I was raised to believe that you are known by the company you keep. Who we choose to figuratively (and literally) “hold close” in our lives, in no uncertain terms, defines us. This makes President Obama’s choice of seatmates this week so disturbing.
At a White House dinner on Tuesday night, the President chose to seat at the prized “President’s Table” two radical anti-Israel activists, Riham Osman and Batoul Abuharb, both of whom deem Israel to be a nation that sponsors terrorism. Osman is the communications director of a group founded by the Muslim Brotherhood (itself a recognized terrorist group) and is well known for vitriolic speech about Israel and its leaders. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Osman claimed Israel “murdered 1000 innocent citizens” and if “the devil was in human form” it would “look, speak, and act like [Prime Minister] Netanyahu.
As troubling as this Administration’s choices have been in relation to our ally Israel, equally disturbing was the recent Supreme Court ruling that Jerusalem is not located in Israel and, therefore, cannot be its capital. This despite the fact that Jerusalem is where the seat of Israeli government resides, where the parliament meets and legislates, and where the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet have their offices.
It boggles the mind that while Israel, a democracy, stands awash in the midst of a sea of ancient hatreds and the specter of an encroaching radical Islam onslaught, this Administration, and for that matter this Supreme Court, repeatedly choose to undermine the only country and culture in that region which mirrors the longstanding American values of freedom of speech and religion.
While Iran chants “Death to America and Israel” and ISIL throws homosexuals off rooftops, cages innocents to drown them by submersion, uses women and children as sex slaves, and dons captives with explosive “necklaces” to literally blow their heads off, we act as if the preeminent issues of our time are free birth control, remnants of racism, the confederate flag and climate change.
Eric Metaxas, author of “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” recently said that we are reliving all the events and denial that preceded Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Metaxas should know. He is the expert on Bonhoeffer’s life and his efforts to awaken Germans to the evil of Hitler and his plans.
Cozying up to and negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, refusing to call the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, refusing to say the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has anything to do with Islam, honoring avowed anti-Semites at the White house, refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are each examples of a conscious denial of reality.
Denial does not negate consequences. It merely prolongs and intensifies them.
In a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Jefferson wrote, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Under the unprecedented failures of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government in our time, we must take up the banner of rebellion Jefferson foresaw but we must do so wisely.
Where “storms in the physical” are sometimes necessary, so too are battles of the heart and mind. Each of us must summon the courage, certainty and calm that comes from knowing there is evil in the world and the sword that slays it is Truth.
When we stop playing politics, busying ourselves with worthless divisions along party, economic, gender and racial lines to join together as one voice raised on behalf of freedom, there is no force anywhere on earth which will prevail upon us.
The hour is late. The clock ticks on. There are but three questions left to us that matter.
“Where do we stand?”
“What are we willing to do for that in which we believe?”
“Who do we choose to hold close?”