His award of the Nobel Peace Prize confirms that others consider his record thus far astonishing. Just winning the election - that alone changed the landscape of our world. A black man is president of the United States.
If he did not one more thing, if he sat in office for 4 or 8 years on his hands, his accomplishment of being there more than merits the prize.
As the Passover prayer proclaims, Dayenu, that miracle would be enough. It says to every person in the non-white world that they can ascend and achieve. It empowers multitudes and changes human destiny.
This award to Obama is good for the Jews and good for all peace loving people on this planet.
We recall in this context just one event, his courageous speech in Cairo which we wrote about on June 4, 2009 as follows:
President Barack Obama cited the Talmud in his Cairo speech. Obama may be the first US president to cite the Talmud in a major international address.
It was not a particularly deep, meaningful or well-known citation. It was a passage from Gittin 59b, that was tacked on to his speech at the end, along with miscellaneous quotes from other religious texts. He said,
The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."Soncino translates the citation as: "But the whole of the Law is also for the purpose of promoting peace, as it is written, Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace?" (Prov. 3:17).
The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
כל התורה כולה נמי מפני דרכי שלום היא דכתי׳ דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
It looks like Obama obtained his quote from a quick google search.
This was a long and content-rich address that needs to be studied and scrutinized, indeed like a Talmudic text, as a Time magazine writer suggested yesterday for another Obama document.
In the address, Obama enunciated clearly the basis for his support of Israel and reiterated his aversion to antisemitism and Holocaust denial:
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.More to follow.... (such as now, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize....)
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.