Tisha b’Av may not be the most widely observed Jewish holiday, but it was marked on the campaign trail.
Romney’s Sunday address in Jerusalem, with the Old City’s walls in the background, was delivered on Tisha b’Av. In his speech, Romney noted that later in the evening, his family would join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to close the Tisha b’Av fast. The Republican candidate not only managed to pronounce the name of the holiday quite well, he also reflected a bit on its meaning.
“It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity over so great a span of time is recalled by just one day on the calendar,” Romney said in his speech. “This is day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions it also calls forth clarity and resolve.”
Some conservatives had previously hailed the timing of Romney’s visit. “Romney could not have chosen a more important and symbolic time to visit Israel this summer,” wrote Commentary’s Alana Goodman.
The Christian Broadcasting Network News suggested that “his decision to be here on the day Israelis mark the suffering of the Jewish people could fortify his promises to improve the present administration’s record — especially in view of Iranian threats to wipe Israel off the map.”
And The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol, citing “top aides in Jerusalem and Boston,” reported that Netanyahu had “encouraged Romney to be in Jerusalem on this solemn day, one that recalls the tragedies of Jewish history and calls to mind current threats to the Jewish people.” Netanyahu, of course, is no stranger to utilizing Jewish holidays to highlight contemporary threats.
Incidentally, four years ago, Purim was all the rage on the presidential campaign trail.