Friday, April 18, 2008

18-Apr-08: Removing the leaven

Passover is upon us. Saturday night, Jewish families throughout the world will sit down to a formal dinner laden with ceremonial elements that have been part of Jewish life for nearly three thousand years. That meal is preceded by the reading of the Haggadah, the narrative that traces the emergence of a Jewish nation out of Egyptian slavery, and by days - sometimes weeks - of clearing the leaven from our homes.

Leaven. It's a word that few people use if they're not getting ready for this Jewish festival. In Hebrew, Chametz, the word conveys not only a sense of the difference between bread (that rises in the course of being baked) and matza (the perfectly flat bread we eat for the next week). It's also the symbolic expression of arrogance, hubris - like yeast, something that causes a puffing up in dough.

An excellent time therefore to review the visit to this part of the world of James E. Carter, a former president of the United States and the noted author of a book entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Michael Kinsley's review in Slate ("Jimmy Carter's moronic new book about Israel") provides a good overview.

Carter's visit was marked by his laying a wreath on the tomb of an arch-terrorist and master Palestinian-Arab embezzler and physically embracing and conferring with several leading active Hamas terrorists (quite possibly breaching several US Federal laws in the process). He also visited beleagured Sderot (looking strikingly bored according to eyewitnesses) and pronounced the endless missile and rocket attacks on southern Israel "criminal". The word must have slipped past Carter's pursed lips because the last thing he meant, it appears, was that Israelis need to respond as one responds to a criminal attack by degenerate thugs on your home, family and future.

Sadly, the man gets considerably more mileage in the circles in which he moves by pronouncing Israelis as practitioners of apartheid than as victims of an ongoing mugging and conspiracy to murder.

Here are a couple of the more cogent published observations stimulated by the former peanut farmer's visit to one of the world's most complex war-zones.
  • Jimmy Carter and Hamas - Washington Times Editorial
    Jimmy Carter's decision to meet with the terrorist organization Hamas is turning the former president into something of a political pariah. During a visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah Tuesday, Carter hugged and kissed a leading Hamas official at a reception. He is scheduled to meet later this week with Hamas' Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshaal. After Iranian President Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a "myth" and said Israel should be "wiped off the map," Meshaal congratulated Iranian leaders. Hamas has been behind scores of suicide attacks against Israel, and following that nation's August 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas has stepped up its firing of rockets and missiles at Israel.
  • Carter's Confusion - Clifford D. May National Review
    When Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler in Munich, he no doubt believed he could reason with him because he also no doubt believed that the Fuhrer was a reasonable man like himself. Offer Hitler a good deal - land, power, prestige - and surely he'd take it rather than plunge his nation into a terrible war. What this leaves out is ideology. Hitler's ideas inspired millions to fight and die for the glory of the Third Reich. And Marxist/ Leninist/ Stalinist/ Maoist ideology inspired millions to fight and die for the illusion of a Communist utopia.
    Hamas proudly proclaims that "the Koran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and death for the sake of God is our highest aspiration." Hamas leaders promise their followers not just rewards here on Earth but in the next world as well - a selling point neither Nazism nor Communism could offer. As a matter of religious conviction, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal cannot accept Israel's existence. Hamas believes every inch of Israel and, indeed, of any land ever ruled by Muslims is "an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day." A Muslim can fight to reclaim this endowment or he can fail to fulfill the obligations his faith imposes. To Hamas, there is no third way.
Removing a little of the hubris and the self-serving political narcissism from our midst at this time of year means not only ceremonially burning the bread with the crumbs but also recognizing puffed-up spent political leaders and placing their well-dressed hypocrisy on the garbage pile for immediate disposal.

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