Epistolary Fantasy: What Would Rahm Write?

It’s not easy to top Rabbi Yakov Litzman, a Knesset member representing the United Torah Judaism party and now the de facto head of Israel’s health ministry, in the silliness department. He is the one who objected to the term “swine flu,” not, mind you, on grounds that swine do not seem to be particularly involved at this point in the transmission of the virus, but because the word “swine” is offensive to Jews and Muslims alike. We should, he went on to say, call it “Mexican flu.”

It took Mexico exactly one day to register a formal complaint with Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Litzman is thought by some to be a brilliant scholar, an admirable attainment that apparently does not correlate with smarts or sensitivity. But in the race to the bottom, he has some stiff competition from his Knesset colleague, National Union chairman Yaakov Katz, who last month sent — and whose aide released to The Jerusalem Post — a rather embarrassing letter to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

According to Katz, Emanuel had told an unnamed American Jewish leader — and we don’t know whether this is anything more than hearsay — that “in the next four years, there will be a peace agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it does not matter to us who is the prime minister.”

Katz, who is adamantly opposed to a two-state solution, responded as follows: “For many Israelis, this report is a cause for worry because it reveals a condescending attitude toward our prime minister and Israeli public opinion. This is an attitude that Israel does not expect from a real friend such as the U.S., and all the more so from an Israeli Jew who has succeeded in being appointed White House chief of staff.”

In his letter, Katz urged Emanuel to follow the example of the biblical Queen Esther, who used her place in Persia’s royal court to benefit her people. Quoting from the Book of Esther, Katz instructed Emanuel, “if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

I cannot suppress the desire to imagine Emanuel’s response. Herewith, several possibilities:

Written by

Leonard Fein

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Epistolary Fantasy: What Would Rahm Write?

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