This year, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) has published a new version of the “Four Questions” traditionally recited at the Pesach seder. Instead of commemorating the liberation of the Jews from Egypt, the NJDC has chosen to take this opportunity to hail what they see as the achievements of President Barack Obama.
As Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin poignantly notes, “One of the most disturbing aspects of modern American Jewish life is the almost obsessive desire of many Jews to universalize every aspect of Jewish belief while downplaying the original meanings of customs and ritual.”
Following a video of President Obama’s Passover greetings, the NJDC states, “As Jews in the United States and around the world gather together to celebrate Passover, it is important that we reflect on the blessings and freedoms that we have as Jews living in a free society. One of those blessings is that we have a President deeply committed to the safety and security of Israel, and the welfare of all Americans-including the needy among us.”
They then go on to list their new version of the ‘Four Questions,’ which include: “Why has President Obama provided record amounts of military aid to Israel?”; “Why has President Obama worked so hard and succeeded at uniting the world against Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program?”; “Why has President Obama achieved the historic passage of ‘Obamacare'”?; and, “Why has President Obama fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid?”
They claim that the “answers to all of these questions are: President Obama cares deeply about the safety and security of the Jewish state. He has been Israel’s leading advocate from day one and has done more than any other President to meaningfully bolster its defenses and provide for its future. He also cares deeply about the welfare of all Americans, including our seniors and the needy – and our commitment to them.”
However, if one examines President Obama’s record on Israel, he or she is likely to recognize that, as Charles Krauthammer explains, “This president [Obama] has done more to delegitimize and undermine Israel’s position in the world than any other president and he did it by arriving on the scene and imposing and demanding of Israel a freeze on settlements including the building of the Jewish homes in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, of all places, something that had never been precondition in 17 years of negotiations.”
The Emergency Committee for Israel recently issued a video, entitled “Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel,” blasting the President’s treatment of the Jewish state and urging voters to remember the significant disconnect between Obama’s promises and affirmations in ensuring the security of the state of Israel and the administration’s tangible positions and policies.
Yet, despite one’s political inclinations and alliances, and regardless of a president’s administrative record, the Passover seder is not a forum for furthering political objectives or creating new versions of the ‘Four Questions.’
Tobin notes, “Passover is the occasion for Jews to remember their liberation from Egypt and to embrace not only the gift of freedom but also the ability to worship God and His laws as a people. While seders are appropriate moments to remember those in need as well as other Jewish communities – such as that in Israel – which are assailed by foes, it is not the time to be delivering obsequious paeans to American politicians, no matter which party they belong to. That sort of absurd distortion of the festival of freedom bears a closer resemblance to idol worship than it does to Judaism.”