Friday, July 25, 2008

Khutspe, Obama

I love Mr. Goldner. He's a fixture at my local coffee dive that I make it to a couple of mornings a week. He's in his mid 70s, quiet, painfully smart in life, and seasoned by myriad personal struggles. Mr. Goldner is a liberal. Probably my favourite liberal. In that sort of bantering way, we've carried on a two year conversation, five or six minutes at a time. He shakes his head at the things I stand for. I return the favor at his misguided love of all things governmental. We respectfully disagree on most things... 

But not today.  

Mr. Goldner was the first person I ever saw reading the non-international Jerusalem Post. You don't see that much in central Texas. This morning we had a rare long discussion over the contents of the news... and Mr. Goldner was absolutely outraged over Obama's visit to the Western Wall. I was taken aback, especially considering the Obama cheerleading that he usually treats me to. 

Indignant and disappointed, he went on for a good ten minutes over the campaign signs erected on the police barriers at the site. He said "I've supported the man and his goodness... but that place is the soul of my childhood and of my brothers and sisters in Israel. It's no place for a campaign sign." He recounted stories of watching busses explode in Tel Aviv and having had childhood friends kidnapped and beaten during the Intifada. He told me the story of taking his dying father to the Western Wall for the last time, before his father succumbed to cancer a few days later. I was overwhelmed by the depth of symbolism that Mr. Goldner held for this site... and his equalled despair at seeing what he called "a cheap, disrespectful stunt... this is a 4000 year symbol... not some billboard in Chicago. " 

Whatever was spiritually accomplished during Obama's 12 minute homage at the Western Wall is completely between Obama and the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. One thing for sure is that he's pretty much lost the vote of Mr. Goldner and his wife. 

Having spent considerable time in southwest Asia, I am reminded of how powerful the concepts of "sacred space" and "sacred ground" are to the people there, regardless of sect, creed, or religion. Apparently, as with so many things, Obama is so arrogant with his schtick that he thinks everyone should welcome it everywhere. Yet again, he's missed a memo. And lost a die-hard supporter in the process.