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Rabbi Samuel April

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The Rebuke

Posted: 05/23/11 10:41 PM ET

Just as President Obama was riding the crest of his newly re-energized popularity from capturing Osama bin Laden came "the rebuke." Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was seen publicly rebuking the American president on his home turf after Mr. Obama had called for "the return to the pre-1967 borders" to restart the peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. Israel would be unable to defend those borders, countered the Israeli. How would each leader handle the tension?

Addressing the AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee) convention two days later, the president "reassured them that America's support for Israel is ironclad." He "shifted tone" by insisting that "land swaps" would be part of the deal. In his most masterful legal analytical re-evaluation, he maintained that he had said nothing different from many previous administrations.

WRONG! Wrong! Wrong! No American president had ever made such a preposterous, presumptive, arrogant proposal as to impose his will on the sovereignty of another nation. He started with the supposition that Israel should concede all of the land it conquered in the 1967 war, the third major conflict inaugurated by the Arabs to destroy Israel (War of Israeli Independence, 1948; Sinai Campaign, '56; Six Day War, '67; Yom Kippur War, '73). He decided that he could cede territory of a foreign nation as a precondition to negotiations. Any skilled debater would have countered: Suppose you were negotiating with the president of Mexico to stop illegal immigration over our borders and to attempt to halt illicit drug importation and he said, "Done. First you cede back to Mexico all of Texas, New Mexico and California and then, I will then consider your proposal."

Remember the history of these two men. President Obama clearly humiliated and abased Mr. Netanyahu on previous occasions. He treated him as a persona non grata, rather than an ally. He seemed to be relying on the goodwill of Israel because the USA is its only friend in the U.N. He miscalculated and misconstrued the effects of his pronouncements. He was sure that the Arab world would appreciate his even handed diplomacy. Of course, they disagreed completely; their reaction to the Israeli "he went too far" was "he did not go far enough." Not only Israelis, American Jews and other Zionists were appalled, but all Messianic-believing, evangelical Christians were shocked and disappointed by Mr. Obama's words, his demeanor and callous disregard for common decency.

Ironically, this week's Torah reading was Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34). It is usually referred to as "the Admonition" or "the Rebuke." Seven times does the Bible repeat the refrain of the Almighty, "as you deal with Me, so shall I deal with you." If you act contrary to My laws, so shall I be contrary with you. Do you desire peace in your land? I have sent you "the book and the sword." Choose the Book, the Bible; renounce the sword, the path of violence, death, destruction. Israel has offered peace to its Arab neighbors since its inception -- in the days of King David, three millennia ago to the days of David Ben Gurion. It has been rejected by those who sought to annihilate every Jew. When the civilized nations of the world will begin to stand up against suicide bombings, intifadas and jihads and instead fight for justice and righteousness, will peace prevail.