I went to see the new play Oslo at Lincoln Center in New York City. It is always a fun New York moment when people in the news – in this case Joe Lieberman who just withdrew from a potential job at the FBI – are in line with you to enjoy the many great activities that the vibrant city has to offer.
The show was quite good. It relayed the behind-the-scenes activities that brought the Oslo Accords of 1993 into being. It tried to be balanced to the narratives of both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, while not getting into a debate about particular issues. The emphasis was much more on the process, than the merits of either sides’ arguments.
The balance made me recall one of the statements that came out of the Oslo accords:
“REAFFIRMING their determination to put an end to decades of confrontation and to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security, while recognizing their mutual legitimate and political rights;”
It is a concept that has lost meaning regarding Israel today.
Over the eight years of the previous presidential administration, Barack Obama repeatedly boasted about his bona fides regarding Israel because he had “Israel’s back” when it came to matters of security. He helped fund the Iron Dome defense shield. He shared a lot of intelligence about security threats. He signed a new $38 billion military aid package.
Obama assumed that by focusing on Israel’s need for security, he could abuse the dignity of its leader and country.
- He could walk out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during meetings
- He could lead a Democratic boycott of Netanyahu during his address to a joint session of Congress
- He could insult him in conversations with French PM Sarkozy
- Members of his administration could openly call Netanyahu a “chickensh*t”
- He could wipe out all pro-Israeli positions in the 2012 Democratic platform
- He could decline an invitation to speak to the Israeli Knesset, and instead use that time to address a select group of university students, while excluding those students from the West Bank
- He could say that Jews had no rights to live in eastern Jerusalem
- He could withhold critical US support for Israel at the United Nations Security Council
Obama felt that he could solely focus on Palestinian Arab dignity and Israeli security. In doing so, he abused the Jewish State and helped usher in the twisted “progressive” approach to Israel which denies Israel its dignity today.
Much of the reason that Israelis have warmly embraced the new US President Donald Trump is that they believe that he will not only focus on Israeli security, but on its dignity as well.
Trump was the first sitting US president to ever visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, a sacred site for Jews. And when he spoke to a crowd at the Israel Museum, he spoke of “dignity” four times:
- “Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.”
- “There are those who present a false choice. They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region. That is completely wrong. All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism. Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.”
- “But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals. Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman. Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.”
- “Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence. I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.”
The Jewish State demands more than security. It demands dignity that has been denied it around the world.
- At the United Nations under Ban Ki Moon, where the nations of the world stood silent while Iran threatened to wipe Israel off the map and lambasted the Jewish State more than every country in the world combined.
- In Europe, where the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement has taken hold, even though no other country with a territorial dispute is subject to such actions.
- In the US “progressive” camp today, where “activists” like Linda Sarsour can be lauded by Democratic senators and given honors at universities, even after she extolled terrorists that killed innocent Jews and berated feminist Zionists.
It is time for both Israel and Jews to demand their dignity again. Especially on the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the Arab nations that sought to annihilate every Jew in its small homeland.
- Jews have international legal rights to live throughout Israel and east of the Green Line, as clearly laid out in the 1920 San Remo Conference and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine.
- Jews have the basic human rights to pray openly and freely at their holiest site, the Jewish Temple Mount
- Jews have every right to be treated fairly at the United Nations, just as the new US Ambassador Nikki Haley has articulated clearly.
Aside from the terrible negotiation tactics utilized by Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry in foreign affairs, they ignored a basic decency: the dignity of Israel and the Jewish people. It is time to bring it back to the fore.
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