Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Surely you jest

Bush appropriates Chanukah moral in depicting current threat from Iran

President Bush and his Cabinet have seized upon the Maccabean message of refusing to give in to tyranny to reinforce Bush’s refusal to deal with Iran as a means of resolving Iraq’s burgeoning crisis. In at least one closed meeting, Bush made the connection explicitly.
Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have rejected the study group’s calls to bring Iran and Syria into regional talks on Iraq as long as those nations continue to back terrorism and Iran does not comply with international demands to stop a program that could culminate in nuclear weapons.

The tone was set with Bush’s annual Chanukah message, released last Friday hours before the holiday began.

“After Jerusalem was conquered by an oppressive king and the Jews lost their right to worship in freedom, Judah Maccabee and his followers courageously set out to reclaim Jerusalem from foreign rule,” Bush said. “Though their numbers were small, the Maccabees’ dedication to their faith was strong, and they emerged victorious.”

It was a contrast with Bush’s Christmas message, which was focused on compassion.

“In this season of giving, we also remember the universal call to love our neighbors,” Bush said. “Millions of compassionate souls take time during the holidays to help people who are hurt, feed those who are hungry and shelter those who need homes.”
On Monday night, Bush presided over the menorah lighting inside the White House.

“We pray that those who still live in the darkness of tyranny will someday see the light of freedom,” he said, accompanied by his Jewish Cabinet members: Schwab, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Bush’s linkage of the Chanukah message and Iran was explicit earlier Monday at a meeting that was expected to focus on Jewish higher education. White House Chanukah meetings change in theme from year to year; previous years have featured day school educators and rabbis.

This year, participants said, Bush seemed more interested in discussing Iran.

“A lot of the conversation centered on Iran and on the president’s conviction that they not be allowed to pick up a nuclear weapon,” said Avi Mayer, a University of Maryland undergraduate who was one of four students representing Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. “He said there’s no use in propping up despots, they have to be confronted and brought to task for their actions.”
“There was a common refrain of the importance of values and how values are the most valuable antidote” to despotism, Sandler said.

Bush said that despite declarations of piety from Muslim radicals now fighting the United States, he doubted that they believed in God.

“ ‘Terrorists’ can’t be God-believing people,’ ” Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, quoted Bush as saying.

The list of obvious counter-examples to this desperately stupid statement about the relationship between religion and terror is both non-denominational and virtually infinite in length. But since Dubya seems to be taking inspiration from Jewish history:

The exploits of Lehi, 1940-50

The bombing of the King David Hotel, 1946

And, since the Bush Administration believes that Gitmo prisoners furthered the cause of terrorism by taking their own lives, may I present: Masada.

I don't have time for the exercise, but I suspect it would be harder to come up with a list of terrorists who did not believe in God. Clearly suicide bombers are going to be religious -- who is more likely to strap C-4 to his chest: the guy who expects to gain admission to heaven for his sacrifice, or the one who rejects the very idea of heaven?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The future will never be told by people walking backward.

While religion may have been a prime motivator for desperate acts of the past, in recent times we see new actions, never been dreamed of before, which are not explainable by reviewing the past.

Not long ago, a Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near an Israeli checkpoint. Surely she was not motivated by the 1,000 virgins waiting for her in heaven. She was responding directly to an Israeli attack in Beit Hanun.

While the efficiency of her response may be debatable, the religious aspect was a secondary motivator, at best. She was responding to butchery.

While she was the first widely publicized radical dead grandma, she will not be the last. People are asking themselves what they can do against a world of horrible tyrants that make Saddam Hussein look like the loser on amateur night for bad guys. The motivation for these questions is not religious, it is logical.

When the rulers of the world behave with utter disregard for life, and they make it clear that those who oppose them will be the examples that demonstrate their ruthlessness, what can you do? Or, more cleverly, what can't you do?

If the crap game of life becomes a purely losing experience before the final great loss, why not carve out your own ending? In that there is some satisfaction that cannot be undone, and the message to others is clear. Strike out for yourself, even when there is no chance of surviving/winning, and maybe someday the chance of winning will improve for others. Grandmothers understand that and you should expect to see more, and more radical, and more effective tactics taken by grandmothers and other "weaklings".

THAT'S what I meant by writing the history of the future! Think about it before returning to dusty collections of what they did in the past (always as described by the winners, mind you).


3:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats