Monday, September 21, 2020 -
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The illusion of safety

We are living in historic times.

Personally, I’ve never understood why it’s significant whether America has its embassy in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. We know Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. More importantly, we have sovereignty of Jerusalem. What do I care whether Jerusalem is officially recognized or not, and said recognition is manifested by the presence of a particular embassy or not? The fear of making the location of the US embassy an issue and the attendant price tag it can G-d forbid extract were just never worth it to me. Certainly, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And certainly, having the American embassy in Jerusalem projects strength — and more importantly, integrity to the reality of Jerusalem and Israel. But as the saying goes, “pick your battles,” and this one I felt wasn’t worth it.

We don’t live in a perfect society. Hard compromises are made. Having the US embassy in Tel Aviv hardly felt like the end of the world to me.

Just the same, this past week, seeing photos of the vertical rectangles of the American red, white and blue stars juxtaposed with the white and blue Israeli flags, fluttering in the wind side by side on the lampposts flanking the highway leading to Jerusalem was indeed exciting.

Glimpsing a smiling Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, balancing precariously on a ladder as he nailed a white and black street sign, showcased in Hebrew, English and Arabic, that looked ever so natural, as though it has always been there — a sign directing travelers that simply reads, “American Embassy Jerusalem” — is even more exciting.

It’s happening.

And in true domino effect, additional countries have declared their decision to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

For the first time Jerusalem will be formally recognized as Israel’s capital. As if that were not enough, the convergence of Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US from the terrible Iran deal brokered by Obama is making people heady with excitement. It seems so much has changed with immense speed, hopefully in favor of Israel, that Jews and a good chunk of the masses are taking it all as an omen of good things to come.

Maybe I’ve just devolved into a curmudgeon, raining on everyone’s parade, but I say, not so fast.

I understand the relief and the rejoicing and I, along with everyone, am marveling at recent events and especially the speed with which they have unfolded.

To see Netanyahu march in Moscow along with Putin at the 73rd anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazis — with Putin and by invitation from Putin, the same Putin who is Iran’s biggest backer — on the same week that Iran has been delivered the blow of the abrogation of Obama’s Iran deal — with Putin marching alongside Netanyahu, Iran’s arch enemy — is breathtaking, of almost biblical proportions. Almost.

The parallel from the Scroll of Esther is there in spirit — the echo of Haman’s fortunes changing overnight, and instead of him receiving the king’s honor, he became the instrument of the king, dishing out the honors to his arch enemy, Mordechai the Jew.

So yes, I am seeing it all, and while marveling, I am watching it with very cautious fascination.

Because more than anything, this is a reminder of just how quickly fortunes can change, of just how fickle and tenuous politics can be.

While thankfully the US has withdrawn from Iran deal, which is a game changer not just for Israel but for the entire world, reall, I worry for the damage that has already been done; the cash flow Iran has already received; and the fact America is going down this road alone.

It was crucial to expose the Chamberlain-esque Iran deal for the terrifyingly irresponsible danger that it was. No more being lulled into an illusion of “safety.” While the substance of the Iran deal was downright frightening, the idea of strengthening Iranian “moderates” was a good goal, but It didn’t happen. Now who knows how the Iranian “extremists” will react in response to the deal’s demise?

We, indeed, are living in historic times. Let’s hope and pray these swift significant changes will prove to be good historical times, for Am Yisrael and for all of humanity.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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