Like obscenities, you know kishkes when you see them.
Not actual kishkes, the Yiddish term for guts that usually references a dish of stuffed innards. Metaphorical kishkes are about whether you feel something in your gut. It is difficult to quantify but easy to recognize. And so, for all eight years of his presidency, Barack Obama was dogged by “the kishkes test”—the question of whether his statements of support for Israel were genuine or merely poll-tested fair-weather politicking. It’s a way of asking: Does he really get it, what all this means to the Jewish people? Is it important to him, too, on a visceral level?
Obama hated talk of the kishkes test because he failed it. And no amount of arguing about generous foreign aid or insisting that “all [my] friends in Chicago were Jewish” can un-fail the kishkes test.
During those eight years in office, Obama’s vice president was Joe Biden. And now, in his own presidency, Biden has routinely passed the kishkes test with flying colors. It’s a study in contrasts. Because a new president relies to such an extent on staffers and advisers from the last president of his own party, you can tell when new policies are driven from the top.
“I am a Zionist,” President Biden said at last night’s White House celebration of Hanukkah, perhaps the most…