We are the rungs of a ladder, we are the links to the future;
This broadens our vision, yet restricts us;
This is a source of pride and a reason for modesty –
May we be worthy of our role.
“May we be worthy of our role.” So ends the author’s dedication of The Jewish Revolution (1971) to his son, Aryeh. Scholar, writer and active Zionist, Israel Eldad warned the Jewish People against relying upon others to defend them. Boldly asserting it was the consistent miscalculations of “Jewish diplomacy” that had hastened the genocidal fate of millions during the Holocaust, Eldad’s great wisdom underscores the terrible folly of still-ongoing Israeli concessions for peace.
This is especially the case today, when President Barack Obama speaks glowingly of “a world free of nuclear weapons.” For Israel, before any such world could be born, a gravedigger would have to wield the forceps. By themselves, nuclear weapons are neither good nor evil. For Israel, they are actually the ultimate guarantor of genocide-prevention.
Prodded first to accept the suicidal agreements of Oslo, and now to buy into the successor surrender documents of a Road Map, Jerusalem has seemingly learned little from millennia of darkened Jewish history. Nonetheless, we individual Jews, each and every one of us, wherever we happen to live at the moment, still have genuine and irrevocable obligations to discharge. Recalling an earlier image from Torah, we represent in Eldad’s contemporary metaphor the “rungs of a ladder” – collective extension to a final and long-foreseen redemption.
Each rung has a precise and indispensable function. We must learn what these functions are. Consider the following:
With respect to Jews and Jewish life on an imperiled planet: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Still, we must never become indifferent to the fate of our fellow Jews in Israel. Never. It is unseemly, to say the least, when we continue with our regular entertainments while our brothers and sisters in Israel are being slaughtered in their own streets by Arab terrorists (and, indirectly, by American and European supporters of the “peace process”). Yes, more often than we care to admit, the murderers have been armed by various Israeli governments, and by the United States.
Today, U.S. military advisors train Fatahin Jordan, with the approval of the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem. True, thankfully, the numbers of Jewish terror victims are presently down, but tell that to the fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and friends of the recently slain. Shall we expect them to take heart from the broader picture of a temporary quiet? Shall they be expected to draw comfort from abstractions?
Each and every Jewish life is a sanctification, always. Who are we to decide that this now-smaller number of Israeli victims falls somehow within “tolerable” limits? Just as importantly, and let us not be misled, this respite is an utterly false dawn.
I am always deeply troubled that only hours after the latest suicide bomb or rocket attack, American Jews speak unhesitatingly and unashamedly of their vacations, of their stock portfolios, of their children’s accomplishments (heaven knows, always their children’s accomplishments), and of their planned shopping expeditions. It is as if the full community of Israel, the assembled People of Israel, are merely a minor and dispassionate concern. Surely we need to care more, to pay real attention.
As parents, moreover, we must be sure to share this attentiveness with our children. If our children are college students, we must awaken them to the obligation and the blessing to see themselves as Jews, and to partake meaningfully of Jewish campus life wherever possible. This is not always easy, as the attractions of “fitting in” with the dominant campus ethos are considerable and because Jewish campus life is generally now more about bagels and parties than about Jewish survival.
If our children or grandchildren are about to become Bar or Bat-Mitzvah, we should try to bear in mind the seriousness of the occasion, and not allow it to become only a convenient pretext for lavish expenditure and vulgar ostentation. Everyone who reads these words will know exactly what I mean. Not long ago, shortly before Chanukah, a multimillion-dollar bat mitzvah was held in a large American city complete with celebrity rock bands and simulated strip tease. To be candid, a great many American Jews could now learn to be better Jews by studying Buddhism. There is a lot here to be learned.
We must act to oppose all existential pressures upon Israel, in every customary and permissible fashion available to us in democratic societies. The Road Map, like Oslo before it, is a persistently nefarious expression of such misconceived and inexcusable pressures. Never mind that its twisted cartography is still fronted by smiling American presidents and by assorted Israeli lap dogs. The Road Map still represents nothing less than an Arab/Islamic Trojan Horse, an annihilatory device intended only to complete Israel’s Final Solution.
Israel’s enemies say so themselves, overtly and repeatedly. What more do we need to hear? President Obama will not save Israel. At best, after allowing Iran to go nuclear, while crying out bitterly against Jews who build apartments in Jerusalem, his best offer after the next war will be to help Israel bury its Jewish dead. If the next war is nuclear, courtesy of an irrational national leadership in Tehran and an American unwillingness to go beyond “sanctions,” whole Israeli cities will first have to be converted into cemeteries.
We must increase our already growing cooperation with America’s Christian Zionists. Many millions strong, these good people of faith do believe in G-d’s promise to Israel. Let us not mince words; their commitment to Israel’s peace and security often exceeds that of American Jews. Personally, I have been deeply impressed and profoundly moved by their unselfish devotion to Israel. Without them, our political voice in the land will assuredly be too weak. Demography is not on our side, neither in Israel nor in America.
We must recognize and deplore, publicly, the unique and unforgivable barbarism of Palestinian terrorism. It can never be acceptable to try to justify Palestinian suicide-bombers by citing to alleged legal rights of “self-determination” or “national liberation.” Leaving aside the inherently flawed argument that Palestinians “deserve” a state, neither international law nor ordinary standards of decency can ever allow the deliberate murder of Jewish children. I say this authoritatively, as a professor of international law, who knows that the phrase, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” is simply an empty witticism.
Too often, especially in universities, the longstanding Jewish inclination to “fairness” goes much too far. We should recall that in a world of over one billion Muslims, fewer than a handful – a very tiny and courageous handful – would ever speak of “Jewish rights,” including even the minimal right not to be maimed and murdered in schools or buses or pizza restaurants. In the academy, where the professors (sometimes Jews as well as non-Jews) continue to speak mostly nonsense about Israel, we must never remain silent. True, a professor who stands openly for Israel today in any major American university will inevitably pay a career price for his/her faith and integrity, but – nonetheless – it is a stand that must never be declined. Naturally the situation is even more dangerous in European universities, where intellectual promise is “normally” assumed to vary inversely with pro-Israel sentiments.
To Be Continued
LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on Israeli security issues. He was Chair of Project Daniel, and is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.