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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: The Lockerbie Bombing Hall of Shame

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, is finally roasting in hell after dying peacefully in his bed in Libya, surrounded by family and friends, rather than in the cell to which he was condemned for murdering 270 innocent people on Pan Am 103 in December, 1988. But even with the two principal murderers of these innocents – Kaddafi and Megrahi – now gone, what remains is a Lockerbie hall of shame of those who were either collaborators or looked the other way at Libyan tyranny. A day of reckoning awaits.

Foremost among them is the Scottish authorities who assured us three years ago that Megrahi was at death’s door but who ironically outlived Kaddafi himself. All documents detailing the secret deals that were done for the terrorist’s release must see the light of day so we can know whether the sacred memory of 270 victims was sold so that British oil companies like BP could benefit. We also need to know which British officials negotiated his release. Prime Minister David Cameron himself condemned “‘the appalling dodgy dealings with Libya under the last [British] government.”

In our own town of Englewood, New Jersey, where the Libyans own an official residence immediately next door to me and which has been tax-exempt for nearly three decades, millions were spent to ready the derelict embassy for Kaddafi’s use in the summer and autumn of 2009, just months after the tyrant accorded Megrahi a hero’s welcome in Tripoli. Were permits granted too readily to allow the construction at such a hasty pace?

I have a video of the time I confronted the contractors working on Kaddafi’s home, after they cut down my trees and removed my fence. City official Peter Abballe, who was in charge of Englewood’s Department of Building and Code Enforcement and was responsible for enforcing construction codes and inspecting residential and commercial properties and issuing certificates of occupancy, was present in the contractor’s trailer inside the Libyan compound. He intervenes and says the camera should be turned off. Abballe was later arrested in an FBI investigation on charges of official corruption having accepted payments in another case and was recently sentenced. Will the City of Englewood finally do an official investigation into its 2009 dealings with the Libyans?

The City of Englewood has played a particularly ignominious role in the Libyan affair. Even after I hosted a rally on my front lawn to ban Kaddafi from taking up residence in the home next door to me and even after Kaddafi began bombing his citizens in February, 2011, Englewood made absolutely no effort whatsoever to compel the Libyans to pay property taxes, thereby forcing the residents of Englewood to be complicit in supporting the evil regime by paying for things like the Libyan’s police protection and trash removal with local tax dollars. While previous mayor Michael Wildes joined me as an enthusiastic partner in opposing Kaddafi, his successor, Mayor Frank Huttle, broke repeated promises to challenge the Libyans and did nothing.

But while Mayor Huttle, who is now running for a second term unopposed, did not lift a finger against the Libyans, he did find cause, in the application my organization made to establish a Synagogue on my property in Englewood, to dismiss our right to be heard before Englewood’s Planning Board, which he chairs and whose members he appoints. Two days before our hearing this past January, our attorney received a bizarre phone call from Michael Kates — the Planning Board attorney hand-picked by Mayor Huttle — who told him that there would likely be a challenge to the jurisdiction of our application from a member of the board. He would give no further details of these behind-the-scenes maneuvers. Our attorney protested vigorously. The law was on our side. But sure enough on the night of the hearing — one that consumed thousands of dollars in preparation — Kates found a technicality so obtuse that arguably only he and our attorney could even understand it. Over a thirty-five year period no Englewood attorney could find a single technicality upon which to force Kaddafi to pay his taxes. But in a unanimous vote our Synagogue was denied even the right to be heard. Our stunned attorney told a local newspaper that the decision was political and “Where we go from here, I’m not sure.” You can watch the hearing, taped by one our congregants, and posted below.

Louis C.K. – Not a Jew

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

http://notajew-jew.com/?p=66

One of the main things I’ve learned about the differences between Jews and non-Jews (namely Christians) is that non-Jews place a great deal of importance on how you feel, what you believe, your intentions, your inner motivations for being good.  By contrast, according my friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Jews “care far less about what you believe.  What you do is more important.”

Shmuley writes in his book Renewal, “I know that for all my saying that I support the troops, I don’t actually do nearly enough.  Who supports the troops?  Those who enlist.  Those who volunteer.  Those who collect toys for soldiers’ children.  Those who organize fund raisers to support soldiers’ widows and widowers.  But the ones who weep while they watch the six o’clock news?  Their feelings are irrelevant…It is how we act, not how we feel, that matters.  It is not the thought that counts.”

A perfect contrast to this Jewish worldview comes from comedian Louis C.K., in his “Live at the Beacon Theater” video.  Here is how non-Jew Louis C.K. looks at soldiers – from the comfort of his first-class airline seat:

“Every time I see a soldier on a plane, I always think: ‘You know what?  I should give him my seat [in first class].  It would be the right thing to do, it would be easy to do, and it would mean a lot to him…I should trade with him.’  I never have, let me make that clear.  I’ve never done it once.  I’ve had sooo many opportunities.  I never even really seriously came close.  And here’s the worst part: I still just enjoy the fantasy – for myself to enjoy.  I was actually proud of myself…for having thought of it!  I was proud!  ‘Oh, I am such a sweet man.  That is so nice of me!  To think of doing that, and then totally never do it.’”

Not a Jew.

But perhaps there’s a little Jew inside of Louis C.K., after all.  Because, when his video generated over a million dollars in downloads in just its first 12 days online, he issued a statement “to set an example of what you can do if you all of a sudden have a million dollars that people just gave to you directly because you told jokes.”

He gave $250k to the people who produced the video and built the web site to sell it.  Another $250k went to his staff for “a big fat bonus.”  $280k went to five different charities (including Kiva, which I discovered because of him – thank you Louis C.K.!).  In total, he gave away 78% of his million dollars, which is 7.8 times more Jewish of him than a Jew who tithes 10%.

“That leaves me with 220k for myself,” Louis wrote.  “I never viewed money as being ‘my money’ I always saw it as ‘The money.’  It’s a resource.  If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.”

I guess that’s another difference between Jews and non-Jews.  If I made a million dollars in 12 days, and then gave 78% of it away, I would have no problem viewing the remaining 22% as “my money.”

If that makes me a Jew, so be it.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Time Magazine on Attachment Parenting

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Time magazine’s cover story about attachment parenting has garnered a great deal of attention. Clearly, the shock value of showing an attractive young mother breast-feeding a child nearly four years of age was enough to excite worldwide conversation. No doubt this was their intention, and in that sense, it worked. The story inside focused on a controversial theory put forward by Dr. William Sears about attachment parenting. In a nutshell, attachment parenting argues that modern Western parents have forgotten how to parent naturally. His theory includes the hypothesis that nature dictates that we can never be too close to our children: we ought to carry them in a sling attached to our body as much as possible; they ought to sleep in our bed almost constantly; we should never allow them to cry for fear of damaging them psychologically with abandonment issues; we ought to breast-feed them until they are at least toddlers and generally remove any kind of division or separation between us and our babies. Dr. Sears’s theories were put forward in a mega best-selling book called The Baby Book.

But, respectfully, I have significant questions about the theory. First, there is the issue of the marriage itself. I have counseled countless married couples, and I have frequently seen how, when a child is born, the marriage can potentially be disrupted. A child is supposed to enrich and further develop a family. We parents dare not raise children in a manner that undermines our own marriages. That is not good for husbands and wives and it’s also not good for children. A husband should not feel that he has lost his wife to their baby. A husband should not find reason to become jealous of his own child. But just imagine the feeling of any husband who has become a new father, seeing his wife now breast-feeding the baby for most of the day, his marital bed – previously the domain of only him and his wife – now shared with the child, and his wife responding to each and every cry of their new baby with comforting cuddles and loving embraces. That husband might just feel that the child has usurped his place.

To be sure, many will say that a husband who has this feeling is being selfish and immature. He should get over it, as the interests of the child come first. And yes, we can criticize this husband as being infantile. How could any father be jealous of their children?

But I counsel couples, and it happens. And while a man must be mature enough to resist this feeling, it’s also true that even after having children our marriages should flourish and not falter.

I would appreciate if the advocates of attachment parenting please address my concern which I raise for the benefit of marriage.

And then there is the issue of intimacy. How is it possible for married couples to have a passionate love life with children in the marital bed? Don’t parents need to have their own private space where they are husband-and-wife and not just mom and dad? A Harvard University study shows that the sex life of a couple often diminishes by 74% in the first year after a baby is born. I can imagine that for those parents practicing attachment parenting and allowing their children to sleep in the marital bed on a nightly basis, that percentage would probably be even higher. While I may be wrong, I can imagine that their intimate life might disappear almost entirely. In the Jewish religion it is regarded as inappropriate for a couple to be intimate when a child is with his or her parents in the marital bed. How could it possibly be positive for a marriage or for a child to have parents growing less intimate as a result of the birth of baby?

There are, of course, responses to each of these challenges offered by the proponents of attachment parenting, which has been brought to my attention by my friend Donna Tabas. Regarding nutrition, they remind us that infants under the age of six months who are exclusively breastfed need unlimited access to the breast to optimize the mother/infant breastfeeding diad to provide optimal milk supplies, especially during growth spurts. They point out that prolonged nursing and child-led weaning which extends nursing into and even through toddlerhood is, they argue, biologically normal, as evidenced by the average weaning ages worldwide, and that it is only Western modern society that has redefined weaning in the first year as socially normal.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: What If Government Recognized Civil Unions, Left Marriage to Religion?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Could a governmental retreat from “marriage” finally heal the deep schism that has divided and immobilized this country by an intractable values volley over gay relationships?

As many of you have read, since running for Congress I have emphasized that I want to move away from the great social-sexual battles that this country has engaged in over the past forty-odd years, which – in my opinion – has served to distract us from the real values challenges that confront us. The greatest threat to the future of the American family is not gay marriage but rather divorce. However, because we obsess over gay marriage, we rarely ever hear the word divorce being uttered by political leaders. Now, with President Obama coming out to support gay marriage and Mitt Romney continuing to assert his opposition to gay marriage by continuing to define marriage as a union that can only take place between one man and one woman, I propose a truce.

What if government withdrew from the marriage business altogether, and provided only Civil Unions to two consenting adults wishing to unify their lives, leaving the spirituality of the union to other entities to recognize, name, sanctify, and define? These Civil Unions would equally assure that all couples receive all the legal entitlements that have previously been enjoyed by those who have been “married,” such as hospital visitation rights and end-of life decisions, insurance benefits,  and tax benefits. After all, what business does the government have entering a church, synagogue or mosque to legitimize or define the spiritual nature of a person’s marriage? We are supposed to have separation of church and state in America.

If the couple wishes to have their marriage consecrated to a more spiritual purpose, (e.g. “’til death do us part”, “for all eternity,”  “in the name of Jesus Christ,” “according to the laws of Moses and Israel,”  “in sickness and in health,” fidelity, loyalty etc.) they will choose to have a religious ceremony in addition to the civil ceremony. This additional ceremony would extend beyond just having legal rights conferred by Civil Unions, and would reflect the couple’s individual spiritual or religious convictions. They would go before a rabbi, a priest, a minister, or any other spiritual leader of their choice for a religious ceremony. The ceremony, and in fact the semantic definition of their union, would be defined by and consistent with that religious groups’ values.

This proposal might just allow nearly everyone to win, a ”One Size Fits All”  solution to the gay marriage narrative that has hijacked the political landscape, created ever deepening divides in the nation, and has served to be only destructive and distracting from far greater social values issues facing this country. The benefits to this proposal are, first and foremost, that no one would receive either preferential treatment or any discrimination when it comes to the government’s recognition of the legal rights of the union of any couple. Furthermore, there would be no need to redefine marriage, as each group would have the authority to define or expand the meaning of their union according to their particular religious tradition. This solution would reduce the role of government, which should not be involved in religious choices. People who want to have a spiritual component to their civil union can have whatever ceremony they desire within whatever religious context they choose, and name the union in spiritual terminology that best speaks to their religious convictions.

Far from harming religion, I believe that this change would even promote non-involved, non-religious people to entertain the concept of how religion can enhance and enrich one’s life, and be an invitation to engage in further religious learning, traditions, communities, and beliefs. I think that when people are forced to confront the choice of wanting merely a government-recognized civil union before a Justice of the Peace which addresses only  legal status issues, or the opportunity to imbue their union with a deeper, more eternal, spiritual dimension,  they would see the benefit of having something with greater holiness impact their union. And they would be forced to confront the difference between a mere legal synthesis versus the a spiritual orchestration of two haves into one whole. In other words, once they are forced to start thinking about their “vows” they might just drift further into faith and religion.

The bottom line with this proposal is that we would remove the offense of those who can marry and those who cannot, the government would retreat further from our lives, and one of the great battles that have raged in America could be put behind us so that we can focus, finally, on curbing divorce, keeping husbands and wives together, and keeping kids out of custody battles rather than just always fighting about gay marriage.

I recognize that for those who oppose gay civil unions this would still not be a solution. However, I vehemently disagree with their opposition.  Whom does it bother to have gay couples granted the decency to visit each other in hospital during serious illness, making end-of-life decisions, and receiving tax benefits as a couple? Is it not worthwhile to put behind us the questions of dual insurance coverage in order to have this terribly divisive issue finally settled? By putting the gay marriage debate behind us we can finally focus on the real problem: straight people do not seem to either want to marry, and once they get married they find it difficult to remain married.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: The Revolting Lie that Michael Jackson was a Nazi Sympathizer

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

All a man has in this world is his good name. The book of Ecclesiastes says that a good name is better than fine oil. Our reputations determine what others think of our character. We have a right, therefore, to defend our name against scurrilous and slanderous attack. When those we know cannot defend themselves, we must stand up and speak out on their behalf.

I generally try to avoid the gossip that is so often said and writing about Michael Jackson. Libraries of nonsense have been written about him, and now that he is tragically no longer alive, he cannot defend himself. In general I see no point in highlighting slanderous material about him by responding to it.

But several headlines recently caught my attention when I heard that a man who claims to have worked as Michael’s bodyguard made the incredulous charge that Michael was a Nazi sympathizer. This kind of viciousness should usually not be indulged because it just gives it more credibility for the retelling. But the slander against Michael’s name in this instance is so great that it deserves to be rebutted.

As is well known, I was Michael’s Rabbi for two years. During that time, we discussed every subject under the sun. A great deal of it was captured in the conversations we recorded specifically for publication in the books that became The Michael Jackson Tapes and its follow up, Honoring the Child Spirit. In one of those conversations, Michael spoke of Hitler’s mesmerizing oratorical skills. He said that oratory is in many ways one of the most effective tools that evil uses to manipulate others and thereby gain power. Michael argued that Hitler used many of the same techniques that showbiz performers use today in order to manipulate audiences and steer them toward evil deed. I was disheartened when the book was first published to see some newspapers highlight these comments of Michael completely out of context and misrepresent him as someone who could have admired Hitler. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Michael detested and despised anyone who would do harm to another human being, especially the Nazis who gassed 6 million Jews, one and a half million of whom were children. Michael loathed everything Hitler stood for. As I have consistently stated, Michael was a great friend of the Jewish people. He celebrated his relationship with the Jewish community and never shied from demonstrating how much he learned from Judaism through our conversations and friendship.

In one of our first meetings I gave him a mezuzah as a gift, which consists of a small scroll from the Torah that is affixed to the doorpost. I did not give it to him with the intention that he put it on his door as his was not a Jewish home. Nevertheless, Michael insisted that we put it on the front door of his rented home in Manhattan. A few weeks later he came with me to the Carlebach Synagogue in Manhattan one of the happiest days of the Jewish calendar, Shemini Atzeret, and told me later, as part of The Michael Jackson Tapes, that it was the happiest night of his life.

As the boy superstar of the Jackson 5, Michael had a Jewish tutor who traveled with him and helped to raise him whose name was Rose Fine. Michael spoke of her in The Michael Jackson Tapes with great affection and revealed to me that he and Janet covered many of his former tutor’s expenses as she aged. In one of the conversations he says that as the group’s plane landed in Germany, Mrs. Fine became agitated. Michael asked her why and she shared with him the horrors of the holocaust. He was just a boy and it was the first time he had heard of the wholesale slaughter or Europe’s Jews.

Later, I would take Michael to meet and converse with my dear friend, Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel – arguably the greatest living Jewish personality – who further shared with him the horrors of the holocaust and the importance of reconciliation and love. Prof. Wiesel showed Michael boundless acceptance and affection, which Michael warmly reciprocated.

Michael’s strong feelings for the Jewish community meant he was even prepared to suffer professionally for his love of Israel and the Jewish people. It is well-known that in 1993 Michael went to Israel on his Dangerous Tour where he performed for 160,000 fans in Tel Aviv. My dear friend Frank Cascio, later to become Michael’s manager, accompanied him and he told me how much Michael loved being in the holy land. Less well known, however, is the following story.

In late 2000, a Jewish philanthropist called me and told me that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was coming to his home that night for a reception. He said it would be good for Israel if Michael would come there and meet with the Prime Minister. I turned to Michael, in the presence of some of his professional staff, and asked him if he would like to meet the Israeli Prime Minister. Michael immediately jumped at the opportunity and told me he would love to do so. However, the people who surrounded him at the time mentioned that it might not be a good idea. They said that Sharon was hated in many parts of world, especially in Arab nations. A photograph of Michael with Ariel Sharon could spark a significant backlash including a boycott of Michael’s albums and music. Michael immediately dismissed their concerns and said that he felt very excited to meet the Prime Minister. A few minutes later we embarked in Michael’s van and crossed town to the meeting. The pictures of Michael greeting Prime Minister Sharon, along with me and our dear mutual friend Uri Geller, appeared throughout the world. Michael’s professional staff were correct. The very next day websites called for a boycott of Michael’s music saying that he supported Israel’s “hated” leader. However, Michael did not care. Michael loved Israel and the Jewish people and he was thrilled to meet someone of Prime Minister Sharon’s stature.

Obama’s Unseemly End-Zone Dance

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

What a difference a year makes. Last year I praised President Obama for not wanting to “spike the football” by releasing gruesome death photos of Osama bin Laden. But this year, forget spiking the football – the president is doing an end-zone dance.

The Bible says that when someone incurs the death penalty and his body is hanged on a tree as an example to others, he still must be buried the same day. We’re not to desecrate the body of even the most vicious killer because God created humans in His image. So America had no need to put out pictures of bin Laden missing a part of his cranium. The president last year stood by this and it was impressive.

And Proverbs 24 expressly forbids celebrating the death of our enemies. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” We fight bad guys like bin Laden because we have an obligation to protect the innocent by resisting the wicked. But we don’t gloat in it. War should never be about winning glory but protecting innocent life.

The obligation to protect the weak and punish their butchers is famously conveyed in Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,” and again in Psalm 82, “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Osama bin Laden was evil personified. We had a moral obligation to abhor him, as the Bible makes clear in Amos: “Hate the evil and love the good.” But while feelings of revulsion were justified, feelings of elation at his demise were not. This too President Obama understood last year and I praised him for it.

But all that has changed with his current victory dance.

We’re in an election year. I get it. But that doesn’t mean our morals should change. What was particularly strange was the president’s inviting NBC TV into the Situation Room, which had never before been penetrated by network cameras. There he spoke about how tough his decision had been to send in the SEALs to get bin Laden.

I am a huge fan of the mostly moral foreign policy of George W. Bush which largely held tyrants accountable for slaughtering their people. I contrast this with Obama’s lack of response after Ahmadinejad killed his own people; his leading from behind on Libya (even though in the end he did the right thing); his lack of leadership in the Arab Spring; and his failure to do much of anything in Syria.

But even Bush stumbled when he prematurely plastered “Mission Accomplished” on an aircraft carrier in May 2003. The same was true when Bush used words like “dead or alive” about bin Laden. The pursuit of glory in battle nearly always ends badly.

The American way is not to gloat in war. It was summed up by Colin Powell in a brilliant speech at the MTV Global Discussion in February 2002: “Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector. We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II…. And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? No…. We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul. And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.”

This uniquely humble American ethos stems largely from Judeo-Christian ethics. We Jews have suffered more than most. But we stubbornly refuse to celebrate the demise of our enemies or any military triumph. King David is Judaism’s most famous warrior. Yet David’s request to build the Holy Temple was expressly denied by God because he had taken life, even in the defense of life: “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood’ ” (1 Chronicles 28).

Indeed, the great king was celebrated by generations of Jews not for dispatching enemy combatants but for his beautiful Psalms accompanied by harp and lyre.

Chanukah celebrates the miraculous military victory of the Maccabees over the Assyrian Greeks in the second century BCE. But it was the miracle of the lights of the menorah the Jews chose to emphasize rather than the necessary slaughter of enemy soldiers in self-defense.

Even on Passover, as we recite the Ten Plagues that culminated in the killing of the Egyptian firstborn, we pour wine out of our glasses so as not to revel in the demise of our enemies.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: President Obama Does a Bin Laden End Zone Dance

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

What a difference one year makes. Last year I praised President Obama for not wanting to ‘spike the football’ by releasing gruesome death photos of Osama bin Laden. But this year, forget spiking the football. The President is doing an end-zone dance.

The Bible says that when someone incurs the death penalty, and his body is hung on a tree as an example to others, he still must be buried the same day. We’re not to desecrate the body of even the most vicious killer because God created humans in His image. So America had no need to put out pictures with Osama missing a part of his cranium. The President last year stood by this and it was impressive.

And as far as gloating in the demise of our foes is concerned, Proverbs 24 expressly forbids celebrating the death of our enemies. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” We fight bad guys like bin Laden because we have an obligation to protect the innocent by resisting the wicked. But we don’t gloat in it. War should never be about winning glory but protecting innocent life.

The obligation to protect the weak and punish their butchers is famously conveyed in Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,” and again in Psalm 82, “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Osama bin Laden was evil personified. We had a moral obligation to abhor him, as the Bible makes clear in Amos, “Hate the evil and love the good.” But while feelings of revulsion were justified, feelings of elation at his demise were not. This too President Obama understood last year and I praised him for it.

But all that has changed with his current victory dance.

Well, we’re in an election year. I get it. But that doesn’t mean our morals should change. What was particularly strange was the President inviting NBC TV into the Situation Room, which had never before been penetrated by network cameras because it’s supposed to be the most classified and off-limits place in the country. There he spoke about how tough his decision had been to send in the SEALs to get the Al Qaida head.

Much has been made of the difference in the speeches given by President Bush when the US captured Saddam Hussein versus President Obama’s speech about Bin Laden, with the former focusing on the bravery of the troops and the latter seemingly focusing on his own role in Bin Laden’s killing. But I’m not here to be petty and parse words, and in any event actions are much more important than speeches. The President last year did not gloat about killing Bin Laden and he deserved praise, just as his complete about face this year, in order to win votes, deserves to be criticized.

I am a huge fan of the mostly moral foreign policy of George W. Bush which largely held tyrants accountable for slaughtering their people. I contrast this with President Obama’s lack of response in Iran after Ahmadinejad killed his people, leading from behind on Libya (even though in the end he did the right thing), lack of leadership in the Arab spring, and failure to do much of anything in Syria.

But even President Bush stumbled when he plastered ‘Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier and flew in to do a tailhook landing in May, 2003. At the time I honestly said to myself that this would work out poorly. The same was true in Bush using words like ‘Dead or Alive’ about Bin Laden. Glory in battle nearly always ends badly.

The American way is not to gloat in war. It was summed up by Colin Powell in a brilliant speech at the MTV Global Discussion on 14 February 2002: “Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector. We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II… All in the interest of preserving the rights of people. 
And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us? No…. We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul. And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.”

This uniquely humble American ethos stems largely from Judeo-Christian ethics. We Jews have suffered more than most. But we stubbornly refuse to celebrate the demise of our enemies or any military triumph. King David is Judaism’s most famous warrior. Yet, rather than praising his slaying of Jewish foes, David’s request to build the Holy Temple was expressly denied by God because he had taken life, even in the defense of life. “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.” (1 Chronicles 28) Indeed, the great king was celebrated by generations of Jews not for dispatching enemy combatants but for beautiful Psalms accompanied by harp and lyre.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/president-obama-does-a-bin-laden-end-zone-dance/2012/05/08/

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