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
The reasons behind this electoral tsunami are many.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
“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.”
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).
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@example.com
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