Keeping It Legal
Regarding Rabbi Yair Hoffman’s article “You Stole My Housekeeper!” (January 16): When discussing the halachic implications of such an act, the halachic implications of committing the illegal act of employing an undocumented worker must be addressed as well.
I want to add an additional consideration on top of the fact that exposing yourself to the dangers of employing a person that has little legal standing in this country. Why would a Jewish publication broadcast that members of their community have little regard for a law that is designed to protect their citizens from harm? The law regarding the employment of undocumented workers is not discriminatory in nature, and adhering to it has to at a minimum enter any kind of halachic discussion. This discussion should not be broadcast, and the lack of consideration for the law casts aspersions on our community. We have a difficult enough time maintains our status as G‑d’s people. If in fact we are G‑d’s people then we must hold ourselves to the highest of moral standards.
It was and still is not my intent to judge anyone. We need to do introspection into ourselves and make sure that we are true to ourselves in not only the world’s eyes but in G‑d’s eyes as well.
In Israel’s Face
By now, almost everyone has heard about the White House’s indignation over “Israel-spat-in-our-face-gate.” The whole brouhaha came to light when Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to speak before a joint session of Congress about the crisis with Iran’s nuclear build-up.
The White House promised to veto any action passed by Congress that involved sanctions against Iran, so the Republican leaders retaliated by inviting the Israeli leader. One White House official went so far as to say, “He [Obama] has a year-and-a-half left in office and there will be a price to pay.” Such nice and diplomatic language from an administration that holds and maintains the importance of protocol (and respect).
Make no mistake. This White House has sought to bring Benjamin Netanyahu to his knees from the day Barack Obama became president. To make the claim that “he spat in our face,” you have to place the relationship in its proper context. For one to spit in another’s face, there has to have been a genuine friendship based on mutual respect and understanding, when the other side attempted to show the other one up. But that’s not what happened here.
In 2013, when it was disclosed that the Obama White House had been spying on our European allies by tapping their embassies and cell phones, a strong case for “spitting in our face” could have been made by the EU, but wasn’t. This is a clear case of the White House looking for any excuse to teach this Israeli leader and the state of Israel a lesson.
Some will say that Netanyahu is the one who caused the estrangement between the two countries with his intransigence towards the “peace process.” Nothing could be further from the truth. From the early days of his administration, Barack Obama made a point to disrespect Israel and to dismiss its safety concerns and history.
In 2009, the president’s first visit to the Middle East was to Egypt, not visiting Israel at all, to address students at the University of Cairo. In his speech, he told students that they cannot deny the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. In the very next sentence he said, “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people—Muslims and Christians—have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” Thus, Barack Obama is the first president in history to make a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and “Palestinian refugees.” If we are talking about “spitting” in people’s faces, I think six million Jews could certainly make a case in this instance.
In March 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu came to the White House to discuss the “peace process.” Apparently frustrated that Bibi would not accede to his “list of demands,” including many dangerous concessions, Obama left Bibi and his staff to sit alone in the Roosevelt Room while he went to have dinner with Michelle. Talk about a “spit in the face” and disrespect.
In November 2011, while the president was in Europe for a conference of European leaders, unaware that a “hot mike” was present, Obama told French president Sarkozy—after Sarkozy called Bibi a liar—“You’re fed up with him, I have to deal with him even more than you do.”
In March 2012, President Obama pressured Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey’s president Erdogan for casualties that resulted from an Israeli attack on a flotilla filled with terrorists and Hamas supporters en route to barrel through the Gaza blockade. This is the same Erdogan who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany.
In September 2012, in a brazen display of disrespect and “spitting in Netanyahu’s face,” Obama adviser Susan Rice walked out of the UN hall as Bibi was getting up to speak, but remained seated when Iran’s Ahmadinejad addressed the world body.
In April 2014, in a closed-door meeting with world leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Israel doesn’t make peace with the Palestinians, they risk becoming an “apartheid state.” Using Israel and “apartheid” in the same breath is not something that just happens by accident. Never mind that apartheid means the minority ruling over the majority, which would have no application here; this administration adopted the terminology of Israel’s enemies.
This past November, there was a string of terrorist attacks inside Israel by Palestinians driving their cars into crowded areas, random stabbings, and a massacre in a shul in Jerusalem. Barack Obama’s released statement of sympathy for the victims and their families also included, “too many Palestinians have died.” Talk about a “spit in the face”!
In October 2014, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic wrote a lengthy article citing an anonymous senior White House official describing Netanyahu as “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery,’” as well as being a coward.
This past January, it was reported that the United States broke an agreement it had made with Israel when the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem started arming and training Palestinians for specific security details.
There are too many additional examples of this administration abusing, disrespecting, “spitting in Israel’s face,” and harming Israel for anyone to take the White House’s latest hissy fit seriously. It is, however, a reminder of how dangerous the world is, particularly if you are Jewish. With the rapid and dangerous resurgence of anti-Semitism throughout Europe, this administration has remained on the sidelines.
At most, Israel might have been more sensitive about the timing of the congressional invitation, but the invitation was certainly within the rights of congressional leaders to extend, and had this not been Israel, there would have been no outcry from this White House.