By Larry Gordon
A few weeks ago in our weekly Torah portion we read about the dramatic, nail-biting events of the newly liberated Jewish nation standing on the shore of the Red Sea wondering what their next move would be and where they were headed from there.
On the horizon, the Jewish men, women, and children were able to see the full Egyptian military—with their diamond-encrusted chariots—headed in their direction with their ISIS-type objective to, at worst, slaughter what they perceived to be their escaping subjects or, at best, return the Jews to their previous status as slaves.
And that is where we read about how the trapped people looked this way and that way and could not discern any viable escape from what was developing into a rather perilous situation. At that point, the pasuk tells us that the assembled Jewish multitudes “cried out to G‑d.”
But let’s back up for a minute here. Why would the Jews do that? Didn’t Hashem promise them that not only would they experience the Exodus from Mitzrayim but they would do so to the accompaniment of great miracles and with extraordinary wealth that was already in their long-term investment portfolios?
Why the crying out to G‑d? He already told them once that they were going into the land of Israel with great cheer and exuberance as well as a significant detour and encampment at Sinai on the way. And if they didn’t trust His word then, what was the point of crying out and davening to Him?
On this matter, Rashi explains that the Jews of that period certainly had implicit faith in Hashem and that this wasn’t a question of whether they had faith in G‑d to fulfill His promises. Our experiences have shown us that sometimes He takes us on circuitous routes, but we believe with our full hearts and convictions that one way or another we are going to get there.
So now as the elections near in Israel, most of us are praying that a more right-thinking, right-wing government will assume power at this most pivotal juncture in modern Jewish history. Over here, on this side of the globe, it is abundantly clear that there is little that the Obama administration would not do to make certain that it is Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party and not Bibi Netanyahu who is given the opportunity to form the next government of Israel.
While the polls show Labor and Likud running neck-and-neck, the same polls also indicate that Netanyahu would have the best chance to form the next governing coalition, and not Herzog with former Likudnik Tzipi Livni as his partner and rotating prime minister.
Were Herzog and Livni not so potentially dangerous to the future of Israel, it would almost be worthwhile to watch both of them fumble around helplessly, trying to figure out the next step for Israel.
The best part of a Labor-led government would be the shock and surprise in the Obama administration when told by the Herzog-Livni gang that there is no way Israel can surrender or withdraw from half of Jerusalem or, for that matter, from any parts of Judea and Samaria.
If you think there is a crisis today brewing between the U.S. and Israel, you have not seen anything until you witness the disappointment in the administration when it finds out that Herzog and Livni can talk and theorize about withdrawals and surrendering holy sites but cannot and will not do anything of the sort.
Our faith in G‑d in His maintaining a strong and secure Israel really has little to do with the outcomes of elections. It is unlikely that this scenario will develop, but it is almost worthwhile to see it unfold in such a fashion.
At this point, President Obama, despite his comments to the contrary, is very much involved in attempting to unseat Mr. Netanyahu, and the prime minister is aware of this fact.
Back in 1977, when the Likud’s Menachem Begin was first elected to office, it was the first time since the founding of the state that there would not be a Labor-led government in Israel. People who championed the cause of a greater Israel, particularly in the aftermath of the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars, were ecstatic. I was one of those people enthused by the election of Mr. Begin and shared that sentiment on a radio program I was hosting with that day’s guest, Rabbi Meir Kahane.
I shared my feeling with Kahane one early morning on the radio. He listened carefully to what I had to say and then stated succinctly that in his estimation, “Begin will be the biggest disaster for Israel.” Shocked, I asked him what he meant. He explained that if Begin surrenders territory for a Palestinian state, there would be no one to lead hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets in protest.
“If a Prime Minister Rabin surrenders or concedes territory to Arafat,” Rabbi Kahane said, “Begin will be in the streets of Jerusalem with 200,000 Israelis demonstrating against the surrender.” So even though the Israeli judicial system ultimately declared Kahane a racist and outlawed his political party, thereby removing him from the Knesset, the lessons of his words and actions were well learned and received.
The political dynamic is somewhat different today, with President Obama fearing that an eloquent and influential Prime Minister Netanyahu will convince enough Democratic senators to overturn a presidential veto on increasing sanctions on Iran. Obama wants him removed from power because his and Netanyahu’s worldviews are incompatible with one another. The election of Herzog and Livni looks like a solution to an angry and vindictive president, but rest assured it is not that simple.
In the meantime, like our forefathers, we continue to pray for a good outcome in next month’s elections in Israel. We don’t pray because of a lack of trust in G‑d’s ways, but rather, just like our ancestors who thought they were doomed on the shores of the Red Sea, we pray because that is who we are and what we do. We know that the outcome—no matter what it is—will be for the best.
Now President Obama is suggesting that the four Jews murdered by a terrorist in a kosher supermarket in Paris on a Friday a few weeks ago were not targeted because they were Jews.
The world knows that the reason this particular market was beset upon was that it was where the terrorist would find Jewish shoppers on a Friday afternoon. Mr. Obama is now—these few weeks later when people’s memories wane—saying that the shoppers were shot and killed randomly because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is Obama dumbing down and whitewashing a unique hateful brand of anti-Jewish terror. It would not be surprising if at some point he suggests that it was not a terror attack at all but rather a routine hold-up or robbery not dissimilar to the kind of crimes that are perpetrated daily in his hometown of Chicago or other crime-riddled urban centers.
This is the Obama modus operandi. Wait until people’s recall of events fade and suggest an alternate reality. Here is part of the comments on the matter by his press secretary, Josh Earnest, this week. It is as shocking as it is absurd.
Question: Does the administration really believe that the victims of this attack were not singled out because they were of a particular faith?
Psaki: Well, as you know, I believe, if I remember, the victims specifically there were not all victims of one background or one nationality so I think what they mean by that is, I don’t know that they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically, but the individuals who were impacted.
Question: They weren’t killed because they were in a Jewish deli, though—they were in a kosher deli?
Earnest: John, these individuals were not targeted by name. This is the point.
Question: Not by name, but by religion, were they not?
Earnest: Well, John, there were people other than just Jews who were in that deli.
This direction of thought comes from the same handbook as that put forward by then UN Ambassador Susan Rice who, at the administration’s behest, was induced to announce that the murder of our ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, was a result of an amateur Internet video and not because of a failed Obama foreign policy.
According to this newest and most absurd way of tweaking reality, the 3,000 people killed in the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11 were random victims of extremist violence and little more than that. As Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to explain to the media, the president considers them random victims because the killers did not know them or have their names on a list to hunt down.
According to the contorted Obama method of viewing terror events, the erev Shabbos attack in Paris or the murders at the Har Nof shul in Jerusalem were the equivalent to a random drive-by shooting that takes place every day on the south side of Chicago.
On the other hand, Congress is taking a different approach to putting a lid on terror. Congressman Greg Meeks (D-NY), along with other leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is warning that the U.S. could withhold aid to the Palestinians if they don’t abandon their effort to join the International Criminal Court.
“‘The United States should not support direct economic assistance to the [PA] until it demonstrates a meaningful reversal of this destructive course and proves it can be a willing partner for peace,’ is what we wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry and a matter I will be keeping a close eye on,” Mr. Meeks insisted.
Congress passed a law in December that prohibits economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinians initiate an ICC investigation of Israeli nationals or actively support such an investigation.
“The letter is meant to urge Secretary Kerry to be unambiguous and resolute in our posture towards the Palestinians, but by no means hostile,” Mr. Meeks noted. “We reminded the Secretary that ‘although we believe it is in the interest of the United States for urgent humanitarian assistance to continue to be provided to the Palestinian people, we will not support assistance to the Palestinian Authority while you undertake a review of this matter.’
“It is not our preference to punish the Palestinians for doing foolish things. On the contrary, we want them to return to direct bilateral talks with Israel, keep a lid on terrorism, and return to acting in a manner that earns them our enthusiastic support,” concluded the congressman.
The letter was signed by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-NY), as well as Representatives Ted Poe (R-Texas), William Keating (D-Mass.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
Back at the White House, the president said this week that he is like a big-city mayor whose job it is to keep crime statistics to a minimum. What’s a war? What is terror?
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.