Obama's Resurrection of the Elders of Zion

The itching that started when President Obama began to speak only got worse.

Sayed Kashua
Sayed Kashua
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I had to get to a doctor. It started with a tingling sensation in my right arm a few minutes after President Obama began to speak at the United Nations. The feeling in my arm grew constantly worse the deeper Obama got into his speech. There were remarks that seemed to be laced with anti-Semitism, conjuring up unfounded tales from dark periods, libels about how the Jews supposedly controlled the world economy and ran the world according to their interests. I could hardly believe it: the president of the United States himself takes the stage in front of the world's leaders and presents a conspiracy theory better suited to the peoples of the Orient, holding that Zionism is dictating an old-new world order.

"Disgraceful," I muttered occasionally during the speech, as I scratched my painful arm. A pinkish stain emerged on my skin, and aloe vera gel didn't help quell the raging fire. By the morning after the speech, the pink stain had turned deep red and the pain in my arm was getting worse all the time. "You have to see a doctor," my wife said. "It might be contagious, that thing."

Credit: Amos Biderman

"It's probably an insect bite," I said, shrugging off her diagnosis before leaving for work. "I'll put a little Fenistil on it and it'll go away fast."

During the whole drive to work I heard journalists, commentators and the prime minister's people celebrating the U.S. president's speech as though it were a national victory and a diplomatic achievement for the Jewish people. I couldn't believe my ears. How could such smart people forgive the president's inflammatory remarks so easily? Didn't they understand that the man had resuscitated the Elders of Zion? Was their command of English so poor that they could interpret his speech as a declaration of support?

If so, we are in a bad way: Concrete danger lurks and the Jews all around are once more acting as usual, thinking it will all blow over. How could they forget the power of words, the power of strong leaders whose oratory enflames the masses? The blood boiled in my veins - and the skin on my right arm started to burn so fiercely that tears welled up. The Jews are in mortal danger; someone has to open the eyes of the complacent masses.

"Sabah alhir," the guard at the entrance greeted me on the wrong morning of the year, even though I had never exchanged a word with him before. "Sabah alhir," he repeated in a terrible accent, which for some reason infuriated me. "Never," I retorted, "but never, ever, speak to me in Arabic. Got it?"

I don't know what came over me that morning. Usually I am polite to colleagues at work and to strangers generally. But on that morning of the day after the speech, I could not tolerate a word in Arabic. Here they come, rising against us to destroy us, and the world's strongest leader takes their side and declares unabashedly that he, like the Arabs, is afraid of the Jews.

On that Thursday evening the pains wouldn't let me fall asleep - pains in my arm and pains over the future of the Jewish people. That's how it is: so many years of life amid this people have made me almost one of their sons. Jewish history has become an integral part of my history. So how can I fall asleep when the Palestinian president is scheduled to speak the next day and hurl mud at the country I live in and at the nation within which I breathe?

Which is exactly what the Palestinian archenemy did. He stood on the platform, puffed with pride, and with Obama's speech as a tailwind he demanded shamelessly to establish a national home for the Arabs and talked about his right and the right of those like him to self-determination. True, it was expected, but it still hurt like sharp knives plunged into the flesh, especially the flesh of my arm, which broke out in blisters as the world's leaders applauded, ostensibly in favor of the Palestinians, but obviously aiming their applause mainly against the Jews.

That's it, it's lost. Nothing will be able to help us against the whole world. The fix was in. No one will believe the truth now, no one will believe our prime minister even if he cries authentic tears when he tells about our treatment of the Palestinians. No one in this stubborn, uncaring world will believe it when we describe the full equality, the upholding of rights, the fair and equitable distribution of resources that this country grants the Palestinians.

If he had any self-respect, the Palestinian president, he would hand the keys back to the Israeli prime minister on the UN dais. If he had an iota of honesty, he would call for dismantling the Palestinian Authority and forgo the aspiration to establish a state. If so, Israel and the Jewish people would take leadership and responsibility and would get the opportunity to prove what lessons they have learned from the past, to prove that everyone is equal before the law and before the authorities. The world would see how for every Jewish settlement that is established, two Palestinian settlements are established; and how for every liter of water that a Jewish household gets, a Palestinian household gets twice as much. But who will believe now that the Jew can be egalitarian? Who will believe, after these two speeches, that the Palestinians are living a free and tranquil life? Who will believe that the Jews here do not differentiate between one human being and another, between blood and blood?

"It's a blood libel!" I cried out to the applauding world and scratched my arm until it bled.