In Israel today, just hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year— Gaza terrorists fired a mortar shell that exploded near several kindergarten buildings in a Negev kibbutz a half hour before the children were set to arrive. Miraculously, the shell landed between two buildings and no one was injured.
At sunset, Rosh Hashanah begins in the U.S. and early on in the synagogue service American Jews will ask to extend God’s blessing to President Obama:
“We pray for all who hold positions of leadership and responsibility in our national life. Let Your blessing rest upon them, and make them responsive to Your will, so that our nation may be to the world an example of justice and compassion.”
Also, “We pray for the land of Israel and its people. May its borders know peace, its inhabitants tranquility.”
Those prayers have particular resonance this year since last week Obama relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. What else might Jews (and others) include in their prayers for Obama regarding his peace initiative bringing together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas?
• That realism tempers Obama’s idealism so that enforceable security governs any proposed or arrived-at settlement.
• That Obama steps up his efforts regarding the wider threat to the negotiations: Iran’s nuclear build-up and its financing and arming of terrorist acts aimed at denying Israel’s right to exist and destroying Israel and Jews.
• That Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among others don’t let their quest to make history and burnish their own reputations override considerations of safety, sovereignty and saneness applied to the Israelis and Palestinians.
• That Obama recognizes that “moral equivalence” doesn’t apply when one side acts reasonably and honorably and the other side acts duplicitously and heinously.
• That Obama is clear-eyed, candid and fair when discussing the motivations and goals of both sides as they press for certain terms of agreement.
• That economic security as well as national security for both sides factor into the negotiations, with each side fulfilling responsibilities to its own people.
• That bad behavior and bogus grievances from either side not be rewarded with U.S. monetary and military aid.
• That Obama understands who is America’s friend and who its enemy is in this process—who is working to further America’s security and national interests and who is cynically trying to manipulate and sabotage what is best for America?
• That Obama recognizes the limits religion places on achieving a settlement: each side has different definitions about what is holy in its beliefs, aspirations, words and deeds.
• That what Obama stands up for and puts up with regarding this negotiation is a commentary on his leadership values and capabilities. If he follows his tendency to push for passage of reform he wants, regardless of public opinion and any costs and consequences, the result may satisfy him but it will dissatisfy—and harm—many others.
Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.