Friday, May 16, 2008

The First ‘Jewish’ President

Words uttered at the moment of the establishment of the state of Israel:

"For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words."

Was it Rav Kook who utter these words? No. It was former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. That’s right. This is what she said. How do I know? It is part of the text of a speech given in the Kenesset yesterday by President George W. Bush.

No, I’m not saying in any way that President Bush is to Jews what President Clinton is (or was) to blacks. Until the recent flap over comments made by the former President while campaigning for his wife, that was how he was thought of. The Black community saw his empathy for them as essentially the same as if he were black himslef. He truly felt their pain. Or so they thought.

While the same cannot be said of President Bush about his being the first ‘Jewish’ President - with his remarks in the Kenesset yesterday he comes about as close to that as anyone. (Although the eulogy from President Clinton for Itzhak Rabin comes close.)

It is more important, however, to see how each political candidate perceived and reacted to President Bush’s speech yesterday. It would not be a bad way to decide who to vote for in the next election if your main concern is Klal Yisroel.

As I have said in the past there are very important issues aside form Israel that impact on our own lives everyday in a more immediate way. Like the horrible state of the economy. This cannot be denied. And it should influence our vote. But I have yet to see any candidate address this issue with a plan that would solve that problem. Just a lot of platitudes about tax cuts (Republicans) or improving the lives of the middle class (Democrats). Neither party says how they will fix the economy.

But as I have also said, for me this election is about my people. That means Jews here and in Israel. That is the number one issue for me. And the second most important issue for everyone should be about peace and security for the United States. Because without that, our financial condition means nothing.

If one gauges support of Israel by the speech given yesterday there has been no greater supporter of Israel than the President.

He understands that talking to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is a bad idea. Yet Barack Obama has said that is one of the first things he’s going to do as President. His reason is that one must talk to your enemy because that is the one you want to make peace with. That’s what Neville Chamberlain thought when he spoke to Hitler prior to world war two. He thought he was achieving ‘peace in our time’ by giving Hitler what he wanted at the time. That has since been correctly labeled ‘appeasement’. We saw the results of that. It was a little thing called the holocaust.

John McCain on the other hand had it exactly right. His reaction was the following:

“It is a serious error on the part of Senator Obama that shows naiveté and inexperience and lack of judgment to say that he wants to sit down across the table from an individual who leads a country who says that Israel is a stinking corpse, that is dedicated to the extinction of Israel. My question is what does he want to talk about?”

In my view the situation in Israel seems almost unsolvable. No policy by either candidate will stop Islamic extremists from trying to achieve their goals of replacing Israel with an Islamic state in all of Palestine. Obama wants more Clintonesque type of diplomacy. It didn’t work when he tried it. It’s not going to work any better now when Hamas and Hezbollah have even more power than they did then. So in my view we need to ‘stay the course’. We need a President who understands the true dynamic of implacable Islamic fundamentalist absolutism at any cost. To that end Senator McCain’s views are far more realistic than Senator Obama’s.

It’s too bad, really. I like Senator Obama. His charisma works on me too. He is young. He is bright. He is honorable. He is a good and decent man that would indeed bring a fresh and needed new perspective to the office of the Presidency. But his would be the wrong perspective for Israel.

As it would for the economy. I have never felt that a socialist type redistribution of the wealth (tax cuts targeted to the middle class) is the way to go. I believe that personal success should not be penalized as that is a disincentive to production of goods and services - which has a negative impact on the consumer, on jobs, and on the GDP. But even if his ideas would work to improve the economy, Israel and the Jewish people come first to me. As does peace and security in the US.

The man I want to see at the top is the man who agrees with President Bush’s speech to the Kenesset, not the one who criticized it. God bless President Bush. This is how he ended his speech:

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on America to stand at its side. May God bless Israel.