Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerThe writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .
Dear Secretary Lew, Mr. Saban, and Prime Minister Netanyahu:
You all are passionate lovers of Israel, so you know the recent news. All three of you also have something else in common: you are deeply educated in the history of Israel and of the Jewish people, so you all know that we have had it worse. We have been through Babylonia and Ancient Rome. We have been through Crusaders murdering one third of European Jewry. We have been through the Inquisition. We have been through Blood Libels and Expulsions from almost all the countries of Europe. We have been through Cossacks and Tsars launching pogroms. We have been through cattle cars, gas chambers, and ovens.
So we will survive Senegal, Malaysia, Venezuela, and New Zealand. And we already have survived Obama.
The question about which I write you openly today: Has any or all of you stopped to consider how history will remember you? You each probably have met each other, somehow some way, but you actually are writing three separate life stories. Most people have no opportunity to be remembered in history. You each have the possibility, primarily the Prime Minister, but the question is not only whether history will pass you by and overlook your life, but whether Jewish history will judge you as a hero or a coward, a blind fool or a visionary, a person who could not grow into greatness or a person who could seize a moment to change the course of his own life and the destiny of his people. I will elaborate, short and sweet:
Jewish history remembers our heroes, our people of courage, even when they demonstrated Jewish pride on the occasion of a single baseball game.
Mr. Lew — You are an Orthodox Jew who rose to fame. You learn Talmud, daven daily, and have a great mind. You acquired great wealth in a great New York investment company, and you rose to become the Secretary of the Treasury of the United Stets of America under Barack Obama. Very few Orthodox Jews ever rose to such a level as to sit in a nation’s cabinet, but you have. One predecessor comes to my mind: the great Don Isaac Abravanel, who was Minister of Finance to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 15th Century Spain. When the Expulsion befell our People in 1492, Isabella and Ferdinand asked Don Isaac to remain. They explained that they were not throwing him out with all the other Jews. He was set for life. However, despite his age and his elevated station, he decided that he could not sit in his perch while his people were under an historic decree. He resigned his office, and he marched from Spain will all the other Jews on the day of the Expulsion, a day when another person of Italian and possibly Jewish origin was setting sail from Spain on a fateful journey to India that would change the course of human history.
Mr. Lew, this is your moment of history. If you miss the moment, history will miss you. You will be forgotten in American history, and you will be forgotten in Jewish history, leaving the field exclusively to Don Isaac Abravanel. It could not be expected fairly that you would have been able to sway Obama on his decision to ambush Israel at the United Nations in the way he does best — from behind. But here is the opportunity that this moment of history affords you: You can resign your position right now. You can resign from Obama’s cabinet immediately. You do not have to spell out the reason. You can step down “for personal reasons.” You can leave it for pundits and historians to debate whether you acted out of courage and personal principle.
To this day, Jewish history remembers that Hank Greenberg missed a critical Detroit Tigers game because of Rosh Hashanah and that Sandy Koufax stepped aside, missing a Dodgers World Series game, because of Yom Kippur. Jewish history remembers our heroes, our people of courage, even when they demonstrated Jewish pride on the occasion of a single baseball game. Jews of every generation learn about them and about their courage, when all was on the line, to step down for a brief moment of time and thus to achieve immortality among our people.
Secretary Lew, this is your opportunity and your moment. With less than a month left before you are succeeded in the Treasury by Steven Mnuchin, you will be giving up very little, but you will be attaining immortality by giving Jews something to remember for ages to come — the story of the other Orthodox Jewish Minister of Finance who, as a matter of courage and principle, could not remain in the orbit of a person who had allowed a world body to vote that Jews have no legal right to live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, to be at the Kotel, to live and rear their children in Jerusalem. You can step down for “personal reasons.” You will be remembered — or you will be forgotten — based on what you do or do not do these next few days.
Mr. Saban — Your love for Israel is palpable. You saw the Democrat Party as a vehicle by which you could advance precious principles in which you believe. Among your most cherished principles is your love for Israel. You now see where the Democrat Party has drifted. Keith Ellison is a serious finalist to head the DNC. Al Sharpton is a Democrat king-maker and opinion-setter. Obama allowed the United Nations to declare you and your family and loved ones illegal if you try to participate in life in eastern Jerusalem. This is not the Democrat Party of Hubert Humphrey, Henry Jackson, and Emanuel Celler. This is the Democrat Party of Obama, John Kerry, Al Sharpton, Samantha Powers, and Keith Ellison.
Now is the time for you to redirect the millions upon millions of dollars that you give to the Democrats, and give that money where it will do good: to cancer foundations, to heart associations, to hospitals for children like St. Jude and the Shriners Hospital, and to Israeli hospitals in Jerusalem. Do not be fooled by those who would say “But we have Chuck Schumer.” Chuck Schumer accomplished nothing to protect from the Iran Deal, and he accomplished nothing to protect in the United Nations, even though he now sits as the Democrats’ Senate Minority Leader. He has no power, and he has no influence on issues of survival — only on issues of party power.
Mr. Saban, this is your moment of history. This is your Don Isaac moment. This is your moment to decide how many more of your millions you can bear to see diverted from your assets and personal estate to hurt Israel. It will determine whether history remembers you as a courageous Jewish philanthropist or merely as someone with a Wikipedia mention regarding Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Prime Minister Netanyahu — You already have secured a place in Jewish history. The question now is whether you will be remembered as “better than Peres” and “better than Ehud Barak” or whether you will be remembered as someone of historic greatness. For twenty years and more, Israel has explored winning world support and sympathy by ceding territory and making concessions in return for unkept promises. The other side promises to stop teaching their children to hate Jews, to prepare a mindset for peace — and then they proceed to incorporate hate of Jews and Israel into their school textbooks, their summer youth camps, their street signs, their radio and television, and into every walk of their lives.
The Republican-majority Senate and Republican-majority House of Representatives are waiting eagerly, buoyed by the American voters’ mandate, to pounce and eradicate all vestiges of Obama’s eight years.
Israel has ceded enough, and you are blessed with the intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom to know it. The time has come to extend Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria — or at least Area C — and to treat those communities with the same legal legitimacy as Israel regards the Jewish communities of the Golan and of East Jerusalem. It is time for Maaleh Adumim and Beit El, Ariel and Karnei Shomron, Efrat and Tekoah and all of Gush Etzion to be deemed as much a part of Israel as are the Golan and East Jerusalem.
The great challenge always is “When to do it?” Mr. Prime Minister, Barack Obama and John Kerry have answered that question for you: If not now, when? Now is the time. More than reducing Israeli aid to Senegal, canceling a diplomat’s visit, or lecturing a representative from New Zealand, the answer to New Zealand and Great Britain and France and Obama is: Now is the time.
You are politically astute, Mr. Prime Minister. You know that Americans just a few weeks ago resoundingly rejected Obama’s program and left his “legacy” in shambles. In the course of his eight years, Obama has destroyed his own political party, and he has left the Democrats with losses of more than one thousand elections in the fifty states. That is not a typo: under Obama, American have ousted more than 1,000 Democrats from offices throughout the Country, ranging from municipalities to states to national offices. The Democrats have been decimated.
Obama is out in less than four weeks, free to play golf in Martha’s Vineyard and to salsa in Cuba all he likes, and the Republican-majority Senate and Republican-majority House of Representatives are waiting eagerly, buoyed by the American voters’ mandate, to pounce and eradicate all vestiges of Obama’s eight years. The Republicans will take the axe to all of it — his housing regulations, energy regulations, his foreign policy shambles, his eponymous healthcare program, everything he has touched and warped. It all will disappear as though he never had been, like the 25,000 Assyrian soldiers who camped outside Jerusalem’s walls for a planned onslaught the next morning, an attack that never happened because they were wiped out that night in their sleep. So it is that all of Obama’s “legacy” will be eradicated.
But what will be of your legacy, Mr. Prime Minister? Will you be remembered as “better than Peres” and “better than Ehud Barak,” or will you be remembered as a courageous Man of Destiny who extended Jewish sovereignty over the lands of Judea and Samaria? This is your moment of history, too, Prime Minister Netanyahu. May the spirit of the Maccabees and Hanukkah guide you. They seized the moment, and history remembers them.
How will Jewish history remember you? Now is the time to seize the moment.
Rabbi Dov Fischer
Rabbi Dov Fischer is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky). His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Los Angeles Times, and in other major American publications. He formerly was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California. He is author of Jews for Nothing (Feldheim). His writings can be found at RabbiDov.com