Technically, the Lebanon war against Hizbullah is over. In fact, however, Israel remains starkly vulnerable to further rocket attacks, and – even more ominously – to a still-nuclearizing Iran. Making matters worse, Prime Minister Olmert has yet to openly change course from his indisputably catastrophic plan for “realignment” and “convergence.”
Why has there been absolutely no learning from lessons of the past? The answer is plain. Israel now marches headlong toward disappearance because its current leaders still fail to understand several essential and interrelated truths. One is that the Jewish State has a distinct and fixed obligation to hold on to its own land and has no right to make life-threatening territorial concessions. Significantly, this obligation is both Scriptural and secular. It is certainly rooted firmly in Torah*, and is reinforced by authoritative and binding international law. Jurisprudentially, as I have stated many times here on the pages of The Jewish Press, no state is ever required to be complicit in its own annihilation. International law is not a suicide pact.
A corollary of this fundamentally sacred and legal obligation is that every territorial concession Israel makes for the sake of “peace” is immediately interpreted as demonstrable proof of Jewish weakness. And its Islamic enemies take it as indisputable confirmation of Israel’s transience. In turn, this enemy interpretation of Israel’s strategic and tactical surrenders is itself derivative from the prevailing Islamic view of an Israel that utterly lacks any existential justification. This view is persistent, clear and unmodified. It is that a Jewish state in the dar-al Islam is an oxymoron. It is a blemish, a cancer that must be excised and extirpated. In this unequivocally genocidal view, such a blatant malignancy can never be allowed to endure. Never.
With respect to a Jewish state in their midst, Israel’s Islamic enemies are driven entirely by starkly apocalyptic imaginations. Yet, even as Israel approaches the next round of major conflict, this one involving Iran directly (rather than Iran’s Hizbullah surrogates in Lebanon), many Israelis unwittingly encourage these sinister imaginations. Remaining captivated by wishful thinking, these deeply confused Israelis stubbornly refuse to believe that their sworn enemies see Jewish disappearance as an overriding goal. For these murderous enemies, another Jewish genocide is nothing less than a distinct source of personal and collective ecstasy.
The dire situation has even other dimensions. There are close and ominous connections between Israel’s Islamic enemies and the unpredictable regime in North Korea. Left alone by the “civilized” world, this rogue regime could be able to turn out as many as several-dozen nuclear weapons annually, selling its excess fissile material to Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Al Qaeda. North Korea also has large stocks of sarin gas and anthrax for its artillery shells, weaponized gas and pathogens that could be smuggled and sold, easily, to the same Middle Eastern customers, or even to a new state of “Palestine.”
Israel needs memory. Without memory, Israel will be unable to recognize the critical imperatives of justice and power. Without a concern for justice and power, Israel will be unable to endure.
Memory, not forgetfulness, is the plaintive reminder of what may still befall us. Failing to remember, the Jewish State will continue to charge blindly into the void, substituting clichés for wisdom and empty promises for Torah. Such persistent absence of memory would lead Israel to further compromise, capitulation and eradication. An existential issue of immediate concern is the so-called Road Map that supports a Palestinian state. This twisted piece of cartography ought finally to have been scuttled by Olmert after the recent war against Hizbullah terrorists. Nonetheless, this genocidal map that would lead Israel directly into the sea remains hallowed in an honored place.
Many of our fellow Jews, hope most sincerely that a Palestinian state would be democratic and peace loving. But hope, in this instance, would be unsupportable. The ruinous facts concerning a prospective Palestinian state are undisguised and pitiless. All those who would rely upon hope in this matter are already mortally wounded in their capacity for serious thought. Let us not forget that those Palestinians who seek self-determination openly define their objective in terms of sacred violence and Jewish blood. Without Jews to sacrifice − and indeed, the purpose of suicide bombing against Jews is always nothing less than primal religious sacrifice − there would be no real point for this people even to coalesce as a state. From the schools to the mosques, the Palestinian community noisily knows only one ancient call: “Slaughter the Jews.” For this community, which systematically controls its own internal violence by butchering certain “others,” peace with Israel would be more than inconceivable. It would be unmentionable.
Israel must learn from the past. Its leaders must not place the state at an unforgivable risk of annihilation. Its people must recall that previous Jewish suffering, no matter how terrible and total, generates nothing in the way of present worldwide sympathies. Let us be clear. Every other people has its own story. They no longer want to hear ours. In the Islamic world, there is even a growing denial of patently undeniable Jewish history. For both the president of Iran and the president of the Palestinian Authority, the Holocaust never even happened.
Since Oslo (1993), Israel has marched toward disappearance because several of its leaders have failed to understand a basic truth: The Jewish State is despised in the Islamic world not because of anything that it does, but because of what it is. There is assuredly nothing that Israel can ever do to diminish the greedily apocalyptic imaginations of enemy states and terror organizations. For these enemies, any sort of meaningful peace settlement with Israel is permanently out of the question.
Historically, the Arab/Islamic world’s orientation to genocide against the Jews has not been limited to idle phrase making. Even before Israel came into existence in 1948, on November 28, 1941, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin, met in Berlin with Adolph Hitler. The subject of their meeting was “The final solution of the Jewish Question.” This meeting, which followed Haj Amin’s active organization of Muslim SS troops in Bosnia, included the Mufti’s promise to aid German victory in the war. Later, after Israel’s trial and punishment of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1961, Iranian and Arab newspapers treated the mass murderer as a “martyr” and congratulated him for having “conferred a real blessing on humanity” by liquidating six-million Jews.
All over the “civilized” world, violence and propaganda against Jews are again in fashion. In Germany, in Russia, in France, in Britain, in Hungary, in Latvia, even in Japan, Jewish life is emerging once more as extraneous and expendable. In the United States, nearly half-the-population feels that “the Jews have too much power.” What would happen to presumed Jewish power in this country if the United States were soon to be plunged into a chaos generated by disease epidemics and/or severe economic dislocation?
In 1882, Leo Pinsker, a Jewish physician of Odessa, horrified by the pogroms of 1881, concluded that anti-Semitism is an incurable psychosis, and that the only available remedy for Jews lies in self-help and self-liberation. Later, Theodore Herzl, having witnessed the trial of Alfred Dreyfus and hysterical cries of “Down with the Jews” in Paris, wrote “The Jewish State.” An attempt to solve “The Jewish Question,” Herzl’s pamphlet was premised on the following idea: “The nations in whose midst Jews live are all either covertly or openly anti-Semitic.” This means, he argued straightforwardly, that a perfectly simple plan is needed: “Let the sovereignty be granted us over a portion of the globe large enough to satisfy the rightful requirements of a nation; the rest we shall manage for ourselves.”
The necessary grant of sovereignty took effect in May 1948. The portion of the globe encompassed by the grant (situated on land that has an over 3,000-years-history of Jewish presence and an unending Jewish connection, physically, emotionally and religiously) was less than that occupied by certain counties in the state of California. The world continues to begrudge Israel this tiny portion. And certain Jewish portions of Israel’s own tiny population, endlessly glib archeologists of ruins-in-the-making, express hideously identical sentiments.
We must never forget that a world without Israel would be a world of darkness, a world of the sort foreseen by the Irish poet Yeats: “There is no longer a virtuous nation, and the best of us live by candlelight.”
The phrase “Death to Israel” is always uttered in the same breath as “Death to the Jews.” The one implies the other. To assume that the former can be detached from historical anti-Semitism, that it is spawned by concerns over politics and land rather than by theology and fear, is to invite disappearance.
Today, far-flung hopes for an authentic Israeli peace with sworn enemies propel Israel’s march to oblivion. Founded upon dreams that would soon become nightmares, these hopes must now be countered by deeply-felt affirmations of Jewish justice and Jewish power. But before these critical affirmations can be undertaken, all Jews who would seek Israel’s survival must first return to that most primary and extraterritorial of all lands. We must first go back to the always-guiding domain of memory.
Copyright The Jewish Press, 2006. All rights reserved.
*See Louis Rene Beres and Paul Eidelberg, “Preserving The Land And People Of Israel In The Face Of ‘Disengagement:’ Obligations Of Higher Law, International Law And Torah Law,” Ariel Center for Policy Research, Israel, ACPR Policy Paper No. 158, March 2005, 71pp.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security issues. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.