Sunday, March 08, 2009


Arlene Kushner

Today was Shabbat Zahor: The Shabbat -- right before Purim -- for remembering, in which we are obligated to hear the reading of the admonition in the Torah regarding Amalek:

"Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Egypt...You shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven -- you shall not forget!" (Deuteronomy, 25: 17-19) What is the significance of this, and how is the apparent contradiction to be understood? What the Amalekites did was to attack the Hebrew nation from the rear, hitting the women and children and the weak, without provocation or cause. In this sense, they are the prototype of anti-Semites, who arise in every generation to try to destroy us.

The people of Amalek were to be wiped out, but we are commanded never to forget that this sort of hatred against us is possible.

Haman (the quintessential enemy in the Purim story) is seen as a descendant of Amalek. Today our rabbis do not identify any of our enemies as literal descendants of Amalek, to be destroyed in toto, but what is definitely the case is that those out to destroy us in each generation are seen as heirs of that mindset. We are to be wary always and strong against them. Hitler was certainly in the mold of Amalek, as was Arafat.


And today it is true of Ahmadinejad and the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. Is launching rockets at schools not attacking innocents from the rear?

The lessons for us are clear. We are not told to be kind to such people, or try to dialogue with them, or make them our friends.


There is no way to describe my response to recent comments from PA officials other than to say they provoke real anger, while the willingness of the world to attend to these comments merits only contempt.

What the PA officials are saying is that it is time to "impose" a two-state solution on Israel. They're taking this tack because they see a receptivity in Obama and Clinton, and because they are very uneasy about a coming Netanyahu right-wing coalition.

Said one top PA official to YNet:

"Here the world will understand that this Israeli government opposes the peace process and its current form in principle and ideologically, and therefore we anticipate that this is the best timing for the world to intervene and force Israel to implement the agreements."

Force?? Excuse me?


Aside from considerable fury at the notion of our being forced, there is this: Were we (G-d forbid) willing in the coming months to negotiate a "two-state solution," they would not be ready. They do not constitute a unified and moderate "partner for peace": Gaza is ruled by terrorists who will not acknowledge our right to exist and are working to destroy us overtly. While the PA -- which recognizes us but not as a Jewish state -- is after destroying us more slowly and is assisting Hamas in multiple ways. Not to mention that it lacks the coherence and the infrastructure to establish a stable state.

And yet, this official can say, "This is the time to show that the Palestinians are the peace camp. They are the ones who believe in agreements, they are the ones calling for the implementation of the two-state solution based on Annapolis and the Road Map, while the Israeli side is the non-partner."

This is a technique for weakening us, and currying favor with the Obama administration. Unfortunately, a good part of the Western world -- which loves to love the Palestinians -- will eat it up.

Had the Obama administration an ounce of integrity in this matter, its representatives would tell PA officials not to talk about Israel until they have their own house in order.


With regard to Israeli disinclination to move towards a "two state solution," I share with you the open letter that the refreshingly forthright MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has written to Sec. Clinton:

"...I know that more than a language barrier stands between us. More than 3,000 years of history make a difference too. There are historic lessons and perspectives that the Jewish people learned in person. At this time, on the eve of Purim, when again we see a Persian [today, Iranian] archenemy planning to exterminate us, all the ancient defense mechanisms are emerging within us – the ones that refuse to buy into the false promises of those who view themselves as Israel’s friends, and as such tell us what is good for the Jewish people and for the State of Israel.

"...You came here from the world’s greatest and strongest democracy. You come from the Democratic Party and you know how to recite the familiar mantras, claiming that the United States respects Israel’s democracy and will cooperate with any elected Israeli government.

"Well, Israeli democracy has spoken: Most Israeli citizens do not wish to establish an Arab terror state in our homeland. If your democracy is real, you should of course respect the democracy of others as well.

"However, as we all realize that what guides the US is not democracy in other countries, but rather, what the American Administration perceives as American interests.",7340,L-3681313,00.html

Hopeful news: The appointment -- made by Director of National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair -- of Chas Freeman to the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council may not be a done deal after all.

As it turns out, there was no vetting of Freeman by the White House -- a process that should have been completed before the appointment, and Freeman has not submitted the financial forms required of all appointees to high government positions. One must ask how this could happen.

What is more, because of concerns registered, the Inspector General of National Intelligence, Edward McGuire, will be investigating Freeman's financial ties to foreign governments.

According to Eli Lake, writing in the Washington Times , Freeman is on the international advisory board of the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), which has invested in Sudan and Iran.

Additionally, Freeman is president of (and has received a significant salary from) the Middle East Policy Council, which was given $1 million in 2006 by Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (the very same prince from whom then Mayer Giuliani refused money after 9/11). And he has chaired Projects International, a consulting firm that has worked with foreign governments.


Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, last week told reporters that he had "not read" anything about Freeman ties to Saudi Arabia or negative statements Freeman made about Israel. There is no way he can win here: either he looks like a fool for not knowing what he should know, or he looks like a liar.


David S. Broder is a liberal American political commentator-journalist. Writing in the liberal/left Washington Post, he recently voiced some very strong criticism of Obama:

"The size of the gambles that President Obama is taking every day is simply staggering. What came through in his speech to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience [February 24] was a dramatic reminder of the unbelievable stakes he has placed on the table in his first month in office, putting at risk the future well-being of the country..."


I will note these two news items succinctly, with minimal comment, as, in juxtaposition, they pretty much speak for themselves:

Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with regard to a recently released report said that it "...contributes to the growing evidence of clandestine nuclear activities in Syria."

At the same time (literally), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, reported that when he was in Syria recently Bashar Assad told him that he was ready to resume peace negotiations with Israel and embrace the Arab initiative.

"Syria would like direct American participation in these peace talks," he explained.

Uh oh.


Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, in a joint press conference with Sec. Clinton today, said that Turkey is prepared to mediate again in indirect Israeli-Syrian talks.

Clinton's observation was that the importance of these indirect talks between Israel and Syria "cannot be overstated."

They can't?

Are we going to see a consistent pattern from the Obama administration of ignoring genuine dangers to Israel and the Western world in the hope that everyone can sit and talk together and become good friends? No answer necessary, as this is rhetorical.


Caroline Glick, presenting evidence, has concluded that "the Obama administration has no intention of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power...The White House seeks far more modest ends.

"Through its policies toward Israel on the one hand and Iran...on the other, the Obama administration demonstrates that it has already accepted a nuclear Iran."

A terrifying scenario. It's difficult not to ask how the world has come to this ghastly place.

The responsibility of our government to protect our people from a nuclear Iran weighs very heavy indeed. The coming tenure of Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister will bring with it major consequences in this regard. And it is in this regard that I fully respect his clear-minded determination.


I want to end here on an unusual note, talking briefly about Kever Rachel.

This is the Tomb of Rachel Imenu -- Rachel our mother, the wife of patriarch Jacob, who died giving birth to Binyamin. She was buried on the way to Bethlehem. "And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; the same is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day." (Genesis 35:20)

All the patriarchs and all the other matriarchs are buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hevron. Rachel is on the road, on the way. The image over innumerable generations has been powerful. We are told that Rachel wept when her children were sent into exile.

For ever so long the Kever -- a place of on-going sanctity where women, especially, seek comfort -- looked like this:

Today, because it is an Israeli enclave in a Palestinian Authority area, it is surrounded (painfully) by protective walls, almost like a fortress, but no less sacred:

I write about this because I was there this past week, for a very special reason, which I take the liberty of sharing here. This is also about Israel.

The special reason was the Bat Mitzvah of my granddaughter Rachel. She chose the locale, and she chose to have her entire class join her, as she lead prayers and did teaching, and stood before the Kever in silent meditation.

And so this is written by a very proud and grateful savta (grandmother).


Tomorrow my family celebrates Rachel's Bat Mitzvah party. Following this is Purim. It is unlikely that I will post again until after Purim.


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