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“In my opinion, we should not go for a ceasefire. They should carry on to the end.”

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Danile Day-Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln

Those are the words of an Israeli bus rider on learning of another bus being bombed a by terrorist in Tel Aviv Wednesday.

The United States is striving to bring about a cease-fire, with Secretary Clinton shuttling between Jerusalem and Cairo, though it seems clear that Hamas has the present ability to end the battle simply by ending the rocket attacks, each and every one of which is an act of terror by any standard recognized by any civilized nation. (Israel’s response, in sharp contrast, is proportionate, lawful and moral –the response of a nation defending its citizens against unprovoked attacks.)

For many Americans watching the march to war unfold, and not just between Irsael and Hamas, or between Israel and Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border in the north, but also the looming confrontation between Israel and Iran, the violence and death of innocents that accompanies it seems so extreme that the demands for a stop grow and inevitably get directed at the one party that is reasonable, which is Israel. The very best quick take on the real dynamics at work here –Iran being at the center of the war– is from Lee Smith. It is complicated, and it is very likely that a much bigger war is on the offing.

It is thus a good time for Steven Speilberg’s Lincoln to appear in American theaters and to be greeted with all the praise any critic can muster. Many of the critics have missed the film’s key point, such as A. O. Scott in the New York Times, who concludes that “the genius of ‘Lincoln,’ finally, lies in its vision of politics as a noble, sometimes clumsy dialectic of the exalted and the mundane.” In fact the genius of Lincoln the man, reflected in Lincoln the film, is that he knew that “all men are created equal,” and that a government which recognized that fact, a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth,” and that to prevent that perishing he would employ war and all of its horrible violence to defend the country so established.

Actor Daniel Day Lewis does a masterful job of transporting Lincoln over the centuries, especially his resolve to preserve the union whatever the cost. The film ends with Lewis playing Lincoln giving his Second Inaugural Address with its terrible resolve on full display:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Israel is waging a just war against terrorists who do not want peace with the Jewish State but its annihilation. Israel will not agree to be driven into the sea, and so the war will go on until the terrorists are defeated and removed, and reasonable, peace-loving Palestinians replace them and seek a state, not an extermination. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have no doubt already seen Lincoln, and we have to hope they understand his greatness was his resolve to do right even at terrible cost, not to broker any peace deal he could obtain.

Iconic black and white photograph of Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.


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