Donald and Reinhold and Jerusalem


Sometimes news happens in clumps and looking at the sum total of the news is even more interesting and telling than the single components that make up the day. Yesterday, among millions of other happenings, three things made the news here in Israel.

The first news event was that a female terrorist stabbed and lightly wounded a soldier. She was shot and the paramedics that arrived rushed to help her before attending to the soldier. According to the Red Cross, people are to be helped according to the severity of their wounds and so a terrorist who has just stabbed someone will be treated for the gunshot wounds his (or her) victim fired in self-defense. Yeah, the Red Cross is a rather stupid organization.

The second was published today that Reinhold Hanning died on May 30 at the age of 95. We aren’t privy to where he died, but we know where he didn’t. The SS prison guard didn’t die in jail, where he belonged for being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people during his time at Auschwitz. He should have died in prison but his lawyers played the appeal game and Germany let them…and so in a way, Hanning probably died thinking he outwitted his foes. He, like the Red Cross, must have been a rather stupid man because you can’t outwit God and there is always justice in this world…if not in this life, than in the next.

Photo: Reuters

And the third news item was that Donald Trump signed a waiver ordering the US Embassy to stay in Tel Aviv. There are many who feel anger and a sense of betrayal. Didn’t he promise to finally do in Israel what they do in nearly every other country – namely, put the embassy in the nation’s capital? He did. And now he won’t. At least not yet.

The statement released by the White House says the time will come – that it is not a question of IF they will move the embassy, but rather when. Whatever the excuses, his breaking his promise, at least at this moment, is a huge disappointment to those who believed in him.

As I thought of these things, I thought of the past, the present and the future. Our past, is represented by Reinhold…in his death, he finally opened the door to eternal justice. He’s rotting in hell right beside the rest of his Nazi brothers. Eternally damned because even if you can fool the German court, you can’t fool God’s court.

And the present – the juxtaposition between Donald Trump breaking a promise and the constant reality of terror attacks here in Israel.

And finally, the future – represented in part by Donald Trump’s leaving the door open to a move in the future (more than we got from any other sitting president once they’d promised and then broken the same promise Trump is now delaying) and more than Trump, the future represented by Jerusalem itself.

Whenever the world gets bogged down in politics and violence, those of us fortunate to call Israel home and Jerusalem our most precious city, have the honor of walking its twisted alleys, its golden streets. There is nothing like the sun shining on the stones to remind us that the city has weathered all storms and will weather so many more to come.

So the US Embassy will stay in Tel Aviv? Okay, we’ll deal with it. Am I surprised? No, not really. Did I hope for more? Yes always.

I hoped that when Reinhold Hanning was convicted, that he would be sentenced by a German court to rot in jail. Was I surprised that he never saw a day in jail? No, not really. Did I hope for more? Yes always.

That news broke yesterday of another terror attack in Israel…was I surprised? No, not at all. Did I expect anything else? Nope, not that either.

But what I love most is that yesterday gave way to today – Friday in Israel and a reminder that no matter what happens “out there,” here at home, our lives revolve on a different schedule, a different yard stick.

The Sabbath is less than 2 hours away. The candles are ready; the table almost set. Reinhold Hanning has already begun to rot; and Donald Trump carries the added burden of a promise broken.

And we here in Israel, we look to the future, to Jerusalem. It is our capital. It is our heart. It has always been our city; it is ours still and again. Eternal. United. Ours. To hell with Reinhold and to an extent, to hell with the broken promises of US presidents. We continue. We live. It’s up to Donald Trump to carry that lie until he makes it truth.

I believe the embassy will be moved – and in the coming years. I could be wrong. It might not happen. But what I do know, what I do believe, with complete faith – is that justice is a certainty and those who stand with the people of Israel are blessed. We have withstood the tests of time and hatred. Who cares where the US Embassy is – really. The bottom line is that we have a State. A Jewish State – to which more than 100 countries have sent their delegations. Does it really matter where the sleep at night or where their ambassador lives? Does it change our reality?

Jerusalem is ours. They want the humidity of Tel Aviv rather than the cool, dry air in Jerusalem? More room for us and the jokes on them.

Again, I’m not letting Donald Trump off the hook. It is worrisome – in some grandiose way – that he feels comfortable breaking a promise made during his campaign. But like the life and death of Reinhold Hanning, this is yet another single, transient moment in a people who are eternal.

We are an eternal people, living in an eternal land, with an eternal capital that is in our hands once more. All the rest, pales beside that reality.

Shabbat shalom.

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