Tonight marks the beginning of Passover 5778. Donald Trump’s targeted attack on Syria indicates that he understands the import of this timeless story.
In mid-2009, a few months into Barack Obama’s presidency, Iran had its Green Revolution, when tens of thousands of brave Iranians took to the streets in Tehran seeking to undermine the Mullahs. Their enemy was our enemy. Not only were the Mullahs repressing their own people, they were sowing terrorism throughout the world.
Had Obama thrown America’s moral weight behind the revolution, that alone might have been sufficient to destroy the Mullahs’ power base and create room for a somewhat more moderate and conciliatory Iranian government. Obama, however, chose to align himself, not with the Iranian slaves in the street yearning for freedom, but with the Mullahs, who were playing the role of Pharaoh.
Because those historic events coincided with Passover 2009, I was moved to write a post about the Passover message, a post I’ve reproduced every year at Passover since then. As you will read at greater length below, my post argues that a primary message to take away from the Passover story is that the only way to topple a tyrant and free the slaves crushed under his heel is to bring the revolution, not just to the tyrant’s door, but over the threshold and into his house.
Despite his ostentatious Passover celebrations in the White House, Obama has been blind to the meaning behind the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. Throughout his eight years in the White House, whenever a tyranny arose anywhere, Obama chose to placate tyrants, rather than fight them. He placated the Mullahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Kim Jong-un, ISIS (aka the JV team), Assad, Putin, and a rotating cast of Islamic fundamentalists who went by different names but hewed to the identical genocidal ideology. It was inevitable that, when Obama finally left office, he bequeathed to us a world remarkably close to the world in 1938/1939: trembling on the verge of a dangerous explosion, with tyrants of the ugliest cast having the momentum and initiative.
It’s this scary world that Donald Trump inherited when he stepped into the Oval Office. However, last week, I came away with the hope that, when Trump sat down to celebrate Passover with Ivanka and her family (assuming he did) or when he discussed Passover with his Jewish friends and family, he understood Passover’s message.
How else can we explain his intuitive understanding that, when dangerous men release weapons of mass destruction, the only possible action is immediate, powerful, targeted retribution. Both Daniel Greenfield and Andrew Malcolm understand this, so I urge you to read their articles. (You might also want to read my post about the Trump doctrine.)
With this introduction, it’s time for my annual Passover post. As I do every year, I’ve edited it slightly to reflect current concerns.