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Sunday, November 25, 2007


In less than eight hours the formal Annapolis Middle-East Summit talks commence. The significance of this Summit is to be understood in terms of who is there, and who is not there.

Significantly appearing at Annapolis is Syria. Significantly absent is Iran, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas. As we hear talk of the potential high costs to Israel -- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Golan -- there is yet the potential to turn Syria away from Iran and to pressure Hezbollah and Hamas. Establishing a separation between Syria and Iran would mean a profound change in the "flavor" of the region and would be a major political coup for the Bush Administration in Washington, DC.

Many uncertainties exist. Regardless of anticipated minimalism in terms of documented agreements to result from the Summit, Israel is the party at the Summit with the most to lose. If history is at all an indicator, then Israel should anticipate being called upon to sacrifice far too much, far too soon, and to receive a "thank you" in the form of a Fourth Intifada. This writer says "Fourth Intifada", as Israel is even now engaged by a Third Intifada (though this Intifada has not been so named) ever since Israel unilaterally surrendered Gaza.

A little history:

The First Intifada followed Israel's "shotgun wedding" of dubious peace with Egypt (and later with Jordan) a few years after the Yom Kippur War. The Second Intifada followed Ehud Barak's unilateral withdrawl from southern Lebanon and the ensuing failure of the Arafat-Barak talks at Camp David in the last year of the Clinton Administration. And, as we speak, the Third Intifada progresses with each Qassam rocket fired into Sderot from Gaza, with each attempt to infiltrate murderous "martyrs" into Israel, with every day Gilad Shalit (and all Israeli MIA's) remains in captivity; and this Third Intifada is not separate from the recent Second Lebanon War....

Now, Camp David is where President Jimmy Carter twisted Menachem Begin's arm to cause Israel to concede far more than Israel should have: in returning the entirety of Sinai to Egypt, a precedent was set to all Arab nations, that they would risk no permanent territorial losses by waging their wars of extinction against Israel.... Camp David is where President Bill Clinton pressed Yasser Arafat to accept a deal only delusional persons could believe that Arafat would accept (delusional in that any expectation of Arafat as a partner in peace could only be delusional)....

Of the many uncertainties about this Summit there is symbolism in the location by which one obtains hope: Annapolis is not Camp David! Camp David, in Maryland's mountains, formally known as the "Naval Support Facility Thurmont", as a Presidential Retreat had it's origins as "Shangri-La" during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was later renamed "Camp David" during the Eisenhower Administration in honor of Ike's grandson.

Annapolis, Capitol of the State of Maryland, can trace it's origins to 1649, and is the home of the US Naval Academy. Annapolis became the temporary Capitol of the USA in 1783 after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, and is where George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the US Army on December 23, 1783, almost to the day seven years earlier, when after midnight on Christmas of 1776, he and his men famously crossed the frozen Delaware River and in a surprise attack, routed the Hessian mercenary army, giving the American Revolution it's first military victory.

One hopes the associations that come to mind in the choice of Annapolis as conversational locus, rather than "Shangri-La", will give the Summit a depth of possibility that has not here-to-fore existed.

Jews and Judaism have important roots in the American Revolution and in the American Military and especially in the US Navy. In fact the Jewish Chapel and Religious Center of the Naval Academy at Annapolis is named for Commodore Uriah P. Levy, veteran of the War of 1812, and who famously put an end to the naval punishment of flogging in 1850; at the US Naval Station at Norfolk, Virginia, there is also a Synagogue named for him; it was Commodore Levy and his descendents, who restored and preserved Monticello (historic home of President Thomas Jefferson) during the period 1834 through 1923, when the private non-profit Thomas Jefferson Foundation bought the property.

Commodore Levy should be a great symbol for Israel and for America today. Commodore Levy himself experienced great anti-semitism in the US Navy from the age of fourteen and throughout his career. Yet he rose to the top, the rank of Commodore (then equivalent to today's Admiral).

By analogy, after more than two-thousand years of exile and profound anti-semitism, Israel is a leading nation in the modern world.

It is unconscienable that there are scores of nations in the world today, who refuse to recognize Israel's existence and existential right. It is unconscienable that these very nations rotate in and out of the United Nations Security Council, even as Israel is the only member of the United Nations singled out to be denied the right and responsibility to serve on the UNSC. This status quo is not tolerable. If anything, Israel ought to be a permanent member of the UNSC.

The enemies of Israel have only one thought for Israel -- Israel's destruction. No matter what Israel justly regains, Israel is asked to surrender; whatever Israel surrenders or generously gives, Israel is answered in return by evil, not by goodness. If there is no shame in Israel's enemies, is there at least the possibility of shame among Israel's supposed allies?

And now, a less mundane perspective on the Summit:

For those readers of Christian Faith, consider and ask yourselves, even if for just a moment, can you possibly consider Ancient Israel as a metaphor for Christ? Can you then possibly regard today's State of Israel as a metaphor for the Second Coming? One stretches this analogy before you to ask, "Is there any Christian theology that calls for a Second Cruxifiction?"

Again, for those readers of Christian Faith, who perceive in today's world events such portents as to indicate that the world now faces the End of Days and all that entails: do you not recall the words from the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, when your Saviour was asked, when he would return, and he said, "Only the Father knows...." Do you then presume to know, what only "the Father" can know?

One knows that there is no Christian doctrine of a Second Cruxifiction. As well, one knows that it is presumptious for any human being to speak or promulgate the End of Days, lest one be guilty of the great Sin of Idolatry. Any policy that is designed to weaken Israel and bring about Armageddon, be it based on Idolatrous Theology, can only have as a consequence a "Second Cruxifiction" of Israel.

[Actually, historically, such an Holocaust to Israel today could be regarded as one of many such "Cruxifictions" (consider the Hitler persecutions during WW2, the Soviet persecutions, the preceding Russian and Polish pogroms, the Inquisition....)]

The point of this aspect of conversation is that, even in our democratic, largely Christian, but, religiously pluralistic America, there are various undercurrents of Christian fundamentalism, some of which are as virulent in their anti-Judaism as is the Jihadism of the Muslims with whom the War on Terror is now being waged. If our American Government is persuaded by any Christian fundamentalism of idolatrous character, believing to know with certainty, that which "only the Father" can know, then, instead of being a place, where America's highest values can be expected to be upheld in our time, Annapolis and the American Tradition embodied by Annapolis through American history could be betrayed.

This writer cannot presume to know the mind of the Government, let alone the Mind of the Lord Above. This writer can only hope and pray, as an American and as a Jew, that our Government does not and shall not presume to be the Lord Above or to know His Mind, and that as decent human beings - perhaps even as great human beings in the best traditions of Washington, Jefferson, and Levy - that human dignity and rights will win out in any discourses pertaining to peace and war, and that Israel will not be sacrificed to any mad illusions of "The Rapture" in our time....