There 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 on others to defend them. Boldly recognizing that it had been the consistent miscalculations of “Jewish diplomacy” that hastened the fate of millions during the Holocaust, Eldad’s great wisdom underscores the terrible folly of current and ongoing Israeli concessions for “peace.”
Wedded first to the suicidal agreements of Oslo, and now to the successor surrender documents of a so-called road map (a dreadful cartography of auto-destruction), Jerusalem has seemingly learned nothing from millennia of Jewish history. Nonetheless, we individual Jews – each and every one of us, wherever we happen to live at the moment – still have genuinely existential obligations to discharge. Recalling an earlier and sacred image from Torah, we are, in Eldad’s contemporary metaphor, the “rungs of a ladder” – a collective extension to a final and long foreseen redemption. Each rung has a precise and indispensable function.
What then shall we now do, as individuals, to help save Israel? Indeed, remembering our many private and collective failings, how shall we help to save Israel from itself? Let us be frank. More often than we may care to admit, Israel is its own worst enemy.
Let us 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 still being slaughtered in their own streets by Arab terrorists. Yes, more often than we care to admit, various Israeli governments have armed the murderers. While the numbers of Jewish victims are presently down, tell that to the fathers and mothers and friends of the recently slain. Shall we expect them to take heart from the broader picture of temporary quiet? Shall they be expected to draw comfort from abstractions?
Each and every Jewish life is to be sanctified. Who are we to decide that this smaller number of Israeli victims falls within “tolerable” limits? And let us not be misled; this respite – as always – is a false dawn.
I am always deeply troubled that only hours after the latest suicide bomb attack, American Jewish friends and acquaintances speak unhesitatingly and unashamedly of their vacations, of their stock portfolios, their children’s accomplishments and planned shopping expeditions. It is as if the entire community of Israel elicits merely 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.
If our children are about to become bar or bat-mitzva, we must surely try to bear in mind the seriousness and sacredness of the occasion, and not allow it to become a convenient pretext for lavish expenditure and vulgar ostentation. Everyone who now reads these words will know exactly what they mean. Not long ago, for example, shortly before Chanukah, a multi-million dollar bat mitzva was held in a large American city, complete with celebrity rock bands and inappropriate entertainment.
We must act to oppose all existential pressures on Israel, in every customary and permissible fashion available to us in democratic societies. The road map, like Oslo before it, is a nefarious expression of such misconceived and inexcusable pressures. Never mind that it is endorsed by smiling American presidents and assorted Israeli lap dogs. The road map represents nothing less than an Arab/Islamic Trojan Horse, a 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?
We must increase our already growing cooperation with America’s Christian Zionists. Many millions strong, these good people of faith believe, genuinely, in G-d’s promise to Israel. Let us not mince words; their commitment to Israel’s peace and security often exceeds that of most American Jews. Personally, I have been deeply impressed and profoundly moved by their unselfish devotion to Israel. And without them, our political voice in the land will assuredly be too weak. Already, the number of Islamic Americans exceeds the number of American Jews. Demography is not on our side, both in Israel and in America.
We must recognize, publicly, the unique and unforgivable barbarism of Palestinian terrorism. It can never be acceptable to try to justify Palestinian suicide bombers by citing the alleged 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. Here the longstanding Jewish inclination to “fairness” goes much too far. We should rest assured that in a world of over one billion Muslims, fewer than a handful – a tiny handful – would ever speak of Jewish rights, including even the minimal right not to be maimed and murdered in schools or buses. In the academy, where the professors (Jews as well as non-Jews) continue to speak mostly nonsense about Israel, we must never remain silent. A professor who stands openly for Israel today in a major American university will inevitably pay a career price for his/her faith and integrity, but it is a stand that must never be declined.
We must immediately recognize, and reveal widely, that there is no “cycle of violence” in the Middle East, only endless Arab/Islamic terror followed by indispensable counterterror. If the terrorists were to simply and unconditionally stop their murderous attacks on unprotected civilians, the Israelis would never lift another hand against them. If, however, the Israelis should ever stop defending themselves prior to such an enemy cessation, the Arab/Islamic enemy would murder every Jew in “occupied Palestine.” In response to contrived and disingenuous Palestinian arguments that there is some sort of “equivalence” between Arab terror and Israeli counterterror, therefore, we must always recall an essential difference between premeditated murder and required national self-defense.
(To be continued)
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and publishes widely on Israeli security issues. He is Chair of Project Daniel and is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.