We often say that the Jewish life cycle revolves around the Jewish calendar, its holy days and the foods we eat accordingly. There is even a a Jewish motto about it: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!” But let us remember that on the Jewish calendar, outside of the biblically ordained Levitical feasts (Leviticus 23), there are several other dates marking some critical events in our history. One such date is Tisha B’Av or the ninth of the month of Av. This annual fast (lasting 25 hours in Jewish tradition) commemorates several tragedies that occurred in Jewish history. It is believed that on the ninth of Av:
• The 12 spies returned
• The First Temple was destroyed
• The Second Temple was destroyed
• The 135 CE Bar Kochba revolt was put to an end by the Romans
• The first Crusade started
• Jews were expelled from England in 1290
• Germany entered World War One
• “The final Solution to the Jewish Question” was officially put in motion in 1941
• Large scale deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and Treblinka started in 1942
Needless to say that this is a very somber date for Jewish people worldwide. This is a time when the Book of Lamentations is read in synagogues. Jewish people fast, do not bathe and do not have marital relations on this day.
This year, the ninth of Av falls on July 25 and I cannot help but think about the way that it might be remembered and added to the long list of catastrophes for the Jewish people.
We are in the midst of a global crisis with the Islamic Republic of Iran which is on the threshold of acquiring its own nuclear arsenal. The same Iran has recently and repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel and the United States.
Since 2008, President Obama’s foreign policy has been less than spectacular. Like every previous president since 1948 and to no avail, he tried to make a positive contribution to the Middle East peace process. But it is clear that Mr. Obama has an obsession with Iran, and like the National Review aptly said it: “The Obama administration values a future relationship with Iran more than it values the historic relationship it has with Israel.” President Obama’s obsession with Iran might only be surpassed by his obsession for his own “messianic legacy”.” In any case, both are tightly linked and they unfortunately are at the expense of Israel.
During Thursday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, we heard Secretary of State John Kerry try to defend the current Iran nuclear agreement with the 5+1 super powers. Frankly, it is starting to feel more and more like another check will soon be added to the ominous list of Tisha B’Av tragedies. Especially in light of Mr. Kerry’s answer when asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) about US loyalty in the eventuality of a unilateral Israeli strike to sabotage Iranian facilities. First, there was a foggy answer from Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. Mr. Rubio reiterated his question to which he got a firm “No” from Mr. Moniz, stating that the US was not under any obligation to protect Iran. Immediately following, Mr Kerry chimed in and tried to sound as if the current administration was Israel’s friend and that all would be good. He never gave a firm yes or no, but finished by saying: “ …I don’t see any way possible that we would be in conflict with Israel with respect to what we might want to do there. I think we might have to wait until we get to that point.“
The problem with that statement from Mr. Kerry is that it can be interpreted several different ways depending on what the audience wants to hear. When I hear the phrase with respect to what we might want to do there, I am left wondering if “what they might want to do” is bomb Iran in accord with Israel or help Iran to defend itself from an Israeli attack (cyber or military). Pick one, they both work! There is some wording on page 142 of the document drafted for the deal stipulating that the 5+1 would help Iran defend themselves against sabotage once the deal is approved. This would make me think that the US would lean towards helping Iran, and frankly, this wouldn’t surprise me under the current administration.
Then there is the statement he closed with: “I think we might have to wait until we get to that point.” which is even more frightening. If we truly have to wait for the eleventh hour when Israeli planes are in Iranian airspace or even later if possible, it is akin to asking people to wait until Hiroshima was detonated before deciding if it was the best option.
Israel, the United States and the rest of the free world cannot afford to wait and see because the more time we give the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire the bomb the less time we will have to successfully respond. In other words if we wait much longer there might not be much left to see.
I continue to keep my trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His unconditional love for Israel. But I must remain pragmatic in understanding that the highest human casualties in the history of mankind are yet to come.
It sure feels like Tisha B’Av again but hang in there because Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner!