To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
The Middle East is ablaze with political revolution. Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Syria – the list of countries keeps growing. All is quiet, however, on the Israeli front. The question is: Why?
For 20 years, millions of Israelis have opposed “land for peace.” In 1996 they voted for Benjamin Netanyahu assuming he would abandon the policy; in 2001, they voted for Ariel Sharon for the same reason. But to no end. In the name of “peace,” one prime minister after another has continued shoving left-wing policies down the population’s collective throat.
And yet there is no peace. Terror? Yes. Shame? Yes. But certainly no peace.
Astonishingly, though, Israel’s leaders refuse to let go of their “land for peace” chimera. Netanyahu entrances many Jews with masterful speeches before Congress and the UN, but the fact is that he – just as much as President Obama – envisions a judenrein Palestinian state in most of the West Bank in the near future. This is the bitter truth and anyone who is honest with himself knows it.
Why, then, do Israelis tolerate it? What normal nation would continue to live under a government committed to surrendering the heartland of the country to its sworn enemy? What normal nation would continue to live under a government that has let 10,000 – 10,000! – rockets rain down on its cities in the past few years? What normal nation would sit passively as its government released 1,000 terrorists in exchange for one soldier?
Sure, Israelis protest. Some of them are currently protesting social and economic inequality, and for years some of them have protested ceding land to the Arabs. But peaceful protests in Israel generally accomplish nothing. Roughly three percent of Israel’s population – 200,000 Israelis – protested the Gaza Disengagement in 2005. Three percent of America’s population amounts to nine million people. Can you imagine what a nine-million man march on Washington would achieve? In Israel, its equivalent made no impression.
Despite their political failures, many right-wing Israelis declare, “It will be good,” and go on with their business. But as Rabbi Meir Kahane used to say, “It will not be good unless we make it good.”
Some Jews, based on their reading of certain biblical prophecies, believe Israel will survive forever – no matter what. But many Jews believed the Gaza Disengagement would never, for theological reasons, come to pass. Look where that belief got them.
Besides, is mere survival sufficient? Do Israelis really want to live in a country without the Temple Mount and the West Bank, which will almost certainly belong to the Arabs in a few decades’ time if current trends continue? Do they really want to live in a country where terrorism is accepted as an inevitable part of daily life – much like sunrise and sunset? Do they really want to live in a country that takes a structure like beautiful, modest Kever Rachel and converts it into a fortress?
Many Jews argue that revolt is unthinkable. But is it? Earlier this year, leftist columnist Merav Michaeli penned an article in Haaretz titled “Why There’s No Revolution in Israel” in which she argued that leftists are “yearning for a revolution.” Right-wing Israelis typically condemn radical leftists. But instead of denouncing them, why not appropriate their tactics and radicalism for their own ends?
When in Jewish history have Jews shied away from rising up in righteous wrath when the hour called for it? The Bible records many such incidents (see Joshua 22 and Judges 20 for just two examples), and the Chanukah saga began when Matityahu, the father of Judah the Maccabee, murdered a Jewish Hellenist in cold blood.
Moreover how can Jews oppose revolution in Israel while idolizing the United States of America, which was founded on revolution? Do these Jews really believe Americans were wrong to revolt against their English brethren in 1776? Was Patrick Henry a criminal for proclaiming, “Give me liberty or give me death”?
Revolt is difficult. It is far easier to complain about Obama, the UN, the EU, Turkey, the Goldstone Report, and The New York Times. But ultimately Israel’s government is to blame, not them. Even if the whole Western world loved Israel, Israel would still face a ruthless Arab enemy that will stop at nothing to “liberate” its “stolen” land. That fact will never change no matter how much the Western world likes, or doesn’t like, Israel.
What can change is how Israel’s government approaches this enemy. Does it try to appease it by surrendering land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or does it crush it as every normal country since the dawn of time has sought to pulverize its enemies?
For the past 20 years Israel’s government has largely chosen the first path, refusing to even seriously consider the second one. For that to change, Israelis may have to mimic their Arab neighbors and “shake” things up a little.
Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter. He holds a Masters degree from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel School for Jewish Studies.
About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).
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My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.
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