As Passover Approaches: Defending the Jewish People and the State of Israel

Today, all eyes are on President Obama on his first official visit as President, to the State of Israel.
About 2 weeks ago, I, along with 23 other Jewish leaders, attended a meeting with the President at the White House ahead of his historic trip.

As I told the President, “Everybody is pushing for a two-state solution, but what we have on the ground now is a three-state solution with two competing Palestinian entities – one in Ramallah and the other in Gaza, who are in conflict with each other. It doesn’t make a difference whether the Prime Minister of Israel is from the Likud Party or the Labor Party. Both would be on the same page of making no concessions until the Palestinians speak with one voice and recognize the existence of the State of Israel.” The President was very clear that such a path was untenable and unacceptable to the United States.

As Passover approaches next week, there is a no more perfect time to remind ourselves of the Jewish people’s 3,500 year link to the Holy Land.

As we sit around our Seder tables, we will again recount the story of the five sages who stayed up all night retelling the story of the Exodus until their students came to remind them that it was already time to recite the Shema and the morning prayers.

What was it in the Exodus that took all night to tell? And why is it necessary for Jews, 3,500 years later, to relive and re-experience that night? Because the events that led up to the Exodus are a forerunner of what we will encounter again and again in our future – it is really a warning to us as to how unpredictable history can be and how alert and prepared we must be to detect any changing trends. Yes, it was only a short time before the Exodus that Joseph, as Prime Minister of Egypt, saved his country’s economy from total ruin, but it was all too soon forgotten as a “new king rose up who knew not Joseph.”

That is precisely what happened between Egypt and Israel in the last two years. One morning Mubarak was out and, “a new king rose up¼ .” The media and the world leaders cheered him on as the revolutionary leader of the new ‘Arab Spring’.

But then, one morning the New York Times informed us that the ‘spring’ we hoped for, might in fact be a very long ‘winter’, because this new leader, who rose from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, has a favorite slogan that is, in fact, thousands of years old.

He said of us, “These bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

“Yes,” says the Haggadah,“even if we are all wise, all men of understanding, elders all knowledgeable in the Torah, it is still incumbent upon each and every one of us to tell the story of the Exodus.

But the Passover story is not only about oppression and slavery – it’s about freedom and redemption – it’s about taking responsibility for our own destiny – it’s about fighting back. That’s what the Simon Wiesenthal Center does 365 days a year, all over the world, on the frontlines, defending the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

But we can’t do it alone – we need your partnership -we are counting on your generous support.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Passover,

Rabbi Marvin Hier
SWC Dean and Founder

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