Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vacation !

I am traveling--on vacation.

My next blog post should be the first Sunday after May 8, 2012.

The tentative title for that next bog is:  The education of Thomas Friedman; or, the prostitute and her friend

Please revisit me at that time !!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 'Arab Spring' and the ‘Jewish Spring’

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal.  In nature, it suggests fragrance and flowers.  In international politics, it is a metaphor for uprisings in the Arab world—The Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring, however, is confusing.  For example, the West says the Arab Spring is about democracy and freedom.  But how can that be? The Arab has never learned about democracy and freedom. These concepts are foreign to him. After watching Tunisia, Libya and Egypt turn increasingly to anti-democracy Islamic radicals, the West seems destined to be disappointed with its definition of ‘Spring’:  a tree that never existed can never renew.

But the Arab  ‘Spring’ is indeed real. It is pregnant with hope and possibility.  It promises the Arab a rebirth of what once was theirs-- the real opportunity to exterminate the Jewish state.

They have reason to be hopeful.

The Nazis made a mistake. While their goal was clear—eradicate the Jew—they mistakenly thought that what they needed to succeed was the silent acquiescence of the nations. With that silence, they thought, they’d take care of the rest. Clearly, that strategy failed.  The Arabs have made a similar but opposite mistake: they never sought anyone’s acquiescence; they simply ignored everyone, thinking they could destroy the Jewish state by themselves.

The Arab has now learned his lesson: they and the Nazi are wrong.  The Jew is too powerful. He cannot be destroyed by one enemy. He cannot be exterminated by a powerful nation seeking silent acquiescence, and he cannot be wiped off the map by an enemy who ignores all others.  The Jew can only be destroyed when nations act together, uniting in a common, shared effort.

This is why the Arab turns to the United Nations. The UN will mid-wife his dream. The UN is why the Arab is so hopeful.

Giving birth is never easy. It is painful. It requires effort.  A mid-wife is often  necessary; sometimes, a mid-wife spells the difference between life and death.

So it is with the Nazi- Arab dream: the key to fulfilment is a proper mid-wife. 

The UN can play that role because that august body is built upon a powerful ideal: world peace.  The UN and its adopted brother--the Left--have struggled for decades to define UN goals. They have, for example, written new International law. They have redefined the rules of war. They have redefined ‘justice’. They have redefined ‘peace’. Today, the UN knows what it wants—and how to get it. It wants a Leftist-inspired world peace where a favoured class makes the rules (recall Communism).  World peace—and its required corollary, social justice-- are so important that their implementation must over-ride all other considerations. This is why, for example, the UN feels so strongly that Israel, an unfavoured class in its Region, must yield to the favoured in its Region.  It is also why, while the UN states that ethnic cleansing is illegal, it remains silent when Arabs speak of ethnically cleansing Jews from their new ‘Palestine’: peace and justice for the Region’s favoured over-ride all other considerations.

Do you object to this characterization of UN goals? If you do, you are reactionary. You believe in ideals that no longer exist. You ignore how UN Commissions (with Leftist help) have rewritten rules according to a Leftist Gospel. You ignore reality.

The new reality is, the Jew doesn’t belong. He believes a G-d no one accepts. He believes in a nation no one wants.

The Left has worked hard at the UN to renew itself. Today, that Left unites with the Arab. Their definitions and goals merge: Israel is the cause of terrorism (Jenny Tonge, British Leftist, November, 2010). Peace—and Social Justice--are possible only when the world destroys the cause of terrorism.  

The Jew, meanwhile, dreams of Redemption. Israel was once a united national kingdom where the presence of G-d revealed itself; we dream that, through Redemption, that status will be renewed. It is our ‘Jewish Spring’.

 Our religion teaches that, at the beginning of our ‘Jewish Spring’, the nations turn against Israel.  Is it coincidence that Israel is delegitimized at the UN?

Our Heritage teaches that our Redemption will show the world that Peace comes only through the G-d of Israel. Is it coincidence that the UN and the Left want everyone to think,  ‘world peace’?

Is it coincidence that the UN promotes discussions of world peace—and, simultaneously, Israel’s demise? Isn’t this one way the G-d of Israel can be revealed as Supreme, by defending Israel against this  ‘peace conspiracy’? 

The moment has arrived: as the UN and the Left work for ‘peace’, the war against Israel begins. That war is called, ‘For World Peace and Social Justice.’ It requires the collapse of Israel.

Perhaps this is how the Jewish Spring begins.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ugliness and Redemption: a Passover lesson for today

  Can you feel the joy—we’re free! Can you see the exhilaration on people’s faces?  Everyone smiles!

This is Pesach (Passover). The G-d of Israel has fulfilled His Promise: for generations, Jews had whispered that G-d would take us out of Egypt. He has done it! We are no longer slaves to a mighty Pharaoh.  On Pesach night 3,324 years ago, G-d rescued His nation and led us to the Sea of Reeds; there, He engineered yet another miracle, in addition to all He had already done: He split the waters of this Sea so that our ancestors could pass to safety—and freedom.

Each year we celebrate the joy of this moment. Each Pesach Seder we say the prayer of praise that our nation will always say whenever our people experience a great national miracle—the Hallel. We repeat this song of praise as a way to re-experience the total joy of that Exodus moment. When we recite this praise at the Seder table, we are to feel as if we ourselves individually experience—right now-- that awesome moment of G-d’s  incredible Power: G-d redeems me!

Our celebration lasts for hours, long into the night. We recall our national story—how we began, how we became slaves, how we suffered, how G-d rescued us and how our Redemption unfolded with astounding miracles. It is indeed a story of joy. But this wondrous story also has a less glorious side, because once the Jews left Egypt, the Exodus story became ugly.

It is an ugliness that teaches us about our future.

From the day G-d brought the Jews out of Egypt, the Jews appeared to have nothing good to say to Him. In Egypt, he had tormented the slave-masters with horrid plagues. He had performed miracles. He freed an entire people in a single day. How did the Jews respond to this? Instead of being grateful to G-d, they complained. At the Sea of Reeds—they complained; at a place called, Marah—they complained; in the wilderness of Tzin—they complained. G-d continued to perform miracles for them. It didn’t seem to matter--they still complained. They didn’t even vary their complaint; it was always the same: G-d was taking them into the desert to die; they’d have been better off staying in Egypt!

As you read this Torah story of escape from the slavery of Egypt, you notice two points of interest:  first, few turned back; and second, the Jews couldn’t stop complaining that they should go back.

Once, they did stop complaining. In this incident, they had been waiting for Moshe their leader to return after spending forty days and nights with G-d. But when they saw that Moshe didn’t return at exactly the moment they thought he should return, they took offense. Remember now, we are talking about a people who can never start a wedding or a funeral on time, and who have no problem waiting patiently for hours for a ceremony to begin; but as soon as Moshe was late, they decided immediately that he was never coming back.  Therefore, they replaced him—with an idol.

During their journeys after Redemption, some Jews just didn’t ‘get it’.   They couldn’t change. They couldn’t believe redemption was better than Egypt. They couldn’t adjust. They couldn’t see their destiny. They were still enslaved. Their behaviour seems an ugly addendum to an otherwise joyous story.

Some argue that we have the same ugliness today. They say we have a lot of good happening in Israel—but it’s all tainted by an idol modern Jews have created. The idol is called, ‘we must be like everyone else’. For this idol, the argument goes, we cannot be different because then we cannot be safe. We must become like everyone else: we must reject Judaism because everyone else rejects Judaism. We cannot be Jewish because no one else is. We must have Auschwitz borders for Israel because that’s what everyone else wants. If everyone else sneers at G-d, so must we.

Of course, this isn’t real idol worship. But the belief seems similar and the result is the same: a complete rejection of everything Jewish. At least, that’s the argument.

Complaining against G-d and rejecting G-d might be ugly, but the Pesach story reminds us that Redemption occurred despite this ugliness. The Idolatry and the anti-G-d behaviour we see in the Exodus story is not an ugly addendum—it’s part of the Redemption. For reasons known primarily to G-d, ugliness is part of the beauty of our Redemption—past and future.

We should remember that. We should also remember that our past exists only to prepare us for our future. Think about Passover. Think about our world. Then take another look at the complete Exodus story. You might have missed something.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Migron is an iceberg

An unintended consequence is a result that is not anticipated. For example, a hospital might develop a patient information system to enhance patient-care efficiency and reduce medical error. But these systems sometimes create the opposite effect; they reduce efficiency and increase error. That’s an unintended consequence.

How can our good intentions create negative outcomes? We are educated, experienced and smart. We know how to plan. We understand how to make decisions. The problem is, every decision-making process contains a flaw:  decisions are made by humans--and humans, by definition, make mistakes.

Our humanity limits us. Our hubris betrays us. We invent DDT to solve an agricultural problem and create an even bigger environmental problem. We create increasingly powerful drugs to fight disease and end up with bacteria super-resistant to those drugs.

 That man could mistakenly create undesirable outcomes appears counter-intuitive because we believe that man can control his environment. Man controls the world. Humanism has taught us that.  Man creates. Man is Master.

Because we believe so completely in Man, G-d gave us unintended consequences --to remind us that Humanism is wrong. The  ‘law’ of unintended consequences tells us that man does not control. Man is the worker, not the Master. He can plan. He can work. But when he thinks he controls, the result is often an undesirable outcome.

This is a lesson in humility that Mr Netanyahu dismisses. The moment he decided to govern by rejecting the Likud Platform he was elected to promote, he began to create his own version of unintended consequences. He has a big plan—to build power by rejecting Likud and embracing the Left. Big plans require big risks—and that’s the problem. Human nature is perverse: the more powerful you feel, the safer you feel; and the safer you feel, the more risk you take. Mr Netanyahu has become powerful.  He has begun to take risks.

So far, his plan seems to work.  He has created a political juggernaut that has sailed the Israeli political sea with impunity. Wherever this juggernaut goes, it dominates and controls. Even as it steers Left, it appears to maintain speed and balance. But when Netanyahu’s people corrupted the recent primary vote to beat Moshe Feiglin, they crossed a line: they chose corruption over honesty. The Man-made juggernaut had become so danger-proof it could alter election results without fear. The ship of State had become unsinkable: nothing could stop it; nothing (not even voters) could stand in its way.

Now, that line crossed, poor decisions will accumulate.  Thoughts of humility before G-d  evaporate. The juggernaut becomes pregnant with unintended consequences waiting to happen.

This is what makes Migron more than just a  ‘settler’ community. Migron is a small collection of homes in Samaria which could become for Mr Netanyahu’s ship of state what the iceberg was to the Titanic—an unexpected problem that creates the ultimate unintended result, the sinking of the unsinkable juggernaut.

Think about the Titanic. Compare it to Mr Netanyahu. The Titanic was the greatest ship of its day. It was powerful, perfectly designed.  Its captain assumed nothing could go wrong. If nothing could go wrong, where’s the risk?  Ignore passenger emergency drills. Forget basic sailing values. We’re safe. We are danger-proof. There are no risks. We can do as we please. Only we control our destiny.

Pregnant with unintended consequences waiting to happen, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage. Soon, sailors on night-watch spotted icebergs in their shipping lane. It wasn’t a problem. Icebergs at that time of year were considered too small to threaten; and besides, the Titanic was so strong,  brilliantly built and  powerful, no iceberg could stop her. Mr Netanyahu sees Migron the same way the Titanic’s captain saw that iceberg: it’s an annoyance—a phenomena with little risk.  But that iceberg wasn’t just an annoyance;  neither is Migron.

Migron is scheduled to be demolished, thanks to a High Court decision Mr Netanyahu supports. Migron would become the largest Jewish expulsion of Jews since the Gush Katif affair in 2005, when the IDF expelled Jews from Gaza. Israelis know what happened at Gush Katif—and what has happened since: placate anti-Israel hate and it grows ever more aggressive. Repeating that 2005 fiasco again at Migron will not sit well with a lot of Israelis who currently sit on the fence about the question of Judea/Samaria. Migron is not just a ‘settler’ issue.

Beware, Mr Netanyahu. Your success with the Left makes you fell unstoppable. You are indeed captain of a political Titanic. You believe you can proceed risk-free. Your corrupt victory over Feiglin proves your power-- but reveals your hubris. Power and hubris can undo you when you believe you have immunity from the law of unintended consequences.

Your Titanic is surrounded by icebergs.