Jon Voight’s misguided missive on Israel

Actor Jon Voight, a longtime supporter of Israel, criticized President Obama in an open letter published in the Washington Times. … Continued

Actor Jon Voight, a longtime supporter of Israel, criticized 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 mobocracy, and we all ultimately lose, regardless of which party happens to hold sway at any given moment.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • schnauzer2

    And people wonder why Angelina Jolie chose to use her middle name as her surname and not Voight. The man is a nut.

  • RealityCheck28

    Thank you Jon Voight and boo to you Mr. hershfield, you are in denial as to reality. You got Jon’s letter to obama so many times because so many people agree with him. Of course you must come in with the usual lets not call people liars routine and say they are wrong but that is just childish. Do youunderstand that Israeli lives are on the line veryday and that Israelis live in constant danger because obama has made clear that he will not defend Israel unless it suits him for political purposes. It is you are misguided and your remarks reflect a naivite of the real issues.

  • Ludvikus

    I think this lecture on “reason” ought to be given to Erdogan of Turkey. President Obama, for whom I voted, is well qualified to parry Mr. Jon Voight’s passionate discourse – which is quite appropriate from a professional actor such as he is. I can only thank him for his emotional defense of Jews. Too bad his daughter is not more respectful of him: “honor your father and mother.” As for you, Mr. Hirsfield, I think you can well interpret my assumption that you would be the first to go in: “this way to the showers, ladies and gentleman.” I can also assume that had you been an Israeli commando aboard on that Turkish-flagged ship you’d be dead by now. I’m so grateful I’m not a 100% pampered Diaspora Jew like you – I lived in Israel until my parents “gave it back” in exchange for the USA. Perhaps now you, Mr. Hirschfield, as well as myself, should go back to where we came from: Germany, Poland, Russia, North Africa …. Do you get my drift, Mr. Hirshfield, or are metaphors and historical allusions beyond you intellectual capacity?

  • areyousaying

    From Voight’s letter: “..a socialistic, Marxist teaching and little by little he rapes this nation, taking down our defenses, making new language for the Islamic extremists.”Sounds like he is parroting Rush Limbaugh.Are pro-Israel voices now aligning themselves with the incessant and empty Obama bashing of Huckabee hate radio, Hiatt’s AIPAC shills Krauthammer, Diehl and Cohen; and RNC Fox News?

  • areyousaying

    realitycheck28 ranted: “…obama has made clear that he will not defend Israel unless it suits him for political purposes.”A quotation to support your allegation, please. Are not what you believe are Israel’s American colonists blindly defending Her at this very moment?You and your “fellow American Jews” are not in Israel. You are in the US. Where is your allegiance? If it’s to Tel Aviv, please go there. You can get universal “socialist” health care there as a citizen while the US sends billions to support Israel but can’t afford the same coverage for its own.

  • marketingpro

    Mr. Hirschfield utilizes a tone of a benevolent and wise rabbi as he condesendingly rebukes Jon Voight. He calls for a well-reasoned appraisal of President Obama, yet his own missive is hardly an example of close reasoning. It is full of posturing.

  • areyousaying

    marketingpro wrote:”Mr. Voight’s main point is that President Obama has changed America’s historial role with Israel.”And, at face value, why would that have to be bad? Why did Voight have to support his “main point” by demonizing Obama as a “rapist” and a “Marxist” Would the good Rabbi call this “an ugly trend in modern day Judaism” like he said of Islam?

  • areyousaying

    PS: Voight sucked in the movie “Midnight Cowboy” Was he “standing in God’s light” then?

  • Jihadist

    Must Mr. Voight be taken seriously in what he said on the thrust of America’s foreign policy under Obama, including the Middle East Peace Process? Except possibly Voight said what he said because:- he is one of the leads in another Hollywood remake of “Exodus”. Acting jobs at his age are hard to get what with some 90% of actors said to be “between jobs” there. Such statements by Mr. Voight may give him an edge over other aspiring actors for the part he wanted for “credibility” in playing his role with conviction; or – he is thinking of going into politics. The statement is an expression of his political conviction as well as practice and a positioning as a possible Republican candidate to replace the Terminator as Governor of California. Who knows, some day Mr. Voight might go for the American Presidency as Mr. Reagan did. He can be a “martyr” during elections in saying and doing what he believe is the “right thing” for America’s specific group and national interests and not in the larger interest of the world. Neither one, nor all the heads of state and heads of government of Egypt, United States, Turkey, EU, Russia, or appointed Special Envoys on Middle East etc can force Israel and Palestine to a peace if both sides won’t. I love Mr. Voight’s bit part as President Roosevelt in that so-called summer movie, “Pearl Harbour”. Mr. Voight can rest easy that Muslims won’t boycott movies he is in due to his partisarship for Israel. Muslims don’t know about it. It we do, hard to think that he, and as an actor too, can do anything about it like most of the rest of us. If Mr. Voight is designated as a Special Envoy for Israel by either Israel or the United States for Israel’s perspective and interests only, or do become President of the US, that is a different thing and do warrant serious attention. – Is there any new movie Mr. Voight is in recently? He is not a half bad actor these days. But his politics? Was that acting too? Never mind.

  • HarryCallahan

    Let’s see Hirschfield… did you get all the requisite words in?MissiveOops – you left out “hegemony” and “narrative.”You might want to consider throwing in an, “at the end of the day,”You know something? Those big words really impress the he11 out of me. But big words don’t make a big man. You’re all vine and no potatoes.

  • BlaiseP

    JP Morgan was never a Jewish firm. It was the firm founded by J Pierpont Morgan in/around 1880 (?) and was split in two: JP Morgan, a commercial bank, and Morgan Stanley, an investment bank in 1934 (about) with the enactment of Glas-Steagel. It merged with Chase Manhattan Bank, whose major shareholders were the Rockefellers, in the 1990s, again a non-Jewish bank. Major NYC investment banks OTOH *were* Jewish, among them Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Bros. Merrill Lynch, and the aforementioned Morgan Stanley were not. But large, commercial banks like JPM, B0fA were not. Citigroup, the child of the disastrous merger of Citibank and Sandy Weill’s Travellers Group, is another story.

  • RealityCheck28

    Re: areyousaying It would be helpful if your comments actually made sense but i will try to address your insulting anti semitic, get out of america retort that you wrote to me. If you want proof of my remark about Obama using Israel for political purposes just go to you tube and listen to his campaign speechs concerning Israel and then and reconcile them with his actions. When he wanted the jewsih vote he swore to protect Israel and now that he is elected he realizes that he has to tell his firend the truth which is that he is pro palestinian. This is no different than Hillary who when she ran for the senate and wanted the jewish vote repeatedly stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Fast forward to he being Sect of State and now she is not so sure. that is Obama talking through her. Anyway, your remarks are simply words of hate as you disparage Israeli socialized medicine, how that is relevent her i have no clue. To me those are just code words for hiding your dislike of Israel. We hear these remarks all the time and we know what is really being said. As for Obam we have 2 1/2 years left before we can move him out and there is no telling how much destruction he can do between now and then. Israelis are already being killed because of his policesw which empower hamas and hezbollah and helped bring us the flotilla incident. that would n’t have happenend under bush because Turkey would have known that he would have shut it down at the UN, instead obama encourges the attacks on Israel. Just look at what is heppening at the UNHRC, it has a daily lunching of Israel and obama’s appointee sits, watchs and says nothing. Need more proof, he sold out Israel on the NPT resolution that condemend Israel and fialaed to mention Iran. Over 70 senators and 325 house members had to write him a letter telling him to support Israel. why would they do that if they weren’t concerned about hsi policies? To you and Mr. Herschfiled, get real .. Obama’s reckless policies may ignite a war in the middle east and tell me, how will that serve US interests.

  • Jihadist

    Obama’s reckless policies may ignite a war in the middle east and tell me, how will that serve US interests. Posted by: RealityCheck28 *******************************************There are already conflicts and wars in the Middle East before Obama took office.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Let us not forget Skilling of Enron who cheated Christians, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, and Hindus, and probably will spend a few days in jail. Skilling and Enron launched a global depression.And let us not forget Christian AIG, CTI, Countrywide, Chase, etc., etc., Kelley and the other CEO Catholic rip-off artists, Chiese, et al, and the biggest insider trading scheme in history.Ah well. See, the Christians/Catholic cohorts of the Bastard Whistling steal, cause worldwide depression, etc., and they get our money–”bailouts,” our tax revenues for the next seven years, multi-million dollar bonuses.Meanwhile, we have no jobs, face loss of our homes, etc.Of course, not all Christian/Catholics are cohorts of the Bastard Whistling.But the Bastard Whistling’s buddies–they take care of their own. Those people stick together.

  • Desertstraw

    What are the motives of people who are so righteously angered by the killing of a terrorist in Dubai, presumably by Israelis but without proof, and totally indifferent to the massacre of 2200 Uzbeks Muslims by fellow Kyrgyzstan Muslims? There are so many other instances of this pattern that the conclusion is difficult to avoid.

  • areyousaying

    ah, here we go. realitycheck28 playing the old “anti semitic” card.How you would howl if anyone suggested your hatred of Obama had more to do with other than his politics.

  • areyousaying

    realitycheck28 wrote:you disparage Israeli socialized medicine, To the total contrary. I support health-care and education over defense.Israel is part of the reason the we in the US “can’t afford it”

  • sssallie51

    John Voight could be a nut, but more than likely, unless he is a blind religionist, knows who butters his bread and will determine how his legacy is perceived and interpreted. There is no materialistic or status gain in being pro-Palestinian or at best, even-handed. His daughter is concerned about truth and justice, while Voight appears on TV as a knee-jerk Zionist. He is only a nut if he has no conscience as to the plight of the Palestinian people.

  • mono1

    nothing fail nations and mankind like hypocrisy and academics hypocritical heads.

  • AhmedORielly

    Let me get this right, we have a hollywood actors opinion of a president whos’ only qualification is that he was a jr. senator for 186 days. What the heck is this about? The whole basis for this discussion is stupid.

  • israelsurvives

    You Mr. Hirschfield are the one who is misguided. Anytime someone speaks out for the right side, they get ridiculed. Obama is not a friend to Israel and the Jewish people. The Israelis view him as more of a threat to existence than Iran. The American Jewry is misguided if they think a constant support of the left wing side of politics support their people and their beliefs.

  • mshapi2

    I don’t know what’s worse, the President who is lying or the President who is “simply misguided”. To suggest that Mr. Obama is positions “are best … for Israel” flies in the face of rising anti-Semitism and alienation of Israel that has greatly increased in no small part because of the “misguided” actions of the Obama administration.

  • shaheed-yahudi

    F I F A – W O R L D – C U P – 2 0 1 0:

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    WildpeaceNot the peace of a cease-fireLet it come~ Yehuda Amichai ~

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    A Bridge Of Peace’They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and My Palestinian sister,My Palestinian sister, daughter of Abraham,So, my Palestinian sister, Ada Aharoni

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    JerusalemNeomi Shihab Nye”Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.I’m not interested inOnce when my father was a boyEach carries a tender spot:Why are we so monumentally slow?There’s a place in my brainIt’s late but everything comes next.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    From Haifa to Near Faraway CairoI recall the velvet sugar-cane juice But unlike you dear Kadreya, and here I mean to stay. My foremost wish today–Ada Aharoni(Note: This poem is translated from the Hebrew. Dr. Aharoni is an Israeli professor, poet, and peace activist, who works with Israeli, Palestinian, and Palestinian-American poets, such as Neomi Nye.)

  • yasseryousufi

    I think there is more to this “open letter” that the Rabbi seems to have missed. In the same letter Voight also wrote these hatefilled comments about Obama.”You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop……..”This could easily be construed by a nut case in the Bible Belt to murder Obama in the name of God. A black man in the White House; every day that goes by is torcher for these racists.

  • ArnieGold

    There’s a famous exchange between Spencer Tracy (who played Judge Dan Haywood) and Burt Lancaster (who played Ernst Janning) in the 1960 Classic Judgment at Nuremberg that goes like this: Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood… the reason I asked you to come: Those people, those millions of people… I never knew it would come to that. You *must* believe it, *You must* believe it! The first time Obama sat in the pews of the hateful Jeremiah Wright and didn’t pick himself up and leave, but continued to attend this hate fest for more than twenty years condemned Obama to be an anti-semite and jew hater.It is you Mr. Hirschfield, not Jon Voight who is misguided.

  • shaheed-yahudi

    …………………. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ./

  • garoth

    Thank you, rabbi. As you can see, plenty of nuts on both sides here. Mr. Obama is trying to steer a course that is respectful of our allies – something that has not been returned by Israel. The only chance for lasting peace in the region is for the U.S. to be seen by both sides as a neutral party, willing to criticize both sides. Israel is not used to this – especially since the previous administration. Every disagreement with Israel is not evidence of anti-semitism. Israel must learn to behave decently among its neighbors – instead, it has become more and more radical. When Hammas attacks Israel, Mr. Obama has been quick to speak against it; it is just that Israel is not used to being held accountable. Doing so is good for both our relationship and for Israel. I believe that Mr Obama is on the right track, but must even press Israel and Hammas more to come to terms. Israel must give up its settlements on Palestinian lands and become serious about a Palestinian state, and the Palestinians must give up the idea that they can get rid of Israel. As for Mr. Voight, he is just another right-wing loudmouth, spouting invective but giving off little light.

  • shaheed-yahudi

    “K A F i R” (A NOne iShmaeli/Esaui iSlami?)”K A F i R””Kafir” “Kafir”W H A T — AN — U G L Y — W O R D(s)! Racist!”S A T A N i C — V E R S U S” Yes? Or NO?Worse Than The “N” Word That Was made NO Longer Usable in U.S.A Community (Ummah)et al.(Obscene like).The (un) Holy Quran/Koran Needs To Get a Fixing, NOt only the Hadiths; ‘aHaaBi-Bi’s (Love’s)! aye?

  • shaheed-yahudi

    Y E S — W E — C A N!

  • kingpigeon

    The point seems to be a reworking of Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

  • poppysue85

    I agree that it is so viscerally satisfying for people to call others liars, because it’s “good” media. But today’s “good” media doesn’t mean accurate or even representative. Every word that comes out Mr. Obama’s mouth is parsed: is it to right, too left, too centrist, too black, too White, too Big Government…..Mr. Obama’s vision of “what’s good for” Israel, may differ from those who want to see all Palestinians gone from the region, but he has never said one thing that suggests that the US is not the ally of Israel. But we cannot endorse every act of another country who is our ally, just because we are allies, just as you do not agree with everything a friend says and you are still friends. The over-the-top comments are not helpful and yet every service, every pundit will have htis on thier next show either to defend or beat up on Mr. Obama. And who is Voight? What has he done for Israel, maybe give them money? I don’t know of him as a huge champion of Israel, as much as a good friend of the ultra-Right. He’s a man who started out to be a huge movie star, who made bad choices in roles and now he’s trying to stay in the public eye. But let’s BE honest as cast him in a appropriate role here, one of a caricature.

  • question-guy

    Voight is human garbage – Who Cares What He thinks!!!

  • lildg54

    Actually he is right if all of who supported Obama had paid attention we would know he is no friend of Israel and care more about the muslims He (Obama) will go down as a travesity and failure he is so naive you cannot negotiate with terrorist and muslims are terrorist period

  • lildg54

    Y E S — W E — C A N!

  • Blarney

    GAROTH wrote:Bravo!

  • uh_huhh

    My only response to this washed-up has-been nut is…John WHO??

  • adrienne_najjar

    Voight is a nobody. Why is anyone paying attention to him?

  • Instructor5

    In the past, people would not allow discussion of religion or politics at the dinner table, because of how it could easily divide a family. Many of us are not aware of the subjective nature of our attachments to our religious and political views. Therefore it is difficult for us to have an objective discussion about situations involving these values.Voight’s comments move the discussion from the objective discussion of policy to the personal nature of evaluating President Obama’s motives. When you combine the subjective nature of political/religious/cultural conflict with the willingness to engage in “ad hominem” attacks because it can be done anonymously on the Internet, then you set back the chances of cooler heads and hearts trying to make progress in resolving this situation.The problem is that the anger between Israel and Palestine is not just a local conflict. It threatens nuclear war and worldwide damage. It might not seem fair to the Israelis and their supporters, in this case, to have people, like the President of the United States, not understand all of the dimensions of the conflict and yet impatiently push Israel to make some moves towards progress in resolving this conflict.But the POTUS speaks for the rest of the world concerned about nuclear war in the Middle East. It is not just Isael’s nuclear weapons. Iran can use the conflict as a justification for developing their own nuclear weapons.

  • andym108

    Are we positive that this was Jon Voight the actor and not John Voight the dentist? We should probably check the teeth marks on his pencil to make sure.

  • practica1

    What’s most baffling is whatever it is that makes anyone care what Jon Voight thinks about politics. Who paid for the ad, his Midnight Cowboy residuals? For the past 20 years he’s not even very important in Hollywood, if ad hominem attacks are going to become the coin of political commerce.Founding a modern Liberia in Palestine was a dumb idea, a guilty response to shameful behavior on the part of all the Western nations. Now that this ethnic and religious apartheid state has been established,all we can hope for is a humane detente in the region – and we should all have the sense and grace to find it.

  • moemongo

    I’m sorry but who is John Voight?

  • swatkins1

    Simply be a passenger on a flight to Miami or Fort Lauderdale. You cannot miss the utterly rude, self-centered and vile things spewing from the mouths and brains of the Jewish community. These people are special…because…..???

  • seasail

    Who cares what Jon Voight thinks. He couldn’t keep his family together his daughter doesn’t speak to him and he is a wing nut. He probably speaks with Jerry Falwell every day. Getting his missives straight from another hater.

  • PennyWisetheClown

    I can’t wait for the silly flying guy in the clouds to strike all of you religious zealots dead for twisting his gospel to suit your nefarious needs.If he was real and not a made up character in a book you would have all been stuck down already and since i can see that the rabid among you are still here and spouting your venomous diatribe’s against each other in his name then hence he is made up and most of you are insane and in need of medical and physiologic examinations with the probable prognosis of having to take a time out of 6 months or so in a rubber room.

  • kate19

    This article has left me speechless. I support EVERY word written in Mr. Voight’s letter. And after reading the misguided missives of this Rabbi and the hate-filled and antisemetic comments that followed, I will stand by it even more. A sad, sad commentary on the state of our world…

  • Reesh

    I’m sorry but who is John Voight?Jon Voight is an American actor who has not done much in decades. In the 1960s he played a hopelessly confused southern emigre to NYC’s Times Square refuge for the lost in the movie “Midnight Cowboy.” Voight’s success mainly lay in his natural ability to seem hopelessly lost and confused. He was the male analog to the old stereotype of the ditzy blonde female.At some point, Voight became politicized and is today a right wing ideologue.It is apparent that he is not one of their sharpest spokesmen. His level of political diatribe might work on a hate mongering blog but it’s totally inadequate to an opinion piece in a newspaper.

  • hinterlight

    Fok Israel Fok U.S. Fok Palestine Fok Islam Fok Jesus and Fok you!

  • Phil5

    Those who do not fully support Israel now and instead make excuses for the Anti-Zionists will eventually become Holocaust Deniers. Take a good hard look at your insides all you Jew haters.

  • AMviennaVA

    John Voight? Just what is that?Just another actor ho thinks that fame has given him wisdom. I recall him wondering how much better we’d be if McCain/Palin had won the election. You know them: McCain suspended his campaign to save the economy and his own party told him to get lost; Palin would be resigning by now anyway.

  • ruthella10

    Jon Voight has attacked the President at every turn and for everything and this just represents another occasion. Who cares what this paranoid nutcase thinks? The man needs to be on psychotropics. WPO, please find some journalists that dont have a need to perpetrate personal agendas. I could have gone on for the rest of my life without knowing what Jon Voight thinks about. Come on, report on people that really matter.

  • SoCali

    Oh yeah, right, the Israeli lobby is so poorly represented in the Obama administration that his Chief of Staff is Irgun. I’d bet money John Voight’s agent in Ari Emanuel or someone controlled by Ari Emanuel.Voight has always been a narcissist and an idiot. That his acting is weak and hasn’t evolved much reflects that. This whole thing is some ham actors way of glomming onto Angelina Jolie’s genuine star status by recasting himself as some sort of elder diplomatic statesmen without portfolio and brain. Fortunately for her family Angelina has his number. More fortunatley for her family she has the number of Brad Pitt’s stable, sane, truly lovely parents.

  • mbus

    Yes, columnists now know the inner-most thoughts and motives of public figures, and loudly proclaim their omniscience.Clearly the days of intelligent disagreement are gone.Even Krauthammer and other ‘respected’ columnists draw motivational inferences that don’t pass the first test of journalism.It’s all gossip all the time.

  • PennyWisetheClown

    Those who do not fully support Israel now and instead make excuses for the Anti-Zionists will eventually become Holocaust Deniers. Take a good hard look at your insides all you Jew haters.

  • tfspa

    I think your initial reaction to let Voight’s comments pass was the correct one. There is no more intellectual content there than in a Palin pronouncement. That is, all political theatre with little or no substance. To pursue discussion on this is an attempt to make nothingness meaningful. And it’s not like this world needs more of it.

  • info53

    The conservative position on Israel, which Voight represents, could care less about the struggles of Jews as human beings. It’s based solely on using Israel as America’s enforcer in the mideast.It’s hypocritical at the very core, since Republicans have a deep streak of racism in their policies, and their professed love for Israel manages to gloss over the, to them, unpleasant fact that Israel is full of Jews.

  • SherlockHolmes

    I must disagree with this commentator’s aloof and, frankly, unsupportable position. While he attacks Mr. Voight for a number of perceived flaws, Mr. Herschfield goes on to demonstrate similar flaws himself–including a dismissive, arrogant, naive attitude. If Mr. Hirschfield is sincerely interested in a real debate on the issues (somehow with ethics), why didn’t he spend some time in this column–or any previous column–contributing to that debate? That would be more intellectually honest.

  • greatgran1

    Jon Voight is right on. I am stunned the Jewish community will support a political party that has kicked them in the teeth time and time again. This administration Is not a supporter of Israel and one does not have to be a rocket scientist to see it.

  • arancia12

    Not relevant to the issue of Israel, but does anyone else find it odd that Republics have blasted Democrats for years about their celebrity ties.And yet the Republicans are the party who got an actor elected president, who cheer for pundit-singers like Ted Nugent, and celebrate actor Jon Voigt. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.

  • kchses1

    Well said. Very few people are capable of seeing peoples inner motivation. Most see only their own fears and prejudices. Articles like Mr. Voight’s have become the most prominent forms of expression on the far right/left and on the internet. A combination of fear/anger and disdain for others. It serves little purpose except to add to the anger of those who are already angry or convince those they disagree with that they are irrational.

  • Athena4

    Voight is a well-known conservative who hates Obama, so take anything that he says with a huge grain of salt. As for “causing a war in the Middle Israel has a stable economy, a growing population, and a strong military. They are quite capable of defending themselves without the U.S.’s help. This isn’t 1968 anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-Israel, and I’m certainly not anti-Semitic. But I do think that U.S. policy towards Israel is being controlled by the neo-cons who are more concerned about the Jews converting to Christianity so that the Rapture can occur than the actual Jewish people.

  • skipsailing28

    Let’s not make this any more complicated than it has to be.First, Obama is a liberal’s liberal. Liberals basically hate Israel. Therefore Obama’s attitude toward Israel is easy to deduce. Even before he reads from his teleprompter it is easy to predict what he will say.Next, what Mr Voight wrote is simply a reflection of the state of discourse in America today. I suppose that Mr Hirschfield has forgotten the behavior of the liberals during the Bush years. That’s the way things are “discussed” in America today. When the Betrayus ad ran (at a deep discount I might add) the days of civil discourse were over.I’m NOT saying that two wrongs make a right. No one who protested during the Bush years thinks they did anything wrong. It is just the way it is now. Time for Mr Hirschfield to accept the damage that was done to our society by the left’s temper tantrum, instead of chiding Mr Voight for using liberal techniques on behalf of a conservative clause.

  • DCSteve1

    Thank you for a thoughtful posting, Rabbi Hirschfield. It’s just too bad that people like Skipsailing 28 are either unable or unwilling to hear your message, as shown by ridiculous comments like this: “First, Obama is a liberal’s liberal. Liberals basically hate Israel. Therefore Obama’s attitude toward Israel is easy to deduce. Even before he reads from his teleprompter it is easy to predict what he will say.”Sorry, Skipsailing, but neither of your premises holds any water. Pres. Obama is barely left of center (alas), let alone a “liberal’s liberal.” Moreover, there is no factual basis whatsoever for your insulting declaration that we liberals hate Israel. We don’t, though some of us do criticize its policies when warranted. Until you recognize that crucial distinction, please spare the rest of us your diatribes. You only reveal your own ignorance and small-mindedness.

  • kermit5

    Would someone please explain why anyone cares about a celebrity’s opinion on our political life? It does not matter if it is Jon Voight or Bill Maher shooting off their mouths. These people add nothing of substance to any legitimate debate. For those who hate Obama, what does Voight add to the mix? For those who hate Palin, what does Maher add to the mix? Are you all so insecure in your beliefs, that you need to be validated by people that neither care for or about you, except to add to their own celebrity? It is no wonder our nation finds itself in the state it is in. If we had a test rquiring people to demonstrate independent thinking skills before getting the right to vote, 80% of those who comment would be denied the vote.

  • alvinwright

    What an unusual and wonderful thing it is these days to read words of civility, thoughtfulness, and common sense. And how tragic is the state of human discourse that such praise is called for.

  • greatgran1

    Sorry dcsteve but this is the most liberal President I have seen in my lifetime. If Obama is not liberal, then anything left of him is terrifying. This President has insulted Israel and every other ally we have. He has bowed to despots and dictators and insulted Great Britain in many ways. He has gone around the world apologizing for our very existence sending chills up my spine.

  • chatard

    And so once again the “On Faith “column is gladly and eagerly turned over to a socialist progressive whose higher aim is to deflect criticism from Barack Obama and focus it on private citizen Jon Voight.

  • Freethotlib

    greatgran1 — where were you during the “W” administration when “W” alienated all of our European allies? From what I’ve seen the world is quite pleased with the Obama approach. At least he is not TELLING the world what they MUST DO.As for apologizing – our country has much to apologoze for. We made Iran an enemy by over throwing their government in 1953 because we didn’t want them to control their own resources (oil). We constantly meddled in central America to support American interests and that is why those nations are called banana republics (because we meddled to keep the banana companies happy). We’ve supported dictators around the world as they imprisoned and tortured their own citizens. Please try reading something along the lines of world history. Educate yourself!! Otherwise, you’re just an ignorant fool and — apparently — proud of it.

  • st50taw

    Jon Voight is a fruitcake. Why would anybody care what a has-been actor has to say about our foreign policy, anyway? Seriously, that guy is a more than a few bricks short of a stack.

  • hardrain

    Jon, what a long, strange trip it’s been for you. It’s hard to believe that you are the same person who appeared without fanfare in the lobby of my dorm at the University of Redlands in 1970 to play a 20th century “Paul Revere” over Nixon and Kissinger’s secret bombing campaign of Cambodia. It was one of many stops for you on a personal tour to inform students of what you thought was wrong with our government policies.How could you have been so right then and so utterly wrong now? Sure, there were people protesting Nixon just because he was Nixon. You can argue that there are parallels between transgressing Cambodia’s sovereignty then by carpet bombing VC and doing the same now to Pakistan with drone take out’s of Al Queda and Taliban. But this 24/7 criticism of every Obama policy issue smacks of nothing but short-sided political gamesmanship, the very thing that you thought was so cynical about Richard Nixon.Have you so easily forgotten?

  • st50taw

    Let’s not make this any more complicated than it has to be.First, Obama is a liberal’s liberal. Liberals basically hate Israel. Therefore Obama’s attitude toward Israel is easy to deduce. Even before he reads from his teleprompter it is easy to predict what he will say.By all means keep it simple. Your analytical powers are stretched to the limit as it is.

  • greatgran1

    Our President took an oath to defend our country not the world. We do not owe the world an apology for anything and I mean absolutely anything. We have or should I say had before Obama ruined as much as he has, what the world wants. I have travelled the world more than most. I have owned two residences overseas and spent time there. I have heard first hand how the world views us. The world craves what we have and that explains why so many would strain to get in. And we as a people have done more than any other. We have provided aid, food, water, shelter, saved orphans, and offered our own lives for others freedom. We have done more than any country on earth to share what we have with others. We should be proud of what we have done and accomplished. Not shamed by this President. If I am sorry of something, it is that we as a nation were so fooled by his hot air.

  • rc115shepherd

    Totalitarians of all stripes share the belief that debate should be ended by shouting down, shooting, or by whatever means necessary, silencing those that do not follow their “party” line.The purpose of calling the President a liar is to end his challenge to debate with him as a legitimate political actor. The Republicans’ top priority is that the President’s and Democrat’s views (even when they agree with them), must be silenced, because it is the debate that must be silenced. This is the key to understanding the Republican Party’s strategy in dealing with the President and his Party’s legislative programs and policy proposals. The cardinal Republican/Totalitarian principle has been the same: oppose, obstruct, delay, and never be seen to be cooperating, appeasing, or “taking tea with treason”/negotiating with him or them (his party).At certain points in this Parliamentary war with the President, some Republican conservatives have complained, that from the policy perspective, this strategy has been wrong (particularly in Healthcare revision). They have argued that this policy has allowed the President and his fellow Democrats to construct revisions in national policy without rational (albeit marginal) substantive conservative input.Republican totalitarians however argue that their job isn’t “taking tea with treason” (Churchill’s famous phrase describing then British Prime Minister Ramsey McDonald’s arranging a meeting between King/Emperor George V with Mahatma Ghandi). But the brilliance of this strategy can not be underestimated.First of all when you don’t debate; your ideas, whatever they are, never get exposed to public examination and critique. Second, the press, is only interested in the vicious bombast and spectacle of someone shouting liar, liar. They will never ask well, Republicans’, what do you propose to do? In the healthcare debate, virtually no one in the press, whatever their political bias, never pressed the Republicans on the whereabouts of their substantive proposals; nor did they continuously attack the Republicans for having no proposals.Lastly, the Republican’s rank & file supporters don’t want “their” personal champions lowering themselves to debate substantive issues with the Negro foreigner. The cumulative result is that the emptiness and ineptness of the Republicans and their “True Lies” his confidently hidden. It is so bad that in the face of the complex and monumental problems the nation faces, the policy face of the Republican Party today is Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.

  • lufrank1

    Facts:GAZA = WARSAW!

  • Sincear2021

    This President has done little to protect and defend Israel. He has insulted its leader. He would have Israel give all its land if it suited his political gain. Iran is just shaking in it boots and laughing at ever step this administration attempts. They know he is all talk just as we do.Obama keep up the good work! Isarel, whatever.

  • DCSteve1

    Replying to: This is a complicated issue with a President who views Israel as a pain in its side. It is stunning that the Jewish people continue to support a party who represents their value as minimal and cares little for the Jewish cause.” –GREATGRAN1Well, at least we can agree that “this is a complicated issue,” Greatgran. But I can’t help but notice that every rant in your long list of grievances can be boiled down to: “Israel good. Obama bad.” If things really are that simple, then why isn’t there a consensus on solutions?As for your closing observation: I’m not Jewish, but I’ll hazard a guess that maybe Pres. Obama’s Jewish supporters appreciate that he is trying to be a honest broker who is looking out for the welfare of everyone–not special interest groups that support Israel no matter what it does, no questions asked.

  • jhpurdy

    A couple points. I do not know Voight’s religious beliefs, if any, but a substantial subset of the American right supports Israel because it believes the country must continue to exist if Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil which will usher in Christ’s return, is to occur. If Israel were (God forbid)destroyed before the coming of the Antichrist then, by their twisted logic, the Antichrist won’t show up because he can’t just say, “Hi, I’m here!” in Dayton, Ohio. Secondly, most Americans have no idea of the social tensions that have roiled Israel for the past several decades. A large percentage of the people pushing for expanded settlement in the West Bank are, in fact, American-born Orthodox Jews who, because of the right of return, came to Israel to pursue a vision completely at odds with sthe ecular (yes, secular) origins of the nation in 1948. The European Jewish socialists (and yes, they were socialists) of the Ben-Gurion and Meir generation would view these people as a poison on the body politic. And the men, because they must devote themselves to Torah study, are exempt from military service, which makes them not too popular with the mostly secular Israelis who make up the armed forces. These fanatics are, however, not exempt from murdering politicians who disagree with them, like the martyred military hero Rabin.This is a complex issue to which Jon Voight is, of course, happy to provide simplistic, not to say simple minded, answers.

  • coreyfam

    “assume the best about those with whom we deal”Funny, that’s just what Obama exhorted us to do when he spoke at the Notre Dame graduation last year…he asked us to assume good will on the part of those with whom we disagree. Without that assumption, reasonable compromise is impossible.

  • mwleonard

    Whenever Jon Voight plays a deeply disturbed psychopath on TV or in the movies, it is NOT an act!

  • turningfool

    Why should anyone care what some actor has to say about international relations? It’s not as if we make actors into our governors and presidents or anything.

  • theaz

    Jon Voight is a PATRIOT and man of courage, where in a town like Hollywood that doesn’t encourage and is punitive to any acts of freedom of speech that are in opposition to Socialism and Green Marxism!

  • st50taw

    This President is not experienced enough to hold this office. It is obvious he is over his head from the gulf crisis, the economy, the illegal border issue, and national debt.Posted by: greatgran1 | June 28, 2010 2:41 PMThat should be reported as an offensive comment. That degree of disingenuousness shoud be offensive to anyone. 1. Gulf crisis. The yammering hammerheads can criticize Obama all day long but don’t have a single frigging idea what we should be doing differently.2. He’s struggling with the economy ONLY because the GOP made such a miserable hash out of it and left no room for interest rate reductions or tax cuts with which to stimulate it.3. Illegal immigration. Since the GOP won’t accept amnesty, they must support mass deportation. They’re too chicken-$#% to admit it, of course. With that mindset, what kind of deal is Obama supposed to come up with? Bush failed to make headway in eight years because his own party sank his proposal.4. The National Debt? Perhaps you’d like to suggest more tax cuts? You couldn’t get a Republican Congress to run a surplus in the six years they had complete control. Reagan invented the structural deficit. Cheney said they don’t matter anyhow. So they dump a bloated budget in Obama’s hands and then demand that he fix it. Only a complete moron doesn’t understand that.

  • bdunn1

    It’s sad that Voight seems to have gone off the deep end psychically.

  • greatgran1

    ST50TAW you left out my first paragraph. My words are only offensive if you disagree. You are right I am not pleased with this administration. Sorry, we must agree to disagree. However, you must believe as I do that the US has done so much for the world. We have given and sacrificed even our own lives. We are a great country and I am so proud of it. This President had no right to go around and apologize to the world taking the oath he did. That was wrong.

  • phylb123

    Oh boy, I sure hope I live long enough to see this Self-serving Right finally decide that “enough is enough” and PERHAPS join the American people and unite behind this very capable President. How fortunate we are to have this fair , intellectual main do what is BEST for this country (and not acquiece behind the Rush’s, the sarcastic Beck and Fox news with the rolling eyes of the blonds at the anchor desk) How dumb do they all thing the rest of us are????

  • Richard18

    Voight is an embarrassment except to the neanderthal right who adore Palin/Fox/Beck. The man is on the fringes at best, a lunatic at worst.

  • chklbrry

    “Why must it be that those with whom we disagree are necessarily lying? Can’t they simply be wrong?”—————-Why does a disagreement mean that someone is wrong? It is absolutely possible that both parties are right! It is entirely possible that both parties are wrong. But to treat someone with whom you disagree like they are evil or idiotic is disrespectful and will certainly end dialogue.That is the tragedy.Disagreements should not be settled by fisticuffs. Instead negotiation and compromise is the most successful, fair and respectful method to resolve disagreements. Anyone who chooses hyperbole to demonize their opponent automatically loses my respect. If you want me to even hear your point, discuss it rationally…passionately, if you choose…but at all times respectfully.Noone has a license or patent on the “One Way.” Our Constitution protects everyone, including the singular minority, from bullying. The Constitution replaces “rule by force” with “rule by law,” making everyone equals and affording all with the protection of due process insead of vigilantism.People will continue to disagree over whether Israel should punish Palestinian civilians for the Hamas’ crimes. I, amongst millions, believe that is not justice and is in fact inhumane. I lose respect for Israel when they defend killing thousands of innocents. I believe their military strategy is either lazy or barbaric and that they could find a better solution if they made the effort. Consequently, I do not support the current Israelie policies or government.Nor do I have to.And ~that~ is the guarantee afforded by our Constitution.

  • bobbo2

    The President’s former Pastor is an anti-semite. Secretary Clinton has said that an attack by Iran on Israel will not be considered an attack on the United States. Does President Obama support Israel? Not as we have in the past. Does the President lie concerning Israel? Maybe he is to clever to lie. Maybe he is just too clever.

  • bobbo2

    The President’s former Pastor is an anti-semite. Secretary Clinton has said that an attack by Iran on Israel will not be considered an attack on the United States. Does President Obama support Israel? Not as we have in the past. Does the President lie concerning Israel? Maybe he is too clever to lie. Maybe he is just too clever.

  • arancia12

    Thank you, CHKLBRRY. I agree.

  • arancia12

    I am curious about Jewish American’s need for American support. During the Bush years, evangelical Christians voiced their support for Israel because in order for Armageddon to take place, Israel had to be destroyed. Bush’s Pastor Hagee told his congregation that Israel had to attack Iran which would cause the Russians to invade Israel. That would bring out the Anti-Christ, and in turn lead to Armageddon. Christ will return and all non-believers will be cast into hell.Non-believers include Jews. So how is it at all desirable for Jews to want American Christians to push them towards war and damnation? I find it disturbing that a people would welcome this kind of support.

  • Aprogressiveindependent

    Comments by people such as Voight and Palin about the middle east or nearly any subject should be ignored by rational people.

  • revbookburn

    Voight is an idiot and a product of a fantasy-world created by Fox “News.”

  • st50taw

    greatgran1:I left out your first paragraph because it had nothing to do with my primary objection which was your ludicrous condemnation of Obama for the ways he’s handling problems bequeathed to him by a President and political party that apparently knew even less about how to govern effectively and in the bet interests of our country.When you and rest of the know-it-alls come up with some answers that are realistic and politically achievable, be sure to let me know. In the meantime, it’s all Peanut Gallery noise.

  • Sandydayl

    Jon Voight isn’t being sincere or misguided in the letter he submitted to the Washington Times. If you followed any of what he has been saying recently, you know that he hates the president. Voight has moved very far to the right and is in wingnut land. I still think he is a very fine actor, but he he has stepped into the abyss politically.

  • WmHooper

    Why you would give a knuckle-walker like Voight any serious consideration is a mystery to me. He raises no issues of any significance, save for the issue of idiotic wing-nuttery.

  • hakafos44

    When did this mediocre actor acquire a degree in International Affairs?Mr. Voight, please limit your observations about national politics to your lines in the National Treasure film franchise.

  • politbureau

    You can’t serve two masters, particularly when one is a sacred cow.

  • mauimedicine

    The Prime Minister of Turkey is on Charley Rose explaining why he has changed his attitude in response to Israel’s behavior. WATCH IT ON PBS. His main point is BE HONEST. Diplomacy, what a concept. Voight is soooo irrelevant.

  • dsark7

    Jon Voight is write, obma is a liar, his agenda is to destroy our way of living and create socialist / communist state.

  • skipsailing28

    in reply to:Sorry boy, but that shoe fits entirely too well. Liberals hate Israel. Liberals flirt on the edges of anti semitism frequently.I will say what I please within the confines of the board’s rules. Don’t like? Don’t read the comments I make. Or better yet, report me to the comment board moderators if you find the truth soooo offensive.