Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Obama & Spielberg Make the Same Mistake

In Holocaust, Obama, Spielberg on June 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

A liberal was once defined as someone who would sleep in the crack of a bed to save a marriage. I always wanted to unpack this little ditty from a Talmudic perspective. What would be the result of such an intervention?

Does it mean, he makes a cold peace by keeping the parties close, but not too close, providing the buffer that makes co-existence possible?

Or does it mean that the intervening party is about to get ___________ (fill in a synonym for violated in an unseemly fashion. Propriety doesn’t allow me to fill in the blank, but you get the point.)

Once again, Obama made the classic historical error. His speech implied that the Jewish right to homeland is intrinsically tied to the horrors of World War II Europe. The Arab street response is cogent. “Give the Jews East Germany then.” If Obama wishes to argue for the Jewish State’s legitimacy, he is going to have to go back further than the 1940’s. He has to be willing to argue that for over two thousand years of exile, Israel was the focal point of Jewish longing.

The founders of Israel knew this and placed two thousand years of exile front and center in the national anthem as the poet declared התקוה בת שנות אלפיים “The hope borne of two thousand years”. This was the problem of Spielberg’s film Munich. He, too, argued that the Holocaust compelled the world to give the Jews a state of their own. Maybe so, but the logical conclusion of Spielberg’s argument is not necessarily a Jewish Island amidst a sea of Arabs.

In the academy, viewing Israel as an outlaw state that has no right to exist is not considered a radical position. The every fifteen minute invokers of the Holocaust have legitimated it–even among many Jews. The sins of Europe do not justify Jewish “colonialism” in the Middle East has become an academic truism in anti-Israel circles.

The modern world of realpolitik is uncomfortable with ancient memory, and, so it seems is President Obama. But if he wants to some day get out of that bed he has just invited himself into, he better get intimate with some ancient history, or better yet–Christian that he is–let him get out his Bible.

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  1. Another of Spielberg's mistakes inregard to "Munich" was to hire Tony Kushner as screenwriter. Kushner is on record saying that the creation of Israel was a mistake and issuing other defamatory statements about the Jewish State. He likes to claim that he has been mischaracterized or his quotes have been taken out of context. You be the judge. Another of Spielberg's mistakes inregard to "Munich" was to hire Tony Kushner as screenwriter. Kushner is on record saying that the creation of Israel was a mistake and issuing other defamatory statements about the Jewish State. He likes to claim that he has been mischaracterized or his quotes have been taken out of context. You be the judge. http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_article=1048&x_context=8

    Ron Weiner

  2. I know, but the problem is that Israel itself, specifically Begin, has linked the founding of the State with the Holocaust, because of its own discomfort with pre-modern claims. It goes back to the ironies of the Zionist congress when Herzl presented Uganda as the answer to the Jewish problem, The Commie Shomer Hatza'ir said no, but the frumie Mizrachi said yes. We are a strange people.

  3. Indeed we are, Ravavi. (And sorry for the double post within a post — a first for me.)

    My point was a tangent, of course, but I am extremely disappointed in Spielberg for making that film. And when you wrote "This was the problem of Spielberg's film Munich" — "the problem" instead of "a problem" — I was moved to flesh out another major problem of it.

    Ron Weiner

    P.S. I'm having problems posting via my gmail account; thus the use of "Anonymous" in conjunction wth signing my name.

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