A World in Turmoil


By Eli Ajzenman

Don’t sacrifice your political convictions for the convenience of the hour.
– Edward M. Kennedy

Folk who don’t know why America is the Land of Promise should be here during an election campaign.
Milton Berle

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
– Sir Winston Churchill

In a week that saw continued financial chaos, the Brazilian Grand Prix and our own Melbourne Cup (horse race). Those events still did not rival what might be termed the most important election, the most important choice of a President ever in modern times. Of course only history will really tell us what the election of Barak Obama, America’s first black president, will mean in the context of events that we are yet to see.

The election, splendid with slogans, patriotism and a call to arms (economically speaking), from both sides, raises the bar of hope and expectations not just for the American people, but for the world’s population in general. Never has there been a time when the saying “when America sneezes the world catches cold” has rung more true than in the last few months.

The powerhouse of the 20th Century, the most powerful nation ever seen, is at a turning point in its history, and we, the rest of the world are really just along for the ride.

That there is a great deal of work and effort for reality to bridge rhetoric, is perhaps not so obvious at the moment ,while the vigour and excitement of the words “yes we can” still rings in our ears.

 When the dust settles, and the cleaners have bagged all the banners and American flags discarded after Obama’s victory speech, perhaps then the onerous task of what lays ahead will  start to bite at the heels of the ever faithful.

I have had numerous discussions and arguments over what Obama’s election means to Jews and Israel.

Let me quote form a piece by Jon Wiener who writes a blog for The Huffington Post under the banner of “off the bus”

Obama’s position on Israel — the litmus test for the conservative Jewish establishment — is the mainstream Democratic Party position. His website says that “a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel… will always be my starting point” in dealing with the Middle East. Obama supported Israel’s disastrous war in Lebanon in 2006. Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida says “Obama has been an ironclad supporter of the US-Israel relationship.”

So what exactly is the problem? According to the Times, “some critics” have “expressed concerns” that Obama’s repeated statements of support for Israel “are not heartfelt.”

Number one among those critics, according to the Times, is somebody named Ed Lasky, who writes for a website called AmericanThinker.com.

The Times failed to note that Obama’s supporters include Martin Peretz, longtime editor-in-chief of The New Republic, whose obsession with Israel is legendary. He recently published a remarkable piece in that magazine headlined “Can Friends of Israel–and Jews–Trust Obama? In a word, Yes.”


So what does that tell us?  That no one really knows what the outcome for Israel and by extension, Jews, is going to be, but one thing is for certain – the next few years will be decisive if not interesting as to how Israel in particular will conduct its affairs. Add to that the uncertainty of who will govern in Israel and you have the potential for a new round of not just political, but religious conflict in the Middle East.

 One thing is for sure, given the history of the Jewish people and our ability to outstay all the major world powers, from Egypt through Rome and the Holocaust of the Nazi era, we will certainly survive the unpredictability of world events.

To all members, may you spend this Shabbat in whatever manner you prefer, with your family and friends and all those you love.

Shabbat Shalom



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