As the Jewish New Year beckons, Bibi Netanyahu is cravenly criticizing the US President for not drawing a “red line” in the sand that would give the US the go-ahead to militarily attack Iran. I’m tempted to vent my gall, but thank goodness for MJ Rosenberg, who hits the nail right on the head in a blog post with the awesome title, “My Rosh Hashanah Greeting to Netanyahu: Butt the Hell Out of Our Election”:
For the last three weeks, Netanyahu has been openly attacking our president and has made clear his determination to defeat him. He is demanding that the president draw a red line in the sand, one dictated by Netanyahu, and tell the Iranians that if they cross it, we, the United States, will go to war. In short, he is demanding that the United States allow a foreign country to make our decision to commit our forces on his behalf. (Not even Winston Churchill demanded that and his country was fighting for its life against Nazi Germany not some imagined threat).
Obama is not going to risk American lives because Bibi wants him to. And I don’t think Romney would either. There are limits, not even Adelson’s campaign contributions are likely to buy a war that would destroy Romney’s presidency. He is, after all, an American politician – just like Obama. American.
Right on. I’m heartened that so far Obama has resisted Bibi’s cynical attempts to use our election season for his own political benefit. As Nicholas Kristof put it so aptly in today’s NY Times, “I think Obama should indeed set a red line — warning Netanyahu to stop interfering in American elections.”
This New Year, as I listen to these kinds of threats bandied about, I can’t help but think back to a sermon I gave to my congregation during the High Holidays four years ago – on the eve of my trip to Iran with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. This is what I had to say back then (still all too relevant today):
If we Jews truly want to avoid a “second Holocaust,” I would suggest the first step would be to stop comparing every provocation against Israel and the Jewish people in the most extreme terms possible. Iran is not the Third Reich and Ahmadinejad is not Hitler. This is not to say we shouldn’t take Ahmadinejad’s hateful rhetoric seriously, but it does mean that this is a thorny, difficult and complex crisis. And we would do well to respond to it with intelligence and understanding, not by drawing lines in the sand and increasing even further the likelihood of yet another tragic military conflict in the Middle East.
You can click here to read the entire sermon. I also blogged extensively during my trip – you can dig up those posts by going to the Categories menu on the right and clicking on “Iran Trip 2008.”
Let us all pray and work for peace in 5773.