Friends Antony Gordon, Avi Shafran Debate Obama

Antony Gordon, an Orthodox Jew from South Africa and a prominent member of the Fairfax-La Brea community, went to Harvard with Barack Obama. He writes this long essay against Obama. Rabbi Avi Shafran rejoins:

It is painful to publicly criticize something written by a dear friend. But improper public words require a public response.

I have known Chanan Gordon for years and deeply admire his passion to bring all Jews closer to their religious heritage. But Ami’s interview of him in a recent issue left me saddened and puzzled.

He pronounces President Obama an “intellectual lightweight,” “arrogant,” possessive of “a grandiose sense of self-importance” and “a sense of entitlement”; and asserts that his reelection would be a “tragedy.” Reb Chanan’s credentials for reaching those conclusions are that he attended Harvard at the same time as Mr. Obama, and “was close to people who were close to him.” They may even have been in one class together.

Reb Chanan considers it somehow iniquitous that, when at Harvard, Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review but wrote no articles for it. What’s more, he “heard that Obama took pains to recalibrate its ideological disposition.” Also, the man who would become president, Reb Chanan asserts, was “not popular” with others at Harvard.

“Reliable sources” are cited, one contending that Mr. Obama cut off communication with two former financial backers—a sign, in Reb Chanan’s diagnosis, “of extreme narcissism and being exploitive.”

Other “reliable sources” called Mr. Obama’s writings at Columbia University “radical at best.”

Reb Chanan kindly concedes that he “has nothing on record where [Mr. Obama] says that he’s a Muslim.” But he asserts, without any specific attribution, that “a common theme in Obama’s administration is that he is not a G-d-fearing person.”

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About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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