web analytics
July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘state of israel’

Let’s Demand a Moratorium on the Peace Talks

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

I suggest, in all seriousness that Israel declare a moratorium  to peace talks.  Simply, we aren’t interested  until the Arabs come begging.  The State of Israel shouldn’t beg anyone for peace.

We aren’t the aggressors.  We live peacefully with our Arab neighbors.  The aggression, terror, threats and war come from them not us.  So they have nothing to fear from us, from Israel.

It probably will take at least a couple of generations if not longer.  That’s no problem.  In the meantime we’ll do what is really important.  We will develop and strengthen the State of Israel and make it more Jewish and more secure.  Our economic growth is far better than the United States and Europe.  No doubt more and more Jews will come to live here.  And many Jewish immigrants will want to live all over, including Judea and Samaria.

We must also stop taking advice and orders from foreign countries.  If they’re so smart why is our economy better?

If a foreign dignitary, official visiting or a foreign ambassador calls us aggressors, insults or threatens us, like the Turkish and even American ones, we must expel them and declare them persona non grata.  Within no time, we will gain international respect.  If any Israeli media, politician, academic or whatever join in criticizing the IDF or Israeli Government for defending Israel and its citizens, they must be arrested.  That Turkish flotilla aggression would have blown over a long time ago if only we had behaved this way.  They should have had apologized.  Israel did absolutely nothing wrong!

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Forty: Locusts

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Two thousand years before, the armies of Rome had conquered Jerusalem and razed the holy Jerusalem Temple. The Rabbis taught that Rome was not the cause of the Kingdom of Israel’s downfall, but rather the hatred which prevailed at the time between the Jews themselves. The House of Israel was divided within, and this is what brought about the nation’s destruction by a foreign conqueror.

At first, Tevye stood paralyzed. The low flying cloud approached with menacing swiftness. All over the colony, field workers were shielding their faces from a dry, stinging wind. A gusty hamsin was not an unusual thing, but a desert wind had never been followed by the ominously descending black cloud. The Arab workers who had been hired since the start of the strike threw down their tools.

Jarad! Jarad!” they hollered, running away in fear.

More clouds appeared, one following the other like battalions. A gust of wind blew a dozen locusts directly at Tevye’s face. He swatted at them and watched them fall to the ground. Suddenly, the dense cloud swooped down upon him. Futilely, he tried to shield the corn stalks with his body, but his efforts were hopeless. Hundreds and thousands of locusts rained down on the field. They battered Tevye all over his body. Wings flapped in his face. There was nothing that he could do. Falling down on his knees, Tevye clutched his head in his arms and prayed.

Long minutes passed. When the roar of the storm abated, Tevye looked up. Locusts blanketed all of the corn. The ears were invisible. The stalks had turned into columns of the Heaven-sent demons. The corn field had turned into a forest of locusts.

All over the settlement, the scene was the same. Locusts covered the wheat fields, the orchards, the vineyards, and the vegetable gardens. Stalk after stalk, vine after vine, branch after branch, were enveloped with the plague. The shocked settlers were still inspecting the scope of the damage when yet another hot wind blew out of the east and a second black cloud swept over the plain. Defenseless against the great swarms, the Jews ran for shelter inside of their houses and tents. The roar of the locusts sounded over their rooftops like the thunder of heavenly chariots.

Locusts crawled under doorways and battered against tightly closed shutters. With brooms, hysterical women beat at the creatures which fell down from the cracks in their roofs.

By late afternoon, the prisoners could once again venture forth from their houses. The evil wind had vanished, but the army of locusts remained on the crops. Tevye had never seen anything like it. The nearest thing to his memory was a late Russian frost. With sunken expressions, the settlers weighed the devastation. A year’s work was doomed. Tevye’s own tomato patch had disappeared under the heaps of insects in his garden. There were so many of them, he could hear them munching away. When he kicked them off a vine, others quickly took their place. Stunned by the nightmare, he cast a glance up to Heaven. This new plague was worse than the mosquitoes and swamps.

“Are we made out of iron that You test us like this?” he asked, raising his hands to the sky. “Is it fair to send millions of locusts against a handful of men? Why? Tell me why?”

“It’s a punishment from God,” Carmel said, standing beside him, holding their son in her arms.

“Yes,” Tevye said. “We don’t always behave like we should. But if He wanted us to be angels, He should have created us with wings.

Elisha blew on a shofar, summoning the settlers together. After leading the afternoon prayer, Nachman stood before the congregation with a Bible in his hand. Even the striking workers were present, feeling an equal sense of tragedy and loss.

“When a disaster falls upon the community, we are all called upon to examine our deeds,” he exhorted. “All of the feuding, the curses, the words spoken in anger and hatred between brothers, this is the cause of this terrible plague. Listen to the words of the Prophet….”

Not a man in the room made a rustle. Everyone sat in the synagogue and listened intently as Nachman read from the Book. Outside the door, the woman crowded together to hear.

How Not to Remember the Holocaust

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I’m troubled.

History is important, because justice today depends on a correct understanding of yesterday. If your vision of the past is distorted, then your objectives for the future and present actions can be morally wrong, pragmatically futile, or both. If you don’t believe this, think about the consequences of the false Arab and leftist narratives about Israel and “Palestine.”

Therefore, understanding what Hitler did to the Jewish people, what historical trends led up to it and how the world responded, is critical for all of us today. There needs to be a Holocaust remembrance Day and it ought to tell its story in detail, over and over to each generation of humanity, and not just to Jews and Europeans.

But certain ways of observing this day make me very uncomfortable.

One is what I call the “universal kumbaya Holocaust observance.” The message here is that there are lots of genocides, they are all similar, and we have to try to understand our fellow man in order to prevent them. I went to an event once in which it was said that the real Holocaust encompassed 11 million people — Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled and mentally ill people, etc.  I didn’t understand how they got to 11 million, nor why they stopped there: about 60 million people died as a result of WWII, probably about half of those in the European theater. Estimates range from 10 to 20 million Chinese dead in the conflict with Japan. Perhaps they should have lit 30 candles for the evil done by Hitler, and added another 30 for Imperial Japan?

The trouble with a universalized observance is that it obscures the significance of the specifically Jewish genocide, the fact that the Holocaust was the perfection, made possible by modern technology and careful planning, of the pogrom, the culmination of  the hundreds of anti-Jewish murders committed over the centuries simply because the victims were Jews, as the Nazis said, a final pogrom which would, for once and for all, erase the Jews from the world.

And by hiding the meaning of this event in plain sight, as it were, among all the other horrors of war, it also absolves today’s Jews from the responsibility to find their own solution to the specifically Jewish problem of endemic Jew-hatred, which has not gone away.

Another kind of Holocaust observance is the “emotional binge,” in which participants try to bring themselves to the point where they can almost feel the doors of the gas chambers closing on themselves or (worse) their children, in order to fully internalize the “real meaning” of the Holocaust. These events include talks by survivors about their experiences, dramatic performances and even re-enactments in which participants play the role of Jews and Nazis (all of these have been done in my community). The common characteristic is that they are intended to evoke the strongest possible emotional responses.

The catharsis provided by emotional binges is greatly enjoyed by some people, but it adds nothing to the understanding of history. Indeed, it creates a dangerous fixation on the dead Jews of the 1940s, to the detriment of those living today.

Finally there is the “symbolic but trivializing gesture.” A local synagogue is attempting to collect 6,000,000 buttons in remembrance of the 6,000,000 Jewish victims of Hitler. It was explained that this is a big number, and the stack of buttons that they will make will help people visualize the extent of the Holocaust.

It’s hard to comment on something quite this silly. Collecting, storing and displaying that many buttons is  a large effort, which one imagines could be exerted to much more effect in some other way. Personally, I have no problem visualizing 6,000,000 people: I just think about the Jewish population of today’s state of Israel.

Which brings me to the general problem I have with all of these ways of commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. They are entirely consistent with total ignorance of the real lesson of the Holocaust for Jews, which is not that 6,000,000 is a big number, or that the death of a child is horrible, or that genocide is bad everywhere, in Rwanda or Armenia or anywhere else.

This is why it is possible for some Jews to light candles, cry, and “dialogue” about the need for cross-cultural understanding with non-Jews until the cows come home, and then go out and (for example) join a demonstration against Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem.

Pesach and Solidarity

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Festival of Freedom, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik observes about our liberation from Egypt:

A group cannot be called am [nation] if there is no solidarity. Am is indicative of a readiness to share, a sense of compassion. The Jews were taken out of Egypt and were freed not because of their spiritual grandeur, but simply because they were charitable to one another; there was a feeling of solidarity among them.

Rabbi Soloveitchik goes on to state about solidarity in relation to the Holocaust:

If in the 1940s we had responded to the call for help that came across the ocean from the ghettos in Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic lands, we might have saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. We did not respond to that call. I thought at the time that the Jewish community was falling apart, that there was no sense of solidarity, of being together, of suffering together. It was a terrible crime on our part…and we have not purged ourselves from the great crime we committed, tolerating the destruction of six million Jews.

As Pesach nears, these words should set our consciences aflame. Today, some of the world’s most inspirational Jews suffer continual persecution and brutality. Masked troops destroy their communities under cover of darkness and jail their children without due process, traumatizing families and empowering the enemies of Am Yisrael.

These crimes occur not under the flag of nations like Egypt or Russia, but under the flag of Israel.

We should know the name Akiva Hacohen. After this patriot warned Jews in Yehuda and Shomron about planned demolitions of homes, in August 2011 the state expelled him from his home in Yitzhar. Akiva was then jailed for espionage in January 2012.

Subsequently “released” to a house arrest with 24-hour monitoring that in effect also put his family under house arrest, the state further prohibited Akiva from using communication such as a cellular phone and the internet. “All we wanted to do was to guard the Land of Israel,” his wife Ayelet stated. “Unfortunately, this is an anti-Zionist state which abuses Jews who love the Land of Israel.”

Ayelet’s reference to “an anti-Zionist state” is a key point. Zionism means defending Jews and building Eretz Yisrael. People who hurt Jews and surrender Israel to Islamist neo-Nazis are not Zionists, no matter how fluent their Hebrew is.

We should know the names of the bulldozed Torah communities Akiva and Ayelet tried to defend—names like Mitzpe Avichai and Ma’oz Esther and Oz Zion and Ramat Migron.

Where is our solidarity for these oppressed brothers and sisters? Where are the manifestations of collective outrage?

It takes little if any moral courage to say that dead fascists and perpetrators of rocket attacks from Gaza are evil. It is another matter to confront brutality against Jews that is perpetrated by Jews. Denouncing Hitler and Hamas while ignoring Jewish enemies is outrage on the cheap.

In fact, all too often the attitude of Jews in the dati leumi (national religious) camp toward these matters is one of coarseness and evasion. “Now that it’s done, it’s done,” a dati leumi commentator said about the Shalit deal soon after it took place. Another commentator likewise reduced Gush Katif’s destruction to having been “a bad policy.” (I suppose then that England’s expulsion of Jews in 1290 was merely a bad policy.) These statements bring to mind what Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote regarding Mishlei 17:15 and 24:24-25:

[T]hose who fail to rebuke, aid and encourage the wicked to continue, and through their silence or their very timid, tepid and ‘mild’ criticism that fails to stamp the deeds as evil and as wrong, they are in effect labeling them as decent and as acceptable, thus erasing the line between good and evil.

This Pesach, let us take to heart Rabbi Soloveitchik’s words about what solidarity means for Am Yisrael and act accordingly.

Judaism as the Meaning of the Jewish state

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

A state, especially one that is trying to be a nation-state, a national homeland for a people, needs an organizing principle, a set of ideals, an ideology, a purpose — whatever you think it is, some kind of philosophical reason for being. Otherwise there is no reason to live there if you can go somewhere else. And in the developed world, going somewhere else is more of an option than ever before.

Israel’s worst enemies have powerful ideologies — Islamism and Palestinian nationalism/irredentism.

Even the US, a secular state with a very diverse population has such principles, embodied in its Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They are one reason that the nation survived, in united form, its terrible Civil War, and why — one hopes — it will survive the forces trying to pull it apart today.

Despite being the nation-state of the Jewish people, the state of Israel does not have a set of basic unifying principles. There isn’t a single Zionism, and for some Israelis, any form of Zionism at all is looked at as a combination of ignorance and gullibility.

The early struggle to define the state was won by the secular left-wing Zionists of whom Ben-Gurion was an example. Unfortunately that segment was seduced by and ultimately subsumed in the peace movement, a movement based on a pathologically false view of reality, and encouraged by the worst enemies of the Jewish people. Its collision with the bitter truths of the real Middle East has left in their camp only those who have rejected Zionism, the academics and Ha’aretz columnists who are simply anti-state.

The remnants of political vitality are found today on the Right, especially the nationalistic-religious segment. For example, here is how Naftali Bennett explained it, in a fascinating interview with Ari Shavit of Ha’aretz:

Zionism arose thanks to secularism … The dogmatic religious establishment in the Diaspora was not capable of initiating Zionism without [Theodor] Herzl’s secular involvement. But secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state.

A state that is 64 years old cannot continue to exist on the ethos of a refuge state, on security alone. After all, if this were the reason for our existence, there are many places that are safer for Jews – like Melbourne, Australia, or New Jersey. They don’t send children to the army there, and missiles aren’t flying there. Therefore, the time has come to move from the existential Zionism that you come from to a Jewish Zionism. It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish basis, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish coloration.

I don’t support religious coercion, but I do believe that Judaism is our ‘why’: Judaism is the reason for our existence and the justification for our existence, and the meaning of our existence.

This isn’t an easy sell to secular Israelis. For many of them, ‘Judaism’ is a corrupt functionary that tells them that they aren’t Jewish enough to get married in a Jewish state, or a haredi who maintains a large family on welfare, doesn’t do army service and spits at secular women.

The ideal is a tolerant Jewish state which is nevertheless fully Jewish. This will have to come from those, like Bennett, who see themselves as observant, and not from the liberal side of Judaism, which has embraced pluralism to the point of accepting a universalist ideology that does not “distinguish between Israel and the Nations.”

Is it possible? I am not sure, but I think it’s essential to our survival.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Mr. President, What Are You Thinking?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

This isn’t just about finding someone who has a more balanced view of Middle Eastern politics. This is about the most insidious type of anti-Semitism. The kind that is so subtle that there are actually Jewish organizations that defend him. Like J-Street recently did.

Chuck Hagel was a senator from Nebraska from 1996 to 2008. He is also a Vietnam War veteran who earned several medals during his service there. I used to admire him before I found out how he thinks. How can you not admire someone who puts his life on the line and serves his country with valor? His more or less conservative political views also had some appeal to me as a right leaning political moderate.

But then he started making comments like “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” That makes Professors John Mearshiemer and Stephan Walt look like members of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). For those who don’t recall, those two academicians wrote a book about how much the Zionist lobby has too much influence on US foreign policy.

As Brett Stevens points out in his excellent Wall Street Journal analysis, Mearsheimer and Walt understand that the Israeli lobby is not a solely a Jewish lobby. A lot of support for the policies of say AIPAC comes from Christian Zionists. If AIPAC only represented Jews it would have no influence at all. We are less than 2% of the population and an insignificant factor politically. And many do not even subscribe to the policies of AIPAC. Ask J-Street.

When I started hearing statements like this from Mr. Hagel, I knew that his antipathy was not reserved for those who support the state of Israel. It was reserved for us. The Jews. This is how anti-Semitism in Europe flourished. Nazism didn’t start in one day. It built up over time as we gained more wealth and influence there. By the time Germany was in enough dire straits to elect a Hitler, the Jewish people were ripe for becoming the scapegoat of choice. All that subtle prejudice turned into an eventual Holocaust aided and abetted by a willing populations in countries like Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

How many times do we have to hear statements like “The Jews have too much Power” before we realize that the people saying it are anti- Semites?!

Of course Chuck Hagel will, I’m sure, deny that he is a anti-Semite. I’ll bet that he can even point to things that will “prove” it. I’m sure that he will say something like “Some of my best friends are Jewish”! Don’t believe it. I don’t buy that kind of “friendship” for a minute.

I for one was glad that he retired from the Senate. One less anti-Semite to worry about. A dangerous one who was a war hero. His political views with respect to Israel are not at all unlike those of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Recall that Wright too served the military with distinction. He was chosen as part of a medical team charged with the care of then President Lyndon Johnson. And was thanked for that in a personal letter by an Admiral on behalf of the President.

The only difference between Hegel and Wright is the level of subtlety. Wright does not mince words. Hegel tires to come off as a courageous public servant who refuses to be influenced by powerful lobbies. Like the Jewish one.

I bring all of this up because Hagel’s name has surfaced as President Obama’s possible choice to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense – probably the second most powerful cabinet position. One one that has a direct impact on Israel. The most powerful cabinet position is Secretary of State. The leading contender for that is John Kerry. Not too thrilled about that choice either. I would have preferred Susan Rice. But Kerry is gold compared to Hagel. I cannot imagine too many people who would be a worse choice for such a powerful position. Maybe Jeremiah Wright.

I somehow can’t believe that the President doesn’t know about Mr. Hagel’s antipathy towards Israel. It is surprising that he is being considered at all, let alone that he is apparently the front runner.

I know the President is not an anti- Semite. I also know that he supports the State of Israel (despite the insistence by many who say he doesn’t). He has proven to me that he does. That he has differences with them over some polices does not make him anti Israel. Nor do I feel that way even though I disagree with him on some of those policies.

In describing the “ripe” odor of Hagel’s prejudice based on the word “intimdates” in the quote above – here is a particularly trenchant excerpt from Steven’s WSJ article:

Ripe, finally, because Mr. Hagel’s Jewish lobby remark was well in keeping with the broader pattern of his thinking. “I’m a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator,” Mr. Hagel told retired US diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006. “I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Read these staccato utterances again to better appreciate their insipid and insinuating qualities, all combining to cast the usual slur on Jewish-Americans: Dual loyalty. Nobody questions Mr. Hagel’s loyalty. He is only making those assertions to question the loyalty of others.

Still, Mr. Hagel managed to say “I support Israel.” This is the sort of thing one often hears from people who treat Israel as the Mideast equivalent of a neighborhood drunk who, for his own good, needs to be put in the clink to sober him up.

All this points to why the possible choice of Chuck Hegel for Secretary of Defense is so troubling. Can you imagine what this guy would do if Israel’s security depended on some additional US help – whether military or financial?

He would very likely lobby hard against it to the President – arguing that Israel should not be America’s concern; that we have already helped them too much; and have already spent too much of the American tax-payer’s money on them in. Especially in the financially strapped economy we are in!

I hope and pray that this does not come to fruition. It could mean disaster for Israel – and ultimately for world peace.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Oppose Hagel for Defense

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

The rightosphere has come out swinging against retired Senator Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination for secretary of defense.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think Hagel was a Democrat.  (He represented Nebraska as a Republican from 1997 to 2009.)  But the leftosphere is in the game too – and if you didn’t know better, you’d think opposing Hagel for the post was a “Jewish” thing.

Hagel’s record on US policy towards Israel is indeed a poor one.  Hagel publicly urged President Bush in 2006 to get Israel to simply cease her counterattack on Hezbollah – unilaterally, and with no assurances or even security goals obtained – when the terrorist group had attacked Israeli civilians and abducted two of her soldiers.  Hagel also declined that year to endorse designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  He later opposed designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, in spite of its Qods Force’s involvement in terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and its support of and close relationship with Hezbollah and Hamas.

It’s one thing to recognize the truth about the terrorists and yet disagree with a particular administration’s policy.  It’s another thing, however, to pretend that the terrorists aren’t terrorists.  This latter thing is a disqualifier for the post of secretary of defense.

Chuck Hagel writes his own narrative, in which threats aren’t really threats and policies that actually work are just horrible, and that is the basic reason why he would make a very bad secretary of defense.  He doesn’t just disagree with sensible people on what our policy should be; he disagrees on what’s going on.  He characterizes the situation unrealistically.

His unrealism is captured well in an interview he did for the Financial Times in August 2011.  Hagel is comically vague in the first part of the interview, never answering the interviewer’s question (about Assad and Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring).  His comments are a masterpiece of bromide-filled evasion.

As the exchange unfolds, Hagel praises the assassination of Osama bin Ladin:

…a masterful job, a spectacular job, and a job that all Americans can be proud of, on how it was carried out, and the process and every aspect, step along the way.  Professionalism.

He has very different words for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, characterizing it as follows:

It was a terrible mistake that’s cost us in terrible ways.  The consequences are going to flow out of that mistake for many years.

Considered together, these are really idiotic comments from a potential secretary of defense.  Regrettably, there is no other way to put it.  Hagel’s evaluations are emotional, and bear no relation to the actual value of the national-security operations in the two cases.

The US military did a fantastic job, and bin Ladin is finally dead. But Al Qaeda isn’t – nor, more importantly, is Salafism, or radical Islamism in any form.  Except for the sense of justice for Americans, the death of bin Ladin was meaningless.  It had no national-security import at all.  Al Qaeda is operating robustly today in Syria and Libya.  When we drive it out of the Horn of Africa and Yemen, it goes elsewhere, as it did when we drove it out of central Iraq in the surge in 2007.

Far from a defeated entity, Al Qaeda is gaining purpose and momentum with the Arab Spring, especially in Syria and Libya.  Its purpose has shifted somewhat, away from attacking the US and toward guerrilla operations in the Middle East.  This is part of a larger, more fundamental trend unleashed by the Arab Spring: a pitched battle for the character of the Arab world.  And, in fact, state-Islamism is a far more important emerging trend than Salafi terrorism, because leaders of nations have all the resources of a nation at their disposal, including armed forces.

Iran has been the chief example of state-Islamism for thirty years, and the pattern is alarming.  Arab nations will do things somewhat differently because of their different culture, but Mohammed Morsi has already made his radicalism clear in Egypt, and we can be sure that state-Islamism in Arab nations will be no more pacific than it is in Iran.  The outcomes in Syria and Libya are still uncertain, but in Syria, at least, the prospects for the future are increasingly grim.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/you-dont-have-to-be-jewish-to-oppose-hagel-for-defense/2012/12/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: