Politics and opera

As it unfolds, the saga of the West’s possible deal with Iran is beginning to resemble opera as much as it does political theater.

It is impossible to imagine the pressure under which Cory Booker, like many other senators who have to face complex choices and whose political ambitions and constituencies’ internal complexities make darkest mud out of already murky situations, must have labored.

Now that he made his decision — which is tremendously unpopular here but far less so in the upper levels of his party — the aftereffects would be almost funny were the entire situation less dire. He appears to be scrabbling desperately to retain the support he seems to have cast away, while his spurned constituents are unwilling to give him what he wants.

But underneath this surface — although still above the unknowable terrors of the future that lurk further below — is the personal theater that reminds us that even powerful politicians and superstar rabbis are human.

In the faceoff between Senator Booker and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach we see two real people, genuine friends, fighting hurt feelings that are entangled with policy disagreements. It’s a striking image. There’s Cory Booker, charismatic, tall, lean, bald, intense, dark-skinned, with striking, surprising green eyes. There’s Shmuley Boteach, charismatic, short, compact, bushy-bearded, intense, light-skinned, with striking, surprising light eyes. So similar, so different.

Despite his differences with Mr. Booker, Rabbi Boteach tells us that their friendship — in fact, their love — is so deep that it will survive even this huge and terrible disruption.

There are lessons for all of us here that bypass the deal and go straight to our lives as social beings.

We each must do what we believe we must in order to make the world a better place. We must fight against the deal with Iran, or for it, or learn more about it, or keep silent if all we have to contribute is babble and noise. But we also must remember that each of us is human — sounds obvious, no? but it’s so easy to forget — and that when we vilify each other for our beliefs we add nothing to the light that we need in this world.

About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)
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