The Difference Between Netanyahu and Obama

Our problem is that there is no voice of inspiration in Israel today; no voice that is heard above all the other voices.

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Barack Obama sings 'Amazing Grace' during Rev. Clementa Pinckney's funeral in Charleston, June 26, 2015.Credit: AP

Without your noticing, we escaped to Paris for a week. Oh, Paris, which will always be there for us. On the eve of the holy Sabbath, the spirit of holiness descended on me – something that is usually foreign to me. By chance I caught the eulogy for those murdered in the church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The BBC broadcast the speech of the black president live and in its entirety. Those of you who missed it must compensate yourselves. When was the last time you experienced such spiritual heights? When Barack Obama began to sing Amazing Grace and the entire congregation answered him in tears and a smile, I wanted to bend down and wipe the dust of his feet with the Confederate flag, and all the flags in the world.

I have not heard such pure singing in a long time, and it was nothing like the singing of the chorus of off-key jesters who appear on the morning of Independence Day in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

These hollow leaders explain to you that speeches are not important, that they are noting but words, and words are just rubbish. Don’t listen to the noise of the empty kettle; try to hear what is inside the pitcher when it is full.

There is a reason history remembers speakers and speeches, those that changed it, shocked and outraged worlds, enlisted entire nations, demolished and built walls, resulted in victory or defeat in wars, brought peace or destruction to the face of the Earth – from Moses and Jeremiah, Jesus and Muhammad, through to Hitler and Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

History will not forget Obama either. And not just because of his revolutionary health insurance law, or the trade agreement with 11 Asian nations, or the unavoidable agreement with Iran, or the ending of the boycott of Cuba, or because single sex marriage won recognition during his time. Obama guaranteed his legacy when he laid down a bridge of hope over stormy waters. And what does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leave after himself? Scorched earth, burned bridges, fallout of fear and hate and stolen treasures of gas.

Obama is quite a number of sizes larger than Bibi. The reports in the Yisrael Hayom newspaper on the death of the lame duck turned out to be premature. In Charleston he returned, and we are here to welcome him with gratitude for the moments of amazing grace.

It was actually from far away that I managed to identify our main trouble. There is no voice of moral inspiration in Israel today; no voice that is heard over all the other voices and which people in Israel and around the world expect to hear, for good and for bad. Not just the vox politicus is lacking. I wonder if there are still judges in Jerusalem, and if among them there is a single Anthony Kennedy.

There is no Pope Francis, either, for salvation and comfort among the fossilized rabbis, who are the most bitter disappointment of all. Haredim and National Religious people from the “Kingdom of Priests” cover up for dangerous sexual deviants, silence the cries of the victims and blame them: “Do not file a complaint with the police,” they advise the minors,” it could interfere with your finding a husband. It is better for you to grow stronger in your faith.” Theophilia as pedophilia.

The present era will be remembered in the history of our people as a period of paucity and deterioration: The withered Diadochi passing the ball from one to another – from Netanyahu and Ya’alon to Herzog and Lapid. The nation living in Zion has been unable to produce visionaries from within its ranks.

It was the speech of a duck which, despite being lame, was pretty much on target. Facing him is the chicken, with the remains of his cockscomb neatly fixed and his feathers all puffed up. When is Purim, Bibi? When is Purim? What does “when” mean? Here it’s always Purim. Every day, I dress up as someone else and there is no mask that doesn’t have its moment.

It is not easy to deal with the loathsome. It is much easier to deal with the imposters, who make war and ask for reward from those who make peace. When Obama visited Israel two-and-a-half years ago, it was not for the purpose of involvement, as conventionally interpreted. This column had its own version at the time: It was the last visit and good bye. We will miss you, friend, but it is possible to understand why you won’t be coming here any more.

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