JIMMY CARTER AND THE PLAGUE OF DARKNESS
Shabbat Shalom, Everyone. CyberRav here with a bit of Aural Torah for you!
Senator Joe Lieberman thinks him naïve. Representative Sue Myric, a North Carolina Republican, would revoke his passport. Representative Joe Knollenberg, a Republican of Michigan, would suspend tax dollars to the center named for him. It seems like everyone is talking about Jimmy Carter, our octogenarian former president, who in violation of United States policy, has met with representatives of Hamas, an organization identified as a terrorist operation by both the United States and Israel.
The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, its replacement with a Palestinian state, and has recruited many Palestinians to give up their lives in suicide bombings, resulting in the murders of thousands of people, including Americans.
One of the Jewish people’s most cherished values is freedom and as we prepare for this festival of freedom, Pesah, we remind ourselves that we can never enjoy the fullness of freedom until all people are free. But our selflessness may be unwarranted, for freedom may be our value, but it’s not everyone’s value. For others, there are values far more critical—obedience, uniformity, faith—which all occupy higher positions than freedom, if freedom even appears on that list of cherished values at all.
In speaking with Hamas, Jimmy Carter pursues a long discredited dream that negotiating with terrorists yields positive results. It’s not possible to negotiate with terrorists because terrorists do not seek compromise with their opponent. They seek to vanquish the opponent. They will speak with anyone, like a Jimmy Carter, to the extent that it will advance their own cause, but not to the extent that it will resolve a conflict in any equitable or fair manner. And so former President Carter’s engagement of Hamas does not further the cause of peace in the Middle East, but strengthens the bloody hands of men and women dedicated to disrupting that peace on a daily basis.
It’s almost Passover and I hate to speak about matters as distasteful as Jimmy Carter’s confused and misguided diplomatic efforts. And yet Pesah teaches us that the pursuit of freedom necessarily entails some harsh measures. We may have to give up some of those creature comforts like warm soft hallah for the brittle crunch of the bread of affliction: matzah. The condiments we use may be bitter, like horseradish or reminiscent of the mortar we once produced for Pharaoh, like haroset. Can we live without these symbols and rituals in our life? Absolutely. But if we so choose, we won’t be choosing Jewish life, and the priorities we live by won’t be the Jewish priorities that crown freedom with the exalted position it enjoys.
The ninth and tenth plagues were darkness and the killing of the firstborn respectively. The message of that order is as clear as day. Those who persist to walk in darkness will ultimately lose that which is most precious to them. Mr. Carter, on his peace mission, will not achieve the precious peace for the MidEast or that precious freedom for the Palestinians he so desires. We do not achieve peace or freedom by empowering the purveyors of violence.
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