Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reading Obama's Personal Mail to G-d

In a new low for Israel's newspapers, Maariv published the note that Sen. Obama placed into the Western Wall, the "Kotel" -- a private message between himself and G-d.

On the bright side, the Yediot Achronot newspaper didn't print the note because they valued Obama's privacy...yet Maariv had to "run with scoop" against all etiquette, norms of privacy, and basic decency.

The note has since been picked up everywhere and published in the NY Post as well, so there's no real issue in it not appearing here on the blog.

"Lord - Protect my family and me," reads the note published in the Maariv daily. "Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

The paper's decision to make the note public drew fire. The rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitz, said publishing the note intruded in Obama's relationship with God.

"The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them," he told Army Radio. The publication "damages the Western Wall and damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves," he said. (NY Post)


However, the following scenario ran around my head this morning.

What if...

...the note said the following:
Bless and protect the State of Israel and its inhabitants, spread the wings of peace and security throughout the land so that all may live in harmony with one another. May the words of Your prophet come true, "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
Or, if you're a not an Obama supporter...
Bless and protect the Palestinian people from Israeli aggression. Grant them sovereignty over Jerusalem and their land so that this oppressed nation can thrive among their brothers in the Middle East...
What if? Let's say that this was the message that appeared in the note that was offered to Maariv. (Or maybe, Yated Neeman or HaModia or Mishpacha).

Do you think that seeing such a message (either of the above) would be important enough, or urgent enough, to bypass Obama's privacy and should be printed and publicized?



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

18 comments:

Mike Miller said...

My disgust is not with the newspaper, but with the one who extracted the note. If the reports are true, he wasn't the type of guy likely to be on Maariv's payroll...

Of course, I assume Obama knew this would happen... given his position, it seems pretty unlikely that he can expect the same decency shown to ordinary private citizens.

Anonymous said...

While I have no doubt that his note was heartfelt etc., he is an experienced and canny enough politician to know better than to write either of the kinds of things you mention.

Yellow Boy

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YB: I agree that I doubt he would have written them...but let's say he did.

Does that warrant publishing them in the paper?

Gee a Moron said...

Jameel,

I think that there are enough real issues of concern to avoid adding to them with "what if..."

Lurker said...

I don't know what that yeshiva's guy's intent was, exactly, in trying to get Obama's note publicized. I am by no means a fan of Obama, and I plan to vote against him. Nevertheless, I have to say this: If this was indeed a personal message that Obama expected no one but God to see, then it indicates a profound humbleness and humility before God, as well as a genuine personal striving to be a good and just person. It reflects very positively on Obama, and has improved my image of him. If the intent of the yeshiva guy was to somehow embarass Obama, then I would say that he has achieved the exact opposite.

Lurker said...

Mike Miller: My disgust is not with the newspaper, but with the one who extracted the note.

Why is your disgust only with him and not with the newspaper? The newspaper editors are the ones who chose to actually publish the note. From an objective perspective, one might think that they are the ones who deserve the lion's share of the condemnation. Why do you think otherwise?

Mike Miller: Of course, I assume Obama knew this would happen...

Why? Prominent politicians and celebrities visit the Kotel and put notes there all the time; and to the best of my knowledge, this is the very first time anyone has ever had the chutzpa to pull out such a note and publish it. For example, John McCain (not on his most recent visit) and Michael Jackson have both visited the kotel and put in notes, and nobody pulled them out and published them. So I don't know why Obama should have expected this to happen to him.

Lurker said...

Jerusalem Post: In response, Ma'ariv said that "...since Obama is not a Jew, publishing the note does not constitute an infringement on his right to privacy."

Exercise for the reader: What sort of reaction do you think this statement would receive if it were made by R. Ovadia Yosef instead of Ma'ariv?

ProfK said...

"The note has since been picked up everywhere and published in the NY Post as well, so there's no real issue in it not appearing here on the blog." There isn't? Two--or twelve or two hundred--wrongs make a right? That the note should not have been published the first time most people agree. But where is the justification for its subsequent publication? Where I live saying that something has been published in the NY Post is not a recommendation for reading it.

This whole to do strikes me as unveiled voyeurism and an unwarranted intrusion into someone's privacy.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ProfK: This note issue has been broadcast on Israel TV and radio since Maariv first "broke" the story.

Unfortunately, the story is in the public domain. There are talk radio stories about it (heard the whole thing this morning on Radio "kol chai"), it's on TV news, newspapers, and the entire public domain.

Once an issue like this has been completely relegated to the public domain, and is now popular public discourse -- one could make the case that additional publication of the note in a favorable light is better for the person who was wronged. Had I thought for a second that posting this now, would embarrasses Obama, I would not have posted it. He's way past it, and on to other things. (And this has nothing to do at all with my personal politics).

Liorah Lleucu said...

Why is your disgust only with him and not with the newspaper?
Because the plucker of notes from the prayer wall is like a fox in the Temple and a navi sheker.

J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

What if.. dude, this was a publicity stunt. see here. (Warning: some vulgar language. Relevant material starts at 2nd or 3rd para.)

J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

"In response, Ma'ariv said that "...since Obama is not a Jew, publishing the note does not constitute an infringement on his right to privacy.""

Chilonim have a right to be racist. Religious people not. What they forget is that for Gentiles there's only Jew, there's no mitnachalim, haredim, Mizrachi, MO, chassidish, Litvish, Lubavitch etc...

Rafi G said...

I saw this in the news and was at first disgusted by the thought that someone took it out of the wall and publicized it.

But then I wondered - Obama is a politician. Maybe he made sure the note was extracted and released to the press. Maybe he wanted people to see what he wrote. It is definitely good pr for him, considering the content...
is it possible?

HolyCityPrayer said...

I don't think anyone answered Jameel's question:

"Do you think that seeing such a message (either of the above) would be important enough, or urgent enough, to bypass Obama's privacy and should be printed and publicized?"

I am astounded at the question.
ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Is nothing holy, pardon the expression?

jaime said...

It doesn't matter what was written on that note. To think that someone would do such an act of both removing it, trying to sell it or even giving it away, and for a news source to print is disgusting and disgraceful.

The kid who did this, should have his name publicized and his privacy trampled on. If I was that kid,I would always worry that any trust that anyone had for him, would constantly be questioned.

HG said...

Regarding the question of what should be publicized, it seems to me that the privacy of this kind of communication should be respected unless it contains a direct threat of violence (or the like). This means that confidentiality would cover whatever private thoughts Obama may entertain regarding Palestinians, mideast policy, or even about ongoing violence, because these do not constitute threats or abuse of Obama's (potential) future power.

Furthermore, upon finding a confidential communication that may merit public disclosure, in most cases it would be preferable to first contact and confront the author privately.

Fern said...

I agree with ProfK. I don't think you should have reprinted it here. It seems hypocritical to wag your finger at Maariv and then profit (literally and figuratively) from the same note yourself.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Fern: As I wrote earlier, I believe there is a big difference between printing something that is confidential (as Maariv did), versus reprinting something after it has been republished in the public domain, and approved for publication by Obama himself.

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