There is an old scientific axiom know as Occam’s Razor, which states that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is the correct one.
As we begin the observance of Tolerance Week, I am quietly drawn to a certain prayer that is sung each Shabbat. One that is a fervent hope to everyone everywhere, but especially to Jews. “Shalom Rav”…”grant us peace…and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the earth…”
This ancient wording is the very essence of tolerance. It is the very definition of Occam’s Razor. Not just a hope for the Jewish people but for all mankind. The very fact that this prayer has been around as long as it has, speaks to the ideal of acceptance and the principles of tolerance. This great idea has influenced Judeo-Christian philosophy for centuries, as well as Islam, Buddhism, and many other faiths and cultures. It is, in a word, universal. It conveys a plea, if you will, that all people have a right to receive respect from other diverse groups. But it also carries a responsibility to protect the values of those groups that are different from each other.
While it is a simple, yet powerful idea, it often goes misinterpreted and morphs into an agonizing, and sometimes violent practice. It quickly becomes the basis of “I’m right, and everyone else is wrong”. This is a dichotomy, a polar opposite in theory versus practice. No one would argue that ‘peace’ is not desirable. No one would argue that acceptance of others is not the goal. Yet…it always depends under what circumstances we apply this great idea. That, in itself, is a violation of Occam’s Razor and contradicts the simplicity of this magnificent thought.
I am trying to determine how all this applies to current U.S.- Israel relations and the contradictory behavior of the Obama administration. We have had almost eight years to evaluate the president’s goals vis-à-vis Israel, and I can’t seem to find a commonality with the idea of ‘tolerance’. First of all, make no mistake, Barak Obama does not have a hateful bone in his body. He is a good man with a brilliant mind and deep soul. On the surface, he oozes with ‘Shalom Rav’ and I believe he truly means it.
And, there-in, lies the problem.
His simple idea of world peace and acceptance of all is completely based on egalitarian progressive narratives. I look back over the last eight years and I see overwhelming evidence of ‘I’m right, and everyone else is wrong’. Tens of millions of undocumented immigrants pouring into America and the uncontrolled bleeding of the financial arteries of the middleclass are just symptoms of ‘one world for one people’ thinking. The goal is homogenization. An Orwellian nightmare designed to promote ‘tolerance’ and acceptance, but at a horrible cost.
The loss of cultural identity through marginalization.
Imagine little Italy in large cities where Italian communities are relegated to symbolic existence without expression. OK to eat pizza and sing scores from Mama Mia, but no true behaviors or practices allowed. They would be Italian in name only. If this sounds absurd, it’s not too far off the mark.
Now look at the Jewish community. While differing viewpoints have always been a hallmark of American Jews, it is particularly acute now after eight years of Obama. Divisions over the status of Israel and Jewish practice in America, has never been this divisive. Why the Jews? Because of all of the cultures on this planet, Jews have the highest percentage of contributions to civilization. Art, literature, science, technology, medicine, music…every aspect of life has Jewish innovation. For egalitarians, who wish to even the playing field, we Jews are the toughest nut to crack. Other cultures won’t assimilate unless the Jews are marginalized first. Stay home, eat bagels, light menorahs, and just look like and behave like everyone else. That’s the limit of Jewish culture in an egalitarian world.
Now look at the record of this administration with regard to Israel. Yes, there are those who defend Obama’s policies. Jews included, such as those that support BDS, anti-Zionists, and the already Orwellian assimilated Jews of J-Street. Obama’s policies are designed to marginalize Israel and the Jews. To even the playing field to where Israel becomes Palestine with the Jews as a minority, staying at home, eating bagels.
Without Israel, without our Cultural Beacon, Judaism is deflated to a level that can be ‘managed’ by a ‘one world, one people’ order.
Does Obama support Israel? In a sense, he has to. Remember, there are two people sitting in that oval office chair. Obama the man, and Obama the POTUS (President of the United States). As POTUS, he has, from day one, been privy to certain policy secrets only given to any leader of the free world, policy he can’t ignore. Protocols for defense, security, and international geopolitical facts that keep America safe. Israel is part of that complex intelligence protocol. But that does not mean that Obama the man can’t make things as difficult as possible for Israel to advance his progressive ideas. Israel stands in his way. He must sell Israel Hellfire missiles as per security protocol, but he can, and does, play keep away when it suits him. He must deal with Mossad and the IDF as POTUS, but he can, and does, conveniently make himself unavailable for meetings and conferences. He makes it easy for Israel’s enemies to elevate their status to ‘acceptance’ on a global scale.
The result….acceptance and tolerance of the bad guys, and marginalization of the good guys. All in the name of “Shalom Rav” egalitarian style.
This thinking needs to change. As a message to all the candidates running in this current election, regardless of party, remember where you came from. Apply the idea of ‘Shalom Rav’ on its fundamental level. Apply the beautiful simplicity of its meaning. Remember that it’s a prayer that applies to all. Most of all…remember that its Jewish Culture that gave it to you….not George Orwell.