The dust is settling over the election results. A much stronger Netanyahu has emerged. The question of how he will form a coalition is as yet unanswered. But there are two very clear messages that need to come out of this election.
The first, by far, is a message to Barack Hussein Obama – don’t mess with us; don’t mess with our democracy. By far, the loudest sound heard from Israel this morning is the sound of Israel spitting in Obama’s face and if that seems too crude, too graphic a message, I’ll remind you that this is what Obama has been doing to Israel for weeks as he mobilized dozens of campaign workers to fight Netanyahu for the will of the Israeli people.
We answered. Good Lord, did we answer and for that alone, I am very proud this morning. I’m making my final visits, saying my final goodbyes to new friends in India and I’m heading home. I have so many impressions of India that I will take with me. But yesterday, as Israel voted, I visited the last “remaining” Cochin synagogue and was driven to tears…something that even Poland’s synagogues didn’t cause.
Just before going to the synagogue, we managed to force our way into the Cochin cemetery. We had to call the rabbi of the Bangalore Chabad for help and even then it took a while but eventually, we got in and walked past the graves of centuries of India’s Jews…like the synagogue, it was like watching them die. There are six left, only six. Old…refusing to leave and so left behind…
The cemetery is locked to visitors; the synagogue turned into a museum more than anything else. Indian tour guides take groups in and tell them what they want, the little they know, of Judaism and Jewish practice. I hear them say words like “Shabbat” and “Torah” and finally, in tears, I walked over to a British couple and began to speak, “that is the ten commandments in Hebrew, the first words of each; and on the left is the Shema prayer — we say that every morning and every night and it is the last prayer we say before we die.”
“This is where on Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, we take out the Torah, the five books of Moses, and read from it aloud. Here on the benches, the men would crowd around. See how the wood bench curves around — men would stand there and read along from all angles. Up there, where no one is allowed, that is where the women would sit.”
“Don’t cry,” said the nice British woman, “they are preserving it.”
I longed for home; for a land where we do not need non-Jews to preserve us. I prayed not for a political party but for all Israelis to vote. I was ready, I am ready, to accept the will of the people.
And that is what spoke yesterday.
The results were resounding for a simple reason — the second message I mentioned above. Likud is where it is…because many voters sacrificed their true opinion to enable Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in power. The message to Obama is stunning and clear; whether Bibi understands the message to him is another issue.
Bennett’s power is far greater than the eight seats he now commands because he has something more. He has seats within the Likud and those seats, or at least the voters who represent them, will be ready at any moment to pull out if Bibi refuses to now deliver on what he promised to get re-elected.
Bibi will spend time now evaluating the very clear message sent to him…but Obama need not take any time. Israel has spoken, roared its message brilliantly.
From the beautiful city of Jerusalem, at the heart and center of Israel, our eternal and united capital…from the streets of Tel Aviv…from the north and from the south…from ancient cities that date back to Biblical times and have been renewed…no Obama, we will not let you choose who will lead us. We will forever be the best friend America will ever have in the Middle East. We will share a common goal – a commitment to freedom, democracy. We will share such important values as loving life, fighting to preserve all that we are. We, little Israel, will continue to reach out to help others in times of crisis…but we will not let you do what you tried so desperately to do.
Israel has spoken. We will choose our destiny and we will, as Bibi told the US Congress, defend ourselves — for the first time in 100 generations, we will not rely on others to defend the Jews.
Israel has spoken.