Why We Need Sukkot | Jewish and Israeli news Algemeiner.com
After watching the recent debacle in Afghanistan unfold, I couldn’t help but recall the Suez Crisis of 1956 – with a sense of dread and dread as to what the future holds for those who cherish the freedoms and comforts of the Western world.
Truth be told, it wasn’t the shocking scenes of Afghan citizens running desperately alongside a US military cargo plane at Kabul airport that I found so uncomfortable, even though this image stuck in my mind. forever ; Nor was it the shocking revelation that the US military left billions of dollars in military equipment in Afghanistan, weapons that are now controlled by an evil terrorist regime.
Because if it is true that these aspects of the withdrawal give me shivers, they are not the cause of my apocalyptic premonition. Rather, it is the specter of Suez hanging over Afghanistan that gives me sleepless nights and makes me fear for the future of the free world.
The Suez Crisis of 1956 is best known for the precipitous fall of its main cheerleader, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden (1897-1977), until then one of the most famous politicians and statesmen. from Great Britain. The crisis began on July 26, 1956, after Egyptian populist President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) nationalized the Suez Canal, one of the most important waterways in the world, then owned by the Suez Canal Company, a commercial entity controlled by the French and the British. interests.
September 17, 2021 9:55 a.m.
Nasser’s provocative decision was precipitated by an American and British decision not to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, a consequence of Egypt’s growing ties with the Soviet Union. Nasser was furious and took his revenge by taking control of the canal with the idea that Egypt could use the revenues from the flourishing maritime trade to pay for the construction of the dam. But Britain and France were determined to thwart Nasser’s unilateral seizure of their property and decided that Nasser needed to be taught a lesson. They secretly planned a military campaign with Israel to regain control of the canal and to effect regime change in Egypt as well.
After a pre-agreed Israeli invasion of Sinai and the inevitable conflict between Israeli and Egyptian forces that ensued, the Anglo-French alliance declared the military confrontation a casus belli, and in early November sent their armies to occupy the canal, wresting control of the territory from the Egyptians.
But the Suez campaign turned out to be a gross miscalculation. US President Dwight Eisenhower – who had not been briefed on the plan in advance – was horrified, believing that the Anglo-French invasion would be widely seen as a blatant example of Western imperialism, pushing Egypt and other Arab nations in the arms of the Soviet Union. Union, who were eagerly seeking an anchor in the Middle East.
The US administration, in a rare show of cooperation with the Soviets, secured a UN resolution condemning the invasion while simultaneously refusing to sell oil to the British, whose oil supply was severely curtailed by the blockade of Suez – which forced the British to and the French armies into a humiliating retreat. Eden, once celebrated as Churchill’s right-hand man and the wisest of diplomats, was forced to resign as prime minister with his reputation in tatters.
At the time, apart from Eden’s dramatic disgrace, the outcome of the Suez crisis was widely seen as an unequivocal success. The United States, with the help of the United Nations and using its considerable influence over the United Kingdom, succeeded in preventing a massive bloodshed, while the international economy came out largely unscathed, perhaps even improved, as a result of the internationally sanctioned resolution. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had behaved responsibly, acting together to ensure that this kind of foreign military adventure – which only benefited the superpowers, while the less able countries suffered the most. hostilities – would no longer be tolerated by the new international order. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
But how wrong they were all. An emboldened Nasser then used his victory over Britain in particular, and the West’s weakness in the face of belligerence in general, as proof that if the mouse roars loud enough, the more powerful lions will flee. Eden was quite convinced of this terrible consequence, declaring to an interviewer in 1967 that he was “unrepentant” for launching the Suez campaign, and that he believed that Nasser was an incarnation of the post-Hitler. war – forcing the West to retreat had just encouraged him and others. Arab leaders to arm their countries which, in turn, have seriously threatened peace in the region.
Eden’s biographer, Dr Thorpe, was much more blunt; in his book “Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden” (London, 2003), he writes: “If the Anglo-French enterprise had succeeded in 1956, there would almost certainly have been no war in the Middle East. Orient in 1967, and probably Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The difference between the humiliating descent and troop withdrawal from Britain in 1956, and the shameful fiasco of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, is that in 1956 the British Empire was already in deep decline. While the Suez Crisis may have been the catalyst for a faster descent into oblivion, it has highlighted just how toothless the once mighty British tiger has become.
In contrast, the United States of America is ostensibly still the most powerful superpower in the world, a position it has held for decades. Seeing him dishonored and kicked out of a country, leaving unholy mess in its wake, reveals how fleeting and evanescent this power is. Historians will someday come back to the withdrawal from Afghanistan and cite it – as they do with the Suez withdrawal for Britain – as the time when the penny fell and the American king was seen without clothes.
The cycle of the Jewish calendar includes a holiday called Sukkot, celebrated each year in early fall. We build a temporary exterior structure, using leaves or branches as a roof. For an entire week, this cabin becomes our home: we eat there, we spend time with family, and many of us even sleep in the sukkah.
Custom requires us to decorate our sukkah – and the interior of some sukkah can be elaborate and even adorned, with beautiful curtains and artistic images covering the walls, and fabulous decorations hanging from the ceiling. But then, once Sukkot week is over, every succah is dismantled and the beautiful interior that was our home for seven days is gone.
One of the most frequently asked questions about Sukkot is why it takes place in the fall and not in the spring, when the weather is more suited to the exterior aspects of the festival. The answers abound, but the answer that has always struck me as particularly sharp is that suggested by Rashi’s grandson, Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (1085-1158; “Rashbam”).
He suggests that God deliberately chose the fall, after the harvest is over, when an agricultural society feels the most prosperous and complacent. The warehouses are full, life is good and there is nothing to worry about. It is exactly now that God is asking us to leave the comforts of our homes and spend time in a temporary dwelling – although, despite their run-down run-down, we are supposed to decorate them and make them as pleasant as our permanent homes, even more enjoyable. And then, after being in it for a week, you take them apart completely, and they’re gone.
As we approach winter, God wants us to be aware of just how temporary our livelihood and security really is – or can become; it’s here one day, and gone the next day. Because in the final analysis, it is not our status, our homes, our possessions or our strength that gives us security – it is God. And all of that can go away in the blink of an eye.
All of us in the western world are endlessly dazzled by our prowess and self-diagnosed superiority, as we gaze at the navel and pull the breeze on all matters besides our own existential vulnerability, while at the same time the barbarians waiting at the door. to make our harvest festival the harshest winter we’ve ever seen.
That’s why we need Sukkot: to spend time thinking about how quickly our world can tip over and disappear, with the edifice that is our home dismantled, leaving us to face the elements without the protection that we took it for granted. . It is this Sukkot phenomenon that should have been the strategic point of the Suez crisis. If that had been the case, the situation in Afghanistan might have turned out quite differently. And this time the stakes are much higher, which is why I am so worried. Let’s all hope and pray for a mild winter, and this spring is coming much sooner than expected.
The author is a rabbi in Beverly Hills, California.