President Obama dismisses the anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime.

He deplores it–of course–but he sems to regard it as nothing more than an unattractive character flaw—rather like some jerk's not wanting Jews in his pathetic country club in the last century.

President Obama does not see it as a reason to pause in his headline race to a nuclear deal with Iran. He should. Iran's anti-Semitism isn't just some shallow trait that causes rudeness. President Obama is naive. If Iran gets a nuke, it is more than likely that it will attempt to  do unto Israel what it has long said it wants to do unto Israel; destroy it. This is not about cotillion quotas, Mr. President. 

The American Interest’s Walter Russell Mead analyzes what the president said about Iran’s anti-Semitism in the interview, released last week, the president gave to Atlantic Monthly journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. Mead writes of one exchange between the president and Goldberg:

It seems clear from this exchange that the President either doesn’t understand or flatly disagrees with the point Goldberg has in mind. Goldberg’s point is that serious anti-Semites (that is, people whose worldviews are shaped and informed by Jew hatred as opposed to people who have, for example, a social prejudice against associating with Jews) don’t understand reality the way that other people do. They see a world dominated by Jewish plots and secret cartels, and believe that the Elders of Zion rule the world behind a screen of deception and misdirection.

This doesn’t just mean that they have some quirky and unpleasant views. It means that they don’t understand how politics work, why economies behave as they do, or how power is constructed in the modern world. As I wrote in an earlier post on this subject, “Jew haters don’t understand how the world works; anti-Semitism is both a cause and a consequence of a basic failure to comprehend the way pluralistic and liberal societies behave. As a result, nations and political establishments warped by this hatred tend to make one dumb decision after another — starting at shadows, warding off imaginary dangers, misunderstanding the nature of the problems they face.”

There are many forms of prejudice and bigotry, and they are all twisted and ugly, but Jew hatred may well be the most damaging to the hater’s ability to understand the world. Jew hatred takes the form of a belief that conspiratorial groups of super-empowered Jews run the world in secret, cleverly manipulating the news media and the intelligentsia to hide the truth of their control. Someone who really believes this isn’t just a heart-blighted ignorant boor; someone who believes this lives in a house of mirrors, incapable of understanding the way the world actually works.

President Obama seems to understand anti-Semitism as a much more superficial phenomenon. He has no patience for it, and scorns it morally and intellectually, but he sees it as an emotional force, a hatred that sometimes, “on the margins” causes people to do stupid and ugly things. An anti-Semite might kick a Jew when nobody is looking, or vent his feelings when in like minded company, but as a rational actor, the anti-Semite won’t indulge his emotional dislike of Jews at the expense of his vital interests. He won’t turn down tenure at Harvard because there are too many Jews on the faculty, or turn down an otherwise attractive job offer from Goldman Sachs because the company has Jewish origins. Nor will he radically misinterpret the position of an American president seeking a win-win end to the U.S.-Iran standoff.

President Obama agrees with Goldberg that anti-Semitism is a bad thing and that Iran’s regime is riddled with it. The difference between them seems to be that the President believes that this propensity of the Iranian leadership is unpleasant but ultimately not that important. Goldberg, however, is asking a deeper question: does the fact that the curse of anti-Semitism has the Iranian leadership tightly in its grip mean that the Iranian leaders aren’t, by our lights, rational actors? When this phrase comes up in a nuclear context, ‘rational actor’ usually means someone who understands the logic of deterrence and is prepared to be deterred by it. …

Mead points to the “uncomfortable fact” that President Obama has not done well dealing with foreign leaders who do not share his world view (Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan, for example). Ironically, Mead notes this is in part because President Obama doesn’t really understand diversity, a watchword of the left. He doesn’t realize that many leaders in our dangerous world are different from him. In failing to realize this, he is very likely to give us a nuclear armed regime led by anti-Semitic mullahs.