Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Life

The Truth About Orthodoxy’s Obama-Hatred

Jewish law takes a pretty liberal stance when it comes to birth control. Pretty much any rabbi will say it’s permissible for the sake of a woman’s physical, emotional or mental health, or the sake of a couple’s marriage, or the needs of a family. Furthermore, many rabbis consider oral contraceptives to be most preferable under Jewish law. That means if an Orthodox woman is using birth control, chances are she’s using the Pill.

So why did the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel ally themselves with the Catholic Church, and demand institutional exemptions on the grounds of religious freedom? What would make Orthodox organizations ally themselves with a faith group that holds opposing views on the issue of birth control?

Some have speculated that it’s about controlling women, but I believe the answer lies in something even more irrational that has been sweeping the ranks of American conservatives. It is an Obama-hatred so visceral that anything the man supports must be bad, wrong, and shot down. I say this as a Republican voter myself.

Yes, the OU (which, it should be said, welcomed the White House compromise on the issue of contraceptive coverage), and Agudath are not political institutions. But let’s face it, they represent constituencies far more likely than the American Jewish community as a whole to vote Republican.

I did not vote for Obama in 2008 and will not be voting for him in 2012. I believe his policies are harmful to this country and to Israel. But he is not anti-American, anti-Semitic, or a baby-killing godless Communist or whatever else it is that some pundits on the right have to say. He is an American president who acts in what he believes to be in the best interests of his country, although reasonable people can, and do, disagree about whether his policies are any good.

Since he took office, he has had to contend with this blind hatred that is so all-encompassing it has shut out any chance for reasoned debate. It’s no longer acceptable to acknowledge that a Democrat might have a good point. I disagree with most of what’s in Obama’s health care plan. But when it comes to mandated coverage of contraceptives, I think he got it right.

As a Republican, I am dismayed that our representatives are so insecure in their views that they feel the need to tear down the other side, rather than show their strength through intelligent, reasoned discourse. This tendency has been all too prevalent in the Orthodox community. Just because we think his policies are harmful to Israel does not make him an anti-Semite; just because Obama is for something doesn’t mean we have to be against it.

So that’s why you have our two flagship organizations jumping on “don’t-force-us-to-pay-for-birth-control” bandwagon, even though this doesn’t make sense to anyone with a cursory knowledge of Jewish law. The knee-jerk Obama-hatred just runs so deep that all logic flies out the window.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.