Sunday, March 25, 2012

Refining the Nazi dream

When Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, The war against the Jews,  1933-1945 (New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975),  her point of view ultimately got her labelled as an “intentionalist”—one who believes that the Holocaust was a top-down plan formulated (or ‘intentioned’) by Hitler.  Some Historians of the Holocaust did not agree with her, arguing instead that there was too much focus on the Nazi leader as the cause of the Holocaust, and too little focus on Nazi functionaries (bureaucrats) who operated below Hitler. These historians tended to believe that the Holocaust grew out of the “anarchistic character of the Nazi state, its internal rivalries and chaotic decision-making.” (see Christopher Browning, speech in Paris, 1982, examining  intentionalism and functionalism as a way to describe the origins of the Holocaust, quoted in Wikipedia,  Functionalism versus Intentionalism). Those who believed that the Holocaust was top-down (intentionalists) still agreed with those who said it was bottom-up (functionalists): the horror of the Holocaust was real; their dispute was, who was responsible for it—leader or bureaucrat?

This question of responsibility for a state-mandated killing of Jews provokes a question: In Israel, we regularly hear Hamas or Fatah (proto-state rulers) talking about destroying Jews—or praising those who kill Jews; does their approach to their ‘Jewish problem’ compare to the Nazi approach, or is this Arab approach different?

It seems different, for two reasons. First, every Arab leader and every Arab bureaucrat accepts the ‘kill-the-Jew/destroy Zionism’ agenda that we see in PLO/Fatah and Hamas founding documents. ‘Intention’ and ‘function’ unite:  leader and bureaucrat passionately embrace the same goal.

The second reason this approach might be different is that the Arab appears to invert Nazi priorities. One might be able to argue that the primary focus of Nazism is a xenophobic Nationalism based on Aryan supremacy and an almost primal need to defend Germany against subversion and foreigners; one might therefore attempt to argue that the Jew-hate that led to the Holocaust was actually secondary to and supportive of Nazi political goals. For the Nazis, it may be possible there was never a question of what was most important, National Socialism or Jew-hate:  the principles of National Socialism came first, Jew-hate second.  Jew-hate was indeed central to the Nazi world-view. But it might not have been their first political priority. For the Arab, however, the reverse might be true: Jew-hate first, then nationalism.

Look at the time-period, 1945-1950, the years immediately preceding and following the creation of the state of Israel. Contemporary news stories about those days did not discuss Jewish statehood versus Arab statehood. The issue of the day was not two groups fighting to create their own state on the same piece of land (a situation that could obviously lead to war); the issue of that day was, Jews wanted their state and the Arabs wanted to kill those Jews. Moreover, the Muslim leadership of the day in Palestine, the Waqf, was rabidly anti-Jew, had openly praised Hitler’s genocide, and called repeatedly to kill Jews.  Statehood was not part of Arab leadership vocabulary. Nor was it heard on the Arab street. The Arab issue of the day was, kill Jews.

While Jew-hate is fundamental to Nazism, it may not have been the raison-d ‘etre for National Socialism in 1930’s Germany; but Jew-hate was certainly the main topic of Arab public discourse from before the founding of the Jewish state until Yasser Arafat refined that discourse with his ‘Palestinian people’ campaign.  Then, even after Arafat appears (the early 1960’s), you notice that the primary focus in contemporary news was not nationalism, but killing Jews or ‘destroying Zionism’. For the Arab, it has always been, kill Jews first, nationalism second. Often, nationalism is not even mentioned.

This inverting of the Nazi priority in order to emphasize killing Jews above all else may be far more dangerous than Nazism.  At least with Nazis, one could find some kind of social, cultural or economic ideals; one could study or visit Nazi Germany and marvel at the power, joy and even chilling beauty of the Aryan nation (consider the films of Leni Riefenstahl). With the Arab, that sense of power, joy and beauty is missing. In its place we find victimhood, Jew-hate and the celebration of destroying  ‘Zion’.  Instead of Deutschland Uber Alles, we get, ‘butcher the Jew’; the aesthetic just isn’t the same.

In the 1930’s, the world ignored the threat of Nazi intentions.  Some openly admired German accomplishments. Some proposed appeasement. Some said, give land (Czechoslovakia) for peace. They were all wrong—and the nation which did not have Jew-killing as its top priority went on to murder six million Jews and perhaps another sixty million people. Imagine what you’ll get when you take the same road with those who openly make killing Jews their first priority.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Israel lives because…

Why does Israel exist? Hasn’t she caused enough trouble? With so many nations hating this vile Jew, why won’t she disappear? Wouldn’t the world be better off without her?

There is a strange truth here, about the Jew, something startling: the Jew proves that the G-d of Israel is real.  This is a strange truth indeed because the G-d of Israel has no visible form or physical manifestation; and yet in this very physical world He is proven real.

The Jews’ survival proves that G-d exists. There is no other explanation for the survival of a people so hated, scattered and hunted by so many enemies for so many centuries. No other people have survived such abuse. No other nation has been so horrifically deconstructed and then reconstituted after 2,000 years of exile, persecution and murder.   

The Jewish holy texts have said for more than 2,100 years that G-d will disperse and scatter the Jews (for sceptics who believe only ‘science’, I use 2,100 years as my reference because that’s the approximate ‘scientific’ age of the oldest discovered Old Testament Dead Sea Scrolls). For more than 2,100 years, the Jewish Tanach has said that the sword will be against the Jewish people.  For more than 2,100 years, the Jewish Tanach has taught that G-d would punish but never reject or forsake His holy people; and for more than 2,100 years, that same Tanach taught that G-d will once again bring His nation back to the land of their forefathers, the land called Israel. Today, the existence-- and the power-- of the state of Israel is the fulfilment of that 2,100+ year-old promise. The survival of the Jews proves that they have a G-d they can trust--a G-d who keeps His promise and speaks a Truth that becomes visible fact.

Can anyone else present a comparable 2,100+ year-old promise?

What individual Humanist has predicted so much so long ago that is now true? The Humanist rejects G-d but his word cannot compare to G-d’s Word.  Only G-d’s Word has been Proven: promises recorded more than 2,100 years ago have become today’s reality--the desert blooms, the Jews gather into Israel, the Hebrew language is reborn as a daily language, Jews around the world return (religiously) to Him and the nations of the world now—before our promised Final Redemption— turn against Israel. All of this—and more—was written more than 2,100 years ago. All of this—and more—has come true.

The verdict is in. The judgment is public. History has the record: the Word of the G-d of Israel is True. The proof is modern Israel’s existence. If Israel exists our G-d is real.

This ability of Israel to validate her G-d marks her greatness.  But simply existing is not the issue. The rebirth of Israel is not the issue. What matters is purpose. For example, what is the purpose of a beautiful woman? Does she exist only to be admired as a living statute of perfection? Does she exist so she can provide pleasure to a powerful ruler—or be destroyed by a jealous competitor? Does she exist only to enflame men’s passion and inspire poetry and war?

Israel is that beautiful woman. What is her purpose? Perhaps it is to be a light unto the nations, to compel others by her beauty to understand that her G-d is real.

But a beautiful woman can change. Her beauty can fade through neglect or nature. Her worthiness can diminish. When the beautiful woman rejects what she needs to be beautiful—proper sustenance and attention—her beauty can wither. Every Humanist understands the effort beauty requires. The Humanist worships beauty.

Israel is that beautiful woman.  But she, too, can change. Her beauty can fade. Her worthiness can diminish. Every G-d-fearing Jew understands the spiritual struggle necessary to keep Israel beautiful. Jews who believe in G-d, like the Humanists, understand the work needed to keep beauty from fading.  But the Humanist faces a losing battle. He cannot escape decay.  He cannot avoid death.  The forces of the physical world always triumph. A beautiful woman can remain startlingly beautiful for only a short time; soon, the physical forces around her bring decay—and death.

Israel is different. She is not just a beautiful woman. She is more. She is G-d’s beloved. Her beauty, like G-d Himself, transcends the physical. G-d Himself longs for her to turn to Him.  He has taught us how to do that. He has also taught us that Israel lives through Him alone.

G-d has proven He is real. His promises come true. This is the Truth that marks Israel’s greatness: she lives beyond tomorrow only because of G-d.

This is the truth that keeps Israel safe. It is the truth that Jewish leadership must proclaim.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the threshold of greatness: mid-term grades

Since 1948, Arabs have sought to exterminate the world's only sovereign Jewish state. They have tried at least three times to get the job done, in 1947-8, 1967 and 1973. Each time, they failed. In 2010, they developed a new idea: use the UN. Last year, they stood before the nations of the world and requested a new state, Palestine. But if some said their words were diplomatic, their actions were not: they minted new maps to show their Palestine in place of Israel. Through war or the UN, their goal remains constant--to remove the world's only Jewish state from existence.

Although there are perhaps fifty Muslim states today, there is no room for Jews. Instead, there must be fifty-one Muslim states. Each must be Jew-free. Ethnic cleansing is forbidden by UN. But when Arabs demand that the Jew must be cleansed from the new Palestine, the UN remains silent.

The Arab population that would live in the new ‘Palestine’ is ruled by two groups, Hamas and Fatah. Each of these groups has a Charter/Constitution that outlines group objectives. Both Hamas and Fatah want their new nation of Palestine to be built upon the destruction of a neighbouring sovereign state, which will then be depopulated so that Arabs can move in. Their shared goal is to destroy the ‘Zionist entity’. If you’ve never seen a ‘Zionist entity’, that’s okay because there is only one in existence—Israel. The UN Charter declares that Member states have the right to live with peace and security. But when the Arab threatens to destroy the world’s only Jewish state, the UN remains silent.

Since the moment the UN passed Resolution 181 to create the state of Israel, Arabs have killed more than 24,000 Jews in their attempt to un-create Israel. The UN was created to promote peace and prevent war. Why do they remain  silent about Arab hate? The Arab is not secretive. He is so forthright about his intentions that he spells everything out in his Hamas Charter and Fatah  Constitution. Have you read these documents? They’re worth reading. Use your search engine. You’ll find that nothing is left to the imagination. Both call for the eradication of the ‘Zionist entity’. Both seek the ‘liberation’ of Palestine. If you understand the traditional definition of ‘racism’, both documents are racist, for they seek to exclude and indeed eradicate an homogenous population based on citizenship, nationality and ethnic origin, so as to nullify the recognition of that people. This explicit racism is institutionalized into their founding documents. Moreover, this institutionalized hate is religious in nature, particularly in the more popular Hamas document. On this point their Charter is explicit: they call ‘Palestine’—modern-day Israel—religious Islamic land which has been usurped [sic] by the Jews. Only Jihad [holy war] can face this usurpation. Only Jihad will liberate Palestine.

In case you fail to understand the focus of this hate, the Hamas Charter spells it out: their battle is “against the Jews” [emphasis mine]. The Charter declares, “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except Jihad…International conferences and initiatives [for peace] are…complete nonsense.”

The UN—created to fight hate—remains silent. Hamas hears that silence. For Hamas, such silence is acquiescence.

Fatah, meanwhile, appears to have rewritten its principal document (in 2009).  Look, apologists say, the new ‘charter’ omits language about Israel’s destruction. But when you actually read that 2009 document, you realize immediately that it is an internal charter designed “to regulate the relationship between the members” and does not in any way alter the original Constitution. In fact, it states right at the beginning that it adheres to the original document’s principles and objectives. When you read these two Fatah documents, you realize that nothing changed in 2009. Israel must go.

What’s going on here? Why such institutionalized hate and acceptance of hate? Some say that, in the days preceding our final Redemption, Yishmael—the Arab—will inflict suffering upon the Jewish people (see Yalkut Shimoni) perhaps just as the nations of the world turn against us. These Arab charters of hate were written after 1948 and Israel has suffered because of them and the UN’s silence. Was the rebirth of Israel a spiritual signal for Yishmael (and the nations) to awaken fully, to play out their roles in our ultimate Redemption? If this is Yishmael’s destiny, he is not failing. Surely, he gets at least a B+ for his efforts.

The nations don’t seem far behind. Their mid-term grade might be B.  

But what about Jews?  If today we approach the threshold of our Redemption, what’s our mid-term grade? Some might suggest that our grades right now aren’t that good—and our leadership is certainly not helping us. Are we prepared to pass the Final?

You tell me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The reality of the Big Lie

By now it should be clear that those who hate Israel do not accept reality. Look at the Middle East: hatred replaces reality.  Take the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state.  If you look at the reality of the Middle East, you see apartheid not in Israel but in Arab-run Refugee camps, where Arabs have practically imprisoned their brothers for over 60 years in horrid conditions. In these camps, Arabs are denied good-paying jobs, generally cannot vote, have few legal protections, have limited access to health care and are excluded from most higher education. That’s apartheid. Arabs in Israel, meanwhile, have all of the above. Even Arabs in the Middle East who are not in Arab-controlled Refugee camps do not have the rights Israeli Arabs have.  But will that sufficiently answer those who accuse Israel of apartheid? No—not for a second.  Hatred is stronger than reality. For the Arab, hatred is forever--like a religion.

Today, however, we do not discuss religion. Instead, we confront the Big Lie, not to answer the haters, but to understand reality.

First, read a book called, This Land is my Land: Mandate for Palestine, Eli E. Hertz, published by Myths and Facts, Inc., Forest Hills, NY, 2007. Here, you will find what’s real.

For example, Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinians’ have made the claim to a ‘homeland’ based on their having lived in their ‘Palestine’ since (to borrow another book title) time immemorial. But they contradict themselves. Their leaders cannot get their story of origin straight. Arabs leaders have claimed that they descend from the Canaanites. Then, they claim they are Philistines. Then, they are Jebusites. They have now recently claimed they are related to Christians ( pp 9 – 10).

Jews have no such confusion. Not only do Jews have a straight story, they have recorded archaeological discoveries to prove that story. The Palestinians have virtually nothing—for good reason. They descend from a nomadic people who had no home. They cannot prove their claim: Canaanite, Jebusite, Philistine, Christian—they have no recorded history in Palestine and no direct link to ancient kings, queens or potentates.

So instead of reality, the Arabs create a Lie. They tell the world they must have our homeland as their homeland, for that is the only justice. They repeat this until the world accepts it. They dramatize these words using Nazi hate-filled cartoons and propaganda. That’s how they picture their justice. The nations, meanwhile, seem to love the cartoons. They ignore the hate.

Think about the connections here. If justice is your goal, why do you need Nazi hate? Nazi hate was never connected to justice. It was connected to killing Jews.

It still is—and that’s the point. That’s the reality beneath the Big Lie. In 1947, when the United Nations agreed to create the state of Israel, the Arabs objected. They did not want Jews. They hated Jews. Read the newspapers of the day. The headlines were never about Arab statehood, sovereignty or justice. It was about Jews. When the UN accepted Israel, the Arabs attacked, intending to undo through violence what the UN had established by international consent. That effort failed. But, as we now realize, that initial attack was only the first chapter of an all-out Arab war to exterminate the sovereign Jewish state just as Hitler had tried to exterminate the Jewish people. 

That war has never changed. The Big Lie is that this is a war for justice. It isn’t. It’s the war to kill Jews. Use your search engine: find the name, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Find his speeches. Read how he courted Hitler. This Arab Muslim was a prominent religious leader. He was also a Nazi collaborator. He openly praised Hitler’s genocide. He called repeatedly to ‘kill the Jews wherever you find them!’—both before and after Israel’s 1948 independence.  He never mentioned ‘Arab self-determination’ or ‘Homeland’.  Instead, he framed this conflict as a Nazi-fuelled war that borrowed the Nazi’s vicious anti-Jew ideology. Check it out yourself. His hate continues today in Arab media. That media does not discuss justice. It doesn’t have time for that because it is so obsessed with Jews as pigs and apes who must be massacred.

The reality is, justice has nothing to do with pigs and apes. But when you embrace the Big Lie you automatically embrace the claim that Jews are apes and pigs who must be butchered. When you buy Arab  ‘justice’ you buy their hate. You cannot separate them because the Arab fuses them into a single picture.  Embrace Arab justice and that picture becomes you. That’s why, when you embrace their dream, the two of you look exactly like Nazi lovers whose passion is to restart the Nazi killing machine.

That’s the reality of the Big Lie. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Will Netanyahu be the Purim hero?

This is the week that Jews around the world celebrate, ‘Purim’. In this holiday, we recall how the Jewish people of Persia were saved from annihilation more than 2300 years ago. We remember how a villain conspired to kill and how a hero and heroine acted to save their people. We rejoice at the miracles that occurred on our behalf.

In this ancient story, the villain who hates the Jews has a clear plan. He knows what he wants.  He does not hesitate to act. We watch this villain plot and then marvel at how his hatred and vanity create the circumstances of his own fall; ultimately, it is he who suffers, not the Jewish people.

The villain’s plan to kill the Jewish people fails for two reasons. First, G-d is not an indifferent Master.   Actions and decisions that appear at first to be random or accidental are revealed to be, by the end of the story, part of a Divine pattern that is discerned only in retrospect. The villain Haman may plan to destroy, but G-d can affect events, circumstances and even the words people use so as to create a conclusion very different from the one intended. The second reason the villain’s plan fails is that no one in the king’s court knew the beautiful queen’s secret.

If you want to see this story in action (and discover the story-within-the -story of the Queen’s secret), purchase a Purim Megillah. Translations are available. Purchase a text (or two) with commentary; it is the commentary that will help you appreciate the story.

At its core, this Purim tale of terror and redemption unfolds because of the actions and motivations of individuals. Individuals are the key to the Purim story: villain and servant, king, first queen and advisors, guards and plotters— all appear to act for individual reasons to achieve individual goals; and the story’s denouement could only happen because of the individual decisions--and courage--of the story’s hero and heroine. We learn from this story that individuals count. History is driven by individual actions and decisions—with a proviso: all must pass before G-d.  The individual indeed schemes to control destiny. But it is G-d, we learn, who determines the outcome.

We are reminded of the importance of individuals within the Purim story not only because this is the week for Purim, but also because this is the week for three modern individuals to take stage-center in the unfolding of what might be called another Purim story. This modern Purim drama also focuses on Persia—Iran-- just like the original; and its theme is the same: the destruction of the Jewish people. This modern drama has a villain—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It also has a powerful leader whose eye is focused on the Jewish people—US President Barack Obama. Like the original Purim story, today’s drama may even have a Jewish hero—Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This week, US President Obama and Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu are scheduled to meet in Washington, DC. President Ahmadinejad will not be there. But he will be on the agenda. Actually, he may be the agenda.

Ahmadinejad has a clear goal. He wants to remove Israel from the world map. His actions suggest that he wants a nuclear weapon and is working hard to get it. Since he repeatedly says that Israel is a cancer that must be removed, one does not need to be clairvoyant to understand how he might use a nuclear weapon. Interestingly, most (if not all) the civilized world believes that Iran is seeking a nuclear devise; they just don’t think Israel should do anything about it. Their best advice to Israel is to wait.

Netanyahu also has a clear goal. He wants to protect the Jewish nation. He believes that the world is not acting strongly enough to deter Iran’s nuclear program. He believes that waiting to see if Iran gets a nuclear weapon is the worst of all options, not the best.

US President Obama, like the king in the original Purim story, is the world’s most powerful ruler. What are his goals?  His actions are not clear. He tells Israel that he is Israel’s greatest friend. Then he tells Israel not to protect itself. Is this how friends talk when one of them faces such grave danger?

The modern Purim drama unfolds before us. The main players are either on stage or on everyone’s mind. Two of the players have very clear goals. One remains opaque. Between them hangs the survival of the world’s only Jewish state.

The Purim story is driven by the decision-making and motivation of individuals. What will the villain do next? Will there be a Jewish hero? What will the powerful ruler decide?

Our modern Purim story has just begun.