This week Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited with USA President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
This honor is usually reserved for the Prime Minister of a newly elected government of Israel who is the true political leader of the State of Israel. The President of Israel is a ceremonial position that is supposed to be apolitical.
So why was President Herzog given the honors and Prime Minister Netanyahu snubbed by Biden?
There is a fierce debate in Israel resulting from Netanyahu’s government plan to limit the powers of the Supreme Court to veto legislation based on what they find “unreasonable.”
The Israeli Supreme Court is dominated by progressive leftists who almost always side with “democratic” values, rather than “Jewish” values when there is a conflict between the two. And the current the system for appointing Justices to the Supreme Court guarantees there will always be a majority of progressive leftists sitting on the bench.
The protestors against Netanyahu’s plan (including the Biden administration) want to keep the status quo with ultimate power in Israel resting in the biased and activist Supreme Court.
President Herzog, who is supposed to be apolitical is trying to act as a mediator between to two sides. However he is anything but unbiased as you will see below.
He has always been a political opponent to Netanyahu and was head of the Labor Party who are among the leaders of the protests in Israel.
Herzog has been trying to delay the passing of the legislation and get the two sides to achieve consensus. The only way that can happen is if the Netanyahu government waters down the bills to satisfy the opposition which would basically leave the status quo. (This is the Biden Administration’s approach – which explains why Herzog was invited and Netanyahu snubbed).
MEETING WITH BIDEN
In President Herzog’s meeting with Biden, Herzog brought up the heated debate and protests in Israel. Biden ignored it in his comments.
Mr. President, as I’ve said it as head of state to the people of Israel: We should always seek to find amicable consensus. And I agree with you on that as well.
In the meeting, Biden ignored the protests in Israel, but later Biden (or the administration) gave quotes to journalist Thomas Friedman who threatened in his New York Times article:
His message to the Israeli prime minister and president could not have been clearer: Please stop now.
Don’t pass anything this important without a broad consensus, or you are going to break something with Israel’s democracy and with your relationship with America’s democracy, and you may never be able to get it back.”
The implication is that the values that bind Israel and the USA are secular progressive democracy. Not Judeo/Chrisitan values.
Later, Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress.
In his speech Herzog said,
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the land which the Almighty promised to Abraham, to which Moses lead the Israelites, the land of the Bible, of milk and honey, evolved into an exquisite land of democracy. Against all odds, the Jewish people returned home and built a national home, which became a beautiful Israeli democracy, a mosaic of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians, secular, traditional and orthodox, of all denominations, and all possible views and lifestyles.
then later on…
Our democracy is also one-hundred-and-twenty Members of Knesset, comprised of Jews, Muslims, Christians or Druze, representing every opinion under the Israeli sun, working and debating side by side. Our democracy is also late Friday afternoon, when the sound of the Muezzin calling to prayer, blends with the siren announcing the Sabbath in Jerusalem, while one of the largest and most impressive LGBTQ Pride Parades in the world is going on in Tel Aviv.
Herzog begins by telling the Congress that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish People… but he leaves out the values God wants the Jewish People to live by in the Land.
The entire book of Deuteronomy which we are currently reading is Moses’ warning to live by the values of the Torah or (to paraphrase Biden) “we will break something in our relationship with God.”
How did the Jewish People lose our focus? A brief history of the Herzog Dynasty is an example of how we evolved from a God fearing people to a State proudly accepting equally “all possible views and lifestyles.”
The paternal grandfather of President Herzog (after whom he was named) was Rabbi Yizchak HaLevi Herzog.
Rabbi Herzog was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1922 – 1935.
He moved to Israel in 1936 after he was invited to succeed Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Cook as Chief Rabbi of Palestine and later Chief Rabbi of Israel after 1948.
A devout Talmudic scholar with a Phd from the University of London, he fought against the British and their limits on Jewish immigration.
He also supported the right wing Irgun organization led by firebrand Menachem Begin who would become Prime Minister of Israel.
Needless to say, Torah values were prime for him. Secular wisdom was secondary.
SECOND GENERATION HERZOG
Rabbi Herzog’s son, Chaim was born in Ireland and was involved in Labor Zionist Youth movements as a teenager. It’s tough being the child of one of the great Sages of the generation.
When the family moved to Israel he served in the Haganah (socialist Jewish paramilitary group). Later he returned to London to get his Law degree which he received in 1941.
During WWII he enlisted in the British Army and participated in the liberation of several Nazi concentration camps.
In 1947 Chaim Herzog returned to Israel and fought in the 1948 War of Independence. He retired from the IDF in 1962 with the rank of major-general and set up his own private law firm.
After the Six-Day War he was appointed Military Governer of East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
As Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, in 1975, he tore up Resolution 3379 in front of the Assembly saying, “For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance is devoid of any moral or legal value.”
In 1981 he won a seat in the Knesset as a member of the socialist Alignment Party which was the predecessor of the socialist Labor Party.
In 1983 he was elected President of Israel after intense opposition by Menachem Begin and the right wing and religious parties.
“Zionist” values, which in his generation meant Jewish Socialist welfare values, but Jewish Nationalist security values, were what drove him.
THIRD GENERATION HERZOG
Chaim Herzog’s son Isaac was born in Tel Aviv. However, when father Chaim was serving in the United Nations, Isaac attended the private modern orthodox Jewish Ramaz School in New York and went to a Jewish summer camp affiliated with the Conservative movement.
When the family returned to Israel, he served in the IDF and then studied law at Tel Aviv University and joined his father’s law firm.
In 2003 Isaac Herzog won a seat in the Knesset as a member of the socialist Labor Party and in 2013 he was elected leader of the Labor Party.
At that point, the Labor Party was in severe decline due the the failed policies of the Oslo Accords and the resulting terror campaigns by the Palestinian Arabs.
The complete control of the country by the Socialists from 1948 until 1977 had dwindled to almost nothing. The majority of the country no longer believed in the “Land for Peace with Terrorists” formula.
Today, except in the minds of some on the far left (and many governments around the world), the two-state solution in Israel is dead.
The current government in Israel is made up of Right-Wing Conservatives (Likud) and parties representing Torah values. Based on demographics, this will not change. We are slowly evolving back into a Jewish State that will represent Torah values first. A State with the values that Abraham, Moses and Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog lived by.
President Biden can’t stop it. The UN can’t stop it. President Herzog can’t stop it… and the protestors in Israel can’t stop it.