Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the threshold of greatness: Jews, G-d, the Middle East--and Larry Derfner's essay

When Jews founded the modern State of Israel in 1948, they did not put G-d’s name into our Declaration of Independence. They put Herzl’s name in.  G-d made no appearance. Perhaps the Jews of 1948 believed G-d was not a Socialist.

Today, we are a modern democratic state. We are sixty-three years old. We have a strong army, an even stronger economy, and a widespread belief that, if Socialism is not dead in Israel, it should be.  Still, no major politician (Netanyahu, Barak, Peres, Livni) mentions G-d’s name in public. Perhaps they believe G-d had become a Socialist.

A few weeks ago, the Israel Government announced that G-d’s name would be removed from the Israel Defense Force (IDF) funeral service for fallen IDF soldiers.  Weeks later,  eight Israelis (including IDF soldiers) were murdered by Arab terrorists on the road to Eilat. Within hours,  rockets from Gaza began to  fall onto Southern Israel.  Israelis were in an uproar. The Cabinet met in a special midnight, Saturday-night meeting. Announcements were made. Government leaders spoke.  No major politician mentioned G-d.

While all of this was unfolding, American TV personality Glenn Beck was in Israel to host a rally he was calling, “Restoring Courage”.  He invited lots of Christians. They came. They talked about G-d.

Some Israelis questioned this. What was Beck really doing here?  No one seemed to know.  Did Beck have the right to come here and talk about G-d like that? No one seemed to know.

I am not sure where all of this is going to end. But it sure looks suspicious to me. We have recently read the week’s Torah portion called Eikev (you can read it for yourself; it’s Deuteronomy 7:12- 11:25) that some say contains the central, most explicit documentation of the relationship between G-d, the Jews and the land of Israel—and with this almost contractual  rendering on our mind, the only religious reaction we have to attacks against Jews and the land of Israel is…silence?

 Sunday, August 21, 2011—the day after we had read this Torah portion-- turned out to be a busy day for those who claim that the Middle East caters to the insane: Turkey announced that it was going to suspend or reduce diplomatic relations with Israel as a punishment for the consequences of an illegal and deadly 2010 Flotilla incident that was sponsored by, you guessed it, Turkey.  At the same time, Egyptian demonstrators attacked the Israel Embassy in Cairo and burned the Israel flag. More rockets hit Israel from Gaza.  By noon, local time Sunday, the Israel Air Force (IAF) had retaliated twice with pin-point attacks—and because of that Jordan immediately condemned Israel for its military ‘escalation’.  The Arab league met. They condemned the IAF air strikes on Gaza. They said nothing about Gaza firing rockets into civilian Israel in the first place.  A UN Committee called the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People published a report calling on UN member states to compel Israel to halt all ‘settlement’ construction because construction undermines peace.  On a day that Israel was under attack-- with Jews being killed-- a UN committee announces that construction undermines peace? Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), signed on Sunday an agreement with Lebanon to open a PA ‘embassy’ there (in Lebanon) and announced that he could not wait for the Lebanese flag to fly over Jerusalem. Hezbollah, which essentially rules Lebanon, issued a statement that all of Israel, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River was sacred and belonged to the Arabs. Late in the afternoon, Israel news outlets reported that Hamas, which controls Gaza (and which was responsible for shelling Israel in the first place), had called on the United Nations to stop Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Terror alerts were issued for the cities of Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.  By late Sunday afternoon, still more rockets fell into Israel. Meanwhile, American news outlets ran no story about the Gaza rocket attacks or about Abbas’s or Hezbollah’s statements. Nothing.  But they did have a lot to say about Kim Kardashian’s celebrity wedding and a $40 million fortune-telling scam—you know, important stuff.  

Okay, so the Middle East isn’t the only place that caters to the insane.

Meanwhile, back in Israel, G-d was waiting. No one mentioned His name in public. Except the Christians.

By Tuesday, August 23, 2011, Muslims in our locale decided to speak out, to add to our understanding of the week’s events. They had read about the attacks against Jews and Israel—and they had read about Glenn Beck. They appeared now to have two plans:  the first was from an Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset (MK)-- Christian Zionists in the world conspire to Judaize Jerusalem, the Arab MK said. Therefore, Jerusalem must be liberated:  Arabs must rise up for Jihad [Holy War], to free Jerusalem. The second plan came on the same Tuesday from Egypt, from a cleric of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood [said by President Obama’s team to be a secularized organization]: any Egyptian citizen who encounters a ‘Zionist’, he declared, should kill that Zionist.

Curiously, these two ideas did not seem to clarify anything. They were ignored.

Glenn Beck, meanwhile, began to receive increased media attention: he was attacked ( Haaretz and Arutz Sheva) and then defended ( Arutz Sheva and Jerusalem Post).

By the end of the day (Tuesday), the score seemed to be Glenn Beck, two; his opponents, three.

Everyone waited for Wednesday, when the Beck show was to move to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, G-d also waited. No one mentioned His name in public. Except the Christians.

By the way, I am not making up any of this. Every item mentioned in this essay took place between August 21 - August 27, 2011.

Late Thursday, August 25, word spread online that a Jerusalem Post Leftist columnist, Larry Derfner, had written an eye-opening essay on a site entitled, Israel Reconsidered (it looks like a Derfner-only site); the essay was titled, ‘The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror,’ posted a few days earlier, August 21, 2011. There, Derfner wrote that the Palestinians who had ambushed and killed eight Israelis last week—including perhaps five civilians on their way to vacation-- in a terrorist attack, ‘were justified to attack.’  More explicitly, Derfner stated that the Palestinians have “the right to resist” the so-called Israeli ‘occupation’—“to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis.”  To many readers (in the ‘comments’ section), the Jewish Leftist Derfner was declaring that Palestinians have the right [his words, his context] to kill Jews for their political goals. The next day, Friday,  Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2011, ‘Column One: Glenn Beck’s revealing visit’) wrote that “The Israeli left habitually embraces self-proclaimed friends” of Israel who  declare their friendship and then immediately  “proceed to denounce Israel’s policies and to deny its basic rights. …The Israel Left habitually embraces”  such self-proclaimed friends, and encourages  “such friends to harm Israel in the name of helping it.”  But embracing  those who are actually hostile to us— a long-term, traditional Left staple—seemed by late Friday afternoon to be a far cry from Derfner’s new approach: forget about embracing so-called friends;  let’s just tell our enemies that they  have the right to kill Jews.

Suddenly, a confirmed Jewish Leftist was revealing the truth: ’justice’  justifies murder for ‘peace’.

There’s more, of course, but you get the picture. In fact, part of this picture is a fascinating apology that Derfner posted on his site very late Friday. The apology is both clear and unclear, making the apology extremely suspect. He backs off from saying that the Palestinians have both the right to kill Jews and the justification to do so—but then he says the ‘occupation’ provokes those acts. What’s the problem here?  In common usage,  ‘provoked’  is directly  related to ‘justified’.  An example of this would be: if an assault is provoked, a potential victim is justified to repel force with force. So Derfner, after apologizing for saying that the Palestinians are justified in killing Israelis, essentially confirms that the Palestinians are indeed justified to kill Israelis.

His apology is not an apology. In my opinion, he got hammered for what he had written, and he was now trying to control whatever firestorm he had started.  He does not disavow his conclusion; actually, he justifies it.

His error, it seems, might be that he had the gall (or innocent thoughtlessness) to state what everyone knows is the obvious end-point for Leftist anti-Israel ideology: the Arab is justified to kill Jews and has the right to do so to achieve his ‘freedom’. The bad news is that Derfner’s legitimization of murder hung out there on the internet for six full days (he says he has now deleted the essay from his site).  The good news is, he actually stated the truth—Leftist ideology leads to justifying murder.

He may have removed the offending essay from the web, but he will not be the last to make that statement. In fact, since he has removed the essay, we will see if others will come to his defense and either repeat his conclusion or support his right to say it.

Where does all of this end? G-d knows.

Actually, we also know, because we are the Jewish people. If you want to know what is going on with this insanity called the Middle East (and the Israel Left), read your Torah texts. Start with the portion we have recently finished (it starts at Deuteronomy 7:12), and then read each of the portions for the final six weeks of the Jewish calendar year, including the ‘additional’ weekly readings called the ’haftorah’. Seek appropriate commentaries for these readings, especially for the metaphor and poetry you will encounter.

As you read, forget Glenn Beck. Forget the Christians. Forget the Israel Left.  Forget the Muslims. Forget Kim Kardashian. 

As you read, think not only about the words and the ideas you see, but also about Jewish history: compare the words you read to the history of the Jewish people.

Once you’ve done that, think again about today’s Middle East. Marvel at how man-made ‘justice’  and morality can evolve to a legitimization of murder.  Consider how anti-G-d and anti-Semitic Leftists seek ‘world peace’ by demonizing Jews (see Jenny Tonge in England and the Flotilla groupies from Europe).   Compare the  ‘justice’ that the man-made Left would create for Israel with what our G-d in our Torah defines as justice, morality and caring for humans. Compare the selfish and cruel remedies for what ails us presented by the Left, with the remedies for our times that we see in G-d’s Torah ( see Gold from the Land of Israel, ed  Rabbi Chanan Morrison, Urim Publications, 2006, p.347). Compare the Muslim and Leftist curses of Israel, to G-d’s promise that the Jewish nation will ultimately receive the full cup of G-d’s Blessing (ibid,  p.351).

 From your readings, your reflection and your observations of current events, you might be surprised to discover a threshold—or the hint of a threshold—beyond which lives, not a  Jew-free, peaceful  ‘Palestine’, but rather  a singular, unique Jewish nation fulfilling a singular, unique Destiny. Once you discover that threshold—or the hint of it—then you can ask yourself, ‘what should I do with my life?’ Should I seek the justice of a Left that would kill Jews for peace, or should I seek the justice of the G-d of our nation? Spend the next six weeks reading.  Six weeks from now will be a good time to ask these questions because in six weeks the Jewish nation will be observing the days between its Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur—a time for reflection, discovery and commitment.

Perhaps those days will become your time to reflect—and to discover the truth about G-d and the Jewish nation.

Perhaps then, you will not be afraid to mention G-d’s name in public.

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