which mean more tunnels and missiles. Two days after he signed the bill he stopped a missile transfer to Israel.

  31. “U.S. is now delaying and possibly withholding weapons shipments intended for Israel.”

    Both the US and Israel have denied this. This may be yet another hoax like the bogus “transcript” of a phone call between Netanyahu and Obama.

    The real question is who is behind these efforts to drive a wedge between the US and Israel. I suspect that Hamas propagandists might be putting out disinformation and unfortunately the frum community is buying it.

    “There is a reason that people like left-wing political activist Professor Cornel West have declared Mr. Obama a “war criminal” for his support of Israel.”

    If you read the far left internet sites, you will find not only Obama but the leftist members of Congress like Grayson, Sanders, Franken, and Warren being hammered by Hamas apologists for supporting Israel. Nobody getting that kind of grief from those sources is an enemy. Rabbi Shafran clearly gets that but most commenters here do not.

  32. Check out the behaviors, attitudes and views of OBAMA before he settled in the White House. See with whom he associated, engaged with and participated with. Do the same with the HILLARY….

  33. “U.S. is now delaying and possibly withholding weapons shipments intended for Israel.”

    Both the US and Israel have denied this. This may be yet another hoax like the bogus “transcript” of a phone call between Netanyahu and Obama.

    The real question is who is behind these efforts to drive a wedge between the US and Israel. I suspect that Hamas propagandists might be putting out disinformation and unfortunately the frum community is buying it.
    The Wall Street Journal and Times Of Israel aren’t “Hamas Propagandists”.
    The ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) has asked President Obama to correct these reports if they are mistaken. He has not done so.

    The closest thing I can find to a denial by either U.S. or Israeli government sources is this from Times of Israel “At one point during her briefing, Harf said that she was not sure whether any transfers of Hellfire missiles were delayed or blocked, but later said that she was certain that no weapons transfers were being withheld or delayed.” The very next sentence in that article states “A senior Israeli official had confirmed that the shipment of Hellfire missiles was canceled.” Furthermore, the very first sentence of the article states “The State Department confirmed Thursday that weapons shipments to Israel would be undergoing additional review due to the war in Gaza, but denied reports that the Pentagon had engaged in weapons transfers to Israel behind the back of the White House and State Department.”

    Where are your news and/or government sources for “Both the US and Israel have denied this”?