Yesterday I had the misfortune of stumbling into this little bit of bigoted, hypocritical, inflammatory, and ignorant trash at the New York Daily News:
You simply do not invite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a pure evil crackpot Holocaust denier who wants to see Israel obliterated from planet Earth, to the United Nations on Yom Kippur, a Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Oh, the ironies abound here.
First would be Hamill’s apparent failure to understand the observance of Yom Kippur, for instance, as described at chabad.com as part of the observance the day before:
[B]egging forgiveness from anyone whom we may have wronged during the past year.
Is Ahmadinejad a blight on humanity? Possibly. Probably, even. But since when can anyone pretend that Israel has zero responsibility for antagonizing any and all of its neighbors in the Middle East? Israel has done no wrong for which it should make amends according to its own traditions? Of all days, holy or otherwise, for Hamill to pick when it comes to hate-baiting and war-mongering, Yom Kippur, indeed the holiest of Holy Days for those of the Jewish faith, is a very odd choice. Rather than being a day to cast aspersions, it would be an ideal day, if ever there was one, especially on the eve of war, to reach out and perhaps offer a mea culpa or two. Such could possibly go far to advancing the cause of peace between peoples and nations.
Secondly, for being so outspoken on the matter, Hamill may have been well served to first anticipate Israel’s reaction, but first, a message from crickets.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior advisers, speaking in private, have shrugged off Ahmadinejad’s statements in the past, saying he did not have a policy-making role when it came to Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Why might that be?
Instead, they scrutinize the utterances of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who, they say, is the person responsible for crucial decision-making.
Those crickets we waited for a moment ago? Apparently that chirping lasted a full day since the article quoted here is from Tuesday, a full day after Hamill’s outpouring of incendiary rage. Granted:
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations denounced the comments but ministers and officials in Israel were silent. There was also little mention of his words in the Israeli press on Tuesday, which was focused instead on domestic politics.
It seems to me that Israel pretty well had the matter in hand and certainly needed no such assistance from the likes of Hamill. I just hope that amid all the threats of preemptive strikes and diplomatic brinkmanship, an attempt to maneuver the US at everyone’s peril, that Israel recalls the words of the man they most scrutinize:
“Iran considers the use of nuclear weapons to be “a big and unforgiveable sin,” said Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran.
I declare that the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been after nuclear weapons and it will never abandon its right for peaceful use of nuclear energy,” he added.
Can Ayatollah Khamenei be trusted? I don’t know. Then again, nobody does.
Oh, what a tangled web. Now, surely, to have such a strong opinion Hamill must himself be Jewish, right? After all, he invokes Yom Kippur as though it were a personal affront. Enter yet another irony. As brother to one Pete Hamill, I can only assume he shares the same lineage:
The eldest of seven children of Catholic immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Pete Hamill was born in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
Oh, so not even Jewish. No skin in this game, as it were, at least where faith is concerned. For that matter, given the rocky past between Judaism and Catholicism, a bit more circumspection might have been in order.
The next irony I care to note is that in Hamill’s apparent ignorance of the significance and observation of Yom Kippur, he may have missed the role of the book of Jonah. I would encourage him to re-read it, assuming he’s read it at least once. After all, it is one of the works his church decided to keep in the canon. As long as he’s going to speak on behalf of his beloved city and, incidentally or not, on behalf of a faith not his own, he could at least do the same amount of due diligence I have. In particular, he may wish to dedicate some attention to Chapter 4, which I have reproduced below for his convenience from the King James Version:
1 But it [G-d's sparing of a repentant Nineveh] displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
6 ¶ And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 and should not I spare Nin’eveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Until man and G-d know of Iran’s repentance or lack thereof, as yet not ascertained, perhaps we should all slow down on this mad march to war. If Nineveh, how much more (see: Kal Vahomer at link) should Iran be spared?
The last irony I should care to point out is perhaps the most salient. For being so quick to judge, for being so ignorant of traditions not his own, and presumably of literature borrowed from a culture not his own, one might at least expect him to recall the words of his own god:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
As for me, I’ll judge and take my chances with verse 2. At least I err on the side of peace and caution. How much more should we all?
Image credit: ”Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” by Maurycy Gottlieb. In the public domain, courtesy of wikipedia.com.