The Tundra Tabloids published a post on Obama’s Passover speech a few days ago, but it deserves returning to. The TT first highlights Barry Rubin’s observations, and then gives TINSC further opportunity to add to his previous statements on the same subject, available under the fold. KGS
Obama’s Passover Message Misses The Message of Passover
By Barry Rubin
“The story of Passover…instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails. This year that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Ironically, of course, Israelis and Jews who support that country generally see that transformation as being in a negative direction from their standpoint and the forces being liberated involving a good deal of anti-Jewish ones.
I think the greater problem here is the endless universalizing of specifically Jewish experiences that are never seen as sufficient in their own right, as well as the basic opportunism of making Passover into an event backing Obama Administration policy.
But a peculiar personal experience of mine has given this controversy a special meaning for me. Some years ago I attended a dinner in Washington that was one of those endless–and always futile–events bringing together Arabs and Israelis for “dialogue.” Since it was during the Passover table, the thoughtful hosts had placed matzo on the table.
One of the Egyptians, a relatively moderate diplomat who had built a whole second career in the peace process industry, said in an annoyed voice something like: “Isn’t this a Jewish holiday that celebrates a victory over the Egyptians?”
I had a fraction of a second in which I knew I had to think of the perfect answer. And it came to me. I replied, “That was during Jahiliyya times.” He nodded with understanding and the problem was solved.
The Jahiliyya era, for Muslims, was the time of pre-Islamic paganism and ignorance. In the Koran, the pharoah was a villain. So if it happened then he could see the “Egyptians” as having nothing to do with him and accept that the pharoah was a bad guy who deserved to be drowned in the sea.
Here’s the problem. When radical Islamists killed President Anwar al-Sadat, they said, “I shot the pharoah.” One of the reasons that Sadat was assassinated was because he made peace with Israel. Another reason was that he opposed making Egypt an Islamist state. Now that President Husni Mubarak has been overthrown, he’s referred to as the pharoah for reasons including those two.
An important lesson from Jewish experience–for those willing to heed it–is that change is not always good and that some things never change. But after all, the Jews were doing pretty well in ancient Egypt until there came a pharoah who knew not Joseph.
“Notice there is no acknowledgement of anti-Semitism and the Passover tradition that says: “In every generation there are those who sought to destroy us. The emphasis is on the Arabs and “peace” is something “between” Israel and the Arabs. No mention of the Arabs’ goal of destroying the JEWISH STATE.”
I was rather rushed this morning when I made those comments. Allow me to revise and extend my comments.
I feel alienated by this message. America’s “enduring commitment to Israel’s security” is mentioned gratuitously, but the REASON America has found it necessary to make that enduring commitment is conspicuously absent.
The Haggadah teaches us that the Egyptians and their leader were clearly the bad guys. While the Haggadah teaches us not to take pleasure in the suffering of the ancient Egyptians, it also clearly depicts them as defiant of Gd and the enemy of the Jews. President O’Bama’s message fails to acknowledge that. Nor does President O’Bama’s message acknowledge anti-Semitism in the Arab League nations as he seeks to deliver his message. Rather, the President uses our Jewish holiday to promote sympathy toward Arab anti-Semites without ever acknowledging the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the Arab League. In addition, the primary emphasis is not on Israel’s struggle to survive in an anti-Semitic Middle East. Rather, the President’s emphasis is on the Arabs’ revolt against their leaders. Nowhere does President O’Bama petition the Arabs to end their manifest policy of anti-Semitism in his “warmest wishes to those celebrating the sacred festival of Passover.
Passover is NOT about the Arabs. The events of the Jewish exodus from Egypt occurred over a thousand years before the birth of Mohamed. Passover is NOT about Arab/Muslim grievances against Arab League nations. It is certainly NOT about Arab grievances against the Jewish State; most of which are based on lies and overt hatred for Jews.
President O’Bama’s Passover message contains serious omissions. Passover is not about the Arabs or the “Middle East”. While we Jews wish the very best of freedom and prosperity for our Arab neighbors, we also know that their government institutions maintain a manifest policy of anti-Semitism; something Jews wish would cease and desist. This is the fundamental essence of the Jewish People’s prayer for peace. President O’Bama chose to omit that.
Maybe I’m not articulating myself completely. All I know is that given the ferocious hostility toward the Modern State of Israel, the Administration’s hostility toward the basic right of Jews to build homes on our ancestral land, and the prevalence of worldwide anti-Semitism, I found the President’s “warm wishes” sorely lacking.