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Vigor Of Unity
e gathered — 1,500 strong
from the Detroit Jewish com-
munity — to share concern
and hope for Israel, our ancestral home-
land and the modern Jewish state. It didn't
matter what our politics were. We were
united by a cause — to support the State
of Israel in this very troubled time.
The entire Jewish community was repre-
sented in one way or another in the sanc-
tuary of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield the evening of Jan. 8. We prayed;
we listened; we sang. And we walked away
75 minutes later feeling better not only
about Israel's future, but also about our-
selves as Jews 6,000 miles away from the
eye of the storm in the Middle East.
We focused on the root cause of the
Israeli-llamas conflict: Hamas' terrorism
and ideology of hate. Hamas' constant rock-
et attacks on southern Israel — more than
6,000 over the past seven years. The attacks
finally forced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
to act. Israel was compelled to respond
in self-defense — with precision strikes
against an enemy hiding terrorists amid
civilians. Israel's aim: a fair, durable peace.
We waved signs urging "Stop Hamas
Rockets!" and "Hamas = Terror." The
"Israel Wants Peace" sign on the front of
the Shaarey Zedek bimah succinctly stated
Dry Bones PROTECTION
THE ISRAELI ARMY
WE ARE SAFE AND 7
At a downtown Detroit rally earlier in
the day, pro-Palestinian marchers, in stark
and divisive contrast, equated Israel with
Nazism and genocide. Those Dearborn-
based protestors had the right to demon-
strate. But it was disquieting when they
displayed their wild equations in the heart
of the West Bloomfield Jewish community
the previous Shabbat afternoon.
Relations with our Muslim and Arab
neighbors are as bad or worse than in
2006 during the Second Lebanon War,
acknowledge local Jewish officials.
We had gathered at Shaarey Zedek to
proclaim united support for America's
strongest ally in the Middle East. As we
heard speakers reinforce that support,
we wondered about the mental state of
Israelis, who risk their lives to sustain the
dream of a prosperous, enduring Jewish
state. We knew Israelis in the line of fire
were at the mercy of sirens that provide
maybe a 15-second warning.
Hannan Lis, co-chair of Federation's
2008 Family Mission to Israel, told us
about Israelis that mission-goers had
come in contact with during the 10-day
trip: "The people of Israel took notice of
our presence and appreciated that we were
there to support them during a difficult
period." And that appreciation certainly
resonated among the standing-room-only
crowd at the rally.
Rabbi Joseph H.
Krakoff set the tone for
the rally in his ener-
gizing invocation. "The
people of Israel do not
desire violence or war,"
he said. "They want
peace. The Israelis
want peace. And so we
gather tonight to advo-
cate for shalom — for
ultimate, complete and
enduring peace in the
we know that any
cease-fire hinges on
Am Yisrael, the Nation
of Israel, trusting the
to truly halt the rocket fire, arms smug-
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
gling, suicide bombing and the teaching of Detroit provided vital support for the
rally. But it was heartening to see five
Therein is the ultimate unknown not
local agencies — the Jewish Community
only for the Jewish world, but also the
Relations Council, B'nai B'rith Great Lakes
Palestinian people whose lives have been
Region, American Jewish Committee,
ravaged by their leaders and a culture that Anti- Defamation League and the Zionist
values the murder of Israelis in the form
Organization of America — take the lead
of "martyrdom for Allah" over the pre-
in organizing and promoting the rally in
ciousness of life.
just four days.
Democrat (with the excep-
tion of Jimmy Carter) as being
crooked to his fingertips.
But the Bush-haters aren't
content to let it end there.
They wanted impeachment or,
maybe, decapitation. At the very
least, they hope for an investi-
gation followed by imprison-
ment for war crimes. Sentence
first, verdict afterwards.
I'm sure that's exactly how
Barack Obama wants to start
his presidency. Forget the economy and
Afghanistan and the environment. That's
no fun. Let's go get Bush, instead, and slap
the hell out of him.
Over the holidays, I went to see Wicked
at the Detroit Opera House. It was a won-
derful show, the best and most intelligent
musical I've seen in years. I was so taken
with it that I went on the Internet to look
up its original Broadway reviews.
There is a line in the show, spoken by
the Wizard, that goes something like, "The
surest way to unify people is to give them
something in common to
It was stunning how many
of reviewers felt the line
applied to Bush.
They seemed to believe that
Americans had been manipu-
lated to hate ... well, that's
what I'm not exactly sure of.
The Iraqi people? All
Muslims? That hardly stands
up to serious scrutiny. Bush
went to great lengths to avoid
demonizing them. Saddam Hussein? His
own people hated this psychopath much
more than we did.
Al Qaida? The Taliban? If one believes
that 9-11 was a hallucination or an event for
which Americans themselves are to blame,
I suppose we have been manipulated. But
hating people who are seriously dedicated
to killing you strikes me as a great example
of evolution at work because those are the
genes that usually survive.
It seems to me Bush has been the target
of more hatred than he ever incited. Ifs as
ccording to a poll conducted late
last year, one in five Americans
believes Richard Cheney is the
worst vice president in our history. Which
indicates that one in five Americans
doesn't know much about our history.
Spiro Agnew had to resign from the
office, charged with corruption and
income tax evasion. Aaron Burr killed
Alexander Hamilton in a duel and had
to flee Washington as soon as his term
expired to avoid prosecution. Henry
Wallace feuded with so many members
of his own party that Franklin Roosevelt
had to strip him of all responsibilities. All
right, Cheney did shoot someone, but not
But there isn't much that is rational, or
even debatable, about the intense hatred
among the left for anyone associated with
George W. Bush's presidency.
Cheer up, folks. Just a few more days to
Hating presidents is hardly a novel exer-
cise. Every Republican in my lifetime has
been described as a dumbbell and every
January 15 a 2009
if professing hatred for him bestows one
This was a deeply flawed presidency.
The Bush administration bungled the war
in Iraq at its start, stayed dedicated to
untrammeled free market principals when
events demanded a more interventionist
role for government and shared responsi-
bility with incompetent city and state offi-
cials for the debacle of New Orleans.
Having said that, there have been no
further terrorist attacks here. He was a
staunch friend of Israel, the Constitution
stands firm and when Congress declined
to help Detroit, Bush did, saying he had to
violate the free market in order to save it.
Which is pretty much the same sort of
wise pragmatism FDR displayed toward
the capitalist system when he instituted
the New Deal.
But that's mere history, and who cares
about that anymore?
George Cantor's e-mail address is