As Jews across the world celebrate Passover, the week-long
commemoration of the exodus from Egypt and beginning of the pilgrimage
to Jerusalem, Jewish writers and thinkers are reflecting on the
holiday's significance in current events. With the U.S.-Israel chill
headlines, this week is a perfect opportunity for American Jews to
reflect on the role of Jews in American politics, the status of the Jewish state
and even the American
to the Jewish community. It's a safe bet
that the commentary below is being repeated and contested at dinner
tables across the country tonight.
- Obama to Jews: Passover
About Social Justice President Obama's Passover message to Jews
worldwide drew a lesson of social justice: "The enduring story of the
Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be
fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to
generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight
against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the
ties that bind us all. These bonds are the source of inextinguishable
courage and strength, and provide hope that we can repair this world."
Some pundits read from this statement a subtle message about the
injustice of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
It's About Jerusalem Commentary's Jennifer Rubin, noting the famous
Passover recitation, "Next year in Jerusalem," scoffs. "Is Passover
really about discrimination? Or is it about the deliverance of
God’s Chosen People by God from bondage to the land of Israel?" she
asks. "And indeed a Passover message without Jerusalem is not only
off-putting but it also reveals Obama’s mindset and lack of sympatico
with the Jewish state and its centrality in the history and religious
memory of the Jewish people."
- It's Not That Simple Matthew Yglesias sighs,
"this is just a longstanding dispute between liberal Jews (which is like
70-80 percent of us in the United States) and the Commentary-reading
minority." He explains that American Jews often read "Next year in
Jerusalem" as a call to literally move to Israel, which in fact many do
at the active encouragement of Israel. However, "I would actually be
pretty upset if President Obama expressed the view that in his opinion
the meaning of Passover is that Jews should all leave America and go
move to Israel. Which is why, obviously, he’s not going to say anything
like that. But there’s clearly a tension inside present-day diaspora
- Jews Should Fight All Oppression The American
Prospect's Adam Serwer reflects.
"Passover doesn't exist merely for Jews to congratulate ourselves on our
continued existence -- although that is no mean feat. The reminder that
we were once slaves in Egypt is meant to make us consider contemporary
questions of justice," such as the plight of Palestinians. "If you're
unable to take away from Passover an understanding of your own role as a
Jew in fighting the injustice done to other people who do not also
happen to be Jewish, the experience is meaningless."
Owes Jews Big-Time So says former New York mayor Ed Koch. "Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to
candidate Obama - 78
percent of the Jewish community did - believing he would provide the
same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the
President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly
appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover. It is one thing to
disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite
another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only
emboldens Israel's enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more
- Sarah Palin: Jews Bond U.S. & Israel In her own Passover statement
directed to American Jews: "'Next year in Jerusalem' will be the
refrain echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders tonight.
It is a stark reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have
faced, whatever the struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient
- How GOP Nightclub Scandal Is Like the Exodus
Tony Campbell gets
tongue-in-cheek. "The political irony is that Republicans (who are
supposedly more moral than their left wing counterparts) are being
ridiculed for re-reimbursing an event at a bondage themed club during
Passover week – the biblical event that freed the Hebrews from bondage.
- Passover's Burgeoning Commercialism? Steven Colbert celebrates Passover in typically cheeky form--with finger puppets:
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