Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Holding Fast"

Arlene Kushner

Pesach ended here in Israel with dark last night, and will end tonight everywhere else.

Before I slip back into the political morass known as current events, I want to take the liberty of doing a bit of personal sharing.

Yesterday, on the seventh day of Pesach, I was with my daughter, who is active with a women's t'fillah (prayer) group. (For those who wonder -- yes, this is kosher, and, in this instance, sanctioned by an Orthodox rabbi who has provided guidance.) It was my great honor to stand next to her, as she read, from the Torah, Az Yashir, the song of thanksgiving sung by Moses and the children of Israel, after they had gone through the parted sea and the Egyptians pursing them had then been drowned. This is done in a special trop (melody), and my daughter rendered it powerfully and movingly. As always, I listen carefully to the words, and, as always, they mark me. But perhaps never more than this year. (Yes, I know these words are also found in the prayer service, but this reading has special power.)

"I will sing to the Almighty, for he is exalted, horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

"The Almighty is my strength and song, and has become my salvation.

"This is my G-d...and the G-d of my father, and I will exalt him.

"The Almighty is a man of war..."

"The Almighty is a man of war." A literal translation from the ancient words -- ish ha-milkhama -- of the Hebrew text found in Shemot (Exodus) 15.


I look around at the state of the world, and I find it incomprehensible. I have come to understand, even as I remain convinced that we must stand strong and do our best, that it cannot be comprehended.

In the end, our salvation will come from Heaven.

It is understood by the Torah that there are times when war, in whatever form it may take, is necessarily part of that salvation. And so does it seem to be the case now.


A week has passed since I have written, and I closed before the holiday -- even as Pesach and its priority called to me -- with a sense of reluctance to be away from the happenings, and the postings. But now, some days later, it is altogether unclear to me what has transpired that is truly new. I am back to that feeling of going in frustrating and ugly circles.

And so, here I will note that I am back, and touch relatively briefly on a variety of subjects, as we go round about in that bewildering and reprehensible dance.


The articles keep coming with regard to the Obama administration's hostility to Israel. It's being denied, or papered over, in certain quarters, but it's there, without a doubt.

I am, quite frankly, sickened every time I read the description of how Obama left a meeting with Netanyahu to go have dinner with his family, while Netanyahu and his advisors were left unfed. Fervently do I wish that our prime minister, if he hadn't the courage to decline a meeting in the White House all together, had at least had the courage to tell his advisors, "Guys, pack your briefcases, we're out of here. We will not sit still for being demeaned this way."


Caroline Glick, in her column last Friday, says there's a bright side to this: If we are not being treated by the Obama administration as part of the team, then Israel is provided with a "rare opportunity to stop acceding to US policies that are bad for Israel and the US alike...if Israel can do no right in the eyes of the administration, then there is no point in bending to its will. Instead, Israel must simply do what it must to secure its interests."

If only...


We are still in a state of limbo, you see, with regard to how and when and if our government will bend to Obama's will. There are those same interminable rumors, and nothing solid. Certainly within the nation and the Likud party (and amongst a majority of the inner cabinet), there is strong support for Netanyahu to say "no."

Commentator Isi Liebler, writing in the JPost, says, "Prime Minister Netanyahu: Talk to us."

"If he fails to speak up soon, all Israelis will begin to question him...Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s reluctance to speak to the nation is encouraging the Obama administration to intensify pressure on Israel. He is creating uncertainty both in Israel and among its friends throughout the world."


It was in my opinion a very poor decision Netanyahu made when he refused a gift of 10,000 yellow friendship roses that American Christian friends wanted to send to him because they were so incensed by how Obama had treated him. Why did he refuse? So as not to upset Obama.

Come on!

I go on record here as saying that I appreciate the spirit of that intended gift.


One sign of how virulently anti-Israel is the tone in Washington these days is the report by Lauren Rozen in the Politico blog that at least one unnamed administration official had accused Middle East strategist Dennis Ross (a Jew) of what amounts to "dual loyalties." Ross had the temerity to suggest that Netanyahu could be pushed just so far, and that there has to be some understanding of his political constraints and the make-up of his coalition.

Said the unnamed official: “He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu's coalition politics than to U.S. interests. He doesn't seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this administration."

One needs only to know something about Ross's political/diplomatic record to understand how ludicrous this is. After Ross completed his service to then president Clinton as special envoy for the Middle East, he wrote about how he knew that Arafat wasn't sincere, wouldn't honor his commitments and never relinquished the "terrorism card." And yet, during that time when he was already cognizant of this, he continued to push Israel to make ever more concessions. Protecting Israeli interests was clearly not high on his agenda. He was doing a job for the American president, and Israeli security be damned. I marked him then as no friend.

Even aside from "dual loyalty" charges, I am unsettled by the comment that whether we build in Jerusalem is about "the credibility of this administration." No, sir. It's about our integrity as a nation.


I would like to call your attention to an extremely interesting blog by Sultan Knish (Daniel Greenfield) who a week ago addressed the hypocrisy of Joe Biden, who was presumably terribly upset, that there was an announcement about our building in Ramat Shlomo, past the Green Line in Jerusalem, while he was here. An insult. A slap in the face.


"In 1995 Biden himself served as a co-sponsor of S. 1322, known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act" which included the policy statements that:

"(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;

"(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel;"

And before this, in 1992, Biden had co-sponsored the Senate Consecutive Resolution 113, which states that the Congress--

"(1) congratulates the residents of Jerusalem and the people of Israel on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the reunification of that historic city;

"(2) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past twenty-five years; and

"(3) calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to issue an unequivocal statement in support of these principles."

And back in 1990, Biden had co-sponsored yet another similar resolution.

So, says Greenfield, "naturally, like any good politician, he was insulted by Israel taking him at his word. To argue that Biden was gravely insulted by Israel, is to argue that he was insulted by the policies he himself supported.

"Not just passively supported, but co-sponsored..."


(With thanks to Bud and Phyl for calling this to my attention.)


I want to mention here the juxtaposition of Obama and Pesach. For the third year running, he ran a seder. How ridiculous, how patently and transparently political. Could there actually be Jews who think this is neat?

I understand that he managed to complete the seder without "L'Shana haba'a b'Yerushalayim" -- next year in Jerusalem. Would we expect anything different from him?

Obama also delivered a message to Jews on Pesach that included this:

"The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all."

He conveniently left out the entire thrust of Pesach (see Az Yashir, above), which is about G-d taking his people out of bondage with a strong hand, and bringing us to salvation in the land of Israel.

Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Commentary blog, called this "off-key, hyper-political, and condescending."

Would we expect anything different from him?


In a statement to the New York Times yesterday, Obama said that, "We know that they [the Iranians] have pursued nuclear weapons in the past, and that the current course they’re on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities."

He said he will continue to work to prevent this from happening. But this is shtuyote, nonsense, as nothing that is being advanced by him is going to stop Iran.

There are serious analysts who believe that this is a coded message signaling that Obama is prepared to accept a nuclear Iran, which will be "contained." This is what John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, said a week ago. He believes Obama is trying to prevent Netanyahu from hitting Iran.

Obama's legacy is heading rapidly to shameful beyond words.

Our concern is what Netanyahu's legacy will be, and whether he will finally have the strength to order that hit on Iran -- Obama's wishes be damned. Netanyahu certainly knows that a nuclear Iran would be a disaster not only for us, but for the entire region, and, yes, for the US. G-d give him the courage to do what needs to be done.

Will we pay a price? Absolutely. Will there be repercussions? Without a doubt. But all of this fades in comparison to the prices to be paid, and the repercussions to be endured, if Iran were to go nuclear.

And the irony, which the Arab Gulf States know full well, is that we would be doing the world a favor. The world doesn't suffer favors from us gladly.


Please see a commentary by IMRA's Aaron Lerner, with regard to the admission made by key Fatah leader Nabil Shaath that an armed resistance is not possible because of the presence of the IDF. This must never be forgotten for a moment, as there is pressure from the US for the IDF to pull back.


see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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