“Bless Mordechai and curse Haman.”
Purim is around the corner.
The tradition commands us to rejoice on Purim to the point of not being able to distinguish between, “Bless Mordechai and curse Haman.” In the world of the Book of Esther the villains and heroes are manifestly clear. In the scrum of Israel-US relations we currently inhabit it is not so clear.
I am , of course, referring to the tumult now rolling around Washington and Jerusalem over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming speech before a joint session of Congress when he visits Washington for the annual AIPAC meeting and the fact that the invitation to do so came from the Speaker of the House and not the president, as protocol demands.
Added to this brew are several factors, personal as well as political; the president and prime minister do not seem to like each other; the prime minister faces a tight re-election in a few weeks and most concerning to the Administration Netanyahu is attempting to influence the top secret negotiations being conducted as we speak with---guess who-Iran. All of this makes me, as an American Jew, quite uneasy.
The reason I am so uneasy is that I cannot fathom how it can be in the best interests of the State of Israel to be embroiled in a partisan dispute between Congress and the president on the foreign policy agenda of the president of the United States, or even worse to directly engage in domestic political issues. What if, as a result of Netanyahu’s efforts, a treaty with Iran does not take place and the US and Iran go to war? Will the American people remember Netanyahu as a foreign meddler who goaded the US into a war?
Israel and AIPAC have been most effective in advancing the idea of an Israel -US alliance on a non-partisan basis, because it is in the strategic interests of the American people, regardless of who occupies the White House, or who controls Congress.
I am old enough to remember various disputes between previous US presidents and Israeli prime ministers; most famously the Reagan vs Begin controversy in 1982 over Israel’s shelling Lebanon and the 1992 fight with George HW Bush over selling F15 jets to Saudi Arabia and many more. But this incident is without parallel because it occurred against precedent and clearly involves American domestic politics, by an Israeli leader by-passing the president.
I understand and accept Netanyahu’s explanation that the prime minister and all Israelis are rightfully concerned about the possibility of Iran obtaining the means to assemble a nuclear weapon (as I am). I do not understand the breach of protocol except as a political maneuver. I think it has backfired, and this worries me; so near to Purim, when our real enemies, the Amalekites and their modern Jew hating descendants are still lurking. We need all the friends we can get, especially the president of the United States of America. Is the ego of this Prime Minister so big that he thinks he can cross the most powerful elected official in the world?
Rabbi Steven Silver