... to lecture Jews on the virtue of reflection?
This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose.
In that spirit, the Jewish Tradition teaches us that one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation. We’re called to seek each other out and make amends for those moments when we may not have lived up to our values as well as we should.
At a time when our public discourse can too often seem harsh; when society too often focuses on what divides us instead of what unites us; I hope that Americans of all faiths can take this opportunity to reach out to those who are less fortunate; to be tolerant of our neighbors; and to recognize ourselves in one another. And as a nation, let us be mindful of those who are suffering, and renew the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies – including the State of Israel.
In that spirit, Michelle and I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness, and peace. L’Shana Tovah.
Dan Senor noted in the Wall Street Journal -- interestingly, on this very day a year ago:
- July 2009: Mr. Obama hosted American Jewish leaders at the White House, reportedly telling them ... that Israel would need "to engage in serious self-reflection." This statement stunned the Americans in attendance: Israeli society is many things, but lacking in self-reflection isn't one of them. * It's impossible to envision the president delivering a similar lecture to Muslim leaders.
- March 2011: Mr. Obama returned to his habit of urging Israelis to engage in self-reflection, inviting Jewish community leaders to the White House and instructing them to "search your souls" about Israel's dedication to peace.
* August 10, 2012:
Transcript here, if you'd rather. And if you can't bear that either, the point is still obvious. This president lectures us on reflection, telling Jews that we need to reach out to the less fortunate and "be tolerant of our neighbors."
In stark contrast, he talks to a Muslim audience about their rights to practice their faith "both openly and freely, and as they choose." [I hope Catholics are listening].
That is not just an American right; it is a universal human right. And we will defend the freedom of religion, here at home and around the world."
Needless to say, the president does not ask a Muslim audience to be tolerant of their neighbors, to "engage in serious self-reflection," reconciliation, or to search their souls about their dedication to peace.
Cue Jabotinsky, for something really worthy of our reflection.
a people that was already legislating at the time when the neighbors had not even invented a bast shoe."
Wikipedia explains that the "bast shoe" - a kind of basket made from the bark of trees and woven to the shape of a foot - has been worn since prehistoric times.
They were still worn in the Russian countryside at the beginning of the 20th century, when Jabotinsky wrote this essay, "Instead of Excessive Apology" (1911).
In Jabo's native Russian, they are called lapti... a derogatory term for cheap and short-lived footwear.
who are they to interrogate us?
.... We may apologize only in rare,
unique and extremely important moments
when we are absolutely confident
that the Areopagus in front of us
really has just intentions and proper competence."