Israel and the New Europe

Even as the capitals of Western Europe, and the EU itself, have proved to be sources of hostility toward the Jewish state, it is worth bearing in mind, writes Judith Bergman, that the countries of the former Soviet bloc—what Donald Rumsfeld termed “the new Europe”—are much better disposed:

Several East European countries, while having pasts rife with virulent anti-Semitism . . . differ greatly in their policies toward Israel [when] compared to their West European counterparts. That does not mean that everything they do is in favor of Israel; far from it. The entire EU, including those East European countries, voted in favor of the latest UN resolution [slandering] Israel [as] the world’s only health violator. . . .

Nevertheless, East European countries today represent the only part of Europe that, out of national interest or a genuine sense of solidarity, stands with Israel in one form or another. . . . In December, Czech lawmakers passed resolutions criticizing the decision by the European Union to label Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, and urged the Czech government not to abide by it. Characteristically, all Czech political parties supported the resolutions, even those on the left, save for the Communists. . . .

Most recently, the Slovak and Lithuanian parliaments have decided to form pro-Israeli caucuses, a result of an initiative by the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, the World Jewish Congress, and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. . . .

[These countries may sympathize with Israel] because they still retain a sense of logic and pride in their heritage and do not harbor any secret wish for national suicide. After living under totalitarianism for over a half-century—while Western Europe was harvesting the peace dividend of being under the American protective wing and growing increasingly more wealthy and materialistic, forgetting completely what it means to be terrorized—those countries that used to be under the Soviet boot see very clearly that Israel’s fight against Islamic terrorism is their fight, too.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Lithuania, Slovakia

On Thanksgiving, Remember the Exodus from Egypt

Nov. 27 2020

When asked to design a Great Seal of the United States, Benjamin Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses at the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, while Thomas Jefferson suggested the children of Israel in the wilderness after departing Egypt. These proposals, writes Ed Simon, tapped into a venerable American tradition:

The Puritans from whom Franklin descended had been comparing their own arrival in the New World with the story of Exodus for more than a century. They were inheritors of a profoundly Judaic vision, melding the stories of the Hebrew scripture with their own narratives and experiences. . . .

For the Puritans, Exodus was arguably a model for understanding their own lives and history in a manner more all-encompassing and totalizing than for any other historical religious group, with the obvious exception of the Jews. . . . American Puritans and pilgrims like John Mather, John Winthrop, John Cotton, . . . and many others placed the Exodus at the center of their vision, seeing their own fleeing from an oppressive England and a Europe wracked by the Thirty Years’ War to an American “Errand Into the Wilderness” as a modern version of the Israelites’ escape into Canaan. . . . [Thus the] Exodus . . . has become indispensable in comprehending the wider American experience. Through the Puritans, the story of Exodus became a motivating script for all manner of American stories. . . .

We read its significance and prophetic power in accounts of slaves who escaped the cruelty of antebellum plantation servitude, and who crossed the Ohio River as if it were the Sea of Reeds. . . . We see it in photographs of the oppressed escaping pogroms and persecution in the Old World, and in the stories of later generations of refugees. Exodus is an indispensably Jewish story, but what more appropriate day than Thanksgiving, this most American and Puritan (and “Jewish”?) of holidays, to consider the role that that particular biblical narrative has had in defining America’s civil religion?

Read more at Tablet

More about: American founding, American Religion, Exodus, History & Ideas, Thanksgiving, Thomas Jefferson