It's too early to panic, I hope.
President Obama returned to his sweeping demand that Israel stop construction in post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem, extend the construction freeze in settlements outside of Jerusalem beyond the ten months agreed, and take other steps to bring the Palestinians to negotiations.
Comments at a high tone have come from all over the political spectrum, with the Prime Minister aligning himself with his government, but away from its most extreme voices. He is affirming the 'policy of building throughout Jerusalem, but distancing himself from colleagues who are attacking the motives of President Obama and the implications of what he is demanding from Israel.
President Peres has urged the prime minister to stop building for Jews in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
The op-ed page of Ha'aretz calls for a shake up in the government to move it closer to the center, claims that Netanyahu is endangering Israel's security, and that Israel should thank President Obama for acting like a friend.
Palestinian officials and the Arab League are thanking President Obama, asking him to continue the pressure on Israel as a way of gaining support throughout the Middle East, and inciting Muslims to protect al-Aqsa from a Jewish invasion..
On the side of normalcy, Israel will be buying several new military transport planes from an American supplier, the United States has voted against condemnations of Israel by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and General Petraeus denies saying that Israeli actions are threatening the lives of American troops in Muslim countries of Asia.
Indications are that the Israeli government will not be making an official response to the White House until after the Passover holiday. Tempers may cool, and individuals working on language may find a way to satisfy both governments. Other crises may distract one or both parties. There can be an undefined, mutual agreement to pretend that all is well. Or there will be more problems with the government that describes itself as our unflagging ally.
Jewish families and others will celebrate a Passover Seder, including a group in the White House with the President at the head of the table. There is no telling how many interpretations of the ceremony will be heard: freedom from slavery; freedom from other or all oppressions; national self-determination; an experience that is uniquely Jewish or broadly human, and perhaps anti-Zionist.
It has become conventional in liberal Jewish circles to use texts for the ceremony (Haggadot) that do not include one passage in the traditional
ritual. It comes toward the end of the Seder along with the fourth cup of wine. For multiculturists, it is not politically correct.
Pour out Your wrath upon the nations that do not acknowledge You, and upon the kingdoms that do not call upon Your Name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let the wrath of Your anger overtake them. Pursue them with anger, and destroy them from beneath the heavens of the Lord.
Will we hear that participants in the White House Seder read the paragraph? Or that in a number of homes the first words
(שפך חמתך אל הגוים)
came with elevated voices and banging on the table?
However you do it, enjoy the food, wine, feelings, questions, and arguments.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem