Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Signs that the Redemption is near?

For years, the American magazine, Sports Illustrated, has run a weekly mini-report entitled, “Signs of the Apocalypse” (or something like that).  It contains a one-or-two sentence announcement that features some weekly occurrence in the Sports world. Typically, it focuses on someone doing something really stupid. It highlights how incredibly awful highly-paid or famous people can be. Such   behaviour by those we honour, the piece suggests, is surely a sign that our world must soon end.

Mostly, these incidents entertain.

That magazine comes from America. We live in Israel, which follows a different religious and cultural orientation. So if someone in America thinks about Christian-inspired world Destruction, perhaps we can think about something different--a Jewish-inspired Redemption.

Consider now some recent examples from the news that, in some way—humorous and not so humorous-- might suggest that the world might be preparing for something New. If you don’t see how these headlines might pre-sage a Jewish Redemption, that’s okay. That just means that your ‘Redemption training’ isn’t up-to-date.

For APRIL, 2013:

-Breeding mental illness in the US (Al Jazeera English)


-Israel Made Me Beat My Wife (HonestReporting.com)

-Egyptian protesters operated on without anesthetic: report (Alarabiya English)

- Millions face starvation as world warms, say scientists (The Guardian)

-Back to the future: Iranian scientist claims to have invented ‘time machine’ (Alarabiya)

-IMF warns over rock-bottom interest rates (the Guardian)

-Science offers support to women who spurn their bras (The Times of London)

-Innovative Mikvot to Run on Shabbat Generators (Arutz Sheva)

- Electronic devices to be banned from court (Chicago Tribune)

- In Seoul, Kerry stresses 'possibilities of peace’ (Los Angeles Times)

- What God Wants (The New York Times)

 - Eating stale popcorn: Holiness through consumer empowerment (Times of Israel)

- Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Passes Away (Arutz Sheva)
- Labor MK tells Lapid: You're Thatcher with hair gel (Jerusalem Post)
- Technion ranks 6th in entrepreneurship, innovation (Jerudsalem Post)

-Two robbers attack Chicago store where owner fiercely fights back (Los Angeles Times)

-Bullying can be a crime, PM says (Toronto Globe and Mail)

-Jordanian Cleric: Happy to See Horror in America (Arutz Sheva)
-5 states running out of water (24/7 Wall St on MSNMoney.com)

-Old Fans Still Love Secular Singer Turned Religious (Arutz Sheva)

-Anti-Israel Protester No Match for Israeli Opera Singer (Arutz Sheva)

- Israeli Gymnast Takes Gold in European Championship (Arutz Sheva)
When The New York Times writes about what G-d wants, does that mean a ‘change’ has occurred?

When national political  leaders begin to think about criminalizing aggressive bullying—and robbery victims fight back fiercely—is there ‘change’ in the air?

Some lawyer once groused, ‘the only time they’ll keep  electronic devices out of the courts is when we reach Redemption’; well, someone congratulate him. Redemption must be here, because Chicago has just banned electronics in the courtroom.

More important, when a newspaper headline brings Holiness and consumerism together, does the world we inhabit change—or does the political accusation that Israeli politician Yair Lapid is nothing more than Margaret Thatcher with hair gel mean that nothing has changed?

Does the announcement of an Iranian Time Machine suggest that we can now travel to our future Redemption—or does it mean that the Iranians are crazier than we thought?

Can an Israeli win an international sports gold medal without Redemption?

Finally, when fans still embrace a now-religious singer, science helps women with their bras—and mikvaot (ritual baths) with Sabbath observance—can Redemption be that far away?

Is there change afoot?

Naturally, it’s possible that all of these headlines are meaningless. They may have nothing to do with the Jewish Redemption. Perhaps we needn’t worry about these things. But then, the New York Times does wonder about what G-d wants.

That’s a hint, isn’t it?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

You do not want Richard Falk’s justice

On April 24, 2013, Abraham Foxman, National Director of the American-Defamation League (ADL), denounced comments by Richard Falk, the UN’s  ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967’ (a long title that, for some, is more suggestive of political propaganda than any human ‘right’). The ADL accused Falk of justifying the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing as a response to US and Israeli policies. Foxman quoted Falk as saying that, ‘As long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy (emphasis mine)’.

Is this a warning?

At the very moment that authorities in America saw no serious connection between the Boston bombers and any ideological cause, Richard Falk elevated them to messengers for world peace—or, more precisely, to be the messengers for what will happen to world peace and justice if the US does not change its foreign policy. He suggests that these bombings have occurred—and will continue--because the US is submissive to Israel. He infers that (1) Israel policy alone is the reason there is no world peace; and (2) if we want to see an end to these bombings—and a beginning to peace and justice--then the US should turn away from Israel.  

These words do not suggest peace.  They do not suggest justice. They suggest something quite different: blackmail.

Innocent people around the world will die, he appears to tell us, if the US continues to lean towards Israel. People will stop dying if the US abandons Israel.

Is this justice—or threat?

Representing the United Nations, Richard Falk presents himself as one who promotes justice and morality. But his words here do not advocate justice or morality. They threaten murder.

We know Richard Falk. As recently as 2012, he has described Israel as a brutal and immoral occupier that kills and oppresses innocent Arabs. He has even suggested that the Arab war against Israel is the great moral cause the world must support. He calls this war ‘moral’ and ‘just’.

Now he turns to world peace and justice—and to blackmail? What moral advocate associates with blackmail? When does ‘justice’ justify the killing of an eight year-old boy standing in a crowd watching a public event?

Do you know what ‘justify’ means? It means something was, after all, right and correct. Richard Falk, according to the ADL, has declared that the Boston bombings were ‘a justified response to US policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq’. He is telling us, in other words, that killing an eight year-old in Boston was, after all, right and correct.

You do not want Richard Falk’s justice.

There is no moral advocate who would dare associate himself with blackmail. There is no just cause that accepts killing innocent children as a correct path to its goals.

How dare Richard Falk speak of justice? He doesn’t sip from the cup of justice. He drinks from moral swamp-water that is laced with innocent blood—and then blames the victim’s country for the victim’s death.

You do not want Rickard Falk’s justice. You do not want his morality.

At the beginning of November, 2012, Arabs from Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into Israeli civilian populations. As soon as Israel defended itself, Richard Falk accused Israel of being a brutal war criminal—while completely ignoring the horrific brutality of Arabs—on live TV, no less—dragging to death a fellow Arab because they suspected him of spying for Israel.

You do not want this man’s morality.

How does a man who speaks of ‘justice’ justify blowing up a child? Think about what ‘justice’ means: it is an ideal closely related to moral ‘rightness’, which is connected to ‘fairness’.

Richard Falk is telling you that he has no problem linking the killing of an eight year-old boy to what he believes is ‘fair’.

You do not want that kind of ‘morality’.

Justice is also related to granting all citizens equal rights and  protections so they can live safely. Richard Falk advocates for ‘justice’. What justice did he advocate for that eight year-old boy? Where was his right to safety in Mr Falk’s world?

That child was not, in Richard Falk’s world, killed by two killers who got their inspiration and bomb recipe from extremist Muslim websites. That child was killed by US Foreign policy; and until Mr Falk’s kind of justice is installed, he warns, no one should rest easy.

You do not want Richard Falk’s kind of justice.

In the Middle East, meanwhile, we saw more of Richard Falk’s morality: Muslim clerics in Jordan and Egypt echoed his remarks, putting his ideology into a familiar context: death comes to those who reject what Richard Falk believes.

You do not want Richard Falk’s justice.




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Arab moral hypocrisy

Last updated April 25, 2013

At the beginning of April, 2013, the Israel newspaper, Haaretz, published an essay by Amira Hass which called upon Arabs to throw stones at Israelis. Such action, she wrote, was a ‘birthright and duty’ of anyone under foreign rule.

Her argument is immoral. It suggests hypocrisy—and, possibly,  moral bankruptcy.

We should remember her words. Rock attacks against Jews have increased so much in April that the Samaria Residents Committee has written to Prime Minister Netanyahu appealing to him for help protecting Jews from these attacks.

Consider the concept. Stone-throwing, as practiced by Arabs, is not passive disobedience. It is violence. It can—and has—killed and disabled Jews. It carries the same moral status as shooting a gun at others with your eyes closed; closing your eyes does not make your shooting moral. It does not remove your guilt should you harm someone. You cannot argue that you did no wrong because you didn’t aim at anyone specific; and you cannot claim you have the moral right to shoot because, for a moral person who seeks moral consideration from others, any behaviour designed to injure is morally wrong.

Arabs claim their cause is just and moral.  They demand morality; shouldn’t they act morally? Demanding justice, they should denounce unjust behaviour. But as Ms Hass shows us, that’s not the Arab approach.

First, she calls violence a birthright. This means that, by virtue of his birth, the Arab receives an automatic right to be violent. This is extraordinary. There is nothing moral about such a right. When a moral society (Mr Abbas has suggested that his people are ‘moral’) gives one a right, it is to live in peace, or to be safe, etc.; no moral society gives one a right to be violent because a moral society aims to be just. In fact, Mr Abbas has asked the UN to give him that justice based upon moral consideration. He invokes ‘morality’ for his people. But violence is, by definition, unjust. It is the embodiment of a direct, physical injustice. There is no place for injustice in a moral cause.

If Ms Hass endorses violence, she endorses injustice. That suggests that Arab society is intrinsically immoral: do Arabs care more for violence than justice?

Ethicists will tell you that, sometimes, violence can be morally acceptable (see discussions of ‘just war’). But ethicists are extremely careful about such violence because (among other reasons) one man's action to defend himself --the most common justification for violence--can be for someone else an act of criminal aggression; and many agree that, even when violence does become ‘just’, it is a slippery slope. Such behaviour almost always leads to ‘unjust’ outcomes.

The outcome Ms Hass advocates is harm to Israel. That is not, by definition, a ‘just’ goal.

Ms Hass compounds her moral problem by going beyond violence as a ‘right’. She calls it a ‘duty’. This is dangerous. She makes correct and right what is immoral and wrong.  Do you understand what ‘duty’ is?  ‘Duty’ is most commonly defined as ‘moral obligation’. A moral obligation is commonly associated with doing good. It is associated with ‘beneficence’; that is, kindness.

To associate violence with ‘duty’ is to claim violence is connected to  beneficence.  

So it is that Ms Hass makes injustice desirable. But her association also defies all definitions of morality: morality does not endorse ‘injustice’.  Morality opposes injustice.

Ms Hass endorses injustice.

She can make injustice moral because she has a foundation to so: the Arab cause redefines morality for Jews and Israel. It does this using a concept called, moral exclusion. This concept works--except for one thing: it’s a ‘smoking gun’ for Arab hypocrisy.

Those who study group violence describe moral exclusion as an organized way to justify violence (injustice) against another. It turns immoral and unjust behaviour into a desired group morality. This process posits that a person (Jew) or group (Israelis) is identified by another group (Arabs) as being unqualified to receive the benefits of moral consideration. So excluded, that individual or group can then, morally, be treated with violence (injustice)--because both morality and its corollary justice do not apply to them.  

This moral exclusion of the Jew (and Israel) is everywhere in Arab culture. To the Arab, Jews are animals. Jews are Nazis. Jews are poisonous. They are vermin—so, of course, violence against them is morally commendable.

Who protects vermin?

We are all better off when we are rid of them.

Arab morality based upon moral exclusion is ugly. It suggests both hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy. The Arab repeatedly claims ‘morality’ and ‘justice’ as his right.  But it is hypocrisy to claim for yourself what you deny to others through vicious, pre-meditated exclusion. It may also be emblematic of a bankruptcy because only the most craven would use that hypocrisy as a lever to elicit sympathy from others while at the same time using it to justify violence.

Ms Hass justifies violence. But she claims a moral cause. Why is she defining injustice as moral?

Is this the point of the Arab cause—to replace morality with injustice?



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Popeye defends Israel against Iran

Israel has a problem. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad wants nuclear capability.  He enriches uranium to weapons-grade levels. He also wants to destroy Israel. He says that destroying Israel will bring an Islamic ‘twelfth Imam’, the Muslim version of Messiah.  

He won’t stop enriching uranium.  He won’t stop talking about destroying Israel.

The nations of the world aren’t worried. They dismiss Israel’s concerns--or say negotiations-with-sanctions will work. They want Israel to wait. Meanwhile, according to some calculations, Iran could be ready to produce a nuclear weapon before the sanctions succeed.

Now, 35 former high-ranking US officials have told President Obama that sanctions against Iran will not work. Nevertheless, the President continues with sanctions—and  Iran continues to push closer to weapons-grade uranium.

 With a nuclear weapon, Iran could bully everyone, if only to showcase how Muslims can now control the Destiny of the world: end the sanctions, Iran could say, and I won’t bomb Israel; keep the sanctions, I will bomb.

Some argue that Israel must attack Iran’s weapons program  before Iran goes nuclear.  But there’s a problem: there’s no ‘Iranian nuclear facility’ to attack—because there is no single facility. There are multiple facilities, and they’re spread across Iran. Worse, the nuclear production sites Iran does have are not easy targets, as they had been in Syria (2007) and Iraq (1981). In Iran they are underground, deeply buried. Then, worst of all, they are not located near Israel. They are spread far and wide across Iran—multiple targets, all challenging for Israel to reach.

Before the US committed to sanctions, many hoped that the US would attack Iran on Israel’s behalf because only the US has the planes and weapons to take on Iran’s embedded facilities. But, while the US has said that all options are still on the table, so are significant enough US military budget cuts that the US may soon lose the ability—or willingness-- to undertake such an expensive raid.

Israel has no one to turn to. She has to take care of this herself because, as in the past, no one else will.  Israel is alone, just as prophesied.  The challenge is, those nuclear sites are heavily protected; and even if Israel can destroy some of them, she might only delay the creation of a bomb by perhaps six months.

What good would that do?

The best argument to attack, given such a reality, is a punch line from Jewish lore: maybe we’ll get lucky and succeed; or, after we attack, the Iranians could change their mind; or, maybe, the US will help; or, Ahmadinejad could die; or, maybe, the Iranian people will revolt; but whatever happens, six months is better than nothing.

Few in Israel like that answer. Instead, conventional wisdom is adamant: Israel must (1) destroy those facilities; and, (2) do it in a single attack.

But conventional wisdom doesn’t work. Israel cannot destroy all the facilities—and she may lack the equipment to attempt such destruction in a single assault.

So what can Israel do? Ignore conventional wisdom.

Instead of destruction, Israel should aim to render the sites unusable. The practical result will be the same: nuclear work stopped.

The ancient Chinese military work, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, says that in war, one should avoid what is strong and strike what is weak (not an exact quote). This is how Israel can stop the Iranian nuclear machinery: attack what is weak.

Iran’s nuclear facilities are embedded deep underground. But, buried, these same protected facilities have several weak points: tunnel entrances, roads, emergency exits, ventilation shafts and connections to power plants. Many of these are hidden. But tunnel entrances, power plant connections and roads are not.

They are weak-points.

If these facilities cannot be destroyed, do not attempt to destroy them. Instead, render the facilities unusable: use smart bombs to seal the entrances, and destroy service roads and power supplies, including nearby power towers.

This approach does not stop productivity. It changes productivity. It causes delays. It disrupts.

It also prompts repairs.

That’s important, because those repairs drive this plan.  Sun Tzu says, force the enemy to reveal himself so as to find his vulnerable spots. This means that after you bomb, you watch how Iran officials rebuild and reinforce. That will reveal what they want to protect.

That tells you where to bomb again. And again.

Conventional wisdom says Israel has only one opportunity to bomb. But that’s not true. The truth is, Iran could make Israel’s navy famous.

If Iran will not desist from its pursuit of weapons-grade uranium, Israel might turn to Popeye. Do you know Popeye? In America, Popeye is a cartoon character. In Israel, it’s a long-range surface-to-surface missile called Popeye Turbo slcm (submarine launched cruise missile).

It’s just like Popeye: it’s ugly, but it’s got a big punch.

Iran’s goal is a Jew-free Islamic world hegemony. Iran is serious—and dangerous.

So is Popeye.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Israel Independence Day--and Israel’s G-d

On May 14, 1948—the fifth day of the Hebrew month, Iyar--the Jews of Israel formally declared the creation of Medinat Yisroel, the State of Israel. Since that date, the world has seen Biblical prophecy come true. These prophecies are the word of the G-d of Israel. They are ancient words, written into the human record during a period of Jewish history that unfolded between the Exodus from Egypt and the final prophet, Malachi, across approximately 940 years. For Jews who believe that the words of Tanach (Jewish Bible) are from the G-d of Israel, those 940 years took place between (app) 3,330 and 2,390 years ago.

For Jews who do not accept the Divine origin of their Tanach, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls. These parchments and their fragments have been dated as written between 1,900 -2,300 years ago, and their Jewish Biblical content is strikingly similar to the Tanach texts we use today (textual differences are generally attributed to official Jewish compilation work unfolding during (and beyond) this same period). The modern science of dating ancient materials confirms that the word of the G-d of Israel has been faithfully kept, copied and used by His people—for more than 2,000 years.

Israel does not exist today because of Western guilt for the Holocaust, as some argue. Israel does not exist because European Jews convinced Western colonial powers to usurp Arab land for Jews, in order to create a colonial outpost for  exploiting Arab treasure, as some proclaim. Israel exists today for one reason only:  the G-d of Israel ordained it to be—and spoke of it to all mankind through the Jewish Tanach more than two centuries ago. 

Today, Jews return to Israel, just as G-d promised.  Today, Jews also return religiously to G-d in record numbers—just as G-d promised. These Jews—and many Christians--understand that the Jewish Tanach is unparalleled in its ability to predict accurately the future of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people and its G-d are unique. No other record in human history has so correctly predicted so many public, national events that were prophesied to begin more than three hundred years after being written:

-The Jewish Temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed;

-The Jewish nation—we believe it turned out to be 80- 90 per cent, perhaps higher—would be exiled from their land;

-during that exile, Jews would be scattered;

-in exile, Jews would be persecuted;

-during that exile, the land of Israel would become and remain a desert for everyone, both Jew and non-Jew;

-then, per the word of the G-d of Israel, Jews would return to Israel;

-Hebrew would be revived as the official spoken language of Israel;

-As Jews returned, the desert would end its exilic desolation and blossom again;

-a Jewish religious revival would bring Jews back to G-d;

-Israel would become noteworthy among the nations of the world;

-Israel would become a success among the nations;

-Israel would rise like a lion before her enemies;

-As the day of the Final Redemption draws near, nations will rise up to destroy Israel.

These predictions, recorded more than 2,300 years ago, are now Jewish historical Truth. As these words once prophesied future promise, they now describe our modern present.

No text of man has ever matched such publicized predictions. No other religion has such an ancient list of so many prophesies-come-true.

 Nothing that man has done equals this record of miracle. It is only the word of the G-d of Israel that stands triumphant—and these words all focus on Israel.

Now, this week, Jews in Israel celebrate the State’s 65th anniversary. More than two hundred years ago, the great religious leader, the Gaon of Vilna, wrote that we will all know we stand upon the threshold of our Final Redemption when four things have happened:

-600,000 Jews live in Israel;

-Jews come to Israel to claim and rebuild their land;

-the city of Jerusalem is rebuilt;

-the Torah laws of the land have been re-instituted.

Today, Israel has six million Jews. Today, Jews claim and rebuild their land. Today, the city of Jerusalem has been rebuilt; and today, the Torah laws of the land described by the Gaon have been reinstituted.

As we celebrate our 65th anniversary, we face another reality: according to a 2012 survey, 65 per cent of Israel’s Jews believe that our Torah’s Commandments are of Divine origin.

The Jews of Israel are certainly far from perfect. Ritual observance is not as widespread as many of us want it to be. But Jews in Israel, despite their imperfection, stand today ready to praise the G-d of Israel just as readily as they stand to sing Israel’s national anthem. We may not look it, but we are G-d’s people. We believe in the G-d of Israel. We believe in Israel.

Happy anniversary.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Look who’s watching Jewish Liberals

US President Barack Obama’s pre-Passover 2013 visit to Israel is now ancient history. As usual, Israelis will deal with whatever follows. They’ll be okay. What happens to Jewish Liberals, however, is not so clear.   

Since 2008, Jewish Liberals have led the parade that has made Barack Obama ‘Israel’s greatest friend’. They were the ones who told the President he must push peace onto Israel.  They trumpeted his receiving a Nobel Prize for Peace before he’d lifted a finger for peace. They assured him that a two-state solution was possible. They assured him that Israel was responsible for that solution. They assured him that peace would come if Israel were pressured.

They ignored fact. They ignored reality. Instead, they gave the President a Hollywood fantasy.

For the Jewish Liberal, Obama’s trip to Israel was a dream-come-true. Recall the Homepage for Americans for Peace Now. They called upon the President to use his ‘remarkable’ skills to bring peace and security to Israel. The J Street Homepage couldn’t tell us often enough how desperately they wanted the President to bring peace.

It didn’t work out that way. The President went to Ramallah and the Arabs practically rioted. Wherever he went, Arabs rose to spit their hatred at him.

What happened?

What happened was, these Leftist Jews betray their hero and encourage Jew-hate by turning their backs on Israel. They reject fact to promote lies. They fill with such self-hate they have come to suffer from a political manic-depression (metaphor adapted from Sherman Alexie): in their manic stage, they tell lies to the world, claiming that the Arab is right, the Jew is wrong and Israel must be coerced into ‘peace’. Then, in their depressive stage, they actually believe these lies—and are consumed by irrational guilt for supporting an Israel which won’t do their bidding.

Convinced they had found the true gospel for peace, they told the President that their fantasy was truth: ignore the Arab; pressure  Israel.

But the real truth began to leak out just days before the Israel visit began. A Gallup poll released on March 17 in America showed overwhelming American support for Israel—64% of respondents leaning towards Israel, just 12% leaning towards Arabs. As if to underscore the reasons behind this truth, Arabs—the next day, March 18--in Bethlehem threw shoes and garbage at vehicles arriving from the US Consulate in Jerusalem. Posters of Obama were ripped down and spat upon.

Could Americans and Arabs know something Jewish Liberals don’t?

That same day, March 18, the official Palestinian Authority news outlet, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, published an editorial. That editorial didn’t praise Obama. Instead, it blamed the United States for the 9/11 World trade Center attacks—and praised Adolph Hitler.

On March 19th, the day before Obama landed in Israel, a poll in Israel revealed that 80% of Israelis do not see peace anytime soon.

Do Israelis, along with Americans and Arabs, understand something  Jewish Liberals don’t?

The next day, as Air Force One flew to Israel, the AP reported, with an air of pessimism, that ‘US officials have set expectations low for the [President’s] trip’; the White House then stressed that ‘there is no peace initiative to be presented by the President’. Suddenly, it appeared that the President had become cautious regarding the Jewish Liberal fantasy.

Nevertheless, Jewish Liberals did what they do best: they ignored reality. They celebrated their President’s trip with a delight few others shared. The J Street and American Peace Now Homepages gushed over the visit. They gushed over the possibility to push Israel. They ignored the fact that the Arabs rejected their peace dream. They ignored Arab hate. Instead, they re-affirmed their demand that Obama press Israel into a ‘two-state solution’. They didn’t care what Arabs did.  

The AP’s ‘air of pessimism’ was nowhere to be seen.

Now, the entire world sees how Jewish Liberals have betrayed their President. After all, the world will claim, these Jews fought hard to push the President into Israel. They cheered the President into Ramallah. They created the stage for the world to see how the US was loved by Israelis and reviled by Arabs.

No wonder Jewish Liberals are depressed. They’ve just shown how  irrational they are; and they did it in public. Worse, once they stood in the spotlight, they pushed their best friend, their chosen Saviour, the President of the United States, under the Arab bus.

Jew-haters are not going to forget that. They will not forget what these Jews have done to the image of America’s Chosen One.

Jewish Liberals ignore it all. Instead, they now attempt to sell their fantasy directly to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: they send him a letter urging him to yield to those who cannot stop announcing they want to eliminate Israel from the world map.

Jew-haters watch these Jews with interest. Perhaps, after all—they reason to themselves-- Jewish Liberals will indeed prove useful...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Song for modern Israel

Israel is not perfect. According to a 2012 study by the Gutman Center of the Israel Democracy Institute, only 22 per cent of Israelis consider themselves either ‘dati’ (religious) or ‘Haredi’ (ultra-religious).
For a nation that is supposed to have a Destiny linked to G-d, a religious segment of just 22 per cent of population doesn’t seem like a very good number. It’s a poor showing for G-d. It confirms what many believe: Israel is no place for a religious Jew.
But a closer look at this study reveals a different picture. Israel may not be a religious sink-hole. Israel may actually be ‘G-d’s place’.
The study tells us that 80 per cent of Israelis say they believe in G-d. More significant, 77 per cent say they believe that the Hand of G-d directs mankind and the world; 72 per cent believe that prayer affects what happens to us; and 65 per cent accept the Torah’s Commandments as Divine in origin.
These are not numbers characteristic of a nation uninterested in religion. Instead, they suggest that, contrary to what we believe about ourselves, G-d—and His Torah—live in Israel.
These numbers also reveal that we may have an obsession with putting people into boxes. We categorize according to labels—and by doing that, we get it all wrong.
According to the labels we design, Israel is not G-dly. Israel is either secular or (if we believe what we read) on the verge of becoming completely anti-religious.
But the deeper truth is, Israel is the only place in the world where you can get on a bus and see women who are in no way dressed in a ‘proper’ manner reading Psalms, called, ‘Tehillim’—a practice that, in America, is almost exclusively reserved for the ‘religious’; and Israel may also be the only place in the world where  the supposedly ‘non-religious’  regularly say, ‘Baruch HaShem’ (thank G-d), something found in exile mostly from the religious.
These anecdotal experiences, when combined with the Gutman results, suggest that there may be an awareness of G-d and Torah here that has not been accounted for. Instead of apostasy, Israel appears to have a super-majority who not only believe that G-d controls our daily lives, but that our Torah and its Commandments come directly from Him.
No other nation has such a super-majority.
Certainly, Jews in Israel are weak in ritual observance. But they freely admit it (by refusing to call themselves ‘religious’); they appear brutally honest about the fact that they do not measure up to Judaism’s high standards. But they still believe with a complete belief in the Power of G-d. As more than one such Jew has said, ‘I don’t call myself religious because I don’t follow the rules; I apologize for that; but I know who the Boss is; it’s Him, the One Above’.
That is not the statement of an apostate.
To be more accurate in our thinking, perhaps we should call these Jews our silent majority. Yes, they are not a true majority. But, while hidden in the census statistics, they amount to Israel’s largest religious segment (those who accept G-d and Torah but who do not practice ritual). We might be wise to refer to these Jews as our ‘majority’ because when we unite with them, they give us the super-majority we need to build the foundation for our Destiny.
We need that foundation. We need that super-majority. We need its faith. We need its belief that G-d is the Master and His Torah is real. With such a foundation, our Destiny can be ours—but only if we unite, creating a single voice from that 77 per cent supermajority which understands G-d’s Mastery over this world.
When we read the interpretative translation of the Stone edition of our Song of Songs (see The Chumash, The ArtScroll Series, Mesorah Press, Brooklyn, New York, July, 1993, pp. 1263-1266), we get a better understanding of this non-perfect ‘silent majority’. As this translation suggests, the nations should not scorn Israel with its contempt because she is less than pure (ibid, 1:6) or because she has become the keeper of a vineyard of idols (1:6)—for G-d may not view us with the same disgust. He knows we are sinful and imperfect and yet sings to us, ‘Behold you are lovely, my friend, behold you are lovely’ (ibid, 1265, 4:1); and when Israel calls itself blackened with sin but comely with virtue (1:5), G-d does not object.
Together with this silent majority, we can stand before the nations and speak as one, saying, while you may wish me to turn away from my G-d—and while I have faltered in  this regard—I still declare,  ‘My faith is as firm as a wall..and …I become in His eyes like a bride found perfect’ “(ibid, p. 1268, 8:10).
G-d does not object to this self-description. Instead, he replies, ‘Oh, my beloved…’ (8:13).
We might be wise to follow His example.