By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
By now, it should be obvious that the real Junior Varsity team is not ISIS but instead occupies prime real estate in the White House. It is Obama and company who have been outsmarted, outmaneuvered and (willingly) been rendered irrelevant by Islamic terrorists across the globe when they otherwise haven’t been aiding and abetting Islamic terror, as in Iran. It has been more than a century since the United States has been perceived as so feckless and useless on the world stage, its leaders specializing in increasingly vacuous speeches that portray an alternate reality to the murder and mayhem that is sweeping the planet.
Nothing more typifies that alternate reality than memories of the Nobel Peace Prize bizarrely awarded Obama in 2009 for reasons yet unknown and in retrospect are quite risible. Can one recollect a winner of the Peace Prize who then presided over so much war, destruction, loss of innocent life, proliferation of evil and triumph of evildoers? Perhaps the Peace Price awarded in 1973 to Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho for the Paris Peace Accords, for their role in “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam.” At least then something had been negotiated – and at least Le Duc Tho had the integrity to refuse the award, perhaps anticipating that 18 months thereafter, South Vietnam would be defeated and would cease to exist.
The Jayvee team in the White House has made the world a much more dangerous place, with radical Islamic terror spreading and with a complete inability and unwillingness on Obama’s part to even name the enemy, much less confront it (and this does not refer to climate change). Perhaps he would be wise to take to heart this news report that depicts the future of Belgium, Europe and is soon coming to a theater near us.
Frankly, there is an abundance of amateurish leadership around the globe, and Israel is no exception. Make no mistake: the Jewish victims of Arab terror in Israel are clear and bloody signs of Netanyahu’s failed leadership. Every day – every day – there are stabbings and shootings, dead and wounded, and every day there are powerful, evocative, emotional and heartfelt speeches about what will be done, speeches that invoke the strength and resilience of the Israeli people and their steadfastness in the face of the terror onslaught.
But speeches which praise the Israeli people’s vigilance and call on them to protect themselves against the guns and knives of the Arab enemy underscore the abject failure of this Israeli government in the primary function of government: to protect their citizens from harm. Everyone knows there are measures that can be taken that keep hostile Arabs away from their favorite crime scenes, and everyone knows that there are measures that can be employed to deter these wanton attacks on Jews. Everyone knows what they are and most – except for the loony left – would recognize and support these wartime measures as prudent and necessary.
Pre-emption is insufficient when the attacks require nothing more than a child with a knife or an adult with a gun or a car. That the effective deterrence is not undertaken leads to the inevitable conclusion that – as happens too often – too many official Jews are comfortable being in the position of victims than they are doing the difficult and sometimes nasty work of defeating the enemy. Israel suffers, like the rest of the world, in not having real, transformative leadership – individuals who wish to change a bad dynamic by being proactive and prescient. PM Netanyahu – who, we are told, naturally deserves support at this critical time, to rally around the flag, etc. – has benefited from that pattern. He is a classic run-out-the-clock politician, keeping the seat warm while ensuring that no one else – whom he considers worse than and therefore unfit to lead – takes the position from him.
He might be right about that (he also might be wrong) but one cannot recall a single measure that he has utilized that has dramatically changed anything in Israel’s favor since he has been prime minister for almost seven years. Everything is defensive, everything is always on hold (including building in Judea and Samaria), everything is designed to ensure the survivability of his coalition just a little longer. Everything is designed to just kick the can down the road a little further. There is no long range plan, just the short-term attrition of Jewish life – more dead, more wounded, more terrorized, more empty streets and stores and the eager expectation of the next eloquent speech.
We have grown accustomed to the pervasive Western reluctance, and perhaps fear, of naming the enemy we are facing. Obama and his acolytes are masters at this obfuscation, labeling the enemy “violent extremism,” which might be a tactic of the enemy but is assuredly not the enemy itself. (Proof? I tried to research this “enemy” on Wikipedia, source of all modern knowledge. Strangely, it has no entry for “violent extremism.” So how is one supposed to fight an enemy that hasn’t even been identified on Wikipedia??)
Just like Obama is nebulous and euphemistic when it comes to identifying the enemy of civilization, PM Netanyahu also falls back on euphemisms and clichés. By every reasonable account, by his statements and his actions, Mahmoud Abbas is an enemy of Israel and a fomenter of terror against Jews. But Israel’s prime minister will never use that language, as it serves his purposes to prop up that preposterous evildoer. That may serve Netanyahu’s purposes, but it doesn’t serve Israel’s purposes.
Henry David Thoreau said very insightfully (quote found at www.thelandofisrael.com, a wonderful website) that “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The world today is hacking at the branches of evil – focusing on capturing this terrorist or thwarting that act of terrorism – but studiously ignoring the root that continues to grow and spread and dominate.
The fear of giving evil its name did reach its farcical limits Monday night before the NFL football game. Robert Kraft, Patriots owner and proud supporter of Israel, was asked and agreed to have a moment of silence before the game in memory of young Ezra Schwartz Hy”d, the American yeshiva student gunned down in cold blood by an Arab terrorist last week at the Gush Etzion junction. And the moment of silence took place on national television.
It left me – forgive the Patriot pun – somewhat deflated. There was no mention that Ezra was Jewish, that he was murdered in Israel, or that he was murdered by Muslim-Arab terrorists. None of that. He was killed, like too many others, by terrorists, while “studying abroad,” the announcer said. The average American viewer must have thought he was murdered in Paris, or Mali, or some other place on the globe where last week Muslims killed innocent people.
Does it matter? Of course it matters. Netanyahu’s effort to link terror against Israelis to terror against Frenchmen and others has failed. The world doesn’t buy it, Obama/Kerry don’t buy it – not because it isn’t true but because they have convinced themselves, and Israel has failed to refute it well enough, that terror against Israel is justified – because of whatever – occupation, settlements, Temple Mount, Israel’s existence, etc. Terror in Paris, Mali, London, Madrid, New York and anywhere else is the unnamed evil against the purely innocent. In Israel, they would claim, both sides are wrong and engender not the murder of innocents but a “cycle of violence.”
It would have sent a powerful statement to announce the moment of silence “in memory of Ezra Schwartz who was murdered by Arab terrorists al Kiddush Hashem, Ha’am, v’ha’aretz,” but that would never happen. But why could it not be mentioned that he was murdered in Israel? This is where trepidation mixed with political correctness renders good people incapable of confronting Islamic terror.
I can almost hear the discussions in Patriot land, from the lawyers and the PR people: “You can’t mention Muslims or Arabs for obvious reasons. You can’t mention that the victim was Jewish – too parochial. You can’t mention that the murder happened in Israel, because Gush Etzion is in disputed territory and the world doesn’t recognize it as Israel. You can’t say it happened in Palestine because…well, there is no such thing as Palestine and that would anyway tick off most Jews. So we will just say he died in a terrorist attack ‘abroad.’ ‘Abroad’ covers it. The Jews will be happy because they will read into it what they wish, and few else will know what the announcer is talking about, except that we are all against terror especially if we keep the source of terror conveniently amorphous.”
I assume that Kraft’s heart was in the right place and his intentions were noble, and suppose that even mentioning the word “terrorism” was the great breakthrough; nor should Kraft himself be criticized at all for the bland execution. This is the world we live in, with even accurate sentiments diluted and sifted to eliminate the slightest offense to even the most evil of human beings. This is the world that is the legacy of the Jayvee team in the White House that flies around the globe dispensing empty rhetoric, promoting a retreat from leadership, an acquiescence to terror, hollow displays of force and exhibiting sheer petulance when challenged. Perhaps in the rhetoric vs. action department, Obama and Netanyahu despise each other so much because they are so similar. Good people deserve better.
Meanwhile, the good people await today’s body count, and tomorrow’s, r”l.