Did Pres. Obama quote Saul Alinsky in speech in Jerusalem

I got this from Weasel Zippers (live that name):

JERUSALEM – In his address in Jerusalem today, President Obama channeled Saul Alinsky, citing the radical community organizer’s defining mantra as he urged young Israelis to “create change” to nudge their leadership to act.

Obama told a crowd of college students at Jerusalem’s main convention center that Israel “has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be.”

One of Alinsky’s major themes was working with the world as it “is” to turn it into the world as “it should be.”

In his defining work, “Rules for Radicals,” which he dedicated to “the first rebel,” Lucifer, Alinsky used those words to lay out his main agenda. He asserted radical change must be brought about by working within a system instead of attacking it from the outside.

“It is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system,” wrote Alinsky.

So… fair assessment? Seems pretty close.

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  1. MWindsor says:

    Fair assessment? Sure.


  2. Ralph says:

    “In his defining work, “Rules for Radicals,” which he dedicated to “the first rebel,” Lucifer,”

    Wow, that gave me the willies when I read it. Talk about a war between light and darkness.

    Extra prayer.

  3. Facta Non Verba says:

    Yes, I think this is a fair assessment. It would also be a logical assessment, given President Obama’s previous experience as a community organizer in Chicago — Rules for Radicals would have been a standard tool in the toolbox for a Chicago-based community organizer.

  4. EXCHIEF says:

    Given Obama’s socialist agenda there is little doubt that he is a disciple of Alinsky and, thus, very likely to quote him. If I were an Israeli knowing Obama’s penchant for telling lies I would not believe anything he said about having Israel’s back. I also wouldn’t be positively impressed by little Barry’s comments on Palistine either.

  5. Fr. William says:

    This has been applied other places as well, far closer to home: e.g. if you want to change the Church, don’t leave (as Luther, among others, did) remain inside and seek the desired change. Pretty effective! As noted on this site seventy times seven times, “Save the Liturgy, save the world”.

  6. boxerpaws1952 says:

    There has been no doubt in my mind that Obama’s playbook has been rules for radical for years. Everything he says,does simply CONFIRMS it more. Who voted for this guy? Catholics? Hispanics? Blacks? The evangelical vote stayed home? Is he an anti christ or is this THE anti christ? Sorry for the dramatic but i honestly have been thinking along those lines. Whatever ..one thing IS certain.He is rotten to the core.

  7. Evovae says:

    Well, technically we are all working to make the world “what it should be”. But there’s a world of difference between what difference people intend by that.

    Definitions are inherently relative. The trouble comes when people subsequently assume that the morals to which they refer are also subject to the same relativism.

  8. boxerpaws1952 says:

    read this excerpt from Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and do a comparison w/ Obama’ s policies and pov:
    His whole work has been scrubbed off the internet several times so grab this section while it’s still around. And YES it was dedicated to the first rebel,Lucifer. Chilling.

  9. StJude says:

    He is in Israel …the HOLY land.. quoting a book dedicated to Lucifer… **shudder**

  10. billmccormick says:

    There is a resemblance to Alinsky, but the bigger point transcends Alinsky and can be found in Marx, Hegel, the Gnostics and Thucydides: contemplation is subordinated to practice, with the result that “the way things ought to be” is discerned with little genuine reflection, and is sought by any means with little reference to the concrete nature of man and his community. I suppose Satan’s desire to possess God for his own private good points to the mysterious source of this evil orientation toward the world. (John Paul II captured part of this in his distinction between being and having, I think in Sollicitudo rei socialis.)

  11. Sandy says:

    This is the philosophy of the radical nuns. In “Ungodly Rage” one of the “nuns” is asked why they don’t leave the Church, and the answer is that they want to stay and change it from within! Were did they learn that lesson?

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    If Americans were paying attention, rather than watching American Idol or whatever, they’d have known what he was about BEFORE he ever got elected, term one….it was all there if people had just listened up….but I think alot of people had a racial point to make. Hope they got that out of their system.
    Anyway, he’s awful, always has been and likely will be, but there’s consolation, Roma Downey and her husband got even with him…
    and I laughed and laughed…

  13. netokor says:

    What a coincidence. I read this post of obama in Israel and then I chanced upon this: The actor who plays satan in the History Channel’s “The Bible” looks just like our own liar-in-chief. Just google “Bible lucifer like obama” in images and you will see an incredible resemblance!

  14. Dan says:

    “One of Alinsky’s major themes was working with the world as it ‘is’ to turn it into the world as ‘it should be.'”

    “The temporal order must be renewed in such a way that, without detriment to its own proper laws, it may be brought into conformity with the higher principles of the Christian life and adapted to the shifting circumstances of time, place, and peoples. Preeminent among the works of this type of apostolate is that of Christian social action which the sacred synod desires to see extended to the whole temporal sphere, including culture.” – Apostolicam actuositatem, #7

    Sounds good to me.

  15. Scarltherr says:

    Is Obama quoting the Secondary source, (Alinsky), or the primary source, Lucifer? I’m sure he’s very familiar with both of them.

  16. monmir says:

    Must have been something mighty important to bring him there, even create instability and revolt among young people, his forte. But I hope the Holy Land dust will cling to his shoes, so he can receive payment for his deeds eventually . I say a St Michael prayer for him every day since first inauguration; conversion of heart? Why not.

  17. jhayes says:

    It’s probably worth pointing out that Alinsky did much work for the Catholic Church in the USA and, in a least once case, in Italy.

    In 1958, when Maritain’s friend Cardinal Montini, archbishop of Milan and later Pope Paul VI, became painfully aware that the church was losing the workers of Milan to the Communist labor unions, Maritain advised him to consult Saul Alinsky on methods of community organization and the training of leaders, and Montini brought Alinsky to Milan to do so.

    Bernard Doering, “Maritain and America — Friendships,” in Understanding Maritain. ed. Deal W. Hudson and Mathew J. Mancini (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987):

    That is also reported in McGreevey’s “Catholicism and American Freedom”

    Alinsky and Maritain had a 40-year friendship. Their letters were published as a book. I have read that Maritain read and commented on “Rules for Radicals” before it was published. But I haven’t confirmed that.

  18. boxerpaws1952 says:

    consider the Catholics that voted for Obama.we have our work cut out for us.

  19. Therese says:

    EXCHIEF: “little Barry”

    I won’t be able to think of him in any other way now.

  20. GregH says:

    Hey Father Z,
    Did you know Alinsky won the Pacem in Terris award in 1969?

  21. James Joseph says:

    Oh yes!

    That book, “Rules for Radicals”. Mandatory reading in junior year at the Universe of Massachusetts.

  22. Gratias says:

    The radical left-wing now controls Church and State. Finally, Aggiornamento is complete.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Chicago school for radicals-Alinsky, Chomsky et al; of course and add to that the influences of Black Liberation Theology, which states that the Jews are not the chosen people of God, but the Blacks are. I know some people do not believe this is taught, but another aspect is that Sanctification is Liberation; and, in addition, Cone himself wrote that Black religion can unite with Marxist as political liberation is the same as personal sanctification.

    I have reads parts of James Cone’s book on BLT and I can assure you it is a huge departure from the Scriptures and is basically Marxist. He uses the Gramscian term “praxis” as well, which indicates a millenialism, a utopianism of Marxist liberation coupled with theological eschatology.

    I have been studying this stuff since 2007 when a certain person was becoming a national figure.

  24. The Masked Chicken says:


    I have a comment on the hibernation thing, spoken as from a Wild West saloon. It is in moderation (I think the word, sarsaparilla, might have upset the spam filter :) ) It’s in the Michael Voris post. Don’t stop commenting. That’s not quite what I meant.

    The Chicken

  25. acricketchirps says:

    BLT!? Mmmmmm!

  26. PostCatholic says:

    Did a former community organizer quote the “founder of modern community organizing?” I’d consider it intellectual slovenliness if Mr Obama was unfamiliar with Alinsky’s most famous book.

    I hope we don’t have to clarify an ad hominem argument. Alinsky was a provocateur who disbelieved in a god and used that Lucifer gag several times in his life to exemplify an extreme of “working within the system,” and to call attention to himself and his work. The provocation doesn’t negate what is essentially an update of Il Principe; it must be judged on its merits. I don’t think either claim to be spiritual classics but they are important tomes in political science.

  27. boxerpaws1952 says:

    “used that Lucifer gag several times in his life to exemplify an extreme of “working within the system,” and to call attention to himself and his work. ” Ok and it worked but for someone who didn’t believe in God he could have used any number of tributes to get attention. Why this one?

  28. Supertradmum says:

    PostCatholic, it is not ad hominem to point out facts regarding a person’s religious or socio-political past or present leanings.

    A reference like this is not referring to a classic but to a loved mentor. I assume you know about Chicago grass-roots politics from the 1960s on. The constant reference to “change” is a call to revolution, but a nice tweeting of the Constitution.

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    The secular world is making the tenets of Christianity more and more incompatible with electability and popular esteem. If they ever succeed in making the changes that they imagine will bring about what they say they think should be, they will be in for a rude awakening, and what destruction that discover will have cost! This has to happen, as history will attest, when the building site is checked and cleared of all that is not sand before building is allowed to commence. I would use Mr. Obama’s prior understanding that marriage requires the complementarity that nature gave the sexes and his subsequent gradual renunciation of that simple truth as one example of the steady erosion of what common sense he once had. May the Supreme Court be spared a similar decay of even the natural wisdom once held by humankind.

    This steady drift into popularly-held error what happens when you do not have a Magesterium.

  30. AvantiBev says:

    In 1997 the theatre company to which I belonged at the time was headed by a rabid leftist atheistic managing director who was determined that we do THE LOVE SONG OF SAUL ALINSKY in our 97-98 season. I worked on the show behind the scenes and in the box office and Barry, a state senator or state senate candidate at that time was one of the honored guests and special after-show speakers at one of our matinees. I don’t remember a thing he said, but I do remember the late Fr. Egan a huge Chicago lefty was also an honored guest that day and at the box office he tugged at my St. Agnes medal and asked me what I was wearing. When I told him St. Agnes he got a quizzical look on his face and said “Of Bohemia”? I said certainly not for this proud Italian-Americana, the original St. Agnese of Roma! “Never heard of her,” he replied. I bit through my tongue rather than say “Figures!” to our “honored” guest and pointed to the theatre entrance.

    The one thing that struck me in that play was that all the lefties exited the theatre raving about Saul’s great works for “community” and yet the playwright wrote a couple of devastating scenes about Alinsky’s treatment of his first wife and child. Saul was truly not interested in that little “community” I guess. No surprise that our most “organized” communities have the highest body counts of the fatherless, gang banging murderers. Alinsky’s hero, Lucifer, must be so proud.

  31. PostCatholic says:

    Ok and it worked but for someone who didn’t believe in God he could have used any number of tributes to get attention. Why this one?

    Because it worked, as you said. Lots of huckster value in shock hyperbole. Helps reporters sell newspapers. It was, if you will pardon the expression, Machiavellian in its simplicity.

  32. PostCatholic says:

    A reference like this is not referring to a classic but to a loved mentor.
    I didn’t realize that Saul Alinsky was a loved mentor of Mr Obama’s, Supertradmum. Alinsky died well before our President began chooming.

    I assume you know about Chicago grass-roots politics from the 1960s on.
    I don’t. You may feel free to educate me.

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