"Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman?" asks Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV. "Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies like a feather."
As Americans, we Jews share with our fellow countrymen (more or less) certain portions of the annual "holiday period." Extending from the secular holidays of Thanksgiving to New Years, this span imposes on all the United States the breathless rhythm of a machine. Noisy and relentless, it is a rhythm associated in the popular imagination with enhanced reverence and spirituality, but in reality it produces a decidedly opposite effect.
Terrorism requires funding. Without actually understanding the complex patterns by which terrorists systematically pay for their nefarious operations and personnel, the War On Terror would fail catastrophically.
Each time I get on an airplane, I am struck by contradictions. We are a species that can take tons of heavy metal and transform it into an instrument of travel, transporting millions of passengers at very high speeds from one place to another. At the same time, we are required to take off our shoes before being allowed to board the plane, not for reasons of civilized comfort, but rather to ensure that we are not about to destroy the aircraft.
Personal consumption drives our American economy. To uplift the financial markets and restore confidence on Wall Street and Main Street, everyone now wants the consumer to buy more. Without an aggressive expansion of consumer spending, corporate earnings will remain depressed, growth will stagnate, unemployment will increase, and stock values will decline even further. What then should we do?
During the summer of 2002 I wrote hopefully in The Jewish Press about Sulam, a special education network in Jerusalem. At that time, I reminded my readers that as life had become increasingly difficult for Israelis in general, it had become even more difficult for the country's developmentally disadvantaged Jewish children.
This past spring, I spoke at a synagogue in Skokie, IL. about the situation of Jewish students on our college campuses. As a professor at a large midwestern university who is faculty advisor to a pro-Israel organization (Israel Council at Purdue or ICAP), it wasn't difficult for me to identify the increasingly perilous circumstances of Jewish students.
On Rosh Hashana eve, at around 9:00 p.m. on September 26, a very heroic Palestinian "freedom fighter" knocked on the door of a trailer home in Negahot, where 30 religious families live quietly on two barren hilltops, and jubilantly murdered a seven-month-old girl.
I have been lecturing widely on the risks which the Road Map poses to Israel. Yet, whenever I complete my largely analytic examination of the issues, I am left with a vague feeling of discomfort - a feeling that I have left my audience without enough concrete recommendations for practical action. With this in mind, I now offer the following precise answers to the important question: "But what can I do personally to help save Israel?"