Golf club’s Jews debate admitting Obama over U.N. abstention


(JTA) — Members of an exclusive, mostly Jewish golf club in Maryland are debating whether to admit President Barack Obama for membership over his decision to abstain from an anti-settlements vote at the United Nations.

While the outgoing president has not indicated whether he will seek a membership at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, some club members were reported to be fiercely opposed to even entertaining the idea, the New York Post reported, citing anonymous sources.

Following that story, The Washington Post reported on “a string of scorching emails” it had obtained from critics of Obama to club president Barry Forman.

In one, longtime member Faith Goldstein, who operates a promotional and marketing firm, wrote that Obama “has created a situation in the world where Israel’s very existence is weakened and possibly threatened,” adding, “He is not welcome at Woodmont. His admittance would create a storm that could destroy our club. ”

Last month, the U.S. abstained on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, allowing the U.N. Security Council resolution to pass 14-0. U.S. officials said then that they could not endorse the resolution because of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, but did not want to veto it because they agreed with its premise that Israeli settlement construction was illegal and an obstruction to advancing peace.

The Washington Post also quotes Bethesda attorney Marc Abrams saying the president’s stance on Israel should make it “inconceivable” that club leaders would consider a bid by Obama for membership.

But defenders of the president were similarly impassioned. Jeffrey Slavin, identified as a Democratic activist and club member, threatened to organize others in canceling their memberships if Obama were not made welcome. “At this time it is my hope that you will take action immediately to erase this emerging stain on The Club’s stellar reputation,” Slavin wrote in an email to Forman, fellow members and local Jewish leaders.

Simon Atlas, a former membership chair at the club and former treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, told the Washington Post he would be “honored” to have Obama as a member. “A person’s political affiliation was never a consideration” for membership, he said. “We looked at [a person’s] philanthropy, at standing in the community, at reputation. These other things never came up.”

Forman declined to comment.

The exclusive club charges members an $80,000 initiation fee and $9,673 in annual dues.

The Obamas are planning to remain in Washington after Jan. 20, Inauguration Day for Donald Trump, the president’s successor.

Woodmont was founded by D.C.-area Jews in 1913 because Jews were banned from joining other clubs.

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