Daily Alert

16 June 2009

American Jews: Obama or Torah?


I am not one to quote Shmuley Boteach. I am less than enamored with his interest in becoming the Jewish icon to the goyim. But he is dead on the money in his Jpost column The coming storm: Obama and American Jewry.

APRPEH's last post concerning Jeremiah Wright and his message to B. Hussein Obama and subsequently to anyone else who was paying attention, drew a conclusion that Wright (who knows Obama as well, if not better than most people) seemed to be surprised and disappointed that Barry was concealing his true self. This conclusion should be in mind to read the remainder in context.

Boteach seems to expect that the organized Jewish community will have to make a choice between its insatiable appetite for supporting democrats and liberals and its Torah based commitment to defend the very soil of Eretz HaKodesh and the blood of Israel as this administration and its policies of foisting an a non-peace agreement on Israel are played out.

Many Jewish liberals are liberal on everything but Israel's security. This group is further broken down into full fledged Israel hawks to those who mistakenly believe that a 2 state solution will bring peace in our time but have little to no understanding that the 2 state solution has become the coat-rack to hang hopes of an eventual 1 state solution where arabians come to the land in mass numbers and overwhelm the rightful Jewish settlers, (yes all Jews are "evil" settlers in the land of Israel since it was none other than G-d, 'May His Name be Blessed' who settled Jews in this land) and set the world back further from the time of Moshiach. In a more physical sense, the emergence of a unified state arising from what was Israel sets back the path to a just world birthing yet another backwards arabian country.

The knowledge that B. Hussein and his antiJew friends cannot be successful in dragging Israel into the sewer of perpetual strife brought own by indefensible borders and hordes of barbarians flooding through the gates of civilized and modern Israel is brought down in the first Rashi of Chumash, go and learn it. This same theme is relevant to this week's parasha (chutz l'aretz) Shlach.

This is the first commentary in my weekly study of the parashah in Vedibarta Bam - Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky


"Send forth men, if you please, and let them spy out the Land of Canaan that I am giving to the Children of Israel." (13:2)

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to mention the name of the land and the fact that Hashem is giving it to the Jewish people?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Sanhedrin 91a) relates that the people of Canaan once took the Jewish people to court before Alexander the Great. They demanded that Eretz Yisrael be returned to them because it was originally owned by their ancestor Canaan. Gevihah ben Pesisa argued that Canaan was the son of Cham and was cursed by Noach to be a servant to his brothers, Shem and Yafet. According to halachah (Pesachim 88b), whatever a slave acquires belongs to his master. Thus, the Canaanites had absolutely no claim to the land, and through their ancestor Shem, the Jews were the rightful owners. The plaintiffs were dumbfounded and ran away leaving their fields and vineyards to the Jewish people.

In the beginning of Bereishit, Rashi explains that Torah starts with the narrative of creation because if the world accuses the Jews of illegally taking away Eretz Yisrael, they can respond, "Hashem created the entire world and it belongs to Him. With His will He took it away from them and gave it to us."

In preparation for the Jewish people's first encounter with Eretz Yisrael, Hashem emphasized: "This is the land of Canaan, which according to halachah belongs to the Jewish people since its original owner Cham became a slave to your ancestor Shem. Moreover, it is the land that 'I am giving to the Children of Israel' and as Master of the world I have the right to take it from whomever I want and give it to whomever I wish."


One could easily conclude from these comments that any Jew who supports the idea of any other nation having any property rights in Eretz Hakodesh is in simple and plain violation of the Torah and thus the will of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Would it be too much to ask Rahm Emanuel to learn this Torah with Barry on Shabbos?

This brings us to Bibi Netanyahu and his Bar-Ilan speech. I have much sympathy for Bibi and do not envy the difficulty of the task before him. Many of the most faithful to the land of Israel have been critical of Bibi (seemingly justifiable) for words which "superficially" call for a Pali state. One must always point a wary eye at Bibi. He can be unpredictable at times and all too predictable other times. After all, this is the same Bibi who would not meet with Arafat either. Don't judge him by what he says.

But this time Bibi is the best equipped to walk the tightrope of Israel's security interests on one side and meeting US benchmarks without actually following through on any of them on the other.

I see it like this. Bibi basically needs to successfully manage this non-process-process for 2 years until the mid-term elections. By that time, either enough pro-Israel, Republican Congressmen will be elected that Obama will have too much on his plate to worry any further about peace-legacy building or his own pre-election campaign will advise him to lay off this issue for a variety of policy and political purposes.

Bibi has laid the ground work quite nicely for arabian non-compliance with his pre-requisites. On this point, I refer the reader to the second half of the second hour of the Fred Thompson show of 15 June (download). Fred lays out the Bibi case better than I. While I continue to hope that the land of Israel loyalists keep up the pressure on the PM to keep him sort of honest, I also am somewhat confident knowing that Bibi is doing what PM's of Israel always do intentionally or unintentionally which is to give the arabians enough rope to hang themselves.

The hollering from the arabian world is a collective cry of foul. Bibi told the truth about Jewish heritage and cast dispersion on the arabian myth of victim hood at the hands of the evil Zionists. Bibi challenged the phony conventional wisdom which the arabians have been spreading for decades, calling Jews land grabbers and thieves (when in reality it is Ishmael who is the thief) and burst the Obama balloon (see Two Campaigns, Two Candidates, One Israel)of Israel existing merely as a refuge foist into the heart of arabia after World War II because the arabians were powerless victims of colonialism and could not prevent her establishment. For these achievements, Bibi deserves praise. American liberal-loving Jewry would do well to read Bibi's remarks. American Jews should use this opportunity to tell the truth about Israel even if it means not hiding behind DNC membership cards, and even if it means no longer nodding their heads approvingly to the rhythm of the false messiah at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



The coming storm: Obama and American Jewry - Shmuley Boteach, THE JERUSALEM POST, Jun. 15, 2009

There's a storm coming. It will pit a well-organized community of substantial resources but also substantial insecurity - particularly when it comes to charges of dual loyalty - against a popular president of considerable eloquence but misguided policies that identify Israeli settlements as the main obstacle to Middle East peace. The inevitable clash will separate sunshine Jewish patriots who back Israel when convenient against those who stand with Israel even when it means losing their invitation to the White House Hanukka party.

The bogus issue of settlements is already being swallowed whole by many well-meaning Jews. Last week Dan Fleshler, a leader of Americans for Peace Now, wrote in the New Jersey Jewish Standard that Obama has no choice but to pressure Israel because "it is fruitless for a well-armed, occupying power to negotiate the terms of a viable settlement with an almost defenseless occupied people unless a third party mediates and presses both sides."

In reading Fleshler one wonders whether he has been himself occupied with building a settlement on the moon with no knowledge of events on Earth. Is he seriously suggesting that the thousands of Katyusha rockets and nonstop suicide bombers that have killed more than a thousand Israelis (the equivalent of 30,000 dead Americans) have come from a "defenseless" foe? Would Fleshler likewise argue that the US ought to have pressure from, say, Russia or China to make peace with the terrorists in Afghanistan, seeing that America now represents a "well-armed, occupying power" against the comparatively defenseless Taliban? Or is it only Israel that is forbidden from defending itself.

Sorry Mr. Fleshler, but Jewish values do not dictate that the only moral Jew is a dead one who refuses to fight in the face of a 60-year terror onslaught.

Any return to the 1967 borders, which is what Obama's attack on the settlements represents, is simply suicide for Israel. The borders are utterly indefensible. The Arabs know it, which is why they press for it. Had Israel not dismantled its settlements in Gush Katif, Gaza would not have become a terrorist state ruled by Hamas, an organization that kills even more Palestinians than it does Israelis.

BUT MISGUIDED Jewish apologists aside, are the rest of us prepared to speak up against the policies of the administration? By this I do not mean the drunken racist rants of the American Jewish hooligans who got attention disgracing themselves on YouTube last week; their bigoted drivel against our democratically elected president represents an abomination to Judaism. I have already written several columns lamenting how a small minority of the large and praiseworthy contingent of Jewish youth who go to Israel from the US after high school ostensibly to study in yeshivot end up instead hanging out on Rehov Ben Yehuda making asses of themselves. That they have no proper supervision and that they are allowed to go through their year in a drunken stupor is an outrage that must be finally addressed by the institutions which host them.

Rather, I mean courageous and intelligent criticism that accepts the president's praiseworthy efforts in making peace but decries his soft posture on tyranny when he bows to an Arab potentate who oppresses women and warmly embraces the dictator of Venezuela.

Asher Lopatin was one of the first students I met at Oxford and the university's first Orthodox Rhodes scholar. Today he is the successful rabbi of one of Chicago's most youthful congregations. He is also Rahm Emanuel's rabbi. But that did not stop him from criticizing the White House chief of staff in Newsweek for his unfair pressure on Israel. Lopatin could easily have basked in the aura of being rabbi to one of the most influential men in the world. Instead, he spoke truth to power.

In promoting the new translation of his Hebrew prayer book, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks constantly reminds us that he studies Bible with the prime minister of the United Kingdom. That's nice. But a few years ago Sacks spoke out publicly against Israel, telling London's Guardian newspaper, "There are things that happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew."

Sacks is a brilliant man but with a long history of pandering to whatever audience he happens to be addressing. He would do well to remember the admonishment of Mordechai to Esther on the responsibility of being close to political power: "If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place."

But while Europe and the UK are significant, the main battle lines will be here in the US and now is the time for American Jewry to organize. From schools to universities to synagogues and JCCs, we must make it clear that when 78 percent of Jews voted for Obama and filled his campaign coffers with cash it was not in the expectation of biased policies against Israel. We're upset, disappointed and we won't take it. We'll march in the streets, write op-eds and blogs, and publish ads making it clear that America should be standing with the Middle East's only democracy and America's most reliable ally.

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, our president undermines his moral authority when he pledges that henceforth America will "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," but then only applies that pledge to Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela, but not to Israel.

Last year, right after Obama captured the democratic nomination, I received a phone call from his campaign asking if I would serve as one of the national chairs of "Rabbis for Obama." It was a tempting offer. I was moved by the candidate's remarkable personal story, his iron discipline, his soaring oratory and, most of all, the fact that his victory would be the culmination of my hero Martin Luther King's dream of a man being judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. In the end I declined because I feared that Obama would draw a moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians and pressure the former to appease the latter. But even I never suspected that it would happen so quickly and so lopsidedly.

The writer is the founder of This World: The Values Network. His upcoming book is The Blessing of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger

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