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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 9, 2004 / 20 Sivan, 5764

A strategic partner

By Jonathan Tobin


RIGHT THINKERS — AND DOERS: President Reagan with former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir
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Reagan's place in Jewish history rests on more than record number of votes


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Whenever the question comes up of how a Republican presidential contender may do among Jewish voters, the name "Ronald Reagan" is bound to be mentioned. In a record that may stand for a long time, Reagan won approximately 39 percent of the Jewish vote (as estimated by pollsters) in 1980. He remains imprinted on modern Jewish history as the answer to a favorite trivia question for pundits.


But as America mourns the passing of its 40th president, we need not focus on that event. Reagan's place in Jewish history will not depend on how long his 1980 record lasts.


Though death tends to soften even the most bitter partisans, Reagan's significance can be lost amid all the praise from his admirers and some of the brickbats that his political opponents are still hurling at him.


Though most liberals will go to their graves still wrongly believing him to be an ignorant fool, the truth is that their bitterness is fueled by a grudging acknowledgement that his masterly political skills doomed the welfare state as we knew it, and changed the terms of political discourse in this country. Under Reagan's leadership, conservatives left the margins and became the majority.


Liberal revisionists will also continue to claim rather foolishly that Reagan's policies did not hasten the end of the Soviet Union. They assert that nobody won the Cold War, and that all he left was a sunny personality and the debris of the ill-considered Iran Contra scandal.

'EVIL EMPIRE' DROVE THEM CRAZY
In the last couple of years, the notion of American hubris has become something of an article of faith for critics of the Iraq war and George W. Bush's foreign policy, but those who are quick to dismiss the idea that America can transform the world in its image should remember that Reagan's challenge to the Soviet Union did just that. And without Reagan's infusion of self-confidence into the American psyche, it might not have been possible to put an end to the dark night of Soviet hegemony.


As much as liberals might deny it now, Reagan's 1983 description of the Soviet Union and its satellites as an "evil empire" drove many of them crazy. It was a direct challenge to the way the U.S. political establishment — mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike — viewed its global rival.


Rather than merely accommodating that evil and implicitly acknowledging that it was on the same moral plane as our own flawed society, Reagan drew a bright line of distinction. That undermined the twisted logic of appeasement of the Soviets via détente.

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And it was exactly the sort of language that the movement to free Soviet Jewry had needed to mobilize Americans.


Natan Sharansky recalled in a tribute to Reagan how he first learned of the "evil empire" speech in a Siberian prison cell, where he had been sent for trying to gain the right to move to Israel, as well as for speaking up for the human rights of the Russian people. Sharansky and others who suffered under communism understood what Reagan's sophisticated American critics could not: Casting our struggle with the Soviets as one of good against evil was a vital step on the road to freedom for Soviet Jews and for the people of Eastern Europe.


In that sense, Ronald Reagan was the Jews' greatest ally in the battle to open the gates of the Soviet Union. It's no coincidence that it was during his presidency that the Soviet Jewry movement changed from being an afterthought for the makers of American foreign policy into a fundamental component of strategy.


It was also during his presidency that the relationship between Israel and the United States changed from one of pure dependency into one where the contributions of Israel to American security finally merited it the status of strategic partner.

NOT A BED OF ROSES
Historians will rightly note that U.S.-Israel relations were not a bed of roses during Reagan's eight years in the White House. Battles over American weapon sales to Israel's Arab enemies, the Lebanon war, the hostility of some members of his administration toward Israel (notably Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger) and the incredible stupidity of Israel in using Jonathan Pollard, an American Jewish employee of the Navy Department, as a spy all made for controversy. Reagan's foray to Bitburg, Germany, in 1985, where he spoke at a military cemetery where members of the Nazi S.S. were buried, also broke the hearts of many of his Jewish fans.


But none of this changes the essential philosophy that lay behind his political career and his presidency: the rejection of a philosophy of moral equivalence.


Reagan believed that there was no equating a Communist system which turned an entire nation into a prison, with the free world. He believed that victims of terror and terrorists themselves should not be viewed in the same light. And he attempted, though not always successfully, to make American foreign policy reflect these truths. Reagan's ideas are still the prism though which we can understand the controversies of today.


He truly believed in American exceptionalism — America as the proverbial "city on a hill" that reflected not merely democracy, but the last best hope of humankind.


Unlike those who are embarrassed by such rhetoric, he embraced it wholeheartedly and followed the logic of this faith to its inevitable conclusion: The forces of freedom can never accept the legitimacy of the forces of tyranny. The war between them may not always be hot, but it is never over.


For this, the left judged him a simpleton. But history will judge who were the idiots and who the moral giant of his time.


Reagan won that record number of Jewish votes in 1980 precisely because he rejected Jimmy Carter's attitude that placed both Israel and Soviet Jews on the same moral plane as Arab terrorists and dictators and the masters of the gulag archipelago. And though his presidency did not always live up to the promise of that rhetoric, without his achievement of rolling back the "evil empire," there would be no hope for doing the same in a Middle East where Islamists are just as bent on freedom's destruction.


That is why his greatness transcends the still-smoldering embers of the political firestorms of his time. Let us pray that his successors will continue to find inspiration in these simple, yet inescapable, truths.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin