Sunday, December 25, 2011
King David, courage and the Likud primaries
The David of old who became King of Israel proved his mettle for leadership when he did what all in Israel were afraid to do: he stood up to the giant who publicly insulted the Jewish nation. David stood firm and declared that his faith was in the G-d of Israel, not the chemistry of power. The powerful Goliath of that world intimidated Jewish leadership. He spoke as he pleased. He hectored. He spurned. As he showed his disdain, Israel remained silent, passive.
We were recently reminded of that ancient Goliath as we watched US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of Defense John Panetta and US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman stand up within a single four-day period in early December 2011 to insult Israel by accusing her alone among the nations of the Middle East of diplomatic intransigence, women’s rights repressions and assaults against democratic freedoms—and for being the cause of Muslim Jew-hatred. Given the relentless oppression of the Arab Middle East (and their refusal to negotiate), these accusations were as over-reaching as they were absurd. But they were spoken—with a Goliath-like arrogance.
The question now becomes, how should Israel’s leadership respond—not so much to these individual speeches, but to the overall hardening of American attitudes towards Israel. To date, Prime Minister Netanyahu has played a complex boxer’s game with the US: if the Obama administration takes a punch at Israel, Mr Netanyahu dances-like-a-butterfly away from the attack; then, if the US continues to press, he yields—and harasses religious nationalists and rabbis to demonstrate his allegiance to the Goliath who bullies him.
The problem with this strategy is that it fails to address the key issue—that the prime enemy of peace in the Middle East is the Arab—while it encourages ever more pressure on a back-pedalling Israel. Israel can back-pedal only so far; indeed, compared to four years ago, Israel has practically ‘given away the store’: we have committed to a continuing unofficial building freeze in Judea and Samaria (except for the occasional token few building permits), which has allowed the US to create a housing and social crisis in Israel; we have seen an increasing number of Jewish homes demolished on the altar of international ‘political correctness’; we have seen an increasing number of Jewish arrests and harassments in Judea and Samaria as crimes by Arabs and Leftists go uninvestigated; and, perhaps worst of all, we have accepted (for the very first time) 1949 borders for Israel even before negotiations for peace begin. In addition, other developments pressure Israel which did not exist four years ago: an Iran closing in on a nuclear weapon; announcements by China and Russia that they will side with Iran; a unilateral request for a new Arab state; the shocking reality of an overwhelmingly hostile United Nations; and the real possibility that, if Barack Obama is re-elected US President next year, the United States will turn ever more hostile to Israel. Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu’s passive-silence/passive back-pedaling approach to all of this does not appear to have produced tangible results: since four years ago, Israel is far closer to being delegitimized than we could have imagined in 2007.
As David the king-to-be faced his Goliath, he did not back-pedal. He did not react with silent acquiescence. He also did not end up further in the hole as a result of a studied passivity. He stood firm. He proclaimed his faith in the G-d of Israel—and we saw his courage not just facing Goliath; we saw it also in his public commitment to G-d.
If you don’t believe it takes courage to commit publicly to G-d as you face your enemies, look at today’s leaders: Netanyahu, Peres, Barak, Livni. None speaks publicly of G-d. We want courage from our leaders—and right now, we see back-pedalling, not courage. This is not a hypothetical issue because, as this nation turns increasingly Right--and religious--Likud members know that Moshe Feiglin has announced his candidacy to replace Netanyahu as head of Likud; and Feiglin, unlike Netanyahu, is not afraid to commit publicly to the G-d of Israel. This commitment is important because Jewish history is clear: G-d, Jewish leadership and our survival are, for this unique nation, uniquely interrelated--and David-the-future-King showed us that courage makes this interrelationship—and our survival--possible. Without that courage, Israel back-pedals. Moshe Feiglin understands this because he understands faith and Jewish history. Netanyahu understands it because he fears Feiglin (recall the last internal Likud elections). Now, as Likud turns further Right, Netanyahu wants to change Party rules to stay in power. Will Likud members continue to allow him to back-pedal away from the Likud Platform?
The Likud primary in scheduled for January 31, 2012. If you are Likud, how will you vote?