The young Jewish man was trying to explain the meaning of various Jewish holidays to his new and curious Christian girlfriend. He was haltingly and stumblingly making his way through Passover, Purim and Hanukkah when his brother suddenly interrupted and said, “Don’t make it so complicated. All Jewish holidays have the same meaning, Here it is. ‘They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!'”
A recurring theme in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 30:16 and Zechariah 12:9, for example) is that “Whosoever smiteth the Jews shall himself get smitten, but good!” Look at the dismal fate of Jew-haters and Jew-killers throughout the ages: Haman, Pharaoh, Hitler, Mussolini, Nasser. The historical power of that unabridged roll call alone should be enough to convert the flintiest atheist into at least a tentative and temporary believer.
Nonetheless, the fate of the Jew on planet Earth has not looked so precarious since February 1943, when the surrender of the German forces at Stalingrad made it stomp-down clear that Germany could not win the war.
I think I could even make the case that the Jew is in a jeopardy even more dire today than at the peak of Nazi success during World War II. Back then, outside the Nazi-controlled area, not many people were as “neutral” and “evenhanded” or “understanding” of those who wanted the extermination of the Jews as we have today. Back then the Jew-haters did not have a crawl space that allowed them to say, “Mercy, no! We have nothing against the Jews. It’s just Zionism we oppose.” Whether that’s Jew-hatred or fear of Islam, who cares? A young rabbi once asked an older rabbi, “Tell me. When someone says he’s anti-Zionist, does that mean he’s also anti-Semitic?” The older rabbi artfully replied, “Not necessarily; but almost always!”
There’s an old gag that says, “If you can remain calm while everybody else is panicking, maybe you don’t understand the problem!” Not so. We seem calm enough even though we all understand Iran is hell-bent for the bomb. The outside world has shamefully dawdled away any united effort to deny the bomb to Iran. We expected nothing from the Norways and the Portugals. We expected somewhat more from France and Germany. And we expected a whole lot more from America. Iran has openly threatened to bomb Israel off the map. The last tyrant who threatened mass annihilation of the Jewish people actually tried, and came close. Israel today is not helpless. At what point will Israel attempt to do away with Iran’s nuclear potential, and what might that action lead to?
Surely, if you’re an Israeli and you notice that your unshakeable, civilized and democratic ally, America, seems to have more of a problem with new apartments in Jerusalem than a nuclear bomb in Tehran, the likelihood of your hauling off and taking independent action is increased. The morale of the Jew-haters has spiked since the diplomatically brutal treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu by President Obama. The late Alexander Haig resigned as secretary of state because of what he perceived as poor treatment of the Israelis by his boss, Ronald Reagan! Our current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, evidences no such problem.
If you’re a clergyman and you’d like to pour forth a sermon about words versus deeds, help yourself to the following. They just discovered a horrendously anti-Jewish page from President Harry Truman’s diary. Lyndon Johnson, though far from an anti-Semite, had some salty comments about the Jews. Richard Nixon is on tape complaining about “those Jew-boys over in Treasury.” He also fiercely harangued Rev. Billy Graham about the pernicious influence of Jews in the media. Those were words. Over now to action! Harry Truman recognized Israel five minutes after the declaration of statehood. Lyndon Johnson sent Israel vital re-supply during the Six-Day War. And Richard Nixon sent even more vital re-supply in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.
Barack Obama somehow managed to dispatch a brigade of young Jews to Florida during the campaign to convince their skeptical grandparents that it’s OK to vote for Obama because he’s a “great friend of Israel!” If Israel successfully defangs Iran, do you suppose Vice President Biden will claim credit for the Obama administration?
When it looked like England might be swallowed up by Adolf Hitler, London issued a worldwide plea, “If you cannot help us, please don’t hinder us!” And now, when Israel faces even more serious danger, England expels an Israeli diplomat for some damn-fool faking of a passport, which is almost common courtesy in the world of espionage and self-preservation. Every time democratic Sweden, Holland, Spain, France or some other Muslim-threatened nation slams Israel you may hear one of us mutter the word, “OY!” That’s a common Jewish interjection. It rhymes with “toy.”
A Presbyterian girl I went to high school with once asked me, “What does ‘Oy’ mean? You say ‘Oy’ an awful lot.”
“Mary Lou,” I told her. “‘Oy’ is short-hand for the last five thousand years of Jewish history.”