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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘evil’

Soul Talk With Rabbi David Aaron & Leora Mandel – For G-d’s Sake: When Religion Inspires Evil [audio]

Monday, August 29th, 2016

How can we comprehend evil done in the name of G-d? We hear about this too often in the news. Evil acts are committed preceded by the call “G-d is Great.” Do we believe in the same G-d that is inspiring so many murders and acts of hatred? What does G-d really want from us?

Listen to Soul Talk with Rabbi David Aaron and Leora Mandel to get a better understanding of evil done in the name of G-d, how we should think about it and what we should do about it.

We welcome your questions. Send us an e-mail at Soultalk@israelnewstalkradio.com.

Soul Talk 28Aug – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Monsters Exist: Judaism’s Cognizance of Evil

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

“To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats-we know it not.”-Eric Hoffer, “The Passionate State of Mind, and Other Aphorisms (1955)

“The soul that has conceived one wickedness, can nurse no good thereafter.”-Sophocles

The Moral Lies We Tell

Torah is truth personified. Yet some truths cannot be said. We recognize that lying is odious. Yet some lies are permitted, such as the lies we tell to shield people from embarrassment or to protect the innocent. When we occasionally lie to our children to insulate them from things that no child should know about, we do so with a clear conscience. Lies of omission, lies of calculation. All for the good of the child.

To assuage their fears when they are very young, we assure them that there are no such things as childhood monsters with horns, fur, and teeth. In time, we teach them that while there are indeed wild creatures in this world with teeth and hearty appetites, civilized societies don’t have predatory animals roaming about. But what about the true monsters in this world, the human monsters who exist? How do we broach these topics?

We don’t. We avoid the question of those products of nature and nurture who commit acts as terrifying as any imaginary construct. The developing child approaches us with their ever expanding brains and the consequential concerns. We counter their inquiries. They bring it to us. No normal rational parent introduces these concepts.

Children first have a notion of robbers, and this often becomes the first anxiety relating to the real world. The killers, the rapists, the human predators, these are extensions of the first fear. The man who enters the home. The man who creeps about in the night while we sleep. When this first fear is articulated, we evade difficult questions with comforting solutions, to assure them of their safety, and help them mature into functional people, without the handicap of excessive anxiety. We pray to G-d that they will never meet such people, neither in childhood nor their adult lives. We tell them lies. We protect them as best we can. But life can be ugly.

Monsters in Our Midst

“You gave me a present and now I am returning it to you.”-Hallel’s mother Rena Ariel; at her murdered daughter’s funeral

A teenage girl’s bedroom should be the safest place in the world for her, a haven of privacy and seclusion. And in the normal world, it usually is. But not in Kiryat Arba, where the Jewish populace is surrounded by Arab barbarians. Home may be a man’s castle in his mind, but unguarded castles are easily stormed. Even within the illusion of gated communities, and electronic fences, and security patrols, these measures are only as good as the people maintaining them.

And when the mythology of security is shattered it is devastating. An insane image, impossible to fathom: a child’s bedroom drenched in her own blood. Portrait of Hallel Yaffa Ariel’s bedroom on June 30, 2016, courtesy of a 17-year-old Arab monster named Muhammad Tarayrah, who climbed through her bedroom window and stabbed her to death as she slept.

May G-d avenge Hallel’s blood. And may Hashem teach the Arabs of Kiryat Arba, the environs, and of Greater Israel the justice of the ancient city of Shchem.

Outside the realm of hasbara fantasy, most Israelis are unarmed and vulnerable, and although many people oppose the draconian laws which permit only the elite to obtain a legal weapon to protect themselves, many are not even bothered. In such a society, the terminally enlightened concern themselves with “restraint,” the rights of murderers, and perpetuating the system of apprehending terrorists. Such a society breeds weakness, because it denies the common man the most basic right of all, the right to live. The kind of society where the worst of humankind terrorize the innocent.

Whether maimed or murdered, or damned to witness the former, when people encounter human monsters their lives are ruined. In the same way that no one who survived the Holocaust can truly ever be “normal,” how can one who saw his parents gunned down or stabbed to death or hacked to bits, ever know normalcy? Can a society forced to endure endless Arab atrocities even appreciate the concept of normalcy?

There is no dearth of monsters in Israel. Man-beasts who resemble man but act less human than carnivores. Men who cast away their humanity and choose the evil. Arabs nursed on ideations of suicide/homicide martyrdom and are given every opportunity to actualize their madness. Arabs who stab babies in cribs and detonate themselves in the marketplace to attain said “martyrdom” and the depraved fantasies of Islam’s sexual pathology. Those Arab “passion-plays”, obscene Arabs theater featuring school children who reenact the slaughter of Jews. And Arabs who stab teenage girls in their bedrooms.

And still the left and clueless governments continue to perpetuate the myth of good Arabs. Of reasonable Arabs. Of Arabs who want to live in peace with Jews. These same politicians have the nerve to attend Jewish funerals and pay shiva calls. They speak of protecting Jews and yet Jews are sitting ducks in Israel. On many roads, Jews are targets for Arab snipers or cinder blocks. Or firebombs to burn his wife and children to death or destroy a little girl’s face. Even crossing the street in Jerusalem or buying milk can become an ordeal, should the Arab knife frenzy return, or the Arabs rediscover their predilection for crushing Jews with automobiles.

The government never calls for vengeance. Social media outlets for military and government speak of the murdered “of blessed memory”, the tamest of words suggesting that a murdered Jew slipped away in the night from old age. “May G-d avenge her blood” is considered the refrain of extremists. Netanyahu blasts Abbas and the “PA” for incitement. If as the sages of old taught us, the wise man is one who foresees the future, then the fool pokes out his own eyes and sees nothing. What on G-d’s earth did Bibi think he would accomplish? Compel Abbas to repent?

Thank G-d the latest Arab terror attack in Jerusalem was thwarted. But in Israel, the positive is laced with negative. Averted bloodshed doesn’t preclude the possibility of future bloodshed. On the contrary. Israel’s ethic of “do-the-least harm was on display. The terrorist was apprehended rather than having his head blown off. He will sit for a time, and as sure as the day is long, he will be part of a future prisoner release, as one with ‘no blood on his hands’. And when he is released, he will attempt to rectify his failure.

In Israel, the uncompromising warrior is often treated like a fiend, or a lawless vigilante. A soldier such as Elor Azaria who kills an Arab terrorist is a hero, and any “Jewish” government that punishes such a warrior is reprehensible. I don’t care if the creature was trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. Or whether or not the ghoul had an explosive. A bullet to the head is the Jewish response. You can bet your last shekel that King David would have agreed. The witch-hunt against Azaria shrieks of Jewish degradation. Such actions are the antidote to Jewish funerals.

The double standard is jarring. The Left gets away with incitement to murder. Academics, journalists, activists, etc. They can say anything on twitter, Facebook or in a prominent paper. Military men can compare Israeli society to the society that birthed the disease of Nazism. Without any consequence. All during a “right-wing” government. Several months ago, the morally defective leftist editor of Walla News Roy Baharir Perl called for Arab terrorists to attack a “right-wing” Jewish concert. While this incitement was spread all over social media, our government tortured and imprisoned innocent Jews, on a witch-hunt to seek out supposed “Jewish terrorists”. If Perl was a right-winger, he would have been hanging upside down within the hour while Shabak agents pummeled him.

A government who refuses to protect the Nation and imprisons those who do, sends a message that 1) Jewish lives aren’t valued. 2) Jewish deaths are acceptable if the threshold of “acceptable losses” doesn’t remarkably change the status quo. 3) that Rabin’s perverse notion of “karbanot” for an impossible peace is pragmatic. A government and a society which spurns the gift of Jewish strength and holds its fire has blood on its hands. Jewish history will recall these sins born of weakness and self-loathing, whose consequences destroy lives and those of the survivors. Orphans and widows and parents who bury their young. Of sons and daughters who shriek “Abba”, as their beloved father is interred into the earth. Of a mother who one day drove her girl to dance class, and the next day spills tears stands over her murdered corpse.

Given Israel’s torturous form of government where a hodgepodge of groups usually forms a coalition, the question remains: How precisely to coordinate and implement the proper framework for genuine change? There are no easy answers, since yesterday’s best tactics are not necessarily feasible and today’s are useless. We need to use the best resources of our age. However, short of an undeserved miracle, nothing short of mass civil disobedience will make a dent in the government’s armor. When society wakes up and takes to the streets in unprecedented numbers, we will see the possibility for change. Articles and videos will not bring about change, no matter how provocative, powerful, or reasoned. They may cause people to think. They may inspire people, but nothing short of authentic societal grassroots effort on the ground, can rehabilitate our collective Jewish soul.

The pernicious effect of havlaga (restraint) can only be cleansed with Jewish strength and unrelenting power. There is no place on earth for mercy with the Arabs. Truly, they are the Am Lak-a nation that laps Jewish blood. The company of man-eating lions is preferable. When Arabs kill Jews it is perverse to celebrate our humanity with assurances that “we love while they hate”. Of course we are not like them. And that is precisely why the Torah demands that we destroy the wicked. The failure to do so, results in OUR slaughter. It is time to scream and demand that our government deals with the Arabs once and for all, before the next round of Jewish funerals.

Those terrible funerals. Those horrifying images of parents clinging and shrieking over the small inanimate bodies of their children all dressed in shrouds, awaiting the final journey. I prefer the funerals of my enemies. And every Arab funeral where the blood-crazed jinn celebrate their shahid is a G-d given opportunity to bomb them to smithereens. Whole villages of Arab terror can be obliterated this way.

When Moshiach arrives, he will be pressed to identify Amalek. I am convinced that this most noble of men (may we see the redemption in our times) will open his eyes wide with puzzlement: “Are you serious”, he will say? “They are all around you!”

“Pour out YOUR wrath against the nations, who know YOU not.” During the joy of the Passover seder, we call for vengeance against the evil nations. Some distorted modern commentaries try to minimize the significance of this powerful refrain in the Haggadah. It is significant and provocative. Unabashed and unapologetic. The wicked deserve punishment, and unlike petty revenge against a fellow Jew which is forbidden, this is something we long to see. Jewish outrage as a counter to apathy and indifference. Strength and dignity to repair the degradation, and self-respect for Torah and Halacha, rather than a systematic attempt to explain away halachic obligations. With such a mindset, we can finally deal with the Arabs.

We need more of the teachings of torat Moshe Rabbeinu, and less of the arrogance of Moshe Dayan. More of the glory of King David and less of David Ben Gurion’s Ghandi-esque havlaga. And truth be told, we need more of Shimon and Levi whose righteous zeal for their sister brought the city of Shechem to its knees. And lastly, we need more of Shimshon Hagibor, who terrified and terrorized the Philistine enemy.

Donny Fuchs

Tamar Yonah Show – East vs. West & A Transgender Beauty Contest [audio]

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

The world is moving into opposing sides. Good/Evil, Freedom/Oppression, Religious/Secular and Islam vs. the West. Who will win? And does man’s vision of good and evil conflict with what is right in G-d’s eyes?

Tamar speaks with Shifra Hoffman from VictimsOfArabTerror.com about a Transgender beauty contest and with IQ Al Rassooli from www.AlRassooli.com, an Iraqi Arab who recently returned from a visit to Israel and had some interesting experiences!

Tamar Yonah Show 29May – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Israel: Also Be Wary of the Saudi Evil

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

I wonder if the American administration would ever care to rein in Saudi Arabia, one of the two key centers of radical Islamism in the Middle East, the other being Iran . Knowledgeable sources say Saudi religious establishment and some Gulf charities have invested billions of dollars into like-minded organizations around the world in order to wipe out the pluralism of original Islam and install in its place some dark order . In the 9/11 episode 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Several thousand Saudis have of late joined the Islamic State . The Saudi government has allegedly funded some notorious Islamic State’s fighters too.

More importantly, the Kingdom has always functioned as a terror entity to its own citizens, women and minorities in particular. It extends to its minorities no rights in the state. In its continuing crime against humanity , the Kingdom conducted the mass execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others in January this year. Riyadh carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the country in two decades.

The sources say Washington is unlikely to act against Saudi Arabia. In the second half of the twentieth century the semi-feudal Saudi Arabia emerged as an “economic power without any military strength.” Since then the successive American administrations have treated its security as “crucial” . Besides, the administrations have found the Saudi regime by its side on several important international issues .During his war on the dictatorial Saddam Hussein regime, American President George W Bush had Saudi support.

Presently, Washington seems to calculate new Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his son and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman Saudi Arabia may be useful in its diplomacy towards Syria . In the recent past U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter repeatedly emphasized the U.S. was looking for “the rest of the world to step up” and for the “Gulf countries to do more” in solving the Syrian crisis. He must have appreciated when, speaking to CNN on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (February 12-14), Saudi Foreign Minister’s Adel al-Jubeir announced: “We are saying we will participate within the U.S.-led coalition, should this coalition decide to send ground troops into Syria, that we are prepared to send special forces with those troops.”

Also, Washington might be aware of the importance of the Saudi clout with other Gulf states. It may be recalled that when the Saudis decided severing its ties with Iran after Iranian demonstrators set afire its embassy in Tehran in protest over the execution of the Shiite preacher, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Sudan all followed suit . Washington might also have liked that in the current Syrian crisis the Saudis have been ready to send fighter jets to support the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition in Syria. The Saudis (along with the Emiratis, Qataris, and Bahrainis) also pledged to send their own ground forces.

I hope Israel would not gloss over the fundamentals in the foreign policy behavior of Saudi Arabia (and its close allies) and take all appropriate measures to defend itself. It must bear in mind constantly that the very existence of Saudi Arabia depends upon the spread of Wahhabi Islam under its leadership around the world. And that means the continued Saudi and allies’ support, overt and covert, to Wahhabi terror groups against Israel– and all other liberal democracies.

Knowledgeable sources warn Israel against entertaining any false hope out of the recent reports of hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Recently, the 22- member Arab League took a decision in Cairo to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organization (Only Lebanon and Iraq expressed “reservations” over the decision) . The Cairo decision may have been taken in view of their fear of Iran. Iran-supported Hezbollah has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. This has pitted Hezbollah against Gulf states which backing the rebels in the region. The two confront each other to some extent in Yemen, too.

The sources say the Sheikhs are veterans in pure power politics. Back in the 1960s and 70s, they were aligned with Iran’s Shah against radical Arab nationalists led by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and the pan-Arab Ba’ath party in Syria and Iraq. They may be calculating now that after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the Khomeini regime has promoted a mix of Shi’ite empowerment and broader Islamic opposition to the ruling conservative pro-Western Sunni Arab regimes. Since the end of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, Iran’s power projection has grown in the region – in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, among disaffected Shi’ite populations in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province (who constitute 10-15 percent of the country’s total population), Bahrain and Kuwait. Iran has also proceeded with its nuclear program. Given its age-old imperialist aspirations, Iran may seek to subdue Saudi Arabia and allies in the future.

The fearful mind of Riyadh and allies can be discerned in what Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa reportedly said in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV the other day. Al Khalifa said that Iran was currently the coastal kingdom’s “biggest problem.” He even indicated that he considered Iran today as ” more dangerous than Israel to the Gulf states.” He said, “We wish to have good relations with both, but under the current circumstances and challenges, the Iranian danger is what we see before our eyes.”

The sources suggest Jerusalem should not expect anything also from the Saudi Arabia- U.S joint action (April 2, 2016) against two groups and four individuals suspected of supporting al-Qaida and the Taliban in their operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Lashkar-e-Taiba that targets India. Jerusalem must constantly bear in mind there is hardly any dilution in Saudi Arabia’s role as a radical Islamic leader in the world.

The terror strikes at Brussels’ airport and metro station last month may serve as yet another reminder to Israel and the world as to the kind of damage the religious radicalism that emanates from Saudi Arabia can do to our civilization. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Brussels strike and various other attacks across the world. This group derives its ideological sustenance from the Saudi-backed Wahhabi version of Islam.

 

Jagdish N. Singh

My Week in Israel with Dr. Oz

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Everything over the past week was memorable and magical as Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s foremost daytime TV host and the world’s most famous doctor, toured Israel. From dancing the horah outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to dancing Friday night at the Western Wall with Israeli soldiers and thousands of worshippers, to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu for ninety minutes of substantive conversation about Israel, Turkey, and the United States, Dr. Oz and his family showed the Jewish state extravagant love and admiration.

Mehmet is a remarkable man and seeing him up close reinforced the high regard in which I have always held him, ever since we started working together for Oprah at her radio network. First there was his attention to his children, all four of whom accompanied him, along with his son-in-law. Mehmet would go nowhere without them and pulled them in to hear every last explanation about Israel’s ancient and modern history.

Then there is his dedication to his wife Lisa, a remarkable and brilliant woman in her own right, and vastly knowledgeable of the Bible. Lisa was correcting me constantly on Biblical quotations (I purposely got them wrong so she could feel superior). Mehmet is a man who honors his wife at every opportunity.

Of course, there were the legions of fans – Jews and Arabs in every part of Israel – that pleaded for a picture and he turned noone down.

But more than anything else there was his attachment to the Jewish people on display at every moment. Mehmet is a Muslim, perhaps the world’s most famous Muslim who is not a head of state. He is a righteous and proud Ambassador of his faith and feels an innate kinship and brotherhood with the Jewish people.

He praised Israel constantly, from lauding its treatment of its minority citizens at our joint lecture at Rambam hospital in Haifa, to noting Israel’s phenomenal medical breakthroughs at several news conferences, to highlighting his amazement at Israel’s capacity to turn deserts into thriving cities.

In Hebron, at the tomb of the patriarchs, we prayed together publicly for peace and understanding between the children of Abraham. At the tomb of Maimonides we noted the role reversal. Maimonides, a Jew, was the world’s most famous physician, and he served the Muslim ruler Saladin. Now, a Muslim doctor – the world’s most famous – was visiting his Jewish brothers in the Holy land 900 years later.

Joined with Natan Sharasnky at the Jerusalem Press Club for a public discussion, the three of us debated whether there was an obligation to hate evil. Mehmet maintained that hatred harmed he who harbored it, even for the best of reasons. On this Sharasnky and I disagreed. Natan spoke of the evil he encountered in the KGB. I spoke of Hamas’ genocidal covenant and Hezbollah’s commitment to annihilating Israel. Terrorists deserved our contempt. Only by truly hating evil are we prepared to fight it. In the end we compromised in agreeing that hating evil should not be obsessive and internal but rather externally directed at neutralizing those who slaughter God’s innocent children, whoever they may be.

As I walked Dr. Oz and his family through the old city of Jerusalem on Friday night, we passed through Zion gate, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy fighting of 1967 that liberated the city. At Shabbat dinner at the home of Simon and Chana Falic, my friend Ron Dermer, Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, explained to Mehmet that even after Israel conquered the Temple Mount in the Six Day War it left control of Judaism’s holiest site to the Muslim waqf and that such an action had no precedent in all human history. Ron said that there could no greater illustration of Israel’s desire to respect its Muslim citizens and seek peace.

At the Christian holy sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and Muslim Holy Sites like the Dome of the Rock and the vast Muslim crowds that filled mosques for Ramadan, Dr. Oz saw first hand how Israel is a country of thriving religious liberty.

But the highlight of the visit was the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu where Ambassador Dermer joined Mehmet and me as we heard the Israeli leader deeply engage Mehmet about Israel’s search for peace and the challenges it faces with the destabilization of Syria and Egypt on the one hand, and the changes in its relationship with Turkey, on the other.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

A Ray of Light Behind the Clouds

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Some years ago I was invited to speak at a secular high school for exceptionally bright students. The student body was mostly non-Jewish. Since I am a Holocaust survivor, they asked that I address that subject. After my presentation the principal asked if I would agree to a Q&A session. “By all means,” I answered.

The first student at the microphone asked a question that I sensed was on the minds of many there. “Where was G-d?” he asked. “How can you keep your faith?”

I replied:

“You asked me a question and I will respond with a question of my own. Where was man? And I do not refer only to the satanic Nazis but to all the nations that were complicit in this unspeakable evil.

“As far as faith goes, in what and in whom could I have placed my faith? In twentieth-century enlightenment, education, culture, science? I saw university graduates use their scientific know-how to create gas chambers where millions of lives were snuffed out. I saw doctors maim, torture and kill. I will simply ask once again, ‘Where was man – where was modern Western civilization?’

“Whenever I seek answers I turn to the pages of our Torah, for everything is to be found within it. I invite you to meet the very first family who lived on this planet. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. They lived in paradise. No one had to go to work. The climate was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. There was no illness and no death. G-d intended for man to live forever but then man debased himself. He became corrupt and evil.

“Cain and Abel made a deal. ‘Let’s divide the world between us,’ they said. And so they did. Livestock was to belong to Abel, real estate to Cain. But no sooner had Cain received his portion than he said to Abel, ‘The land is mine, get off it.’ And with that he killed his brother. G-d asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ To which he responded, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“To this day Cain’s question echoes in the wind. Man plunders, kills, rapes – but instead of accepting accountability for his heinous deeds he shifts the blame to G-d and asks with audacity, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“Thousands of years have passed and man has yet to respond, ‘Yes G-d, I am my brother’s keeper. Forgive me. It was all my fault. I take responsibility. Almighty G-d, give me another chance. Allow me to try again.’

“The question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ means, in essence, ‘You, G-d, created the world; You, G-d, are in charge. Why did You allow this to happen? Where were You? How can I believe in You if You allowed this monstrous atrocity to occur?’

“Has anything changed in thousands of years? Yes, things have changed. Cain killed his brother with his hands or a primitive instrument but today modern man has harnessed his scientific brilliance to create hell on earth. The way of the first murderer Cain has become the reality by which modern man justifies his abominable deeds.”

* * * * * Recently I shared with readers my experiences when I spoke in South Africa. More than 5,000 people gathered for Torah study at the Sinai Indaba organized by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. In one of my presentations I spoke about the Holocaust. After the program a distinguished gentleman came over and introduced himself. He was a Christian living in Johannesburg. With tears he spilled out his heart.

“Rebbetzin,” he said, “we need to repent, to make atonement for the sins committed against the Jewish people. And we have to make that real, not just an empty declaration. I would like to convene multitudes of people and have you address them. Tell them about the Holocaust so they might all know and pass it on to future generations.”

This glimmer of light amid the dark clouds of anti-Semitism that once again are engulfing the world reminds us that dormant within the human heart is the spark of G-d. We must only plug into it and the voltage could light up the entire world. Whether or not that convention of Christians in Johannesburg will take place remains to be seen but the words were said, the call was made, and that in itself is significant.

Let’s return to the question that bright young student asked me: Where was G-d? Let us understand once and for all that G-d is not a puppeteer and we are not puppets. We have choices; that is what separates us from the animals. It is all recorded in this week’s parshah. “Behold I give you today blessing and curse.”

That choice is the challenge to every generation. The Torah speaks for all time. When will man choose good over evil, blessing over curse? Is it possible that that day will ever come? Of course it is.

There is a spark in the hearts of all men and I believe that one day that spark will burst forth into glorious light and banish all evil – and the world will know that “G-d is One, His Name is One.”

May that day soon come speedily in our own time.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Resisting War, Terrorism, And Genocide (Third of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

For the most part, we Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best we can. For the most part, we generally understand that all humans have free will. Saadia Gaon included freedom of will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”

For Israel, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not the curse. Israel’s authoritative charge must always be to strive in the obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation, by using intelligence and by exercising disciplined acts of national will. In particular circumstances, where such striving would be rejected, the outcome, however catastrophic, can never rise to the dignifying level of tragedy.

The ancient vision of authentically High Tragedy has its origins in fifth century BCE Athens. Here, there is always clarity on one overriding point: The victim is one whom “the gods kill for their sport, as wanton boys do flies.” This wantonness, this caprice, is precisely what makes tragedy unendurable.

With “disengagement,” with “realignment,” with “Palestinian demilitarization,” with both Oslo, and the Road Map, Israel’s corollary misfortunes remain largely self-inflicted. The uninspiring drama of a Middle East peace process is, at best, a surreal page torn from Ionesco, or even from the Jewish genius of Prague, Franz Kafka. Here, there is nary a hint of tragedy; not even a satisfyingly cathartic element that might have been abstracted from playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides. At worst, and this is the more plausible characterization, Israel’s potentially unhappy fate has been ripped directly from the demeaning pages of irony and farce.

Under former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Israel had acted and lived a peculiarly portentous form of comedy, an unabashedly high-budget low drama, one that relied on concocted contrivances of plot, and on correspondingly low levels of credibility. At the end, in Gaza, Olmert acted correctly with Operation Cast Lead, but it was a limited or tactical rather than strategic reaction. Moreover, it was intended only to reverse his own earlier, and, by then, irremediable errors.

In farce, matters generally end badly, but for a last-minute rescue called, in dramatic theory, deus ex machina. But no “god in the machine” will rescue Israel. To recall a far more specifically Jewish commentary, one may also consult the words of Rabbi Yania: “A man should never put himself in a place of danger, and say that a miracle will save him, lest there be no miracle….” (Sota 32a; Yoreh De’ah 116).

It may be that Israel’s prime ministers never actually did expect a miracle, but then we must inquire as to why. Upon what precise manner of reasoning or faith did so many Israeli leaders base their flagrantly vacant and vacating policies?

In Judaism there can never be any justification for deliberate self-endangerment. In classical Greek tragedy there can never be any deus ex machina. In true tragedy, the human spirit manages to remain noble in the face of an inescapable death.

But if there is anything at all tragic about Israel’s prolonged security descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the word: “goat song.” For Israelis, this particular theatrical resemblance to paganism should be disturbingly hideous. After all, it comes from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus.

Aristotle understood, in his Poetics, that true tragedy must always elicit pity and fear but not pathos. Always, pathos is unheroic suffering. The great Greek philosopher had identified tragedy with “good” characters, those who may suffer because they commit some grave error (hamartia) unknowingly.

Whether a policy is named Oslo or Road Map or something altogether new makes no difference. The sordid promise of peace with a persistently murderous adversary is always a delusion. To be sure, protracted war or terror or genocide hardly seems a tolerable or enviable policy outcome. But even this difficult fate remains better for Israel than the undiminished Arab/Islamist plan for a second Final Solution.

The futile search for ordinary solutions by the people and government of Israel should never be dismissed by non-Israelis with anger, disdain, or self-righteousness. One can hardly blame them for denying such terrible and unjust portents. Any such denial is manifestly human.

Louis Rene Beres

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/resisting-war-terrorism-and-genocide-third-of-three-parts/2012/11/21/

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