When I was growing up, there were two country clubs in town (that anyone who was anyone belonged to, at least). The Jewish one, where people had wedding receptions and bar mitzvah parties that my parents and I would attend sometimes, and the other one, which was shrouded in mystery. I once asked my mother why this was, and she explained that the one I thought of as the main one was the Jewish one, founded years ago in response to the policies of the other, which had prohibited Jews from membership. Long after the restriction was dropped, the tradition persisted. “But we don’t belong to either of them,” I remember saying. “Daddy doesn’t play golf,” she replied. “And if you want to swim, you can go to the J.”
This story came to mind as I read the recent New York Post report that the Woodmont Country Club—founded in the DC area for the same reason, if you get my drift—has members at each other’s throats over whether or not they should accept President Obama as a member when he returns to private citizenship later this month (God help us all). The reason? Many people aren’t happy with his perceived stance on Israel—by which I mean, how they have chosen to perceive Obama’s supposedly allowing a U.N. resolution condemning the continuance of illegal settlement construction in the West Bank. Because that, apparently, has a lot to do with your golf handicap, I guess.
If you read this column with any regularity, you know where I stand politically on this sort of thing, so let’s save all the Internet fury and recrimination for our own Facebook pages for now, shall we? Obviously, Woodmont has the right to let in or not let in whoever they want, and I am confident the President—a President who held the first seder ever in the White House, who has had more Jews in key positions than any other administration in history, and whose policy views are echoed by the vast majority of American Jews—will ultimately find a nice place to play golf. But it is something that a club founded in protest of exclusion of those with different worldviews, so to speak, should feel so comfortable with it in practice.
And as for those of us dissenters who support President Obama? We who think the settlement policies have been an immoral disaster for the State of Israel, have deep reservations about the incoming administration and its attitudes towards democratic pluralism and tolerance, and who are tired of having every principle we were taught was decent and Jewish and American somehow expected to get tossed out the window wherever Netanyahu is concerned? I guess we’ll just have to start our own club. As soon as we learn how to play golf.