In the coming days Jews in Israel and worldwide will celebrate Rosh Hashanah—the start of the new year 5776. During the ensuing days of awe, the Jewish people will gather together, search their souls, repent for their sins and stand humbly before the Heavenly Father to ask for his blessing. The high holy days are always a somber time, but this year I suspect there will be even more introspection and the prayers will be murmured with an increased degree of fervor.
The Jewish people have cause for concern. It is hard to remember a time within the past 50 years when they had so many reasons to feel alone and under fire. The United Nations seems to relish any opportunity to castigate the state of Israel, holding it to a higher standard than any other country and heaping derision on an amazing country that should be praised for its commitment to making Israel a modern-day light unto the nations.
A misguided boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has spread globally and is designed to create a new level of isolation for Israel. Inside Israel, the Jewish people are literally living under fire and the constant threat of attack. The Middle East today is aflame. The region is a seething pit of savage apocalyptic terrorist groups seeking to install a radical Islamic caliphate worldwide, unstable and failed regimes moving backward, and home to brutal dictators who do not hesitate to commit atrocities against their own people.
Given the magnitude of the threats, not just to Israel but to global peace and stability, one would expect that America would look for every opportunity to cement ties with Israel, but the opposite has been true. Despite the strong sense of common values and shared destiny binding the vast majority of the American people to Israel, the White House has turned its back on Israel. At a time when we should have been embracing Israel closer than ever before, the president has chosen instead to push Israel away.
The Obama administration has failed to treat Israel as the key ally and respected partner that it is. Instead, there has been a pattern of insulting and cajoling Israel and ignoring and downplaying its dire warnings about threats to its security. It is a dangerous development that increases Israel’s isolation and emboldens its enemies who hope to exploit rifts between America and the Jewish state.
In no arena is that more true than the Administration’s reckless gamble on a misguided nuclear deal with Iran. At the time of this writing it appears that the American people’s representatives in Congress will not even have the opportunity to cast votes on the deal, owing to an administration that has used parliamentary maneuvers to ram through the deal even though polls suggest that just 21 percent of Americans support it.
Seemingly desperate to secure a foreign policy “victory” and a “legacy,” President Obama has sacrificed American national security interests. The Iran deal legitimizes rather than dismantles Iran’s nuclear program, enables $150 billion to flow into the coffers of the world’s top sponsor of terrorism and eliminates an arms embargo designed to keep weaponry out of the hands of Tehran’s radical regime.
Since the deal was signed, Iran has taken every opportunity to make it clear why America, Israel and the world cannot afford this deal. “God willing, there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years,” said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a recent speech reported by Iran’s state-run media. “Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists."
Sadly, this is far from the first time the Jewish people have been threatened by tyrants wishing to destroy them. After all, the rekindling of Jewish peoplehood in the land where it has had a continuous presence for 3,000 years took place in the shadow of the Holocaust and methodical efforts to eradicate “the Jewish problem.”
I have traveled all across America and have heard and seen how the American people feel about Israel. The affinity for the Jewish state transcends party and politics. Despite the best attempts by the current White House, the bonds are not going to be broken and if anything I suspect that whoever next sits in the Oval Office will set in motion a reversal and seek to mend ties between our nation.
As a child sitting in church I was taught to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I understood even then that the Bible doesn’t merely tell fantastical stories, but conveys the history of a people. I have traveled to Israel a dozen times.
I have traveled the land from its most northern border to its southern, stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount and recruited the men who would become his first apostles. I have felt the cool air inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and literally walked in the footsteps of Jesus along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
Despite its many challenges, I believe in my heart that Israel will persevere and eventually overcome. As the sounds of the shofar call the faithful to prayer and signal the start of a new year I hope that they also serve as a reminder to Israel’s enemies that despite their wicked fantasies, the Jewish people will never be defeated. Am Yisrael Chai—the people of Israel live.