Obama’s Speech Made Us Safer

On Thursday, President Obama made his speech to the Arab world in Cairo, a speech that did what he does … Continued

On Thursday, President Obama made his speech to the Arab world in Cairo, a speech that did what he does so well, expressing contradictions and nuances in clear, simple poetic language that calls on everyone to be better than we are. My first reaction, reading it, was “This speech makes us all safer, and does a better job of it than a thousand drone attacks or military forays.” By so clearly expressing respect for Islam, and knowledge of its history and contributions, he drains extremist venom of its potency.

Obama also tackled head-on the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian problem: Israel’s continued building of and support for illegal settlements. I suspect many people are still unclear on the concept of ‘settlement’: the word creates an image of a stalwart, noble outpost in the wilderness. In reality, settlements are more like gated suburbs plunked down in the midst of Palestinian territory, villages, farms and cities that have always been in Palestinian hands and that the Oslo agreements and the Road Map define as destined for a Palestinian state.

Settlements are created on land quite simply stolen–taken from Palestinian farmers and villagers with no compensation. In order to protect the settlements, Israel maintains military control over vast reaches of the Palestinian territories, builds a separate set of roads Palestinians are banned from, that carve up an already tiny land base into miniscule islands, separated by a network of checkpoints that make daily life for ordinary Palestinians untenable. Imagine if, in the U.S., everyone who lived in a suburb of Chicago or New York or San Francisco could only get into the center of the city by passing through a military checkpoint that might or might not be open each day, where lines might regularly back up for hours, where the soldiers might detain you on a whim or a breath of suspicion for hours or summarily place you in ‘administrative detention’ for months with no trial or appeal, where your land and home might be seized at any time by an occupying power. And this is in the West Bank, where conditions are relatively good. In Gaza, the Israeli’s have simply sealed the border, refused to allow in rebuilding supplies and many of the necessities of life, and turned the place into one giant, open-air prison.

It is in this context that Obama presses for a two-state solution. The positive alternative: one, democratic state in which all people have equal rights, regardless of religion, is so unacceptable to the current Israeli regime that they are attempting to make it illegal for anyone to suggest that Israel be anything but an explicitly Jewish state. The less positive alternatives are simply genocide of one or another of the region’s peoples, a horrific outcome whether the ultimate victims are Palestinians or Israelis.

A two-state solution cannot succeed if Israel continues to eat away at Palestinian land. It cannot succeed if the current settlements remain, with their network of exclusive roads, checkpoints and military control that make free movement impossible for Palestinians within their own territory. Netanyahu has proclaimed his intention to continue building and expanding settlements. If Obama’s speech signals a true commitment to reign him in, to use America’s enormous influence and power to constrain Israel’s destructive and ultimately self-destructive course, then we will have a slight hope of achieving some small measure of peace and justice in that region.

Obama also called on the Palestinians to renounce armed struggle and embrace nonviolence. Now, I’m a passionate believer myself in nonviolence. I share his assessment that a powerful, nonviolent movement could advance the cause of justice in a way that violence can never do. However, there is something disingenuous about the man who is ordering troops into Afghanistan and drones to bomb Pakistan telling another people ‘Violence is a dead end.’ I credit Obama with a distaste for violence and a strong preference for diplomacy, and truly, I like the guy. I think he’s a great leader in a rotten time, and a brilliant man of real integrity. But there’s no denying that, from the moment he took office, he’s had blood on his hands. For the powerful to demand that the less powerful renounce violence, without making the same demands on themselves or on their allies, is simply to say: “I reserve the weapons of death for myself and my friends.”

I would have liked Obama to urge nonviolence on all of us: Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians alike. I would have liked him to at least acknowledge that
indeed, many Palestinians have chosen nonviolent means of struggle, that for years now, villages have resisted the confiscation of their land for Israel’s ‘security wall’ with peace camps, nonviolent demonstrations and civil resistance. He might have also mentioned that some courageous Israeli supporters regularly cross the line to stand with them and share the risks, along with internationals from groups like the Christian Peacemaker Teams, the International Solidarity Movement, the International Women’s Peace Service and more.

On Friday, the day after Obama called on Palestinians to practice nonviolent means of struggle, the Israeli army fired on the weekly demonstration in Ni’ilin, a West Bank village protesting the wall. Five people were shot with 22 caliber ammunition. Yousef Akil Srour, age 36, died from his wounds after being shot in the chest. Mohammed Mouslah Mousa, age 16, may be paralyzed. Three others were wounded but will survive. This is not an unusual response to the practice of nonviolence in Palestine–it is so common for Palestinians to lose their lives that it rarely even makes the news unless an international supporter is killed or wounded.

I’ve worked in that movement, I’ve trained Palestinians, Israelis and internationals in nonviolent resistance. I’ve stood in those demonstrations. There’s always a squirrely feeling in the pit of your stomach when you stand up against police and state power. But when that power is unrestrained, when you know that live bullets may thud into your body, that attendance at the protest may cost you a limb or your brain functioning, your freedom or your life, well, let’s just say the squirrels run NASCAR races in your gut and your knees literally shake.

That people do take that risk is a cause for wonder and celebration of the human spirit. A few do so because they are Gandhi-like in their saintliness, but most are simply ordinary people who have come to believe that nonviolence is a more moral and a more effective means of struggle. They take that risk because they have seen small successes and slight glimmers of hope.

Obama has the power to increase that hope–hope is his trademark, after all.

The civil rights struggle in the American South succeeded because the nonviolent resistance of Freedom Riders and marchers and sit-ins caught the attention of the world and outraged a larger public opinion. Laws were changed, and the pressure of the Federal government was brought to bear.

For nonviolent resistance to succeed in Palestine, it needs the United States to exert its influence to restrain Israel’s disproportionate response to protest and its military assaults on Palestinian populations, to stop its incursions into Palestinian Territory and to end the siege of Gaza. It needs the support of global outrage that cannot be silenced by shrill cries of ‘anti-semitism’ every time Israel’s policies are challenged. Then we will also be able to silence the hoarse shouts of extremist propaganda, ground the rockets and still the hands of suicide bombers that menace Israel’s children, by bringing about a fair and just solution that can allow everyone in that region to live a life of dignity and freedom. Ultimately, justice is the true counter to violence, for only on a foundation of justice can peace be built.

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  • rosemaydance

    Thank you for this studied response. We are correct to ask more from President Obama, especially where nonviolence and wars are concerned. While he may be helping our lives improve, we must press him to be better and better.

  • Paganplace

    Well, at least that last comment had the sole virtue of brevity. Though I see room for improvement, even yet. 🙂

  • zebra4

    This is one of the finest pieces I have read.Why should America be the enemy of Arabs and Muslims or vice versa for the sake of Israel.America stands for Human Rights of all the people and does not pick and choose for the sake of convenience.

  • BOBSTERII

    ” Obama’s Speech Made Us Safer “This is something that republicans will never understand, because all they know and support is guns and sending our sons and daughters into dumb joke wars. Regardless how you explain it to them.

  • ares_home

    Starhawk, I am much in agreement with you, during the period before the speech, it was painfully apearent what he needed to say if there would be progress to peace. I sent a message to the Whitehouse to both the President and speech writers asking them to use the words of the Prophet as the best means to communicate, which was done, and unlikely unrelated to my email, but I suggested he use the words of Mohamad’s last speech which was to all mankind, all people of good faith and viewed with the greatest respect in the Islamic world, rather than the Koran, which in it’s passages is largely addressed to the Faithful. The last speech is a message of universal love and brotherhood, that also honors and respects the feminine in about as strong a fashion as someone raised in a patriarchal culture could phrase it. It would have saved Obama, the criticism he has received from some for, Moslem ancestors or no, daring to interprete the Holy Word as someone who has not submitted to Allah. There is no question that the Koran is somewhat sectarian in whom it addresses, like most any other Holy Book, but the last speech is aimed at the whole world, and inspiring reading for most all Moslems and non-Moslems alike at least those ready to share some kind of common spiritual bond.

  • yates33333

    Wow! What a bunch of nuts!!! You Americans are in trouble. You’re nuttier than western Europeans.

  • Paganplace

    “Wow! What a bunch of nuts!!! You Americans are in trouble. You’re nuttier than western Europeans.” yates33333Sometimes we do attract the weirder spammers, it seems. 🙂 Actually, I have the impression that ‘Interfaithnation’ (Not a Pagan, by the way) is originally from Eastern Europe. (Hard to tell, really) He’s basically just a troll from some prison cult who keeps getting banned and sneaking back on. 🙂

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Captain Ahab,”Hard to understand.”It is unless you know that she was born Miriam Simos in 1951, i.e., is a self-hating Askenazic leftie zealot of a certain age, a certain time, place, generation.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, really, Farnazz, just cause I don’t agree with the Church don’t make me ‘only a Paddy when someone wants to make a negative of it.’ She’s been where she’s been and saw what she speaks of. Which is more than can be said for most people with extremist opinions, here. Apart from that, her viewpoint on this seems straightforward enough to *me.*

  • YourAffectionateUncle

    My Dearest Farnaz,”Hard to understand””It is unless you know that she was born Miriam Simos in 1951, i.e., is a self-hating Askenazic leftie zealot of a certain age, a certain time, place, generation.”What a lovely revelation you make, as if you have discovered some hidden and shameful thing about your intended victim. You do impress on some occasions with your blithe vitriol. So reflexive that it now seems part of the very fabric of your soul. In time you can invite it to flourish in every aspect of your life. Wonderful how it obviates the need for you to encompass any aspect of the truth that the victim may have inadvertently stumbled upon, isn’t it?Well done. You do progress as we watch.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “you don’t like her being a Jew, you respect the name she’s taken.”She’d have to respect it more herself. She believes she has a certain “right” in Israel because of her Jewish ethnicity. Because of her ego, she’s certain that the seas should part, checkpoints crumble, etc.Been there and seen it. If yuh haven’t been, and yuh don’t get the history, don’t “okay”?Tell the next African American who’s damned tired of Tiger Woods bein’ a Cherokee that in your book she’s got it all wrong. Have your opinions. I’ll have mine.And where, O where, was this Jewish Pagan for Jews during the Islamic revolution? For Christians? For Muslims?Yuh don’t get it cuz yuh can’t bee it.

  • captn_ahab

    Starhawk does like to write.However, she hasn’t the slightest idea what she is talking about.She misunderstands the history of the conflict.She misunderstands the motives of the Palestinians.She misunderstands what it will take to end the conflict.Yet somehow she is given the impremateur of the Washington Post and place to scribble.Hard to understand.

  • globalone

    I’m glad Starhawk is so in loving with our articulate, poetic President.Perhaps more people would feel the same way if he wasn’t busy trampling federal laws, extorting states to do his bidding by withholding bailout funds, panhandling for women and hispanic votes through Supreme Court nominations, appointing “salary” czars, and moving the federal government down the path of owning every major industry in the U.S.But gee whiz Beave, isn’t the President so McDreamy when he’s reading from the teleprompter? Hoo-rah.

  • spreadpeaceandlove99

    “Obama’s Speech Made Us Safer”I don’t think so speech will make the difference , we can only see difference if good and safe policies for the world had been not only made but implemented too. Specially justice policies had to be made for the Muslim world.Learn and clear your mis-conception about islam at

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Guess I’m really not making my case since you can’t see that I’m not making a case. Composed a post for Captain Ahab. Neither that nor my post to you has anything to do with your “Holy Land,” “your,” I say, since I never had one, still don’t.The “land” is in your own skin, the holy, that you can leave it, yet know the project will always be doubtful. Tiger Woods’ problem. For some to see it, they must be it. Others require discursive radar. But that (secularly) blessed bunch that forms, un-forms, re-forms, some times de-forms out on the fringes, the waves, seeing double, triple, etc….

  • mokey2

    “Why not step out of your pseudo center for a moment, walk to the periphery, fringe, border, margin, where, for now, this moment, you will be quite safe, and contemplate that which, for you, may not speak its name?”LOL. As a Pagan, I’m nowhere NEAR any imagined center- at least not in this monotheistic society.And I don’t have to agree with everything Israel does, even as a Jew.I don’t have to agree with all of her positions, either- that’s the problem when an entire range of faith traditions is only represented on a site like this by one author- but I think they need to be considered. She walks the walk.Once again.. you’re making false assumptions about people, as you do here. contemplate what, specifically? All I’ve seen is that you deride the voice of someone who has been actively working for peace longer than most. I’ve ‘contemplated’ your position on that, and still found it wanting.If you have something to say to me, please, by all means, say it. Outright.But stop the name calling.

  • Paganplace

    Farnazz, whatever you’re talking about, (especially with this Tiger Woods thing, is he involved somehow?) it doesn’t justify you trying to ‘disqualify’ Starhawk from speaking on the basis she’s… Not Jewish enough, which you ‘prove’ by ‘revealing’ her born ‘given name’ and acting like she’s defrauding someone by speaking under her Pagan name? Err… What? I mean, if **you* don’t care about Israel, why are you attacking her as a ‘self-hating Jew?’ What’d she do, spoil the charming ambiance over there or something?

  • danzi2273

    Sfer from whom?? whom are you pointing out at or singling out, a totaly crap article, waste of time

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    A big problem communications-wise is that you don’t know the history, which goes back a long, long time. Took root big time in the twentieth century, when Jews finally got something approaching citizenship in some European countries, after WWI. It’s the Rosa Luxembourg syndrome, brilliant though L. surely was.Fight for everyone but your own damned Jewish self and the Jewish selves of others. And then you get to share in that great nineteenth-century cannard that the Jews are the real “white” people, that notwithstanding how much the “real” hated Js, and with a vengeance.Hence, in the nineteenth century you had all these deracinated EuroJewish socialists, brilliant, many of them,in some ways, as antisemitic as the cultural Christians.Starhawk is part and parcel of that tradition. I’ve seen it too many times not to know it. And I don’t like it. Where was Starhawk, indeed, where is she for the one hundred thousand Ethiopian Jews living in Israel? Where was she when they walked from Ethiopia to Israel, often getting “detained” and tortured in Sudan while en route?NOt exotic enough? Starhawk doesn’t understand that she’ll never be a Cherokee.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,I think you know quite well what I’m talking about since we’ve had this discussion before. “And I don’t have to agree with everything Israel does, even as a Jew.”Come on. This is just a tad reductive, if not irrelevant, isn’t it?Farnaz

  • mokey2

    Farnaz,You’re out of line here, attacking someone for not being ‘Jewish’ enough. If you bothered to read anything she’s written on this issue about her own experiences in the region, which she has been an active participant in for 30 years or more, you would know that she does what she can to help those she finds. Israelis AND Palestinians. She’s sat down in front of tanks, been arrested numerous times, all for trying to speak truth to both sides.What is your obsession with ‘Cherokee’?Your obsession with this ‘self hatred’ thing says more about you than it does about her.I am the same as her, too- you gonna call me a *self-hater*, too?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    MOkey,You say I am “out of line,” and that is where your incomprehension of me has generally begun and ended. Too bad, M, because I think you’re smart. The thing is, you see, I’ve never been IN line, and I will never be.Why not step out of your pseudo center for a moment, walk to the periphery, fringe, border, margin, where, for now, this moment, you will be quite safe, and contemplate that which, for you, may not speak its name?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,Speaking of “false assumptions” and “name-calling,” I’d suggest you rethink your pronounements in light of pot-kettle theory. You might also like to reread Starhawk’s essay with that construct in mind. The comparison with Luxembourg was/is apt. I may know more of the “Jewish anarchist” position than you do, and that may be part of the problem. But it is only part.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,RE: My last postMeant to write “Jewish Anarchist” tradition.

  • globalone

    Pagan,Your desire to make things *relative* to past presidents (i.e. George W. Bush) is puzzling to say the least. But if it makes you feel better (or superior), that’s your choice.The infatuation that some Americans have (i.e. Starhawk) with President Obama’s speaking ability is borderline insane. Go listen to clips of President Harding speak and you’ll realize that President Obama is not the first, or the last, to possess these skills.(By the way, how did the Harding presidency turn out anyway? Arguably one of the five worst in history? Ouch.)Getting pretty thin? I can hardly keep up! One minute the President is genuflecting at the feet of foreign dignitaries and the next he’s trying to explain 9.4% unemployment when he *promised* that his Throw Money at the Problem Stimulus package would cap unemployment at 8.1%. Oops.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,Last post was addressed to you.Farnaz

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,Of course, Paganism informs some of her thinking.Farnaz

  • Paganplace

    “Your desire to make things *relative* to past presidents (i.e. George W. Bush)”Actually, Globalone, hypocrisy *is* a matter of ‘relative to the past’ ….As in what I was pointing out as regards your sudden complaint about teleprompters after supporting Bush, who could barely string a sentence together even *with* a teleprompter, never mind without one. In other words, I was pointing out *your* assertions that were hypocritical. Trust me, between Obama and Bush there’s no real comparison on this count. It’s obvious.

  • Paganplace

    Err, Farnazz, whatever you were saying in the first place with all that nonsense, you haven’t improved your case. So… You can have your opinion, indeed. Frankly, *my* opinion on that patch of Earth is, if that’s what the lot of you call ‘Holy land’ you should keep your damn ‘holy wars’ there. Before you go talking like you do to someone who even *tried* to make it better.

  • mokey2

    “Surely, you know that this is also a theme in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Animism, etc.”Really? Want to ask the big three religious leaders if the idea of pantheism or immanence is anywhere in their texts? I can’t wait for THAT response. According to the big three, at least, that would be considered ‘idolatry’. I’ve spoken to enough Rabbis in my life to have learned that the hard way.There was a split divorcing spirit from nature or flesh once all the book religions showed up. Taking what once was held sacred and making it bad or to be dominated over. And what couldn’t be made ‘bad’ was incorporated or grafted onto local traditions.You’re conflating two ideas without any basis for it other than her using the ideas of egalitarianism.Again, please learn something.”An awful lot of violent rhetoric in the posting of the pacific Starhawk. And no, her interest in Israel does not stem from her Paganism any more than my interest in Native Americans stems from my Jewishness.”BS. Her interest comes directly out of her Paganism. If you read any of her works you would know that. You obviously don’t care about Native Americans, nor would you be expected to, as a Jewish person.I have yet to see any violent rhetoric in the ideas that she has presented. It’s not “violent” to actively work to promote peace between fighting factions of people.Now you’re just adding baseless accusations.BTW.. animism is not a religion on it’s own, either. It’s a component of many different religions. And you could believe in immanence and not necessarily be an animist, either.Stop trying to pretend you know what someone else believes.

  • mokey2

    wow.. you’re more misinformed than I thought, Farnaz.Paganism IS the source of her thinking. It doesn’t make her a “Jewish Anarchist”.. it makes her capable of seeing the divine everywhere- and as such realizing the difference between Power-over and Power-from-within. She writes about this extensively in her book, Dreaming the Dark. It’s not her aim to dismantle the governments of anybody- but she is capable of advocating nonviolent resistance in order to get people working together and thinking about each other in ways that might for once lead to a different outcome. She talks about the webs of life and the interconnectedness of all things and all people and uses those structures to get people thinking differently about themselves and others who may not be like them. Those ideas come from the immanence which is found in much of Wiccan polytheology. Far cry from Judaism.It’s funny you mention snakes- they are seen not as evil in Paganism- they are a powerful symbol of transformation of death and rebirth- another of the ongoing cycles of life. So your snake metaphor as somehow ‘evil’ doesn’t apply here. Sorry. :)Please top putting your labels on things you don’t know about. That’s on you, not her.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,I honestly don’t know how it is possible for you to make so many false assumptions about what I’m saying. I’m not an either/or, dichotomous thinker, hope you aren’t, well, either. The “evil” that you hunt for in my snakey post is, quite simply, not there. A snake is not a snake any more than A is A, and to it, I attribute neither good nor evil.An awful lot of violent rhetoric in the posting of the pacific Starhawk. And no, her interest in Israel does not stem from her Paganism any more than my interest in Native Americans stems from my Jewishness.As for “immanence,” of course, you’re greatly mistaken as it is very much a part of Judaism. Do you know anything about Judaism? If not (and it would appear not), please do not pronounce upon it.Backatcha: “Please top putting your labels on things you don’t know about.”Did you read the links I posted on “anarchism”? Or are you confusing it with the “lay” synonym “chaos”?Farnaz

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,Not an invitation to cherry pick, but”She talks about the webs of life and the interconnectedness of all things and all people….”Surely, you know that this is also a theme in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Animism, etc.

  • mokey2

    “You think you know something about Judaism because you have spoken to enough rabbis in your life? LOL! To whom did you speak? What did they tell you about immanence? Which branches of Judaism? Askenazim? Sfardim? Trad. Orthodox? Modern Orthodox? Chasidism (specify branch), Conservative (specify type and branch), Reformed, Reconstructionist?”My Jewish education or ‘cred’ is quite frankly none of your business. Suffice it to say that I studied enough to be taught that it was some sort of *mistake* to believe as I did in immanence and be a pantheist and still be considered Jewish, at least religiously.I learned enough from the branches my family were from to know that I cannot be bound to any book. It’s not being ‘hysterical’ to point out to you that you are attempting to speak for an entire people- and it’s attitudes like yours, that I or anybody else who sees things differently than you do requires ‘reeducation’ somehow- that snide, condescending attitude- that is why I left. Your assumptions that you know anything about me are WAY off.I actually posted something to you on another thread a long ways back that I never received an answer to, either.If anti-semitism disappeared tomorrow, and the Jews no longer had anyone to fight against- what then would it mean to be Jewish in today’s world?I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to this.

  • mokey2

    “All you’re doing is attacking me, making baseless accusations against me. Indeed, much of what you write is patently solipsistic.”So I’m supposed to submit to your ‘reeducation’ program? Because I chose to think for myself and not be bound to any book? You are snide and extremely condescending.”What this tells me is that your exposure to Judaism must have been very narrow. You never deal with the many scholars: Maimonides, HaLevi, Solevetchik, Buber, Rosenzweig, Heschel, M. Kaplan, Levinas, et al.”It doesn’t tell you squat. You have no idea what I’ve studied, or even why I came to where I am now. Stop assuming that you do. I spent many years researching most if not all of the scholars.. and ultimately decided that it wasn’t for me. I don’t need a book to tell me how to live my life.It doesn’t mean that I *hate* Judaism, but it wasn’t for me. That simple. Deal with it. What I certainly do resent are your attempts to at least *act* like a spokesperson for Judaism and are so quick to label someone a ‘hater’ for simply daring to think for themselves.. and coming to an alternate conclusion.”Judaism is not a response to antisemitism.”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Mokey,I did reply to your posting to me on another thread a long way back. I’m not interested in your Jewish creds. You evidence very little knowledge of an enormously complex religion that would be better called Judaism(s).Judaism, is not properly speaking, pantheistic, in the sense, for instance of Spinoza, but certain Chasidic beliefs, Talmudic midrashim, which, of course, are esteemed by all the branches come very close.All you’re doing is attacking me, making baseless accusations against me. Indeed, much of what you write is patently solipsistic. YOu can’t win on facts, so you settle for name-calling. I see no point, quite frankly, in continuing this, particularly since I had no desire to enter a contest in the first place, and you are shadow boxing. I will, however, address this:I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to this. You never mention the Tanaim, Bruria, Rashi for heaven’s sake.None of this is to the point, however. What religion you choose is up to you. Just quit accusing me falsely, ignoring everything I write that proves you incorrect.

  • mokey2

    Oh and on this:”much of what you write is patently solipsistic.”No, actually.. Pagans are very practical people and live in the real world. If you knew anything about it, instead of making bizarre statements like that, (or better yet, asking questions so that maybe you could actually open a DIALOGUE with someone you don’t know in order to *learn* something) you’d know that.But that’s too hard for you to comprehend, so you come around accusing people of things that they’ve never said. One thing I never expected from someone who claims such *vast* knowledge of Judaism is intellectual laziness.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    The divine presence is within everything. Space and time collapse on the Sabbath, the period time Jews take to see the loveliness that is concealed all around them. At the end of time, it is believed that all the loveliness will reveal itself. Through PARDES, the levels of exegesis, Jews reach come into contact with immanence in scripture.There is tremendous intellectual and spiritual beauty in the religion. It is not lachrymose. Quite the contrary. It is infinitely hopeful and optimistic.I’m not a spokesperson for Judaism; however, your assumptions are all wrong. You are conflating some cultural problems with the religion itself. Judaism is not a response to antisemitism. It is a celebration of the “created” universe, of the infinite confidence of the deity, Hashem, in human.

  • lchaimdel

    Safer? are you kidding? I seriously do not understand why so many thought this was a great speech. I greet my Muslim friends with “Asalam aleikum” and believe that Israel is overstepping its “rights” to the land by oppressing the indigenous people be they christian or muslim (not sure there is an actual place called Palestine but to me that is not the real issue). But knowing the basic beliefs and history of Islam I was MOST concerned that a President who openly claimed Christianity in this speech would concede to “agree” that the Isra event actually happened. I certainly can agree that both sides need to compromise on matters of policy. BUT on matters of faith, no TRUE Christian would EVER cite the Isra event and thereby agree that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed prayed together. Christians do NOT believe that Mohammed was a prophet, but rather very misguided and perhaps even mentally ill and definitely NOT a saint or worthy of being taken to the heavens. They also could NEVER concede that Jesus, who had ascended to the heavens in His glorified body to be reuinted with the Father and Holy Spirit, would appear in anything BUT that glorified form again. And the Isra event was clearly crafted by Mohammed to try and trump the earlier historical story of Christ’s transfiguration where Moses and Elijah descended from the heavens to witness to Jesus’ authority and majesty as God. This was followed just weeks later by His ascension into the heavens. The Isra event is also the MOST important event to Muslims because it is through this event they believe that he was given superiority over all former prophets (supposedly then more important than Jesus) AND from this divine transport, also given divine sanction to spread Islam by ANY means such as wars, violence, oppression, whatever. So herein lies my BIG problem with President Obama and the others who helped him write that speech. In short, he did not just come out and say “all sides need to respect each other and play fair” what he REALLY did was agree to Islam’s dominance over the Christian Gospel and gave the Muslim world the green light to take on the world and rewrite history just to make 1.5 billion people happy. A SAD SAD day for the rest of the world!