By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"Eisav ran towards him and embraced him, and he fell on his neck and kissed him" [Bereishit 33:4]. "It is accepted halacha that Eisav hates Yaacov, but this teaches us that he felt pity at that moment and kissed him with all his heart" [Rashi].
"This teaches us that he did not come to kiss him ('lenashko') but rather to bite him ('lenashcho'). But Yaacov's neck became as hard as marble, and the evil one hurt his teeth. 'And they wept' – One wept for his neck, and the other wept for the damage to his teeth." [Bereishit Rabba 78].
"I heard from my mentor, my late grandfather, that the kiss is itself an act of biting, as is written, 'An enemy's kisses are excessive' [Mishlei 27:6]." [Sefat Emet, Vayishlach 5644].
Which friend of ours is a great hypocrite? You guessed it! The United States of America! This cannot be denied. It is true that this nation is our political friend, a support in terms of physical security, helps us with our budget, and is also the leader of the democratic world. I firmly believe that this friendship is based to a large extent on an honest approach, but that it has an even stronger element of self-interest and benefits, based on the Jewish vote in the presidential elections, and to curry favor with the Jewish lobby groups which have an influence on the government.
Certainly, open political disagreements are legitimate. The normal formulas for such disputes include such statements as the following: "A simple discussion between friends... Just like in the family..." Well, there are definitely a number of serious differences between Israeli policies and those of the State Department and the White House. We can list the two major issues: The nuclear energy agreement with Iran, and the demand to establish two sovereign states between the Jordan River and the Sea – one Palestinian (ethnically pure, at least in practice) and the other a Jewish nation which will have within it many Moslem and Palestinian inhabitants. This is an absurd political demand, aside from its being unrealistic and impossible to implement. However, this is not hypocrisy, it is after all an open demand that can be tied to various explanations.
Hypocrisy means to demand from the other side ethical or legal behavior which is regularly breached by the one who proposes it. For example, we can assume that if the Israeli police would treat criminal activity of dark-skinned immigrants with drawn guns like the American police do – we would be roundly scolded by the White House spokesman, presidential advisors, and preachers of ethics. There are many other examples of American hypocrisy, demanding from other countries what it refuses to do. A simple Google search will reveal many instances of this...
Our Brother Yehonatan
What has led me to discuss this matter today? You guessed it! Yehonatan Pollard, who was released a week ago. We can assume that during the past week, until this article is published, much material will appear with commentary and analysis about this semi-secret affair. The story of his capture and the details of the charges against him are hidden in a partial cloud. But even if the published reasons for his harsh treatment, which are accredited to American intelligence bodies, are all true, I can see no way to understand the refusal of a pardon by the political Presidents of the United States, and their "inability to interfere in legal matters" – while each and every one of them forced Israel to set free murderers and arch-terrorists who were prosecuted and convicted in the Israeli justice system.
This behavior is seen to be especially severe in view of the fact that Israel acknowledged that Pollard was an "Israeli agent" and granted him Israeli citizenship (in 1998, thirteen years after he was convicted). This changed the character of the discussion from a personal criminal matter to a negotiation between the two countries. During the years that Pollard was in prison, the United States released spies from Russia, Cuba, and more, and only Pollard languished in prison.
I cannot believe that the hypocritical refusal to release Pollard stemmed from a desire to keep him as a bargaining chip in relations with Israel, in order to extort concessions in the Palestinian realm. We have not seen any hint of using him in this way. Thus, all that remains is hypocrisy of the various Presidents of the United States, who found a way to take vengeance against their "friend" by stoutly refusing the requests, while hiding behind a claim based on non-interference with their justice system.
Those familiar with these matters see a principle motive for the actions of the United States in revenge sought by "intelligence bodies" against one who insulted them a generation ago. Some people point a finger at the anti-Israeli stand of many of the heads of these agencies. Such manipulation is the only way to explain the disgraceful conditions on Pollard's "house arrest" – forcing him to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements (does it include a listening device?) and prohibiting any connection to the internet. The only explanation I can think of for this decree is an attempt to set traps for Pollard so that he will be hard put to maintain his freedom – so that in the end he may be sent back to prison, to the rousing cheers of the "intelligence bodies."
I have one more very serious statement: I am not very familiar with the internal viewpoints among the Jews of the United States, but the media report that "the Jewish lobby forces" did not get sufficiently involved in the efforts to free Pollard. It could be that the question of "double loyalty" led some of the leaders of the Jewish community in the United States to refrain from acting on this issue.
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"An Enemy's Kisses are Excessive"
We started this article with quotes from this week's Torah portion about the hypocritical kisses of Eisav which were an expression of a desire to bite Yaacov's neck. Rabbis in the Talmud disagreed about the meaning of Eisav's kissing Yaacov. Rashi quotes the opinion of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, that the meaning of the kisses can change: "It is accepted halacha that Eisav hates Yaacov, but this teaches us that he felt pity at that moment and kissed him with all his heart." But the Sefat Emet has a novel lesson for us: There are times when a kiss itself is really an attempt to bite!
Any apparent connection between this matter and Israel's best friend is clearly coincidental.