For the Jewish People, It’s Not New // President Biden echoes the Haggadah

A heartening contrast to the horrific photographs and videos of the most recent murderous rampage perpetrated by Hamas “militants” (i.e., savages) was provided by some very different images.

Particularly striking was a photo of the Arch of Titus in Rome during an October 10 nighttime candlelight rally in support of Israel, attended by thousands. The famed monument to the destruction of Yerushalayim was bathed in blue and white light, with a magen David projected onto its crest. That loud, angry rattling you may have heard was just the Roman emperor’s bones.

Another poignant image, from the same day, was of White House Spokesperson John Kirby, asked about details of some of Hamas’ hellish atrocities in a live interview on CNN, pausing to choke back tears.

And also on the 10th, there was President Biden’s speech to the nation.

As he walked stiffly to the podium, I expected a perfunctory condemnation of Hamas and general declaration of support for Israel. And, considering the ongoing Israeli bombing of Gazan targets, I imagined he would call for a ceasefire.

That’s not what happened.

I won’t quote at length from the speech, but, with the vice president and secretary of state standing stoically at his side—an unusual thing for such speeches—Mr. Biden stated, clearly and boldly, “Let there be no doubt: The United States has Israel’s back.

“We will make sure,” he said, that Israel “can defend itself today, tomorrow, as we always have. It’s as simple as that.”

What was particularly remarkable, though, was watching the president verily seethe with anger at the terrorist attack.

He repeatedly referred to Hamas as “pure, unadulterated evil,” and its actions as “sheer evil.” And he took pains to graphically describe the extent of the terrorists’ “sickening” inhumanity. “The loss of innocent life,” he said quietly, “is heartbreaking.”

Particularly noteworthy was Mr. Biden’s declaration, even as he surely realized the inevitability of civilian casualties from Israel’s bombings, that the country has a right—and responsibility—to retaliate with unbridled force. “Israel,” he asserted, “has the right to respond—indeed has a duty to respond—to these vicious attacks.

“If the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing,” he explained, “our response would be swift, decisive, and overwhelming.” He was effectively endorsing precisely such a response on Israel’s part.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said that he was brought to tears by the speech. “In the 50 years that I have been researching Israel-United States relations, and in the many years in which I served in senior diplomatic posts,” he wrote on Israel Hayom, “I do not remember a more pro-Israel speech… The US president expressed unreserved support for Israel, for the Jewish state, and has placed America’s power at its defense.”
Commentary editor John Podhoretz, no political fan of Mr. Biden, characterized the president’s words as “what might be the most powerful statement in support of Israel ever delivered by any president.”

What most struck me, though, about Mr. Biden’s speech was something else, something that, to my knowledge, hasn’t been commented on.

The president would have been entirely justified to refer to Hamas’ barbarism as political terrorism in nature, an attack by a revolutionary entity on the citizenry of a country it wishes to destroy.

But, instead, Mr. Biden cut to the quick of the larger truth: that Hamas’ essential goal isn’t territory or governance; it is to kill Jews.

“This attack,” he solemnly stated, “has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by millennia of anti-Semitism and genocide of the Jewish people.” Hamas’ “stated purpose,” he continued, isn’t only “the annihilation of the State of Israel” but “the murder of Jewish people [emphasis mine].”

“This is terrorism,” he said, “but sadly, for the Jewish people, it’s not new.”

Contextualizing the recent Hamas atrocity as something qualitatively different from a territorial or political war, as part of the millennia-old desire of evil entities to try to, chalilah, destroy klal Yisrael, is something I would expect to hear from a rosh yeshivah, not an American president. The fact that it was voiced by the leader of the free world makes me wonder if, and hope that, Moshiach is in the wings.

That, and the Magen David on the Arch of Titus.

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