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If we want to have credibility when we criticize, we must be willing to praise, when warranted.

on Friday, September 16 2011. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
A very noteworthy incident took place last weekend, though it was significantly overshadowed by the 10th anniversary of 9/11. An angry mob attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, breached the security wall, and advanced on six Israeli diplomats with one goal in mind. The Israelis barricaded themselves in a room with only one locked door between them and their almost certain demise. Indeed, one of the diplomats made Prime Minister Netanyahu promise him that his mother would not be informed of his death over the phone, but that they would dispatch someone to tell her in person.

As the situation progressively worsened, Israel was unable to make contact with their Egyptian counterparts to intercede. Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Obama who placed the weight of the United States behind the demand of the Egyptians to protect the trapped Israelis. Following the incident, PM Netanyahu said “I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do everything I can.’ And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude.”

Former Director of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy spoke at a conference in New York this week and said, “I believe the leadership that the President of the United States showed on that night was a leadership of historic dimensions. It was he who took the ultimate decision that night which prevented what could have been a sad outcome—instead of six men coming home, the arrival in Israel of six body bags. And I want to say to you very openly and very clearly that had there been six body bags, there would have been a much different Israel today than we have been used to seeing over recent years.”

PM Netanyahu and Efraim Halevy were not the only ones to praise President Obama this week. The Zionist Organization of America praised and thanked President Barack Obama for his public commitment to veto a Palestinian statehood bid if it reaches the United Nations Security Council. ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We commend President Obama for making it publicly clear that his administration will veto the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations Security Council.”

The Pro-Israel community has not been shy in voicing our criticism of President Obama’s policies and messaging towards Israel. In fact, most pundits have interpreted Bob Turner’s victory over Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin in a special election Tuesday as a referendum on Obama’s attitude towards Israel. The Drudge Report even ran a headline “Revenge of the Jews; Dem Seat Turns in NYC.”

However, as the country gears up for the countdown to the next election, it behooves us to remember that if we want to have credibility when we criticize, and we must not hesitate to be vocally critical when it is warranted, then we must also be willing to praise and extol when they are warranted as well. The President, in my opinion, deserves great praise and thanks for his efforts in protecting the Israeli diplomats in Cairo and his conviction in vocally opposing the declaration of Palestinian Statehood at the UN.

Shabbat Shalom

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