Shanah Tovah, Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

My family and I would like to thank you for your Rosh Hashanah greetings and wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous year as well.

When I refer to your family, I refer of course to all citizens of the United States, a nation which awaits your leadership and the sense that you represent a united United States, recognizing its special purpose and role in the world.

The United States has a special role within the family of nations and with this comes a responsibility to lead from the front, not from the rear as you have advocated previously.

Is the United States merely a great world power that burned brilliantly for less than a century and is now declining rapidly? The answer to this will largely be determined by you. You need to refute the criticism given by Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) in an interview: “I just wish the president had laid this out better. I wish he’d quit backing away from his own red line. And I wish he was more of a commander-in-chief than a community organizer,” and you can only refute it with action. Mr. President, you need to grow quickly and dramatically from a community organizer from Chicago to the defender of the Free World.

The time to embrace the exceptionalism of the great country you were elected to lead is now.

Initially, I thought you would have acted by Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, or at the latest, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Certainly, no matter how long you stretch out the process you must act within the month of Tishrei, the first month of the Jewish year. Since it seems that adhering to red lines in response to Syrian war crimes or dates on the Jewish calendar is not a strong point of yours, I have some good news: There is still time to get back on track and I have a plan!

Plan: I am not sure that in your busy schedule you have time to read my column, but last week I commented on the obscene silence of the world to Syria’s threats that if the West attacked Syria for gassing its own people, Syria would in turn attack its neighbor Israel. I referred to this as a demented calculus since Israel has remained completely outside the fray and for no reason should be threatened by Syria. A far more reasonable and effective calculus involving a country other than Syria would be attacking and crippling Syria’s patron, Iran. The mullahs of Teheran have been active players on the Syrian field through the direct involvement of their Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s proxy Hizbullah. And Iran should pay. Dearly.

Mr. President, by attacking one nation, Iran, you may be able to sever the heads of two snakes, Iran and Syria, and possibly neutralize a third, Russia.

Concerning Iran, recently elected President Rouhani said, “Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights,” referring to nuclear development. With the focus of the world on the Syrian government gassing its citizens, Iran continues to race toward nuclear capability.  Confronting Iran militarily would topple Assad, relieve the threat which Iran poses to the Gulf States, and remove the existential threat to Israel, proving U.S. claims of unconditional support. If the U.S. is not prepared to act against Iran, it must at the very least get Congress to pass a resolution endorsing and encouraging force against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The other snake, Syria, would be decapitated with the head of state Assad falling. The vacuum would be filled with a noxious mix of rebels but they are splintered and a better alternative than Iran. Russia would not engage the United States if the U.S. demonstrated a rejuvenated sense of purpose and resolve. Russia, however, would bring a condemnation to the United Nations, no doubt receiving support from China and other countries, but, if nothing else, the U.N. has proved dependably feckless, except when punishing Israel.

Timing: We are now about midway between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Since you involved the Congress, it is inconceivable that you will be able to strike Syria by week’s end, the aforementioned Day of Atonement. The month of Tishrei offers a plethora of opportunities to inflict a fair and fitting punishment on Syria and its allies. The festive period of Sukkot may appear poetically appropriate demonstrating that though the world may think it lives in secure buildings, without the support of G-d, the greatest fortress or bunker is nothing more than a sukkah, a shack. There is, however, a day far more fitting: Hoshanah Rabbah.

Hoshana Rabbah is the last of the Days of Judgment which began on Rosh Hashanah and is the judgment day for the world. The Zohar, the Jewish book of mystical teachings, says that while the judgment for the New Year is sealed on Yom Kippur, it is not “delivered” until the end of Sukkot, specifically Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot. It is poetic justice that criminal states such as Iran and Syria should face judgment on Hoshana Rabbah.

There is sufficient time between now and that date to plan an operation and to call it off, if Syria in fact complies and relinquishes its chemical weapons holdings with Russian assistance. Certifying that Syria has surrendered their entire arsenal would be virtually impossible but this at least leaves some hope that even a nation can still alter its verdict and decree for the New Year.

Mr. President, when you spoke at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and wished Jews around the world a Shanah Tovah, you remembered the great Swedish diplomat and Righteous Among the Gentiles Raoul Wallenberg and said that his deeds are a reminder “of our power not simply to bear witness, but also to act.” Take inspiration from Raoul Wallenberg and take action in this month of judgment so the world does not face far worse judgment in the future.

Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at