Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On Obama, Democrats, Republicans, Israel, and the Futility of Knowing Who Are Friends

I did not vote for Obama, instead choosing to vote as the exit polls told us that most Jews in Orthodox circles did. Still, I view Obama's election with fascination and a touch of wonder.

Clearly, Hashem has a plan that we do not yet see or understand regarding Obama. By the natural course of events, Obama should never have been elected or, frankly, even nominated. Historians will not understand it. Nevertheless, he now is the President-elect, and we will recite the same blessing in Shul for his welfare and that of his Government as we have recited for his predecessors.

As Geraldine Ferraro said -- and she got canned for telling the truth -- rather than being victim for not looking like all those guys on the dollar bills (whose skin presumably was green?), Obama actually was the beneficiary of being quasi-African-American. Any other guy who would have sought the Presidency with his skimpy public record, youthful inexperience, and circle of corrupt acquaintances and associations, never would have gotten past Iowa and New Hampshire.

A State Senator who voted "present" 130 times, or whatever? A guy with no known record of accomplishment but with a coterie of personal associations ranging from Tony Rezko and Bill Ayres to Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright and Father Phleger?

Gimme a break.

A law school professor, former president of the Harvard Law Review, who never published an article in a legal journal? Who among us in the legal field -- among those who practice, among those who focus in the halls of scholarship -- ever has heard of such a thing?

He has lived what-some-might-see as a charmed life. Hashem has a plan. This all is too aberrant to be natural life. There is a plan. G-d apparently has a plan in which Obama factors particularly.

So many of us -- half the country -- voted against Obama (not really for McCain, who was not the right choice of the moment) because we do not know what Obama stands for, do not trust him an iota, believe that he stands mostly for himself, has no record of meaningful achievement, shifted 180 degrees on Jerusalem in hours, surrounds himself with the same Clinton crowd that forced Oslo down Israel's throat and that made Arafat the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House.

All that said -- and one can go on -- I have to put my faith in Hashem and know that He has an ultimate plan, and His plan will go forth. Hubert Humphrey was a great friend of Israel, but it was Nixon-the-anti-Semite who acted rapidly and forcefully as Hashem's tool to assist Israel meaningfully during the 1973 War. Gerald Ford had a record of friendship for Israel through decades in the House, and he had Kissinger in Foggy Bottom, but they surprisingly combined to subject Israel to a searing "reassessment" of the traditional American friendship.

So many of us voted for Jimmy Carter the first time he ran. Many thought that Evangelicals --given the pro-Israel leadership models of Reverend Jerry Falwell, Reverend John Hagee, etc. -- are among Israel's biggest backers, inspired by the mandate of Genesis 12:3. Go figure -- it turned out that Carter was not evangelical on that verse, while his sister was missionizing to Jews and his brother was in bed with Kaddafi.

When Reagan came, so many of us expected George Shultz of Bechtel Corporation, which makes so much money from Arabs, to be a disastrous Secretary of State for Israel -- and, yet, Shultz probably was the best friend Israel ever had in the State Department. We thought the First Bush would follow Reagan's pro-Israel policies, and yet his Secretary of State seems to have been the worst anti-Semite in State since Cordell Hull and WWII. We figured the Second Bush would be as bad as the First, particularly after James Baker played so active a role in the legal fight over ballot-chads, and instead Bush II proved a great friend of Israel when Sharon invaded Jenin.

Thus, when Bush II was reelected, we thought we now have a proven friend in the White House and, with Sharon in Jerusalem, we now have some good strong leadership; in place. Instead, Bush turned his Mideast Policy on its head and made a point of his second term to press Sharon for a "Palestinian State" -- i.e., not really a "state" but a country called by that phony name -- and the Great Sharon unexpectedly went along with it, starting with Gush Katif and then the Gaza.

What stopped the momentum of Bush and Sharon, after the Gaza retreat, to move the retreat-pressure kadimah (forward, eastward to Judea and Samaria)? Only the combination of Sharon being felled by a stroke, then another, and Olmert thereafter being felled by a Hezbollah War and then a debilitating financial scandal and another, and Bush being felled by an incomprehensible economic collapse that started unfolding with mortgage problems just as Condoleezza was flying to the Middle East to start the pressure against Israel for new retreat.

Only that extraordinary confluence of incredible events stopped the Gush-Katification of Yehudah-Shomron.

So, I am long past predicting who among the princes of flesh-and-blood is good for Israel and who bad. I vote based on commonsense natural analyses, but I know I can be wrong because good politicians can fool you, and so can bad ones. I know that all we can do is vote based on what we reasonably expect. But, in the end, it is all in Hashem's hands. Politicians often surprise.

For the many of us who voted against Obama during this recent round, a man who entered the national stage as Tisha B'Av was ending in 2004, we could vote only based on what we thought is best. In the end, what do we know? We don't know. We absolutely do not know.

Our parents' generation bullet-voted for FDR, whom they regarded as the best American friend that Jews ever had in the White House. Turns out he and his State Department were not our best friends. Rather, they hated us and in some real measure were accessories to the mass murder of six million of us.

Democrats-Republicans. We don't know. Nixon rushed weapons to Israel in an full-blast urgent airlift. Bill Clinton gave us Oslo and Arafat.

Shalom Chaver.

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