woensdag 7 april 2010

Open brief aan Obama over Jeruzalem

Als Barack Obama een deling van Jeruzalem afdwingt, zal hij wel de geschiedenisboekjes halen, alsmede de volgende update van de Torah.
Dear Mr. Obama,
Congratulations on the passage of the health reform plan. You can be proud of this legislation. It is a great step forward for Americans, which will hopefully allow them to enjoy the same level of health care as Europeans, Israelis and others. We can be sure that your achievement will be talked about and justly praised for months and it will be remembered for years.

But please, take a minute to do a small experiment. Ask your staffers, your children or just about anyone, what they can tell you about a ruler called Nabu-kudurri-usur. Did he have a health plan? Was it successful? How about the ruler before him, Nabu-apla-usur, or the one who followed Nabu-Kudurri-ussur, Amal-Marduk? I doubt if many people will recognize those names if they are not Assyriologists.

Actually, many people know about Nabu-kudurri-usur, but they know him by his Hebrew name. Most of your Jewish staffers are probably better known by their English names. But Nabu-kudurri-usur is known to the world by the name given him by the Jews, even though he was not Jewish in the least. He is known to you as Nebuchadnezzar or Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon who destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the Jews. Few know or remember most of  his predeceessors, except Sennacherib - who also tried to conquer Jerusalem, and before him Hammurabi, who invented law codes. Few remember the Babylonian kings that followed, except if they are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Almost nobody knows if they had good health reform packages or boosted the Babylonian economy.

What is important in the historical memory of the world is often quite different from concerns of the moment. Harry S Truman, among other great presidents, kept this in mind.   What you do about health reform will be remembered for ten years or perhaps for a century. Unless it is an utter disaster, what you do in Afghanistan may be remembered and studied by American history students only, a century or two centuries hence. 

What you do about Israel and about Jerusalem, if you do something decisive, may be remembered as long as there are men and women who read and write. Almost certainly it will be remembered as long as there is a Jewish people. Will you be remembered as Nebuchadnezzar, or will you be remembered as Cyrus and Darius, who restored the Jews?

Ami Isseroff

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