So you think it’s me who’s strange
But you’ve never had to make the change
Never give your trust away
You’ll end up in paying till your dying day –(Killing Yourself To Live, Black Sabbath)
Advocacy in defense of moral principles is noble. The problem arises when one’s principles are ever-changing, amorphous, or ill-defined. What is the cause? What are the beliefs? Without a standard of consistent values, even well intended efforts can be harmful. There is a well known cliché about roads leading to hell. Even holy fires can become strange.
Even if the intention is to defend Israel. After all, what is defense of Israel? Whose standard of defense are we using? Are we speaking of liberal notions which celebrate reckless compromise and appeasement, or Torah values which give no quarter to evil people. Hasbara (Israeli advocacy) doesn’t have a clue.
I first opined on the problem with hasbara several years ago in an article entitled A Critique of Pure Hasbara, in which I explored different types of Hasbara advocates and opponents and analyzed their motivations and drives. The following article revisits the phenomenon of religious right wing advocates who form a new kind of peace camp today, albeit one with different factions.
The problem is akin to the rise of “Peace Now” years ago. Despite the immediate dangers of Peace Now, the real threat wasn’t going to be assessed by total numbers of card-carrying members. It was the pernicious influence of Peace Now’s ideology that was toxic and it eventually infiltrated mainstream society and ultimately the Likud Party. Similarly, most Jews aren’t going to start attending Iftar feasts because of a few narcissists with kipot. It is the residual effect that poses the greatest danger. The normalization of abnormal things.
As I’ve stated before these new advocates believe in retaining greater Israel and generally oppose territorial concession. But they have no sophisticated understanding of the Arabs, nor do they care to study Islam’s history or religious teachings. Hence their fascination with token Arabs to maintain the false narrative that most Arabs in Israel love Israel.Their dangerous portrayal endangers Jews, by minimizing the threat of a dangerous fifth column.
It is shameful to see religious advocacy today in Israel. When you want to read a principled position, you hope to hear a strong Torah perspective. Yet when an unprecedented event arises such as a peace accord with an Arab nation, we see spineless fence-riding as social media activists try to read the public’s pulse. Rarely do they have anything of significance to say. Like cheerleaders of a losing team, they are obliged to cheer even when the team is playing poorly. Most troubling is that they ignore warning signs.Torah based advocacy doesn’t cheer when the team isn’t trying to win. A Jew who loves Israel and the Jewish people calls out the poor decisions of weak leaders. Such is the nature of national pride. If the house is burning, you warn people.
On matters of security their resolve is as limp as a reed, and they often mirror the left’s adoration of stupidity such as the excesses of Eurovision. In their attempt to celebrate Israel, they propagate the absurd, the perverse, and the insane, or in other cases ignore the kinds of serious issues that should be exposed to the healing rays of the sun.
The recent peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates is a great example. In truth we know little of the actual details, although we hear murmurings and more of promised F-35 fighters. That alone should trouble ANY Jew concerned with Israel’s security. God forbid they obtain such weapons of war. That is all Israel needs. Another unstable Arab/Islamic country closing the gap militarily.
And yet this critical point was largely ignored by people who crave love from the world rather than respect. We saw yet again that the need to be loved by the world is not the exclusive domain of neurotic leftist Jews. Many self-identified right wing bloggers, online activists, and community representatives celebrated the new UAE accord. They ignored the warning signs of Arab military demands. Don’t kid yourself with vapid talk of peace and love. The UAE wants F35’s. They are adamant.
And yet too many religious Zionist online activists preened, presented, and pranced about on social media, when a team of dignitaries landed in the UAE, headed by Jared Kushner, the newly crowned King of PeaceMakers. This was the narrative they chose to take. Even if it shut down dreams of annexation which many of them were ecstatic about.
Note: One expects pandering from leftists even when they threaten Jewish interests or personal self-interest. Consider the reaction of a self-proclaimed “queer mizrachi, brown” activist on the scene today who was ecstatic about the accord even though the UAE penal code for homosexuality can include the death penalty, along with imprisonment. (The UAE penal code is deliberately vague, and presented in a complicated fashion.) As a religious Jew committed to Torah, I point this out not to make the UAE “look bad” on this issue. Long before there were Muslims, Halacha prohibited homosexuality activity, and if Torah laws are in place and proper conditions are met, the fact remains that according to Torah it is a capital punishment.
Having said this, there is no commonality between cruel Muslim sharia law and Torah justice. The latter is the only true moral and equitable code on earth, and life is not readily taken unless rigid conditions are met and/or the measures are critical to a functional society. I only point this out to show the hypocrisy of a confused Jewish activist who regularly opines on what he sees is a rigid fanatic Rabbinate, yet he gives the UAE a pass.
Such is the nature of the golden calf of “peace”. The mere utterance of peace demands loyalty from leftists though it only be lip service. In any event, we should expect nothing from the kinds of liberals who gleefully armed Arafat with weapons of war, and pounded on the Tikkun Olam drum while shaheeds detonated themselves in crowds of Jews.
But religious Jews should know better. Those who oppose territorial concessions, or alliances with those who would premise their treaties with assurances (whether overtly stated or covertly understood) of future concessions, should red-flag any such alliances. The UAE leadership couched the treaty as one where Israel will have to make compromises to the “Palestinians”. What Jew can support such a measure? And yet many of them cheered like schoolgirls. Some hedged their bets by peppering their daily tweets with posts expressing reservation about the deal. But when the plane finally landed in the UAE, the hasbara effect took full control and there were giddy declarations about how ‘the best was yet to come.’
Some of these individuals were celebrating the impending “annexation” several weeks earlier. They were suddenly silent and revising their position. “The timing was not right”, they declared. The deal was not really in our interest. This shows that Hasbara lacks core principles. Rather than advocate for strength, they select the flavor of the month, and which positions gain them a larger audience.
Hence the phenomenon of daati leumi activists attending Iftar feasts with token Arabs and pretending that these orchestrated meetings reflect a significant Arab voice. They do not. Nor do they truly have authentic relationships with them. Patronizing is a poor substitute for friendship.
Here is one example from several years ago, that was featured in an article on social media. It involved a certain Jewish activist visiting his Arab “friend” with a kipa on his head. After noting a certain look on the Arab’s face and intuiting that perhaps the kipa made his friend uncomfortable amongst his fellow Arabs, this Jewish man apologized and noted that he usually wears a hat when he comes to visit him. His “friend” responded that it wasn’t the kipa that bothered him, but the firearm on his hip.
Reading about this incident gives me the willies. Clearly this fellow wasn’t his friend. No dignified self-respecting person can abide such naked patronizing. An Arab may not love my personal positions (he won’t) which will largely oppose his, but I will never patronize another man, or condescend to them. I don’t give a damn if he likes my kipa or a gun on the hip. But I don’t pretend or feign a false relationship.
Some of the more militant “right–wing” peaceniks actively call for removing security checkpoints, believing that most Arabs truly want peace, and that they only hate us because we haven’t “decolonized” and embraced a shared Semitic heritage. Unlike the classical left, these “indigenous rights” obsessed, anti-western, activists also believe in retaining every inch of Israel, but under lunatic conditions which would endanger Jews. They are the most naïve and simplistic of activists since they engage in a kind of magical thinking.
They often support racist hate groups such as “Black Lives Matter” because they hate the United States. They speak of accepting and sharing our separate narratives with those who would implement a new Holocaust if given the chance. Some of these types oppose the new accord not because of the inherent dangers of arming Arab nations but because it represents interference from the “colonial American military complex”. I have written about this faction in The New Peace Movements Exposed.
Many religious activists (though generally not from the latter category) are equally comfortable breaking bread and aligning with evangelicals. I write about this often. So I ask the question: In what sense are these people right-wing according to Torah? Many flatter and appease Esau AND Ishmael, the evangelical church and the Arabs. They pander and prostrate before them. Their silence is not relegated to Arabs. They are silent on critical moral issues affecting Jews and non-Jews. They rarely utter a word about the rampant abortion in Israel (killing life in the womb) or America, or the normalization of homosexuality and an aggressive social LGBTQ agenda.
They won’t oppose abortion or LGBTQ indoctrination. Yet they think that Netta, Soda Stream, and Gal Gadot will earn us the world’s love.
They lack courage. Neither Israeli government officials nor career religious Hasbara activists have the guts to speak about the UAE’s human rights violations. They go gaga over the UAE deal while ignoring rampant human rights violations which include a flourishing sex trafficking industry recently exposed by The Jewish Press.
Should we really be surprised when a prominent activist informs us about Hebron, “that this isn’t your grandfather’s Hebron”. In other words, Arab-Jewish relations aren’t a problem today as they were for your Zaidy. Really? It is 2020 and Hebron’s Arabs selected a mayor who murdered Jews years ago. It certainly IS our grandfathers Hebron.
Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it is worse. Because our grandfathers Hebron had better empirical evidence to convince them that they did indeed have cordial relations with the Arabs of 1929 Hebron, certainly on a greater scale than today. And they did, until the day they did not. Until the day Hebron Arabs butchered their jewish friends in an orgy of blood, murder, mutilation, and rape.
Hasbara’s Achilles Heel
Hasbara treats Arabs like children. They ignore deep-rooted differences that cannot be resolved by sharing coffee. See how quickly the Arabs of 1929 turned on their Jewish friends in Hebron, who were not members of the Mizrachi movement. Rabbi Meir Kahane often pointed out the inherent contempt Jews have for Arab sensibilities. (The kipa story above typifies this.) They refuse to accept that some chasms can never be crossed because bridges can’t be built between opposing ideologies.
The oft heard nonsense of shared Abrahamic “semitism”, a term most accurately reserved for language and not some fantastical biological connection will never bridge the gap between those who believe in Torah and those who theologically believe that we Jews perverted the original text.
Note: The repercussions of this fact have halachic ramifications which preclude the Jew from even sharing a verse from Tanach to a Muslim, according to Maimonides, though his monotheism is more refined than Christians; who may be taught according to Maimonides, since they will either accept the correct interpretation or they won’t. (A discussion of the the complex issue of the permissibility of teaching Torah to gentiles is beyond the rubric of this article, yet according to Rambam’s own words it would be forbidden to teach evangelicals who WILLFULLY distort Torah, since intrinsic to their faith is a requirement to distort the verses. The danger is apparent.
The critical point is that despite a closer shared vision of monotheism between Jew and Muslim, they remain further apart in this regard. The Tanach on your seforim shelf presents a problem for them. Muslims believe it is a corruption of the prophets.
Shared Monotheism? What commonality can be reached with those who gleefully offer human sacrifices to G-d, even if they believe that G-d is One? Our understanding of God is not comparable with the pagan blood eater of jihadist thought. What shared values can be found between those who elect a Jew killing murderer for mayor, and we Jews who were his targets?
Perceived friendships are an easily shattered illusion. When the day is darkest, Hebron has always been a tinderbox waiting for a spark to ignite it. Jews are too eager to perpetuate myths. Hence the perverse phenomenon of right-wingers celebrating coexistence, sometimes mere months after a massacre of Jews by Arabs in supposed coexistence zones. To be sure there is the initial shock where these same people call out Arab barbarism. Yet inevitably they return later to extol the virtues of businesses who hire Arabs in these same venues. They return to the deadly “coexistence” myth, but only after the tears of orphans and widows are washed away, and the dead are buried. And when they need cheap labor they eschew avoda ivrit like the Corona virus.
I wonder if these same activists will take their families to the United Arab Emirates, and proudly display their kipot and Tzitzit? I am not speaking about public relations trips with heavy security, where token Jews meet certain dignitaries. I refer to lone Jews taking their families to the UAE without the benefit of Israeli security. I hope the answer is no because I do not trust the UAE.
But if the answer is NO (as it should be), then they should stop celebrating a sham peace. Despite treaties, Jews do not go to Cairo or Amman. (Petra and the Sinai do not count.) They have no wish to be torn apart. Not very long ago, Jews regularly traveled to Turkey, a supposed moderate country. (Some Jews still go to Turkey!) What happened to Turkey? The hapless ADL once honored Recep Erdogan. Today he wages a jihad to reinstate the caliphate and the Ottoman Empire. Islamic/Arab countries are volatile. The same can happen in any Islamic country. Iran had modernity, secularism, education, and western niceties. Yet they were ripe for Islamic fanaticism. The roller coaster of the Muslim world is prone to extremes.
In recent years attempts were made to sanitize UAE antisemitism and portray it as a beacon of tolerance, (indeed there may be genuine efforts in certain camps to purge it), yet one doesn’t have to go back very far to see virulent antisemitism in UAE society. In 2000 the Harvard Divinity School accepted a 2.5-million-dollar gift from then UAE president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan. Controversy arose when the notorious Zayed Center’s anti–Semitic programs came to light, including those involving holocaust denial, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and other classical libels against Jews.
Summation: Above all, the accord is one of pragmatism for the UAE. The UAE views the military benefits of this accord as most essential, which is why the UAE called off several meetings with Israeli and American officials when they raised objections. They are not going to let up. They desperately want these weapons.
Nor have they shied away from their commitment to the “Palestinian cause” and a two-state solution. In other words, there are two key issues that are diametrically opposed to our survival needs. Perhaps if these components were absent, one could show greater (if not guarded) faith in such alliances. Yet in all these treaties (Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE) the following is present:
- An insistence on advanced military aid
- The assurance that they still support “Palestinians” and oppose “occupation” and “annexation”. In this case, the UAE prevented the enactment of a flawed annexation plan which in many ways strengthened the Arabs.
Yet you would not know any of this from hasbara’s online rightists who insist that this accord is some momentous agreement. They say this even though they can obviously see the dangers. One religious advocate recently tweeted about the dearth of pro-accord sentiments coming from within the UAE media. It was a fair observation. Why wouldn’t UAE institutions celebrate with greater fervor?
Yet a day later this same propagandist seemed to have forgotten his observation, and he was back online celebrating the treaty. Another Jewish blogger noted for inane posts about celebrities who love us and which ones do not, formed an embarrassing man–crush with an online Emirati on Twitter. Despite their awkward declarations of mutual respect and love, this jewish personage ignored his friend’s condemnation on Twitter of Israel’s military response to incendiary balloons.
While his Emirati friend was honest enough to admit that Hamas as usual initiated it and that the measure was defensive, his initial tweet implied a moral equivalency where both sides contributed to a cycle of violence. It showed that even Arab/Islamic moderates retain skewed perspectives on the conflict, which are an affront to Jewish interests. They have personal and national pride, and in this regard they view any Jewish strength as infringing on them.
There is nothing in common with ghouls who send incendiary death over our borders with colorful balloons to murder Jewish children; and an army trying to stop these death dealers from doing so. The suggestion otherwise is libelous.
I don’t trust the UAE and what we know about the deal is bad enough. Perhaps many are celebrating the deal because they have cabin fever and are drooling about the prospects of another hedonistic resort. “What stays in the UAE….” A veritable Vegas of the Middle East.
Egypt, Jordan, and now the UAE. All of these shrewd Arab countries have taken Anwar Sadat’s words to heart. It was Sadat who implored the Arab world to play the game of war with Israel like a smart player plays soccer. Rather than trying to score a goal every time, the Arabs should maneuver the ball through the opponent.
Though Sadat gave the blueprint over in his memoirs, Jews turn a blind eye the strategy. Hence the phenomenon of more Arab/Islamic countries waking up and playing the long game of “Sadat’s Strategy”, which is the title of a remarkable work by Dr. Paul Eidelberg. As Sadat noted:
“Al Qaddafi has chosen to make the same terrible mistake that Arabs committed several years ago when they rejected everything and anything—when the Arabs turned the word `no’ into an idol which they worshipped, burned incense around, and in the process, burned all their bridges and were halted … all this because the Arabs pinned the fate of the Arab nation and three of its generations to the word ‘no.’ In the field of politics, just as in the field of sports, the best player is not the one who kicks the ball out of the playground every time he gets it. This is escapism; he prefers to escape from the situation rather than take the ball, maneuver it through his opponents and then score a goal.” (From Sadat’s memoirs published September 11, 1977, as cited by Dr. Paul Eidelberg in “Sadat’s Strategy”: pg. 11 “Americans For A Safe Israel” AFSI online edition)
It is September 2020, and we see another Likud government stepping into Sadat’s trap.. Different country, different history, and certainly different circumstances. But it is the same tactic of deception, and the consequences are deadly to Jewish self–interest. The fact that Israel is worried and insistent that we retain a military edge in the Middle East tells us everything we need to know about this Abrahamic Accord. Israel does not fully trust them. Isaac distrusts Ishmael’s intentions. With good reason. There is a long history:
“And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12-Machon Mamre)
The Arab/Islamic world turns on a dime. Her whims are like the desert wind, impossible to control or predict, but it takes a lot more than self interest to get rid of deep-seeded Jew hatred. No peace of paper with signatures can change that. But false intentions and clever ambition can bring with it the promise of US F35 fighter jets, which may one day Heaven Forbid be used against the Jewish State.
*The opinions expressed are those of the author exclusively