The days of sefirah feature several special events here in Israel.
First, the week after Pesach we have Holocaust Memorial Day, which is deeply moving as we remember, in ceremonies and through radio and TV broadcasts, the horrors perpetrated in Europe that preceded the founding of our state.
A week later we mark Memorial Day as the nation grieves for its fallen heroes and the victims of terror attacks.
The following day brings a huge outpouring of joy as the nation celebrates Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day.
The most outstanding event of Yom Ha’Atzmaut is the International Bible Quiz. This year’s theme was leadership. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein jokingly told the crowd he’d already signed certificates for the winners before their names were recorded, noting that “where I come from [Russia], they would sign certificates with the winner’s name even before the contest!”
Natan Sharansky quipped, “Yuli and I went to jail [as Prisoners of Zion] before we arrived in Israel to become leaders. But now we are witnessing people becoming leaders before they go to jail!”
In contrast to Edelstein and Sharansky, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in sober tones about leadership, stating that “true leadership is to recognize reality and know how to address it.”
The audience grew extraordinarily quiet, seeming to recognize the truth of his words.
We have come to a point where most of this usually fractious country stands behind the decisions of our prime minister. In a newly released survey, 63 percent of Israelis agree peace talks should end now that the Palestine Authority has signed a pact with their Hamas terrorist brothers rather than make any compromise with Israel, which would require the PA’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Interestingly, Netanyahu employed a bit of political correctness to ensure that Israel would not cave to the Palestinians’ unrealistic demands. He was so cute in making Tzipi Livni justice minister (she needed the post for her political survival) as well as the government’s representative in negotiations with the PA – while positioning one of his loyalists behind her, looking over her shoulder to prevent her from offering unilateral concessions.
In the end it was Livni herself who would have to declare the peace talks dead. What a perfect ending!
This issue of The Jewish Press arrives on newsstands on Pesach Sheini, which, according to chassidic teaching, is the holiday of the second chance – or, better said, the celebration of a new beginning.
For Netanyahu this means, to use his own words, recognizing reality and knowing how to address it.
I’m thrilled that there are people who are right now reading our paper, and maybe even this article, on airplanes flying to Israel. Perhaps many of them are coming to Meron for Lag B’Omer, and maybe some of them will be bringing kinderlach for their first haircut in Meron.
The fact is, they’ll be arriving in an Israel that faces a new reality, and our prime minister needs to address it.
Political correctness has lost its currency. Putin proved it with his malicious destabilization of Ukraine, shortly after he played “peacemaker” during the crisis in Syria, which only allowed Syrian leaders to again use chemical weapons on their own people.
Obama proved it when, commenting on the limited legalization of marijuana in Colorado, he said with a chuckle, “I do hope it doesn’t lead to a whole lot of paranoid people who think that the federal government is…listening to their phone calls” – when he knows that we know that it in fact does.
And the Palestinians have abandoned political correctness by signing certificates that pronounced them the winners even before the contest (in this case, sincere negotiations).