Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On the threshold of greatness:when the Jewish nation becomes dirty and repulsive

Part I: upon becoming illegitimate

In the Tisha B’av poetry called Kinot, there appears a line that translates as, “They called me dirty and repulsive, worse than all my peers.” The dating of this line is uncertain, but all seem to agree that it would have been written no later than the eleventh century, some 1,000 years ago, or as early as the second century, perhaps some 1,750 years ago. It draws our attention not to the physical destruction of the Holy Temple (the subject of the poetry), but to hostility of the nations towards Israel (see discussion by Rav Joseph Soloveitchik, The Koren Mesorat Harav Kinot, the Lookstein edition, ed Simon Posner, OU press, Koren publishers, 2010, p. 200).  This reference to the disdain and contempt of the nations is meant here to refer to the political and social aftermath of the destruction of both the First Temple (586 BCE) and the Second Temple (70 CE); but it is also relevant today, as Israel is demeaned and demonized by both Western and Muslim countries.

 At the United Nations, for example, where we should expect to see respect for a sovereign nation’s rights, Israel is condemned even as some of the world’s most brutal national killers (think of Communist North Korea) are essentially ignored.  Too often, when Arab dictators kill thousands of their own people in brutal internal repressions aimed solely at maintaining a brutal regime, they receive—at best-- only formal verbal objection from the nations of the world. But when Israel seeks to defend itself from 8,000 rockets fired into her sovereign territory from an avowed enemy, Gaza (2009), the UN rises up almost in unison—against Israel.  The UN not only fails to protect a sovereign member (see the very beginning of the UN Charter), it attacks, condemns and investigates Israel (recall the Goldstone Report), seeming always to conclude that Israel is surely to be considered an international rogue. This disdain for both Israel’s safety and its sovereign rights is a clear expression of contempt for the right of the Jewish nation to exist.  Israel has no right to defend herself against attack? The UN’s contempt towards Israel desecrates the rights of a sovereign nation. It falsely calls Israel worse than her peers, dirty and repulsive, when North Korea, Syria and events in Somalia and Darfur demonstrate that such a label is blatantly and obviously untrue.  In addition, when a Synod of the Catholic Church publishes a document(accepted by the Vatican without comment) that states unequivocally that the Jews are no longer the Chosen, singular People of G-d, the desecration of G-d’s name  gets added to the contempt heaped upon Israel.  Particularly since the 2009 Gaza incursion, the nations of the world have made a clear statement: they not only reject Israel’s right to defend herself, but they reject as well the word and the Promise of the G-d of Israel.  Rabbi J. Soloveitchik anticipated this reality—perhaps understanding it better than we—when he wrote, “the enemies of Israel want not only to kill the Jews, but also to deny the…chosenness that G-d imparted to the Jewish people (ibid, 201).

In an extraordinary article (International Analysts Network, August 6, 2011) Mark Silberberg writes that

 “The lies perpetrated by otherwise respectable international religious, educational, humanitarian and political bodies against the only democracy in the Middle East are most notable in the double standards that are applied to Israel as opposed to states that have slaughtered their own peoples  for decades with absolute immunity from international censure. In an excellent article published in the Jewish World Review, Jonathan Rosenblum notes that the UN General Assembly passes more resolutions against Israel annually than against all of the rest of the nations of the world combined [my emphasis].

Israel is repulsive, worse than all other nations, even as million are slaughtered, raped and starved in aggressive Muslim-African and Muslim-Muslim conflict. Only Israel is condemned—for defending herself. Indeed, as all of this unfolds at the UN, Arab Mosques of the Middle East call for death to the Jews, and the Waqf of Jerusalem supervises the illegal removal of more than 15,000 tons of debris from the Temple Mount before announcing that there is no evidence of Jewish life on the Temple Mount. As this goes on, the nations of the world remain cynically and sneeringly silent. If they do speak, it is to claim, as Caroline Glick shows (Our world: Norway’s Jewish problem, Jerusalem Post, August 8, 2011), that Israel somehow deserves to be denigrated and attacked because it is a vile ‘occupier’; and they then define ‘occupation’ as, “Since 1948 the state of Israel has occupied Palestinian land.”

Israel’s very existence, in other words, is illegitimate. 

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