Thursday, September 12, 2013

Will the Honeymoon be Over?

If one seeks a sharp and insightful analysis of human nature vis-a-vis oppression and society at large, I would highly recommend Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane's Pesach Haggada of the Jewish Idea. One of the many gems found there is a thought (I believe in the name of his father ZT"L HY"D) on Pesach Matzah Maror. He discusses how extreme economic hardships can ferment hatred of "the other" in an otherwise civil society saying that once a people have become accustomed to the luxury of eating bread (Matzah) and meat (Pesach), should there be a sudden turn of fortunes they will do anything possible to avoid returning to having to eat the bitter Maror of how life was before things became so good. Should things become desperate enough they will willingly give themselves over to a leader who they aren't guaranteed can even improve things if he is convincing enough and can prove to them that the stem of their problems is "those people" and that "if we can only take care of them things will be good again."

The recent lobbying assault by AIPAC in favor of an American attack on Syria has left me scratching my head even more than I previously was trying to figure out why Obama himself wanted to do such a thing. Multiple major news outlets have predicted that if AIPAC were to not sway enough hearts and minds, their credibility would be historically lessened. So they seem to have what to lose. Yet if they were successful in this venture, they would contributing to fanning the flames in a conflict that could, G-d forbid, very quickly turn dangerous for Israel (whom their entire purpose is supposedly to stand for and help) so it's not entirely clear what they have to gain. Yet win or lose, the very fact they have jumped into the fray automatically taints the whole issue with a Jewish/Israeli slant when in reality it has nothing to do with us. And when we're talking about a conflict that even the simplest of observers can see has no pretty resolution for America and could very well end up costing it quite a bit (and not just monetarily) I wonder to myself why on earth you would want to give the public a reason to believe it's Israel's interests that got them involved in this mess in the first place.

Now Drudge is featuring headlines such as this and this about the latest Snowden leaks revealing that Israel is privy to all that data the NSA is gathering, quite often on American citizens (which Israel is bound by the "honesty policy" not to take advantage of). A quick perusal of the talkbacks show quite a few people that are less than please with this revelation. One my argue that many or most of those people posting are just anti-Semites regardless. Yet the tone of quite a few of them is not so blatantly anti-Semetic but truly feeling upset, or even betrayed. It's a tone of people with no default negative Jewish or Israeli bias, but just ordinary people who have become very frustrated.

And you know what? If I was your average American I'd be pretty frustrated too. I know I certainly wouldn't be thrilled about my president wasting vast amounts of my tax money and risking the lives of my soldiers in a cause that had no obvious benefit to my country whatsoever, and smacked of what I perceived as a favor for Israel. I know I would be plenty angry that every time I wanted to type something into my Gmail I'd have to look over my digital shoulder lest some stranger across the ocean in Ramat Gan become privy to details of my life meant only for friends and family. Even if I was somewhat pro-Israel myself I imagine I'd start rethinking my position on things a little. Even one's closest friend would have some explaining to do if he was busted flirting with his wife.

Conventional wisdom has been for a long time that America, or at least the American public was firmly behind Israel through thick and thin... yet it looks like a lot of rules in the game of life have changing these days.

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