Word to Obama: Let us be!

Leave us alone, America, and let us run our country.

November 14, 2010 23:00
Obama speaks during a joint news conference with F

Obama chops 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

The dust from America’s political upheaval has yet to fully settle, but it is abundantly clear that President Barack Obama has been given the proverbial potch in punim – political slap in the face. Republicans have recaptured the House of Representatives, ending Obama’s rubber-stamp in Congress, and have made major gains in the Senate and state houses. After two years of America’s first black president being treated with unprecedented awe and rock-star reverence, the bloom is off the rose and the Democrats are in full retreat, if not outright panic.

The reasons behind this electoral tsunami are many.

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Obama was a master at raising hope and expectations, but considerably less efficient at fulfilling them. Off-year elections are generally favorable for the opposition, and America’s double-digit unemployment was certainly a major factor. It also didn’t help that the president confounded bird-watchers: He was a dove on some issues, such as health care and liberal policies toward illegal aliens, but a semi-hawk on others, such as the war in Afghanistan, where he increased troop strength.

Yet I suggest that the essential battle cry which activated the electorate, energized the Tea Party phenomenon and weighed on Obama’s popularity was, simply, “Leave us alone!” For at heart, mainstream America consists of hard-working, liberty-loving citizens who want less taxes, less government, less interference in their day-to-day affairs – and a whole lot more personal freedom. They simply are tired of a slew of federal agencies breathing down their necks and constantly telling them what they can and cannot do.

Americans have a pretty darn good opinion of themselves and their ability to get things done. They resent anyone in Washington – black or white – who stares down from the tower, grimaces in pain at all the things he sees being done wrong and pledges to fix anything and everything in society. Joe and Jane USA don’t appreciate being underestimated; they prefer to have control over their own lives, solving their own problems and basking in the glow of their own achievements.

AND IF this is the mantra of America, it is certainly ours as well. Leave us alone, America, and let us run our own country.

For some mysterious reason, the Democrats – unlike the Republicans – have an almost obsessive penchant for standing over our shoulders and telling us what is best for us. Jimmy Carter did it when he was president – and, maddeningly, is still trying to do it as a self-proclaimed “Elder.” Bill Clinton spent half his presidency pushing us toward what would have been a disastrous deal with the Palestinians – which included our ceding virtually all of Judea and Samaria, with the Western Wall thrown in for bad measure. I still have nightmares where I hear Bill whispering, “Give it away, give it away!” in our ear for eight long years. And Obama, apparently as a way of gaining international prestige and establishing his role as a global “player,” has made it his life ambition to pressure us into a deal.

But guess what, Dems? We are not all that incompetent when it comes to dealing with our neighbors. In fact, we may even know them better than you do. In the brutal game of Mideast politics, not every Arab leader can be bought off with a smile, a handshake and a $100 bill.

There is a time for diplomacy and gentle gestures, and there is a time to be tough and unyielding. And you have to know just when and where to apply the right pressure points.

Over the last six decades, we have done a pretty good job of showing we can handle ourselves. Our military has an unparalleled success on the battlefield despite formidable odds, we have valiantly withstood an onslaught of terror attacks from within and without and a delegitimization campaign from every corner of the world, and we have steered our economy through treacherous waters that sank more than one Western nation.

We are a “can-do” people, and we show it whenever we are given even the semblance of a fair chance.

The problems come when other countries get too involved in our business. More often than not, we are pressured to do something against our best interests, and we pay the price for it later. Think Suez, the turning over of the Temple Mount to the Wakf, shelving the Lavi fighter project and the Gaza retreat, for examples.

IN HIS brilliant book, The Prime Ministers, Yehuda Avner recounts a momentous turning point in Israeli and Jewish history. It is June 5, 1967, and the IDF has smashed the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Jordan’s King Hussein, ignoring Israel’s warning to stay out of the fray, has persistently shelled Jerusalem. Menachem Begin, overwhelmed with the cataclysmic opportunity at hand, corners prime minister Levi Eshkol.

“Mr. Prime Minister,” says the breathless Begin, “there is an unprecedented historical moment at hand for us.

We must move now to capture the Old City and reclaim Judaism’s holiest sites. Soon, the Vatican, the Soviet Union and the United Nations will bring terrible pressure on us to submit to a cease-fire, and freeze our forces outside the Old City walls. We must act now before it is too late!” Begin understood that we had a tiny window of freedom in which to decide our own fate, before all the “dogooders” descended on us to impose their will. Fortuitously, Eshkol acceded to Begin’s plea, the IDF stormed the Old City, and three hours later the Lion’s Gate was breached. Within moments, the never-to-be-forgotten call was relayed to a breathless Jewish world: “Har Habayit b’yadeinu – the Temple Mount is in our hands!” Had we abdicated our independence and allowed the world to dictate to us, we might still, God forbid, by looking at the Wall through binoculars, as we were forced to do for 19 years when Jordan occupied the Old City.

Israel must seize the initiative now at hand to make it clear to our friends in the US that we are the masters of our own fate. While we will always welcome and be grateful for any and all assistance sent our way, we must have the final say in the decisions that affect our lives. We must repudiate the spineless whining of some of our politicians, like Ehud Barak, who laments that “Israel needs a strong American president to bring us together with our adversaries.” Or Shimon Peres, who recently made the audacious, self-hating proclamation that “Israel could not possibly survive without the assistance of the United States.”

Statements like these are not merely faithless and feckless.

They chip away at our national pride and integrity, and cause us to question our ability to stand on our own two feet and rise to the challenge of being as strong as every situation dictates that we must be. Our theme song, to all those who would force their opinions upon us, is “Let Us Be!” (apologies to the Fab Four).

Because if we can’t do what it takes to run this country on our own, then perhaps we don’t deserve to have a country.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana. [email protected]

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