Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
President Obama will finally follow up his June 4, 2009 visit to Cairo with one to Israel. Though he was just a stone’s throw from Israel at the time, he chose not to go the Jewish state and it is not too hard to figure out why.
Early on in his speech at Cairo University he pulled no punches: “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world….” The new president may not have meant his words to be understood this way, but many supporters of Israel saw them as sending a message that the longstanding U.S.-Israel relationship would be recalibrated to one extent or another in order to win the trust of Muslims.
In a sense, this inauspicious beginning soured Jewish and Israeli perceptions of Mr. Obama and created fear about his feelings toward the Jewish state.
In retrospect, at least, much of that fear appears to have been groundless; with the exception of his view on settlements (which at any rate dovetail pretty much with the views of prior U.S. presidents) and his at times testy personal relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, his administration has been supportive of Israel at the UN and other international forums, and U.S.-Israel military and intelligence ties are as robust as they’ve ever been.
But the old adage about first impressions has certainly held true here, and the suspicion with which Mr. Obama is viewed by many in the pro-Israel community is as palpable today as it was in 2009. Indeed, some are suggesting that the current trip is designed to address the problems created by the Cairo trip and speech.
One thing that stood out in the speech and which many saw as troubling was his characterization of the relationship between the United States and Israel:
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
At first glance that statement might seem as nothing less than praiseworthy; here, after all, was an American president in the heart of the Muslim Middle East telling an Egyptian audience that the U.S.-Israel friendship is “unbreakable.” But what disturbed so many and set the alarm bells ringing was that, perhaps inadvertently, he was embracing the Arab narrative that Jews have no historical claims in the Middle East and the establishment of a Jewish state there was the result of Western guilt feelings and penance for the Holocaust.
Following his connecting the Holocaust with Israel, the president said:
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation…. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.
So he seemed to be saying that while the Jews are artificial transplants to the region, the Palestinians are indigenous. Moreover, he seemed to equate the victimization of the Jews by the most ruthlessly efficient killing machine in history to the Palestinian experience under the dislocations and deprivations of Israeli occupation.
Of course, Mr. Obama, as noted above, has thus far come through for Israel both militarily and diplomatically for the better part of his presidency. Whether that can be attributed to political expediency or to a genuine appreciation for Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship on Mr. Obama’s part remains to be seen.
Mr. Obama’s main challenge during this week’s visit will be to try to reverse the negative first impressions he created four years ago. Frankly, the fact that he has refused to visit such politically symbolic places as the Knesset is not encouraging. But he will be going to places that underscore the Jewish connection to the land such as the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, which contains the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls that testify to Jewish life in the Middle East more than 2,000 years ago. He also plans to lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.
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The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.
Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof
What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.
Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.
The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.
Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US
No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?
For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.
It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.
For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.
Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation
Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.
Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers
It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”
Last year the Obama administration sought to minimize civilian deaths from drone strikes by generally requiring that missile attacks be limited to instances where Americans were directly threatened and there was a “near certainty” that no civilians would be killed.
If anything, Operation Protective Edge showed that Israel will not pull punches when it comes to combating terror.
Toward the end of Operation Protective Edge this past summer, the president was unusually vocal about Israel’s so-called disproportionate use of force and alleged lack of compliance with international humanitarian law.
There was no accompanying caption, but the cartoon could not help but feed the anti-Semitic canard that Israel was responsible for 9/11.
An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor
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