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August 2, 2012 11:11 am

Romney and Obama In Jerusalem: Should We Lament?

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avatar by Michael Widlanski


Mitt Romney posts a note in a crack in the Western Wall. Photo: Screenshot.

Mitt Romney came to Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, when Jews read the Book of Lamentations bemoaning the destruction of Jerusalem. This struck some pro-Obama commentators as cause for lamentation.

Mitt Romney should stick to Mormonism,” declared Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast, who exploits his own Jewish roots to preach a brand of Judaism that advocates open-mindedness as long as one is of the same mind as Peter Beinart.

“Be kind to Amalekites,” seemingly sayeth Beinart, but “be tough on Mormons.”

Religious pilgrimage is an act of faith, and political visits are acts of survival, but is it fair to say the political pilgrimages are just cynical—or only by Republicans?

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The Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg called Romney’s trip “vulgar” and “tacky” while Beinart accused Romney of “misusing Judaism” and worse.

However, these are the facts: Candidate Mitt Romney just came on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (and to Britain and Poland) much the way then-candidate Barack Obama made his trips to Israel and Germany in 2008, trying to show his concern and showcase his knowledge.

Can anyone recall Jeff Goldberg calling anything Obama has ever done “tacky or “vulgar?” Did Goldberg raise any qualms about the overly dramatic speech in Germany or the 2009 speech in Cairo that basically invited the Muslim Brotherhood to power?

The Beast’s Beinart said that the commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem was meant only for Jews to think of their own faults rather than calling for revenge on those who destroyed Jerusalem, but Jeremiah, the prophet who wrote the Book of Lamentations, disagrees with Beinart.

The third chapter in Lamentations (and other verses too) ends with a prayer to God to destroy those who destroyed Jerusalem, though this is not part of the pseudo-pacifistic cannon proffered by the dilettantish Beinart. He and other backers of Obama would rather lament Jerusalem than trying to prevent another destruction, led this time by a nuclear Iran. Romney signaled that he agrees with Netanyahu that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of lamentation.

“Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the skies of the Lord,” (Lamentations—3:61) wrote Jeremiah.

What actually is “vulgar” and “tacky” is when a presidential candidate pretends to be a friend of Israel during the campaign, and then spends much of the next 44 months in office bashing Israel at every opportunity. Does that kind of tackiness describe Romney or Obama?

Obama, like Jimmy Carter, has cast only one veto at the UN to help Israel, while George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did much more. Yet Obama has taken credit for aid programs to Israel begun under Bush, such as the “Iron Dome” plan to try to block rockets fromGaza. He announced an expansion of the “Dome” plan just before Romney’s visit. Tacky? Vulgar?

Even in the middle of the campaign season, Obama has sent his top aides to warn Israel not to bomb Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, Obama officials deliberately leaked information to Israeli newspapers claiming that the Obama administration had shared information on attack plans against Iran.

This was also done on the eve of Romney’s visit to Jerusalem, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu totally denied the Obama leaks. Most observers who know the way Obama has interacted with Netanyahu and Israel believe these leaks were false. Are they examples of tackiness and vulgarity by Romney or by Obama?

But let’s get back to Jeremiah. The first verse of Lamentations speaks of a great city laid low, being “put to tax.” (Lamentations: 1:1, “hayetta la-mass”)

To be “put to tax” was synonymous with defeat and destruction, and Romney could have reached for an analogy describing how Obama wants to apply higher taxes, which many economists believe will have a destructive effect on the U.S. economy.

Romney could have reached for this analogy, but he did not, because the “tax” of the Romans and the Babylonians on defeated peoples was still far more destructive than anything President Obama has done to the country that elected him. Besides, one really does not need Jeremiah to understand what Justice John Marshall once said: “the power to tax is the power to destroy.”

Another later verse in Lamentations (Lamentations, 5:2), however, has strong implications for discussions of Obama’s economic and immigration policy, including his decision to not enforce deportation against illegal aliens: “Our inheritance is turned over to strangers, our houses to aliens.”

Maybe we should thank Romney for his visit, for his concern about Israel and Jerusalem, and maybe we should re-read Lamentations for the lessons Jeremiah has for all of us.

This column was originally published on the website of Accuracy in Media.

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