A Rabbinic Comment on Messianic Politics
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon brought to light a deep problem within the State of Israel and the People Israel when he called Secretary of State John Kerry's pursuit of peace in the Middle East 'messianic.' By doing so, he placed visible daylight between Israel and its best ally, the United States of America. He also worsened Israel's global diplomatic relationships, already strained under Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's indelicate leadership.
Interestingly, this time even Lieberman criticized Ya'alon, saying "Having a public, boisterous debate is not right and it does not contribute to either of the parties. There is no place for personal attacks, even if there are occasional disagreements."
But that's only different in extent from the extremist political activists who burned Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z"l in effigy seeing themselves as disconnected from his assassination.
And, bridging different spheres of our increasingly inter-related (or "flat") political world, it is only somewhat different from the National Rifle Association (NRA) condemning a resident of Florida who had a concealed carry permit shooting and killing a father for texting in a movie theater (they didn't, by the way). Of course they do not support murder, but they do prominently feature such statements as were made by Bill Whittle, a Fox News guest, Pajamas Media commentator and former National Review Online contributor, who shared the following at a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):
"You will see a lot of cars coming west heading east on Interstate 10, and they're going to have California license plates on them. Now, if you see these cars pull into rest areas or hotels or restaurants, that's fine; wave goodbye, make sure they go out on the Louisiana end. But if you see them pull off into residential areas, you need to open fire on these vehicles immediately. Immediately. Not with 9mm or AR rounds; you need to put mortars on those things, you cannot take any chances."
When politics become infected by extremism, when politicians forget their roles as stewards of society, when elected officials sound like internet trolls, and when the dream of negotiated peace sounds messianic, we're in serious danger.
An ancient Jewish teaching says, "I believe, with a whole faith, in the coming of the Messiah. Though he may tarry, I will wait."
Waiting is not an option for our world. The Messiah has taken so long he's become a political punchline.
We have work to do, and a society to rebuild. Let's begin by only electing leaders who sound like our best selves.