But apparently, Jewish Holidays really don't carry much weight.WorldJewishDaily.com notes that journalists have been singularly unimpressed with the idea of Jews not showing up because of a holiday:As Obama spoke about the importance of supporting U.S.-brokered peace talks, television cameras panned to empty chairs at Israel's U.N. desk.
Speculation immediately spread across Internet sites and among arm-chair analysts about whether Israel was snubbing Obama and boycotting his speech. Israel has been resisting mounting international pressure to extend the partial moratorium, which is set to expire Sunday. Palestinians have threatened to quit peace talks if construction resumes, though they've also hinted in recent days that they are open to a compromise.
Israeli officials have denied their absence was an intentional slight, saying they were observing the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and had informed the U.S. in advance that they would not be present.
In Politico, Laura Rozen opined that the "low profile" of Israeli politicians"does not seem to be fully explained by the Sukkot holiday."Unfortunately, at best, the 'observance' of Sukkot could be explained on the basis of political reasons. On the other hand, if Muslims had missed a similar meeting on account of some holiday or other religious reason, you can be sure there would not be a word of doubt. Would Obama even have given his address if it was a Muslim holiday?
"Having come back from a few days of UN-related events in New York--some of which prominently featured other major Middle East peace players, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad--Israel's decision to not send Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to New York this week, and to downplay the presence of senior officials it sent in his stead, was notable," she wrote.
Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times was skeptical as well. "Israeli officials have denied their absence was an intentional slight, saying they were observing the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and had informed the U.S. in advance that they would not be present."
"Nevertheless," he adds, "American officials expressed some disappointment that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to skip the U.N. meeting."
Perhaps these journalists are too worldly to take seriously something as insignificant as the Jewish calendar, but the fact is that no Israeli official could attend a high-profile meeting on a Jewish holiday without committing political suicide.
Netanyahu's absence was not a snub, but expected behavior for Israeli politicians, an act of deference, as it were, to a higher authority. Despite the desire of pundits to find slights and insults in this fact, sometimes Sukkot is really just Sukkot.
Technorati Tag: Obama and Sukkot.