Obama: Passover Teaches Hope; Palin: Next Year in Jerusalem
Despite staggeringly low approval ratings in Israel and international attention for his administration's staunch opposition to Jewish growth in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, US President Barack Obama held his third Passover seder on Monday.
A statement signed by President Obama said the story of the miraculous redemption of the Jewish people from under the lash of Egyptian slavery is a lesson in fighting suffering, discrimination, and oppression. "In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination," Obama wrote, saying "wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won."
Obama also said the seder encourages hope "that we can repair this world."
Just a week ago, however, Obama reportedly snubbed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader was in Washington. According to reports, Obama excused himself from a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to have dinner with his wife Michelle -- a dinner to which the Netanyahus were not invited.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also recently endured a long tirade by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who chastised the prime minister for embarrassing US Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a new building plan in Jerusalem during Biden's visit to Israel.
'Next Year in the White House!'
Obama's first seder took place on the campaign trail, in the basement of a hotel in Pennsylvania with three of his staffers, according to the New York Times. At the conclusion, Obama implored "Next Year in the White House!" a play on the traditional prayer of seder night, "Next Year in Jerusalem!"
Since then, Obama has attended two seders as President.
Monday night's seder was attended by daughters Malia and Sasha, who took part in the customary search for the afikoman, the "dessert" piece of matzah at the end of the meal, often hidden by children who barter for a prize in exchange for it.
Message from Palin
Yet President Obama was not the only significant American politician to issue a Passover message. Republican rival Sarah Palin had a powerful message for Passover celebrants. Often touted by activists and pundits as pro-Israel, Palin directly addressed the Jewish people, and offered her solidarity with Israelis:
Tonight Jewish families all over the world will gather to celebrate Passover, the story of Exodus and the freedom of the Jewish people from bondage. This holiday reminds us of the sacrifices that are still being made for freedom – the U.S. troops who are away from their families so that we can be with ours, and the Israeli people, who struggle for peace with their neighbors even as they face the threat of war.
“Next year in Jerusalem” will be the refrain echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders tonight. It is a stark reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have faced, whatever the struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient and unshakable. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to all who are celebrating. Chag kasher V'Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem.