By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz
Ever since the Reagan years, the American people have been blessed primarily with presidents who befriended Israel. Although there were times when not everything went according to the way friends of Israel hoped, an open dialogue prevailed between the two countries, marked by a mutual understanding of the historic relationship between them. This was the status quo for many years.
Diplomatic jargon falsely equating Palestinian difficulties caused by Israeli security clampdowns with the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust had yet to become part of political parlance.
The election of Barack Obama changed all this. His recent Cairo address to the Muslim world put his policy shift on clear display. His speech was notable in its obvious efforts to curry favor with Muslims and its significant omissions that offer a roadmap into his true mindset about the Jewish people and Eretz Yisroel.
In addition to highlighting his ethnic brotherhood with Muslims by proudly referring to his middle name, Hussein, Obama engaged in an unprecedented twisting of historical facts, leading to erroneous and dangerous conclusions.
Having chosen to deliver this address in Egypt, Obama blithely ignored that his host state is run by a dictator, much as is every other Muslim state, with little or no tolerance of dissent. He decried Israel’s “humiliation” of Palestinians, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian reign of terror, which has cost the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, has made tough security measures a life-and-death necessity.
The president actually said that Israel should be negotiating with Hamas, the terror group dedicated to destroying the Jewish state. The fact that Hamas won control of Gaza following Israel’s cowardly flight from the region has apparently legitimized this terror group in the president’s eyes.
Not wanting to offend Muslim sensibilities, Obama carefully avoided all mention of the word “terror” or “terrorism.” Instead of denouncing radical Islam for promoting global terrorism, Obama spoke only about Islam’s “proud tradition of tolerance.” Tolerance? What tolerance for religious differences of any kind exists in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia or any of the other Islamic states?
In the course of his speech, Obama also opined that Iran is entitled to nuclear power!
Notwithstanding the president’s weak-kneed address, he later rushed to attribute partial credit for an electoral revolution against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a near political defeat of Ahmadinejad in Iran, to his speech filled with flattery and appeasement!
Offering his bona fides as a student of history, Obama then proceeded to falsify history. He claimed that modern civilization owes a great debt to Islam because it paved the way for the renaissance in Europe, by demonstrating the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
Exactly as intended, this fallacious rendition of history jacked up the president’s approval ratings with his hosts and the worldwide Muslim community.
His speech made no mention of Israel’s historical claim to its land. It implied that the Jewish people’s right to Eretz Yisroel is based purely on Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, which justified their request for a homeland. Pulling out the equivalency argument, he went on to extol the Palestinians for surviving their own [so-called] victimhood at the hands of the Israelis, suggesting that they, too, have thereby earned their right to an independent state.
How frustrating to hear someone in a position of great leadership and responsibility deliberately fudge the truth and prattle nonsense!
Israel, we all know, has been victimized by Arab terror and war mongering for decades. It has done all in its power to foster a peaceful existence, only to be spurned. If only the Arabs would have Gaza, they would accept Israel, the argument went. If only the Arabs had the West Bank, they would then accept Israel in their midst, the pundits now insist.
What of the fact that the Arabs did have the West Bank when, in 1967, they tried to wipe Israel off the map, provoking the war that led to Israel’s liberation of those territories? What of the fact that there really is no such a thing as an Arab indigenous population of that territory? And let’s not forget that there are dozens of expansive Islamic countries with the ability to absorb the Palestinian refugees, but who deliberately choose not to, in order to continuously stoke the flames of hatred and violence.
Obama, an ardent spokesman of the liberal left, is stuck, along with his advisors, in a moral equivalency trap. There is nothing that will convince people blinded by a false ideology of the truth.
Binyomin Netanyahu can call for immediate peace talks and volunteer to travel anywhere to undertake that mission. Yet, the world will refer to him as the hardline hawk who seeks war and not peace, confrontation and not a solution. The countries of the world slam him for having the temerity to insist that the Arabs and Palestinians recognize the existence of Israel, reinforcing the pattern of chopping down every olive branch Israel has ever extended to its foes.
Bibi can lay out the truth of the history of the West Bank and the peace process – the Arab regimes continuously seeking to drive Israel into the sea and their refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s right to an independent country in their historical homeland. He can call upon the Palestinians to forsake war and terror and finally recognize Israel’s right to live in peace on the land of Eretz Yisroel. Everything else, he stated, would then fall into place.
None of this will alter the mindset of Israel’s enemies, or of the Palestinians’ apologists. Obama, Clinton, Jimmy Carter and all the pro-Arab voices will continue to single out Netanyahu as the primary impediment to peace in the Middle East.
The willful blindness to history and to current realities in that region is also reflected in the administration’s tendency to hide from important truths affecting the economic situation here in the United States.
Instead of freeing up capital for people to invest and spend, the president sees fit to raise taxes and engage in other activities that reduce the amount of money available for private citizens to spend to get the economy going again.
Instead of strengthening the capitalist underpinnings which have made this country great, they are engaging in socialist prescriptions which have been discredited wherever they have been previously tried.
Part of their plan is to revamp the vaunted American health care system to resemble that of countries that practice nationalized health care to disastrous consequences. They refuse to recognize the simple fact that their trillion dollar boondoggle will not only drain more money from the pockets of hardworking Americans, but it will also rob them of the quality healthcare they now enjoy.
Many of their other initiatives are doomed to failure even as they throw the country into unprecedented deficits and looming inflation. Yet they persist, ignoring the facts and spewing propaganda in the face of obvious truths.
Many of us stand by and watch these developments, wondering what, if anything, we can do to restore traditional American foreign and national policies.
Rather than despair over the negative way things seem to be going, let us remind ourselves that our job is to leave the running of world affairs to the Creator, and to focus on our purpose in this world: to use all our resources to grow in Torah and to spread the light of Torah.
I had the pleasure of attending a parlor meeting Sunday night in a tent behind the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rocky Stefansky in Lakewood. The evening was a fundraiser on behalf of the Cherry Hill Community Kollel. The setting was beautiful, the audience a mix of concerned Lakewood people and fifty individuals from the Cherry Hill community.
Rabbi Yissocher Frand began the program with a grand slam performance. He touched all the bases and drove home the point of how important it is for a town to have a center from where Torah and kedushah emanate and which invigorates the local residents.
Scanning the audience, one could see so many nice, fine Jews and appreciate that thanks to the dedication of Lakewood kollel yungeleit, they had been drawn to the Shechinah
The hartizgeh Yehuda Green began to sing, tugging at heartstrings. Before you knew it, black-hatted Lake-wooders were dancing in the aisles, arm in arm with kipah serugah members of the Cherry Hill Kollel community. What a stirring testimony to the power of Torah in uniting Jews of different backgrounds! The scene demonstrated the love and reverence that flow between Jews of all stripes when they are united under the banner of Torah.
A distinguished and successful-looking individual addressed the gathering, telling the audience that prior to meeting the kollel people, he considered himself a good Jew, though he had never heard of Hashem. Thanks to the kollel, he began learning Torah and putting on tefillin, and eventually became observant. He said that now the study of Torah is the greatest thrill in his life. Such is the draw of Torah! Such is the power of kollel families to affect a town.
In his remarks, Rabbi Frand spoke about momentous opportunities to be marbeh kevod Shomayim that often knock at one’s door. He stressed the obligation to seize the moment and turn it into something worthwhile and eternal. So many searching Jews await an opportunity to discover Hashem and His Torah. It seems obvious that this is our calling at this unique juncture in history.
When everything is crumbling all around us, when people are ready to give up hope for the future, when madmen threaten the entire world with nuclear weapons and no solution is seen on the horizon, our only recourse is to strengthen the knowledge of Hashem in our immediate environs, as well as throughout the world.
When people grope in confusion for a moral and spiritual anchor, it is time to create more oases of Torah and kedushah to chase away the forces of darkness. This will bring us closer to the day the neviim prophesized about when “umala kol ha’aretz deah es Hashem,” the world will recognize the greatness of Hashem, laying the groundwork for the arrival of Moshiach. As long as we remain in golus, the powers of evil will fester, with darkness constantly battling to extinguish the light.
When policy changes in the administration frighten us, when the threats of an Iranian president set off alarms, when the economic downturn gives us sleepless nights, we have to remind ourselves that our only salvation is to strengthen the forces of Torah and seek to bring more people into its tent.
We say Kinos on Tisha B’Av and cry out, “Ein lanu shiyur rak haTorah hazos – We have nothing left but Torah.” We have lost so much and so many, but we still have the Torah. We must do whatever we can to help strengthen Torah during these difficult times.
The more Torah is studied, the more of our fellow Jews will be brought into the Torah’s tent, and the closer we will be to the day that truth will finally triumph over falsehood with the final redemption, may it happen speedily in our day.