Tisha B’Av 2009

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I generally do not use this space for spiritual musings. However, this past Thursday marked Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Jewish month of Av. This is a date on the Jewish calendar that my people commemorate not only the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE, but all of the tragic and horrible ensuing events that have befallen our people in our long and sorry history. Although there had been a constant and continuous presence of Jews within Israel[1] up until the birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948, this date also marks the beginning of the Diaspora. This last century witnessed the miracle of rebirth, where after 2,000 years of yearning for sovereignty, our modern people returned to its ancient spiritual birthplace to live under self-rule.

However Tisha B’Av commemorates all of the events that have befallen us as a people since the loss of Jewish autonomy in 70 CE, including the humiliation of the Dhimmitude laws in the Sephardic, or Eastern lands, and in the Western or Ashkenazi lands of Europe, the various expulsions ,from England and France, Portugal, Whales and Spain, the Inquisition, the constant programs, the Nuremberg laws and finally culminating in the gas chambers and ovens of the Holocaust.

Horrible things are known to have happened to the Jewish people on this particular day.

That is why when on this past Thursday, when I opened up the Washington Post, and read the lead editorial, “Tough on Israel”, goose bumps ran down my spine. In this editorial, the Washington Post, which is not particularly known for its great adoration for the Jewish state, took the Obama administration to task for its singularly stringent treatment of Israel. Last week, we reprinted Marty Peretz’s blog from the New Republic in which he vented his outage and disgust toward the Obama administration for its unabashedly harsh treatment of the Jewish state.

When both the Washington Post and the New Republic, two publications that wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorsed President Obama during the election campaign, and neither of which are particularly known for their hawkish views, have written editorials that are critical of President Obama’s singularly harsh treatment of the Jewish state, we realize just how dire the situation is.

Because of the unprecedented pressure that this administration has put on Israel, President Obama’s approval rating in Israel has dropped to the single digits this summer, reportedly as low as 6 per cent in a recent poll, an unprecedented all time low for a standing American President. This pressure comes at a time when the Jewish state is facing the greatest existential threat since its modern rebirth. The pressure from the White House for an immediate withdrawal back to the pre-1967 lines is also coming after the Israelis had endured the emotionally gut wrenching decision to uproot every last vestige of an Israeli presence from Gaza in the hope that this would give the Palestinian people an opportunity for peace, leaving the synagogues behind so that they might be converted to mosques a (“After all”, one well-recognized rabbi argued, “We all pray to the same God”), and the multi- million dollar greenhouses that a few Jewish philanthropists bought so that the fledgling Palestinian state would have an economic infrastructure. Both were destroyed in a hate-induced frenzy of anarchy as soon as the last IDF soldier left and closed the gate. The people of Gaza went to the polls the following January and in free and independent elections, overwhelmingly elected the Iranian backed terrorist group, Hamas, to govern themselves.

Up until the war this past winter, when the IDF had to re-enter Gaza, the neighboring Israeli town of Sderot had hardly known a day without the constant bone-chilling alert “Seva Adom”, (“Code Red”), in which the people and children of that town had precisely three minutes to run to shelter. If they were slow, the punishment could be their lives. The recent war in Gaza has reportedly reduced the number of Kassam rocket missile attacks, dramatically. However, most of the people are still suffering from Post-Traumatic stress disorder, and the children, in particularly are plagued by symptoms such as frequent nightmares and bedwetting. Their traumatized experiences will plague them for life.

The folks of Sderot know that they are on a reprieve, right now, in the immediate aftermath of the War in Gaza, but are haunted by the inner knowledge that this reprieve is only short-lived and temporary.

Knowing this, one can understand why the Israeli people might be a bit reluctant to return to the pre-1967 borders, which would make every major city, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, within easy Kassam rocket missile reach from the West Bank.

Please also bear in mind that it is only because of the finely honed skills of the IDF that Fatah is in power, today, in the West Bank against its rival faction Hamas, which, like Hizballah in Israel’s north, gets much of its weapons, training, resources and many of its directives directly from Iran.

Every single withdrawal is perceived in the eyes of Hizballah, Hamas and all the Islamist terrorist groups as a victory of Islam over the West. Their voracious appetites are not sated but only whetted by each Israeli concession, in their quest for global Islamic hegemony. Hamas and Hizballah are puppets of the Iranian regime who are fighting the war against a presence of the Jewish state in the Middle East by Iranian proxy.

All the while Iran is busily spinning centrifuges and importing the material that they need to make President Ahmadinejad’s prediction of “wiping Israel off the map” a reality. A report from the London Times of August 3rdsays Iran possesses the technology to create and detonate a nuclear bomb, and is merely awaiting f the word from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Because of the humiliation suffered to the ruling Iranian theocracy of the freedom loving dissidents taking to the streets in the aftermath of their rigged election and the global media attention that has received, the reigning Iranian mullahs just might want to do something really stupid and reckless to flex its muscles and to declare who it is that is in power on the world stage. And the target of this stupid and reckless muscle flexing may well be the state of Israel.

And all of you will also share my heightened case of goose bumps when you realize that the population of Israel has just reached the point of six million. Israel lacks the strategic depth to be able to absorb just one nuclear attack, while Ahmadinejad has stated that he “is willing to spare millions of his own people.”

President Obama has stated that before he will sit down and even talk to Ahmadinijad, the Israelis and the Palestinians have to reach an agreement, which is, as history has taught us, no easy task. All of this buys the reigning clerics valuable time to reach their lethal objective.

We are grateful to the Washington Post for the moral clarity and objectivity to be able to recognize that President Obama has been unduly harsh towards Israel and that this inordinate amount of pressure is counter-productive, but feel obligated to have the reader bear a few things in mind.

One is a reminder that there had been two sets of conditions that have been put on both of the two parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, in President Bush’s Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East of April 30th 2003. At the outset of Phase One of the Roadmap, the Palestinians had been required to issue unequivocal statements declaring Israel’s right to live in peace and security, call for an immediate end to all acts of for all of violence, an unconditional ceasefire and an end to all incitement.

Yet President Obama has put no pressure whatsoever on the Palestinians to live up to their side of the agreement.

If however, in the Jerusalem community of Efrat, that sits just over the Green Line, 25 women had babies three years ago, and they are forced to build a room for a day care center, the administration will throw the book only at Israel. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on May 27th, President Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”

Please ask yourselves: What is more critical to a genuine lasting peace, building a day care center to accommodate natural growth, or the Palestinian steady diet of incitement to hate and to kill and its ensuring violence?

After you read the editorial, I ask you to please read the first foreign major policy speech that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given since he recently assumed office, given at Bar Ilan University on June 14, 2009, when he said that he is willing to negotiate a Peace Settlement with the Palestinians, “immediately and without preconditions”, and ask yourselves if this Prime Minister is really as hawkish as the Washington Post editorial writers and the media throughout the world would like to report him to be.

While President Obama has said that Israel “needs to do some serious soul searching”, while America sits far away from the heart of the this primitive and atavistic conflict, with a Pacific Ocean on the west, an Atlantic on the east, and Canada and Mexico on the north and the south. What would President Obama do if Kassam Rocket Missiles had reigned down from Tijuana to San Diego? Would he give Californian back to Mexico as a goodwill gesture?

I hope and pray that in future Tisha B’Av’s my people will not also be mourning the destruction of the Third Jewish Commonwealth at the hands of Iranian dictators and of Western appeasers.

[1] Contrary to what President Obama had said in his June 3rd Cairo address, the Holocaust was in no way responsible for the birth of Israel, or the resurrection of the Zionist movement. Jews are indigenous to the region and have lived there continuously for 3,000 years. Even during the Roman occupation in the first century, Jewish communities remained and thrived, and exiled Jews returned in wave after wave of immigration. Until the birth of the modern state of Israel, however, Jews had been an oppressed minority in their own land, and their numbers rose and fell depending on the compassion or viciousness of the region’s different rulers. The term “Palestine” was used for the area of Israel from the first century when the Jewish state was under Roman rule, until he birth of modern Israel. Prior to this period “Palestine: had always been associated with Jews and their homeland. Jews in the area had used the name “Palestine” for their newspapers, The “Jerusalem Post” had then been called the “Palestine Post”, the “Israeli Symphony” ad then been called the “Palestine Symphony”, the “Israel Electric Company” had been called the “Palestine Electric Company”.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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