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I actually think it’s poetic. As Hanukkah, a festival of Jewish resistance, approaches, the world turns on the Jewish state and a former ally shows its true colors. Much is being said about Obama’s choice to abstain from voting on the UN Security council resolution, condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, and much will continue to be said, but judging by what I have seen so far I am neither impressed nor overly interested.
None of us can really be that surprised, right? This was an obvious move by President Obama, a suitable last hurrah if you will, from a man who from day one set out to set himself apart as the breaker of ties and holder of grudges. He was never a friend of Israel, and combined with his not-too-subtle need for pompous pageantry, this last kick in the gut toward Israel was a given, and boy did he give it with a bang.
All the emotional upheaval not withstanding, this means very little for the outgoing President, but to others, it means all the more. What Obama did by choosing not to veto this vote was to re-elect Netanyahu and throw support behind Donald Trump that he otherwise could have never expected to receive. Up until now, the liberal Jews have supported and defended Obama and his policies, but as he set out to humiliate Israel he also ended up shaming and humiliating a lot of Jewish democrats, thus losing his party a whole host of voters in order to settle a highly personal score. The liberal Jews stuck by him through foreign policy-blunders, anti-religious policies, and personal spats with the Israeli leadership. But his ego got the best of him one too many times and now minds are opening to Trump that otherwise would have stayed closed throughout this unexpected presidency. As for Netanyahu, he is much too smart to be outraged over what is expected wording from an obvious source in a document without teeth, and he knows that such obvious biased bullying will do nothing to lessen the strength of the Jewish state, but will only give him a more powerful mandate to act, and to lead.
And what about us, the Jewish people — what does this vote mean for us? Ben-Gurion once said that our future does not depend on what other nations say, but what Jews do, and what better time to be reminded of that than now, in this holiday season? They do not attack our state with their bills, proposals and outrageous resolutions. They attack our Jewishness, and it is with Jewishness we need to respond. Rather than focus outward, with our anger at the obvious, we should focus inward at the core of what they hate and the heart of what we could be.
I light my candles and say the blessing, I pray in the words of my forefathers and I keep the codes and laws given to us, through the original deed to our land. While they may choose to cry out for delegitimization, my very actions and choices award me legitimacy, and as they try to make me less of me I am more, I am louder and stronger than they ever expected.
This resolution was put forth to delegitimize the state of Israel, but chances are it will lead to the delegitimization of the UN. They overplayed their hand, and will ultimately end up losing, now the only question is what we as Jews choose to do, and what choices matter when it comes to our survival.
It’s not about Obama, or even Netanyahu or the President-elect; and this vote — while brazen and untrue — was neither more nor less important than any of the others before it. The more we shout and cry about resolution 2334, the more we give Obama exactly what he wants, making him feel like a trailblazer when he is little more than a petulant child, wanting to be the best at being the worst. It’s about us, and we should keep it about us, thereby honoring the message of the Maccabees and the struggle that brought us here, and kept us here, until this very day.
Obama has cemented his legacy, and now we can focus on our own. What do we choose to do today, what act of Jewish defiance will we partake in, to show the world what’s what? They can write words on papers while we settle our land, they can shake their fists in chambers while we say our ancient blessings. One of these things will stick, the other is soon out of office; one a paper dragon, the other a lion, which roars.