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The other birther motive

I rarely look at Twitter, but I glanced at the Twitter app on my phone as I made a rare personal tweet supporting the waffle I was eating at Waffle House. There I saw a post directed @DrConspiracy from none other than Ron Polland, the person behind one of the first two birther document examiner Internet characters who concluded that Obama’s short form was a forgery back in 2008.

Polland, who has a doctorate in instructional media, made a couple of YouTube videos claiming all sorts of criminality at the Hawaii Department of Health, but I have not really noticed him in years. The tweet that came my way wasn’t interesting, and I think I must have gotten it by being added earlier in the conversation (which I have not been able to decipher). Of more note was a comment from Polland, not directed to me:

Obama committed SABOTAGE & ESPIONAGE against Israel & Democrats bitched over Bibi’s talk?

Polland is an ardent supporter of Israel and comments by him over the years suggest that he also believes Obama is bad for Israel. Did this combination lead Polland to become a birther? The historical record doesn’t answer that question, but we can see similar birtherism in others who believe Obama is bad for Israel, such as Orly Taitz who daily attacks all things Muslim, and claims Obama is one of them. Here we have the “chicken and egg” question. Did Polland’s belief lead him to become a birther?  Did Orly Taitz hatred of Muslims lead her to become a birther? I think the answer is yes, at least for Polland.

The early publication of birth certificate forgery claims came via the Israel Insider web site (the site is no longer active). Here is a sample of their friendly reporting of anti-Obama claims:

Meanwhile, yet another front as opened up as a strong attack video shows Obama in 2006 mocking the Bible — Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and the Sermon on the Mount — and argues that Obama himself is an alien to the Judeo-Christian tradition — that his speech reveals him, not just the Reverend Wright, as anti-Jewish and anti-Christ. Islam, not surprisingly, is spared his mockery.

 The Israel Science and Technology web site carried claims that Obama’s long form was a forgery, along with expressing a views antithetical to Obama’s more balanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, for example:

Is improving economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs conducive to peace?

No, the opposite is true! A landmark study on the subject indicates that the prerequisite for Peace-seeking is not better economic conditions but rather democratic forms of government. Since most Arab countries are far removed from multi-party democracy (see table above), the conditions are not ripe for overall peace in the Middle East. The study concludes that "making  inherently aggressive dictatorships of the region more prosperous will not make them more pacific only more powerful" and more willing to pursue armed violence (see article). This is true not only for conflict with Israel but for Intra-Arab conflicts as well (see most recent examples of Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War, etc.).

I confess that I am not expert enough to spot subtle spin on this issue, but I get the impression that the site is trying to sound balanced, while not being so.

I think someone needs a little push to start believing in nonsense, some sort of bias. A person who is strongly pro-Israel and believes Obama is bad for Israel, might just have that push.

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32 Responses to The other birther motive

  1. avatar
    TheEuropean April 5, 2015 at 3:29 am #

    The overrepresentation of people of Jewish heritage in the active part of the birthers is obvious. You can call that bias, you can be stronger and call them traitors who put the interests of Israel (as they see them, not necessarily the real ones) before the US of A and their elected president.

    OTOH people of Jewish heritage are overrepresented on the OBOT-side as well.

    So let’s call it a draw.

  2. avatar
    Lupin April 5, 2015 at 3:43 am #

    I’m not quite convinced. The American far right tends to be just as anti-semitic as its european counterpart. Of course the American right “defends” Israel because that’s where the Lord will return and finally burn all the Jews. Their beliefs are more like the holocaust on a deferred plan. And the Israeli far right self-servingly plays them like a fiddle. Or vice versa.

    I saw nothing more pathetic than American far-right blogger & zionist Pam “Atlas” Geller pal around with German and Dutch neo-nazis to whom she’s nothing more than a useful walking lampshade.

  3. avatar
    Notorial Dissent April 5, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    Lupin, I think you’re being far too kind to our home grown bigots and anti-Semites. The difference between them and their European cousins is in I think the levels of hypocrisy and the fact that they are far subtler and nastier about it. I think their European counterparts are far more open, I’m not sure honest is the appropriate term here, about it being the major difference.

  4. avatar
    Jack Carter April 5, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Since the Jewish vote went for Obama by 56 points in 2008 and 39 points in 2012, I don’t think the data supports your hypothesis. Are some birthers Jewish? Yes, people of all religions, colors and nationalities can be cranks and bizarro conspiracy theorists. But I find that most other birthers are not.

    Indeed, it’s quite the opposite, as quite a few birthers I’ve encountered are Dominionist Christians who support Israel only because they think Jesus can’t return without an independent Jewish state and would be very happy to see all Jews converted or thrown into the lake of fire.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 5, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    I didn’t intent to make a generalization about Jews, but simply to say that pro-Israel sentiment could be a motivation for someone to turn birther. Of course Jews run the gamut from very liberal to very conservative.

    Jack Carter: I don’t think the data supports your hypothesis.

  6. avatar
    Curious George April 5, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    Doc C,

    “Polland is an ardent supporter of Israel. A good deal of the early impetus for birtherism came out of pro-Israel sentiment. Phil Berg is Jewish; the early publication of birth certificate forgery claims came via the Israel Insider web site; The Israel Science and Technology web site carried claims that Obama’s long form was a forgery; Larry Klayman and Orly Taitz are Jewish; and then there was the pseudonymous Dr. Ron Polarik.”

    Let’s not forget RBG, also known as *FALCON*.

  7. avatar
    Notorial Dissent April 5, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    I think it is more to the point that some of the people who are bed bug crazy, just happen to be Jewish. There are also a lot of them who are fundamentalist evangelical Christians. I don’t think crazy is a respecter of religion or ethnicity.

  8. avatar
    Curious George April 5, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    Notorial Dissent,

    “I don’t think crazy is a respecter of religion or ethnicity.”

    Crazy is ubiquitous.

  9. avatar
    alg April 5, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I didn’t intent to make a generalization about Jews, but simply to say that pro-Israel sentiment could be a motivation for someone to turn birther. Of course Jews run the gamut from very liberal to very conservative.

    I understand your point, but think it’s little more than speculation. More importantly though, is that someone could conveniently and deliberately misconstrue your remarks and unsupported association between Jewish faith and birtherism as being driven by your own bias. I know that’s not really what’s going on here, but, frankly, I don’t think suppositions like this are particularly helpful. There are probably as many motivations for someone to go birther as there are birthers.

  10. avatar
    HistorianDude April 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    The connection between the American far right and the pro-Israel lobby is an artifact of the evangelical component. It has nothing to do, frankly with the Jews or Judaism, either pro or ante. It has entirely to do with eschatology and the fulfillment of prophecy considered necessary for the second coming of Christ.

    But the American Jewish community itself is (as a general rule) overwhelmingly liberal and reliably votes Democratic. One of the most common commentaries I found after Netanyahu’s speech before Congress was that while it may have played exceptionally well before his own domestic audience, it could not have done anything but hurt him with American Jews.

    So while yes, I would certainly expect a correlation between birthism and being vehemently pro-Israel, I would expect it to derive from the shared common variable that right-wing evangelicals are overrepresented in both, and so both will express together on may occasions creating a correlation but not establishing a causal relationship. An explicit connection is certainly made on rare occasions (Gallups’ long time flirtation with declaring Obama to be the antiChrist for example), but in my opinion they are so extreme as to be considered special cases.

  11. avatar
    roadburner April 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I didn’t intent to make a generalization about Jews, but simply to say that pro-Israel sentiment could be a motivation for someone to turn birther. Of course Jews run the gamut from very liberal to very conservative.

    my own POV from observation (and i don’t claim to be the epitome of objectivity) is that with right wing nutjobs, they feel that the enemy of my enemy is my friend – namely they have a pathological hatred of islam and bibi blows the right dog whistle for them.

    if there wasn’t this mood of islamophobia amongst the RWNJ’s, the jews and israel would just be another bunch of sand niggers for them, the same as before

  12. avatar
    Joey April 5, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    Exit polls showed that Barack Obama got 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008 and 69% in 2012.

  13. avatar
    Nancy R Owens April 5, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    I forged Obama’s birth certificates. I’m not Jewish.

  14. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    I would refer readers back to the last paragraph in my article. The point is not to characterize any group but to provide examples of things that push someone to be a birther. Disgruntled Hillary supporters, racists, Zionists, RWNJs all have reasons to dislike Obama, and that could lead them to start down the birther hole.

  15. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    Doc,

    I think you’re right on the nose. In my opinion, people, generally due to confirmation bias, are less objective than they should be and pick up a tiny cognitive dissonance by embracing something they want to believe. They then soothe this minor irritation by interpreting more information through their confirmation biases (picking up more cognitive dissonance along the way), until they are deeply emotionally invested in a belief rife with cognitive dissonance. At that point, breaking the cycle has become nigh-impossible. I think people can be inoculated against Obama Derangement Syndrome (or its birther offshoot), but it is very hard to cure.

  16. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 5, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Doc, since I have developed great respect for you and I appreciate that you are not intending to say anything offensive, I hope you will respectfully hear me when I say that you could not have picked a worse day of the year for this article. For as much as it is a holy day for some, others of us have learned historically that it is a day to lay low because it is the one day we are most most denigrated and vulnerable to attack. So, I sit here now feeling quite stunned and trying to calm my nerves and respond rationally…

    Let me say just this–There is absolutely nothing Jewish or pro-Israel about the birther movement, although the right wing would love to convince everyone that there is. It is entirely a horrible right wing ploy, and it should be regarded as such.

    I am a proud Zionist Jew and liberal American Democrat–both of which puts me in the vast majority of American Jews. There is no Republican Jew or Christian who cares more about Israel and its security/defense than me and mine–though the slanderous and self-interested RWNJs will tell you differently.

    How many countless times have birthers said that Jews (like me) who support Obama are “self-hating Jews” or “not real Jews” or don’t really love Israel. Indeed, Orly often makes lists of Jews who disagree with her and calls them self-hating Jews…. Does this sound familiar? It is just like them saying that “real Americans” and “real Patriots” are anti-Obama. It is the same type of hateful/propagandist lie…

    It is all a very ugly and painful, causing me and others great anguish and worry for the future. Of course, the right wing says all this despite the evidence–e.g., the impeccable pro-Israel voting record of liberal Democrats in Washington, and the overwhelming support Obama has had from the pro-Israel Jewish community who voted for him. Indeed, while there are many Jewish Democrats in Congress, there is only one Jewish Republican. One. But the Republicans have not given up…. Right now, IMO, they are trying to politically traumatize and divide the Jews in the U.S., and have been using Netanyahu (and his relatively new Ambassador, Dermer, who was a student of American RWNJ propagandist Frank Luntz) to do so.

    Israel’s roots/founding is based in a left-wing socialist/labor Zionist movement–not the right wing. At present, however, Israel has a right wing government–much to the chagrin of almost 50% of today’s voting Israelis. Having a right wing government in Israel is grievous, just as it is grievous during the times we have a right wing government here in the U.S. We who love Israel are no different than we who love America–we are engaged in a political/existential drama/fight.

    IMO, Obama has been great for Israel, and I know many Israelis and American Jews who think likewise. F*ck Taitz et al.–they represent their own twisted ideology which has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism or Zionism.

  17. avatar
    bgansel9 April 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    If Taitz is so pro-Jewish, why did she leave Israel? Taitz appears to be nothing more than pro-opportunity.

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 6, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    I didn’t know it was Passover (or whatever the proper term is). But I think you are reading into the article something I didn’t say.

    J.D. Sue: Doc, since I have developed great respect for you and I appreciate that you are not intending to say anything offensive, I hope you will respectfully hear me when I say that you could not have picked a worse day of the year for this article.

  19. avatar
    Lupin April 6, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    Doc, I have to say that this was not one of your most successful articles.

    As you well know there;’s a difference between correlation and causality. A zillion things can tip a crazy person into becoming a crazy birther, and a pro-Israel bia is no more interesting or relevant than a fanatical devotion to the Pope. 🙂

    It really does not explain anything, is not statistically relevant, no more than if you had pointed out that most birthers drank milk. And you know who else drank milk? HITLER that’s who!

    We’re tough on you because we love you. 🙂

  20. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG April 6, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    Lupin: And you know who else drank milk? HITLER that’s who!

    That does remind me of how birthers tend to draw comparisons between Obama doing simple things like holding up one finger, and some sooper seekrit Muslim gang sign!

  21. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 6, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I didn’t know it was Passover (or whatever the proper term is). But I think you are reading into the article something I didn’t say.

    J.D. Sue: Doc, since I have developed great respect for you and I appreciate that you are not intending to say anything offensive, I hope you will respectfully hear me when I say that you could not have picked a worse day of the year for this article.


    Doc, I said what I said because it is Easter, a traditionally very bad day for Jews…

    Anyhow, like Lupin said, I point this out because I love you…

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 6, 2015 at 2:33 am #

    We can agree on that.

    Lupin: Doc, I have to say that this was not one of your most successful articles.

  23. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 6, 2015 at 3:47 am #

    Lupin: The American far right tends to be just as anti-semitic as its european counterpart. Of course the American right “defends” Israel because that’s where the Lord will return and finally burn all the Jews. Their beliefs are more like the holocaust on a deferred plan. And the Israeli far right self-servingly plays them like a fiddle. Or vice versa.

    I saw nothing more pathetic than American far-right blogger & zionist Pam “Atlas” Geller pal around with German and Dutch neo-nazis to whom she’s nothing more than a useful walking lampshade.

    —-
    Bingo. Sometime a few decades ago, Israel–feeling otherwise extremely isolated–developed very good relationships with American Christians, which IMO is a wonderful thing when it comes to sincere Christians. (I have great respect and close relationships with humble sincere Christians, and their affection for Jews/Israel is real). Unfortunately, some opportunistic right wing American Christians and right wing Israelis made what I call “an unholy alliance” just as you’ve described. RW Israelis focused on immediate security/existential concerns, and RW American Christians chomping-at-the-bit for a future Armageddon in Israel. It all terrifies me.

    One of the reasons I really like Obama is that he puts up with all this crap, and still generally does the right thing. With a mother and sister and many others in Israel, I can never thank Obama enough for the Iron Dome which knocked out thousands of rockets over their heads. I thank him for all the long hard nuanced back-room negotiations he has done among UN members, to help Israel in the UN without having to use the U.S.’s veto power. Brilliant work. And you know, while all that was going on, Faux News and Republicans like Rick Perry and Mitt Romney et al stood outside the UN building in NY, telling the world to disregard/disdain Obama’s work re Israel and the UN…. The RWNJ propaganda is so thick, and it all feels very Orwellian to me… The Republicans’ recent divisive stunts with Netanyahu are so horrendous, I struggle to find the words to put to my anger and outrage…

  24. avatar
    Lupin April 6, 2015 at 4:02 am #

    I’ve been watching a rather unusual and interesting TV series called THE DIG which, among other things, features the “unholy” alliance between an Israeli extreme religious/far right cult and an equally extreme Christian cult in the U.S., all hellbent (pun intended) to fulfill ancient prophecies, rebuild the Temple and bring about some kind of Armageddon.

    It stars Jason Isaacs and Richard e. Grant, two actors I like a lot, and seems to be shot mostly in Jerusalem. If you like occult conspiracies, that one may appeal to you. I also liked ZERO HOUR, which was more like a Christian/Nazi conspiracy. Mind you, they’re still more believable that most of what I read on Gerbil Report tm.

  25. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 6, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    Lupin: Mind you, they’re still more believable that most of what I read on Gerbil Report tm.


    Gerbil Report is too ignorant and dim-witted to develop any interesting plausible plots/intrigue.

  26. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy April 6, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    The wise man said that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

    Nevertheless, I have revised my article. Thanks to the criticism from commenters, I see that there were things I was assuming that I failed to write, and I mislabeled some things. Part of the problem stems from my lack of vocabulary and practice in discussing the topic. So I have removed some of the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” material and focused on examples that I think work. In particular I see now that using the label “pro-Israel” was nonsense, since there is no inherent conflict between Israel and Obama, only between some who are pro-Israel with particular views on what is good for Israel and Obama. Part of my problem is reading more nut jobs than normal people.

  27. avatar
    Joey April 6, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    The wise man said that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

    Nevertheless, I have revised my article. Thanks to the criticism from commenters, I see that there were things I was assuming that I failed to write, and I mislabeled some things. Part of the problem stems from my lack of vocabulary and practice in discussing the topic.So I have removed some of the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” material and focused on examples that I think work. In particular I see now that using the label “pro-Israel” was nonsense, since there is no inherent conflict between Israel and Obama, only between some who are pro-Israel with particular views on what is good for Israel and Obama. Part of my problem is reading more nut jobs than normal people.

    And that’s why so many of us appreciate you, Doc. Well Done.

  28. avatar
    bob April 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m sure everyone here already knows this, but the Israel Science and Technology site is a blog, nothing more. It does not speak for Israel.

  29. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Part of my problem is reading more nut jobs than normal people.

    —-
    And part of my problem is that the nut jobs are so pervasive and have been driving me to my wits end with their dangerous games. So, thanks Doc for putting up with my heated reaction and caring enough to address it. You’re the best!

  30. avatar
    Slartibartfast April 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    I think that the problem here is the result of intentional right-wing propaganda to conflate those who support Israel because they think it is a necessary precursor to the end times (or, more moderately, those who believe it to be a part of being a good Christian) with those who actually… support the state of Israel.

    Personally, I think there are going to be problems until there is a two state solution and not accepting this only makes matters worse.

  31. avatar
    J.D. Sue April 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Slartibartfast: Personally, I think there are going to be problems until there is a two state solution and not accepting this only makes matters worse.


    I agree that it has to be the ultimate goal, though very hard to accomplish. Otherwise, neither People will have a sustainable future.