Friday, October 24, 2014

The new Circus Maximus: Israeli politics

Politics at the national level in Israel are brutal. Israel is not a two- or three-Party political system. It’s not even a four-party system.

Israeli national politics are more like a fight-club. Here, multiple Parties team up to fight other Parties. Then they turn and fight each other.

Right now, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a ruling coalition made up of five Parties (leader’s names in parenthesis): Likud (Benjamin Netanyahu), Yisrael Beiteinu (Avigdor Liberman), Habayit HaYehudi (Naftali Bennet), Hatenua (Tzipi Livni) and Yish Atid (Yair Lapid).

Each of these Party leaders serves as a Minister in the government. Each has power. It’s a safe bet that each wants to be Prime Minister.

Sometimes, these leaders work together as a team. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they won’t.

This week, we learned that Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to believe that some in his coalition aren’t cooperating enough with his political agenda. He appears to have problems with Livni, Lapid and Bennet (“Netanyahu to Tell Party Heads: Compromise or Else...”, Arutz Sheva, October 22, 2014). According to this story, he’s threatening to call for new elections if the coalition doesn’t start following his orders.

But that same day another news stories emerged. Netanyahu wasn’t planning new elections after all (“New elections? Netanyahu says they’re the last thing Israel needs”, Times of Israel, October 22, 2014).

Well, which is—will Netanyahu call for new elections, or not? In Israel, the answer is simple: he’ll do both--maybe!

Make no mistake: there’s trouble afoot. Within Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, there are tensions that threaten to break things apart. There’s tension over a bill in the Knesset to change the rules for religious conversions (to Judaism). There’s tension over peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas. There’s tension over next year’s budget.

These tensions won’t go away. Open warfare, never far from the surface among people who so disagree with each other, is close to breaking out.

To keep the lid on, Netanyahu needs to act. He needs to crack the whip.

He’s doing that by sending his coalition a message: fall in line behind me, get ready to compromise your ideological positions to vote my way—or I’ll call new elections.

That’s a real threat.

For example, Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister, could end up out of politics altogether if an election were held next Spring, as some reports speculate could happen. She has no reason to want new elections—and almost every reason to avoid them.

Yair Lapid, Finance Minister, could see his power base shrink considerably as a result of new elections. He controls Israel’s purse strings. Israelis aren’t happy with some of his decisions. He hasn’t yet succeeded in proving to the Israeli public that his austerity moves have improved the economy. An election before he’s got that ‘proof’ could push him into a political oblivion. 

Then there’s HaBayit HaYehudi’s Naftali Bennet. Recent polls show him gaining seats in a near-term election. His enemies in the political arena won’t want to see him gain that power. A Spring election that benefits Bennet would be the worst thing that could happen to them (“Analysis: Who’s afraid of Moshe Kahlon?”, Jerusalem Post, October 22, 2014).

Israel’s politics aren’t driven by religious law. They aren’t driven by what’s best for Israel. They aren’t driven by oligarchs, class considerations or any kind of social agenda. They’re driven by raw power.

If you want to lead Israel, you have to know how to attract allies who might normally hate each other—and you. Then, you have to be able to keep them happy. Then, you have to know how to keep them in line. Finally, you have to know how and when to threaten them so that they stay in line.

Then, while you’re doing all that, you have to watch out for outsiders who want to destroy Israel altogether. You also have to watch out for politicians (some of whom are your supposed allies) who are looking for any reasonable excuse to destroy your coalition, thereby provoking new elections—so they can replace you.

Of course, while you’re doing all of that, you still have to do something for Israel. You still have to govern.

In ancient Rome, the Circus Maximus was entertainment for the masses. Chariots raced, often destroying each other. Lions ate humans, then, possibly, each other. Gladiators fought to the death. This circus was often flamboyant, bloody and celebratory.

Why must Jewish Israel make politicians behave this same way? Does Israel benefit from it? Are we safer because of it?

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you. It’s the Story of the Final Jewish Redemption. Do you think Israel’s current political fight-arena will play a role in that Story?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jews die. The world yawns. Events spiral forward

For many in Israel, it has been obvious for decades that Arabs do not seek peace with Israel. The Hamas Charter, the PLO Charter, Palestinian Authority (PA) TV, Muslim political and religious leaders all make it clear that the Arab has no interest in any kind of peace with Jewish Israel.

The world doesn’t care about Arab Jew-hate. The world only cares that those damn Jews hate peace, right?

Here’s how that thought-process works: last year, I was interviewed for a news special for Finnish TV. I was told that the topic of discussion was the ‘two-state’ solution. I was asked, why doesn’t Israel want peace? I replied, you ask the wrong question. The correct question is, why does Mahmoud Abbas refuse peace?

Surprised, the interviewer asked, what do you mean? I replied, go visit Mr Abbas. While you’re there, take a look at the Fatah Party logo. It’ll be on display at his office. He’s the leader of Fatah. Look at his logo. It’ll show an artistic rendering of the Arab ‘Palestine’ on a map. The ‘Palestine’ depicted on that map doesn’t sit beside Israel. It replaces Israel. On that map, Israel has disappeared.

Therefore, I said, so long as that logo exists, the Arab will not make peace with Israel. That’s not on the Arab agenda. The Arab agenda is to conquer Israel, not live beside it. Go ask Mr Abbas, why do you want to remove Israel from the map?

My interview never made it to broadcast. It did not, I was told, address the ‘two-state’ question. It was, I was told, off-topic.

Many in Israel understand what the Arab here wants. He wants Jews dead. That’s why Arabs stone Jewish buses in Jerusalem. That’s why Arab youth hurl firebombs at Jewish homes in Jerusalem. That’s why, yesterday, an Arab drove his car into a crowd of Jews waiting at a light-rail train stop—and killed a three-month old infant.

The Arabs don’t want ‘peace with Jews’. That’s not in their lexicon. It’s certainly not in their education curriculum. In school, they’re taught that Jews stole their land. That ‘stolen’ land isn’t ‘Area C’ of Judea-Samaria—the main focus of the ‘two-state’ discussion. It’s Haifa, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Jaffa, Acco, etc—Jewish cities on the Mediterranean coast.

The UN, US and EU all say these cities are and will remain Jewish. They aren’t part of the ‘two-state’ peace negotiation process.

Arabs don’t accept that. They say there’ll be peace only when the entire ‘Zionist entity’ (Jewish Israel) has been ‘liberated’ (see the PLO Charter, Article 22). In case you missed the point, ‘liberated’ means taking that land away from Jews.

The Arabs want the UN, US and EU to help them conquer Israel. But they won’t wait. They want Israel now. They lust for Jerusalem now. That’s why they attack the hated Jew-enemy on the streets of Jerusalem.

Hamas saw nothing wrong with the killing of a three-month old Jewish baby. It reported that 23-year old Abdul-Rahman Al-Shaludi had been killed by [Jewish] settler gunfire in an accident in which “a group of settlers” had been run over in a neighbourhood of “occupied Jerusalem” (“Palestinian driver dies of Israeli gunshot injuries”, Hamas news, October 23, 2014). A Hamas spokesman declared that the attack was “a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and invasion of our land by the Jews” (“Hamas Welcomes Baby's Murder in J'lem Attack”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014).

Then, in answer to the Arab claim that the entire incident was just ‘an accident’, CCTV video at the scene showed how the driver of the car had directed, guided and controlled his vehicle as he drove at high speed through a narrow space and hit the victims without stopping (“Chilling New Video Shows Terror Attack No 'Accident'”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014).

The supposedly ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority hailed the driver as a “hero” (“Senior Abbas Aid Lauds Jerusalem Terrorist as a 'Heroic Martyr'”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014). That driver wasn’t innocent. He had links to Hamas (“Baby girl killed in Jerusalem is an American, US official says”, Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2014).

This morning (October 23, 2014), Arabs continued their attacks against Jewish children. They attacked a Jewish kindergarten in Jerusalem with stones (“After Infant's Murder, Arabs Attack Jerusalem Kindergarten”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014).

The Arabs want to conquer Israel. They want Jerusalem. They consider Jewish death and injury the price the usurping Jew-pig must pay for ‘stealing’ Jerusalem.

We have buried an innocent infant. Our children are terror targets. The world demonizes us. But it yawns at the Jew-hate that explodes around us in our capital city.

We are under attack.

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you. It’s the Story of the Final Jewish Redemption. Do you think that baby-killing Arabs celebrated as ‘heroes’ will play a role in that Story?

Stay tuned.



The ‘Palestine cause’ leaps forward

Until about three weeks ago, no country in Europe had formally declared its intent to recognize a new state called, ‘Palestine’. Until that point, the specific call to recognize ‘Palestine’ seemed to be limited mostly to small and out-of-the-way nations. European nations appeared to be staying on the side-line.

Now, that’s about to change. In fact, beginning earlier this month, it might have already changed.

On October 3, 2014, Sweden’s new Prime Minister stated his intent to recognize ‘Palestine’ in his very first speech as Prime Minister (“Sweden to recognise state of Palestine”, The Guardian, October 3, 2014). At the time this happened, some wondered if Sweden was just the beginning of a pro-‘Palestinian’ domino effect (“Swedish Recognition of 'Palestine' - A Sign of Things to Come?”, Arutz Sheva, October 7, 2014).

We didn’t have to wait long to get an answer to that question. One week later, Britain’s House of Commons voted overwhelmingly (272 to 12) to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” (“Palestine vote: MPs take historic decision to recognise Palestinian state “, The Independent, October 13, 2014).

Now, less than ten days after that vote, Ireland appears ready to become the third European country to hop onto the Arab bandwagon (“Irish parliament calls on government to recognize Palestine”, Times of Israel, October 22, 2014).

Unlike the British vote, which specifically declared support for a ‘Palestinian’ state ‘alongside Israel’ [emphasis mine], the Irish declaration makes no such clarification. Like the Swedish Prime Minister’s announcement, this one asks the Irish Government “to recognise the State of Palestine” in order to implement a two-state solution (ibid).  

At almost the exact same moment Irish politicians were telling their government to recognize ‘Palestine’ (on October 22, 2014), an Israeli newspaper revealed it had obtained an internal EU document that spelled out a plan to step up pressure against Israel (“EU seeks talks with Israel over ‘red lines’ in West Bank,” Haaretz, October 22, 2014). That document also identified instructions for the EU to deliver “a sharp message to Israel in the name of all EU members” (ibid).

Will October, 2014 go down in history as the tipping point for the world’s war against Israel? It could be. This morning, Herb Keinon quoted an Israeli official as commenting, “The European Union is asking Jerusalem to weave the rope with which they will come to hang Israel”, (“Israeli official: EU proposal to negotiate West Bank redlines is a death warrant”, Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2014).

As if to put an exclamation point on that phrase, ‘death warrant’, Israel’s news today headlined the burial of a three-month old Jewish baby murdered yesterday in a terrorist attack inside Jerusalem (“Baby Murdered in Jerusalem Laid to Rest”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014).

While the floodgates of European support for ‘Palestine’ appear to be opening (Spain could soon become the fourth European nation to ‘recognize’ ‘Palestine’), Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visits Washington, DC. Last night, He told an American audience, “The attack in Jerusalem [in which the three-month old baby was killed and eight others injured, three critically] is a clear result of those educating the younger generation in the Palestinian Authority to hate and eradicate Jews. Since its birth, The Palestinian Authority has never adopted a culture of peace, but rather a culture of incitement and Jihad against the Jews” (“Defense Minister: PA Never Had a Culture of Peace”, Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2014).

Jews in Israel understand what Ya’alon means. The Palestinian Authority never talks about peace. Instead, it demonizes Israel every chance it gets.

The world doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what Jews think, see or know. They only thing they seem to care about is what the so-called ‘Palestinians’ say and demand.

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you. It’s the Story of the Final Jewish Redemption. It’s a Story that will be filled with miracles and wonders.

Do you think Europe’s support of Arab Jew-hate will play a role in that Story?

Stay tuned. The G-d of Israel won’t disappoint you.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Once again, Hamas fills the world

Parshat Noach, the Torah Portion we will read on Shabbat, October 25, 2014, relates to us that the generation of Noach was corrupt. The earth, we are told, had become filled with hamas (Breisheet 6:11).

That word, ‘hamas’, is difficult to translate. Some translate it as crime (The Living Torah, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, 1981). Some translate it as robbery (The ArtScroll Chumash, 1996). Some translate it as violence (Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society, 1962). Some translate it as injustice (The ArtScroll Ramban, 2007).

Altogether, ‘hamas’ suggests a moral depravity that corrupted the entire world. It suggests a world-view that supported and perhaps even ennobled crime, robbery and violence. It suggests a world filled with duplicity, fraud, abuse, lies and degradation. It suggests a community where violence was everywhere and injustice was universal.

Because of that ‘hamas’, G-d destroyed the earth. He brought a Flood that devastated everything everywhere. If there’s a moral lesson here, it’s that injustice, violence, lies and fraud don’t bring peace; they bring destruction.

The ‘hamas’ of the Torah is, in other words, a perfect characterization of the modern Hamas which controls Gaza. This new Hamas is utterly corrupt (“Hamas corruption weighs heavily on Gaza”, The Daily Star [Lebanon], October 1, 2012). Its abuse of its own citizens is legendary (“Hamas is leading Palestine down the road of carnage”, The Telegraph, August 2009).  It dedicates itself to racism, dehumanization, demonization, ethnic cleansing and the annihilation of a homogeneous group (Jews).

If such a characterization of Hamas shocks you, read their Charter. It’s all there.

According to Hamas and its partner-in-government, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the nations of the world support their goals (“U.N. General Assembly votes to recognize Palestinian state”, CBS News, November 30, 2012). These goals include not simply statehood, but also the take-over of Israel and the removal of all Jews from it (again, see their Charters). The ‘peace’ these Muslims seek —which the world supports—is the ‘peace’ that will descend upon the Middle East after the ‘Zionist entity’—Jewish Israel--has been removed from the world map.

If that statement shocks you, read the PLO Charter. Look at Article 22. It’s all there.

The Hamas-PA Unity government bases its case on a call for a ‘just peace’ for ‘Palestinians (“Full transcript of Abbas speech at UN General Assembly”, Haaretz, September 26, 2014). That ‘just peace’ requires the ‘liberation’ of ‘Palestine’ –that is, all of Israel.

This call for ‘liberation’ is also in Article 22 of the PLO Charter. That’s where these Muslims call the extermination of Israel their ‘just struggle’.

The world agrees with this.

For example, the Pope, leader of more than a billion Catholics, has brought his moral authority to the Muslim effort to destroy Israel. In a recent trip to the ‘Holy Land’ (not Israel), he called for Catholics and Muslims to join together for ‘justice and peace’ (“Pope Calls for Christian-Muslim Cooperation”, May 26, 2014).

That’s the same ‘justice and peace’ we have seen in the PLO and Hamas Charters. In these Charters, ‘justice and peace’ are code-words for, ‘how we will destroy Israel’.

With this single announcement, 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.6 billion Muslims officially teamed up. Their focus will be to bring ‘justice’ to a people who never existed. Their method will be to demonize and criminalize the Jewish State.

Think of the Pope’s action this way: a tiny minority of 6 million Jews, living in a sea of almost 350 million Arab Muslims, is considered the oppressor of the Arab nation. These Jews, who live exclusively in one Middle East place that takes up less than one per cent of land of the Middle East, are called the people who have ‘stolen’ Muslim land. They have no right to that land. They have no moral standing in that land.

How curious. Judaism, and the nation-state of the Jewish Judea, existed for perhaps 2,000 years before Islam was started. It existed for perhaps 1,400 years before Christianity. Jews lived, walked and built upon the land of Israel for 2,000 years before any Muslim set foot here. Jews lived, walked and built upon this land for perhaps 1,400 years before any Christians walked here.

Nevertheless, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics has joined with 1.6 billion Muslims to support and promote the claim that Jews today have usurped Muslim land.

Truly, justice has been perverted. Just as truly, Hamas once again fills the world.

The G-d of Israel has a Story He wants you to see. That Story is the Redemption of the Jewish people.

‘Hamas’ will play a part in that Story. Can you picture how?

Stay tuned. The G-d of Israel will not disappoint you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rabbi Sadan and the IDF Chief-of-Staff

The word, ‘Hesder’ in Hebrew loosely translates into English as, ‘arrangement.’ It’s a curious word to assign to an education academy. But it’s accurate.

A Hesder Yeshiva (Torah academy) is a place where young men over the age of eighteen go for advanced Talmudic study in an ‘arrangement’ with the government of Israel (hence, the title, ‘Hesder’). The ‘arrangement’ is that these draft-eligible young men don’t go directly from High School into the army. They do something else. 

Normally, an eighteen year old Israeli male serves from one-to-three years in the IDF, depending upon the details of his personal situation. Once his service period ends, that young man either goes directly into the work-force or, commonly, into college.

Those who volunteer to go through the Hesder ‘arrangement’ don’t commit to serve a one-to-three year period. They typically commit to a five year stint that requires a pre- and post-army Torah commitment. This means that a young man will serve 16 months in the army as a full-time soldier and 44 months in the Yeshiva as a full-time student.

It’s a concept that works. It attracts approximately one of every five Religious Zionist High School graduates. It allows these religious youth to fulfill an ideal of full and active participation in Israel’s army, while still engaging in intense Torah study during their formative years (“About Yeshivot Hesder – Combining Military IDF Service with Advanced Talmudic Studies”, eTeacherHebrew Homepage, no date). According to one census, there are some 68 Hesder programs with perhaps 8,500 participants.

Hesder isn’t a way to get out of serving. It isn’t a way to avoid combat. In fact, almost all Hesder students volunteer specifically for combat duty.

The Hesder program has created an entirely new phenomena for Israel: combat-experienced Rabbis, Yeshiva leaders and army officers who serve their country and their G-d. They are changing the face of Israel, the face of the IDF and the chain-of-command within the IDF.  

One of the leaders of the Hesder ‘arrangement’ is Rabbi Eli Sadan, who has been called a pioneer of the Hesder concept. He is credited with being one of the founders of the first Hesder Yeshiva, in the town of Eli. At his Yeshiva, more than half of his Hesder graduates have served as officers in combat units.

He’s an important man. When he speaks, people listen.

Yesterday (October 20, 2014), he spoke. In an interview broadcast on Israel TV, he suggested that he would oppose any attempt to appoint a religious IDF Chief-of-Staff.

In the religious-military world of IDF-Hesder, you might expect a different point of view. You might expect him to be the first to call for a religious Chief-of-Staff. But he doesn’t.

He argues that Israel isn’t ready for a Torah-committed Army leader. He believes that, today, too many people in Israel would fear seeing a religious man in such a position. He believes that the majority of Israelis don’t want a religious Chief-of-Staff. He said, "I don't want there to be, for even one moment, a feeling in the country that the religious are forcing themselves on the public and leading the country to a place that most people don't want to go. That would be terrible, it would destroy the country” (“Rabbi: Religious IDF Chief of Staff Would be Calamity”, Arutz Sheva, October 20, 2014). Therefore, he concluded, he would oppose it.

What do you think of that?

Certainly, he’s correct to be sensitive to the realities of religious politics in Israel. Too often, religion is a ‘hot-button’ used by politicians and the media to incite against the religious. Being sensitive to such hate is smart.

Nevertheless, Rav Sadan could have been more judicious. He should not have given the media the chance to highlight so negative a comment.

Religious Zionism will not build its base by telling Israel’s TV audience that Israelis are afraid of religious Jews.

Perhaps his Religious Zionist message should have been: ‘Religion is important. But it shouldn’t be the main criteria for appointing a Chief-of-Staff. It also shouldn’t be the reason to reject a candidate for Chief-of-Staff. The only criteria should be competence. Therefore, if the best candidate is observant, I can see no reason to reject him. I believe that the Israeli people would understand that. I believe that Israelis understand how important a competent Chief-of-Staff is to our communal survival. I believe that the Israeli public would accept a G-d-fearing leader—if he’s the best choice.’

Religious Zionism gains strength in the political and public arena. It will reap benefits when it remembers that negative comments can be unproductive.

Fortunately, his negative words will not end the world. Perhaps the next time he speaks on the subject he could think more creatively. Perhaps he can suggest that Israelis are actually more willing to accept religious leaders than most of us believe.

There are always two ways to say the same thing. Religious Zionists might want to remember that.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Religious Zionism and the Crusade Against Israel

There is a Modern Crusade against Israel and the Jews. It is a Christian- and Muslim-inspired coalition founded on Jew-hate. It aims to take our land from us. It seeks our destruction. 

Look at recent headlines.

In Israel, the ‘Silent Intifada’ against the Jewish State continues. Arabs attack Jews (“Arab Terrorists Try to Burn Jews Alive in Jerusalem”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014). Arabs desecrate Judaism’s holiest site, The Temple Mount (“Muslims on Temple Mount Attack Police with Fireworks, Rocks and Live Ammunition”, Israelvideonetwork, October 9, 2014).  

In Europe, anti-Semitism reaches fearsome heights (“‘Gas the Jews!’: European anti-Semitism during the Gaza crisis”, Vox, July 21, 2014). Jew-hate reaches epic proportions (“Antisemitism on rise across Europe 'in worst times since the Nazis'”, The Guardian, August 7, 2014). The European Union supports anti-Semitism with its diplomatic warfare against Israel (“EU Officials Weighing 'Settler Travel Ban' to Press Israel”, Arutz Sheva, October 14, 2014).

In New York, the United Nations (UN) continues to seek advice for ‘peace’ in the Middle East. But it ignores Israel. It prefers a terror organization (Hezbollah) that has declared Israel “an enemy of all humanity” (“UN Envoy Meets Hezbollah Leader Who Called to Destroy Israel”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014).

In Washington, D.C., the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, pursues his own ‘peace’ in the Middle East. But he ignores Arab Jew-hate. He declares that Israel’s failure to implement a two-state solution created The Islamic State (“Kerry Blames ISIS on Failure in Israeli Peace Talks”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014).

For more than a thousand years, anti-Semitism has called Jews the representation of absolute evil (“The untold truth: 150 million Europeans hate Israel”,, July 14, 2013). Today, the world prepares a Modern Crusade to ‘exorcise’ that evil.

In South Africa, politicians demonize the Jewish State. They declare that, unique among the nations, Israel’s very existence is a humanitarian evil (“Israel’s founding a ‘crime against humanity,’ says South Africa’s ANC”, Times of Israel, September 14, 2014).

In America, Protestant clergy blame Israel for Arab Jew-hate (“Presbyterian Church group: Zionism is the problem”, Times of Israel, February 11, 2014). They equate Zionism with a bastardized brand of Christian exceptionalism that they claim led to the Nazi Holocaust (ibid). They say Zionism is heresy (“Presbyterian stances causing tension with Jews”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 22, 2014).

From the Vatican, the Catholic Church says it wants Israel to surrender both the Western Wall and the world’s holiest Jewish site, The Temple Mount (“Op-Ed:  Expose: The Vatican - PLO Pact”, Arutz Sheva, February 9, 2102). The Church of England, meanwhile, supports UK Anglican clerics who hate Jews (“Christians who hate Jews”, Arutz Sheva, February 19, 2012).

Christianity is busy. It wants ‘justice’ in the Middle East. But instead of justice, it creates “a kind of demonology that bans Israel from the family of nations” (ibid). For ‘justice’, Christianity participates in a Crusade that demonizes the Jewish Israel.

The Haftorah we read at the beginning of our holiday, Succot, spoke to us of the nations gathering to attack the Jewish Nation. Now, more than two thousand years later, our news headlines report on that gathering storm.

The rabidly anti-Semitic Hamas Charter declares that Jews cause international strife. The US Secretary of State echoes that declaration. King David spoke of the collusion between Edom and Ishmael (Psalm 83). Almost three thousand years later, our news headlines report it to us.

Religious Zionism, which calls for Jews to embrace both G-d and Israel, is not frightened by the hate—or the Crusade. The first Rashi (1040-1105) commentary we read in this past Torah Portion, B’reisheit, explains why: G-d began the Torah with the story of Creation in order to remind us that, when individuals and nations sin, they ‘qualify’ to be expelled from their place of settlement. Adam and Eve were expelled from their place of settlement (the Garden of Eden) because of sin. The generation of the Flood was removed from the world altogether for its sins. The generation of the Dispersion (Parshat Noah) was removed from its land of settlement because of sin (The Ramban, B’reisheit, 1:1).

The Ramban (c1194-c1276) tells us (ibid) that Creation is all about G-d. He creates. He gives life. He punishes. One way He punishes is by banishing individuals and nations. That’s why the Canaanites were expelled from their land (when the Jews replaced them). It’s also why Jews were exiled from Israel. They sinned.

Secular ‘Zionists’ are overwhelmed by the pressure that emanates from the Christian- and Muslim-inspired Crusade. But our Torah’s very first Rashi creates the foundation stone to resist that pressure:  we are here because G-d brought us here. This land is ours because G-d gave it to us (“Rabbi Moshe Lichtman, Eretz Yisrael in the Parshah, Devorah Publishing, Jerusalem, p.19-21).

Religious Zionists have the answer for Modern Crusaders who peddle hate in order to take away our land: you have no rights here. This land comes to us from G-d, not you. We are His Chosen. He Chose to put us here. The Bible is our deed.

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you to read. It’s the Story of the Jewish Redemption.

Israel lives to empower that Story. Religious Zionism lives because G-d created that Story.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Religious Zionism must rise to speak for Israel

Arabs step up their campaign to demonize Israel. Arab hate splashes across Israel’s headlines. The Arab means to conquer Israel. His Jew-hate burns white-hot.

You see it in the headlines. The Palestinian Authority (PA) peddles hate. It continues to push the anti-Jewish medieval blood libel into our collective face. It has no shame.

First, in July, 2014, it used the actual blood libel—that Jews kill children to harvest blood for Jewish Matzah (“Mahmoud Abbas's TV Says Israel Poisoned Gaza Wells”, Arutz Sheva, October 19, 2014). Now, it pushes a variation: PA TV now claims that Israel poisoned water wells in Gaza during the recent Gaza-Israel war (ibid).

Muslims desecrate The Temple Mount (“Shocking: Muslims Daub Swastika on Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, October 19, 2014). PA leader Mahmoud Abbas encourages violence against Jews on the Mount. He calls for Arabs to ‘resist’ Jews on the Mount ‘by all means necessary’ (“Abbas Calls to Stop Jews Visiting Temple Mount Using 'All Means'”, Arutz Sheva, October, 18, 2014). Abbas dehumanizes Jews by calling those who ascend to Judaism’s holiest site, ‘a herd of cattle’ (“Abbas Calls Jews Visiting Temple Mount 'Herd of Cattle'”, Arutz Sheva, October 18, 2014).

Who will stand up for Israel? Who will resist this onslaught?  Jewish national leadership won’t. Our leaders say nothing. Why?

Do they agree with Abbas?

Israel will never hold on to the Temple Mount if the only voice that speaks of it says, ‘The Temple Mount is Muslim. Jews are forbidden there’.

Israel will never hold on to Joseph’s Tomb if the only words spoken about it are, ‘This is a mosque. Jews are forbidden here’.

Israel is besieged. It’s surrounded. It doesn’t just retreat before the nations at the UN or the EU. It retreats from its own land. It retreats from its own holy sites. It retreats before every Arab slur.

Who will stand up for Israel? The Left won’t. It hates Israel almost as much as the Arab. The Center won’t. It thinks it can compromise with the Arab. The Right can’t. They can’t convince anyone that Israel has a right to exist.

The only voice that can defend Jewish Israel is the voice that calls to G-d. Only through G-d will we claim sovereignty here. We have no other argument. The nations won’t stand for any other argument.

Of course, they won’t stand for this argument, either. But as we learn from the first Rashi in the Torah—which we have just read--the comment that we are here because G-d gave this place to us isn’t meant for the nations. It’s not meant for the Arabs who attack us. It’s meant for us; for until we stand up to make that declaration, we will not have the courage to fight. Until we call out G-d’s name, we will not be able to resist the onslaught of the Crusade that gathers to bury us.

Without G-d, we will surrender to those who lust to destroy us. Without a link to G-d, we cannot hold the land. It will disappear.

The only people in Israel who have the faith to stand up for G-d and Israel are the Religious Zionists who have committed to both G-d and Israel. No one else will stand up. No one else seems to believe what our Torah tells us.

In the past, religious Jews have been reluctant to act in so public a manner. Such aggressiveness wasn’t part of our upbringing.

That has to change. HaShem is testing us. Read the headlines. We are savaged. We are demonized. We are dehumanized. We are criminalized.

Do we hold onto what is ours by retreating? Do we keep what G-d gave us by yielding?

We do not. We will not.

But we can succeed when we stand up. We can certainly succeed when we stand up for G-d, who gave us this precious land as a gift.

So far, we have failed this test. We haven’t stood up. Therefore, our hold upon the land grows weaker.

We haven’t spoken of G-d. We haven’t spoken of His gift. We haven’t spoken loudly enough about the land. As a result, the Arab grows stronger. He grows bolder. He becomes increasingly hostile, increasingly demanding: Jerusalem is his, he says. He wants it. He lusts for it.  

We must stand up. We must speak up. We must declare, ‘This is our land. This is our capital city. This is our Temple Mount. This is our Tomb of Joseph’. We must speak up for G-d. We must say, ‘This is our land because G-d gave it to us, not you’.

Where are the Religious Zionists? They are the ones who love G-d and the land. They are the Jews who truly understand the link between G-d, the land and us.

Religious Zionists: stand up now!