Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pharaoh, Abbas and the G-d of Israel

At this point in the Jewish calendar—starting approximately fifteen days after Chanukah--Jews around the world spend four consecutive weeks reading weekly Torah portions that tell the story of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. It is a story of suffering, affliction and release. It is a tale of slavery and cruelty capped by a rush to freedom from oppression.

It is a story that begins and ends with water.

As a new Pharaoh rose over Egypt, he sought to deal cunningly with the Jewish nation. He did not feel secure turning directly against these Jews. Our Heritage (Talmud Tractate Sotah, 11a) teaches that Pharaoh understood the power of HaShem, the G-d of Israel. He worried about being punished measure-for-measure if he should act against the Jews.

He knew that if he chose the wrong anti-Jew strategy, the G-d of Israel would become angry. But he also believed that if he chose cunningly, he would never be punished.

He was arrogant. He was cunning. He had an idea: water.

He ordered all new-born Jewish boys be thrown into the Nile River. He believed that, through water, he could begin to control and then enslave the Jews without fear of punishment.

So it was that the story of the Exodus began. So it was also that, in the end, the army of Pharaoh perished in the waters of the Sea of Reeds.

The cunning Pharaoh had miscalculated. The G-d of Israel did indeed punish Egypt measure-for-measure—with water.

So it is today that the G-d of Israel makes a distinction between the water of the Jew and the water of the Arab.

The Middle East broils under a desert sun. It has a chronic water shortage. It suffers from a process called, desertification.  

But the Middle East is also Home to the G-d of Israel. That G-d protects His beloved.

In Israel, farmland expands. Hardly a farm in Israel lacks water for crops.  

But farmland in the Arab world shrinks. Arable Arab land turns to dry, brown soot. In Syria alone, more than 700,000 farmers have seen their farmland return to desert.

In Israel, meanwhile, water availability grows.

Crops in Israel sprout. Crops in the Arab world wither and die. 

In Israel, the desert becomes farmland, thick with growing food. In the Arab world, farmland evaporates.

As Israel becomes increasingly self-sufficient, it becomes a shining light in the world of agriculture. It brings to the world new technology for irrigation. It sets the world record for recycling water. It sets the world record for milk-production.

The Arab world rots.

Under the same Middle East sun, in the same ecology, Israel farms flourish and Arab farms become desert.

The Arab looks at the Jew. He does not see a source3 of knowledge. Like the Pharaoh of old, this new Arab hardens his heart. He seeks not assistance from the Jew, but a cunning way to destroy the Jew.

So it is that the new Arab suffers like the old Pharaoh, with the punishment of water. So it is that we remember how the G-d of Israel protects His beloved, through water.

The new water-punishment is not like the old. It is not true measure-for-measure, at least not yet. It is, however, a hint of the way the G-d of Israel protects His beloved—measure-for-measure. Mahmoud Abbas should remember that the next time he goes to the United Nations to delegitimize Israel. He should remember—and fear the G-d of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas does not fear the G-d of Israel. He celebrates the killing of Jews.

He glorifies the murder of Jews. Then he watches Arabs blow each other up by the hundreds every week in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Mahmoud Abbas has had the opportunity to join with Jews to build water and sewage strategies. But he refuses. Like  Pharaoh of old, he hardens his heart.

Arab water disappears.

Abbas has had the opportunity to establish business partnerships with Israelis--to help build a better world for Arabs under his rule. But he refuses. He hardens his heart.

Arab employment stagnates.

Like Pharaoh of old, Abbas the new brings plague and pestilence to his people. Disease, poverty, child mortality and chronic malnutrition all fester like plagues within the Palestinian Authority population.

Abbas hardens his heart. He says it is not his doing that these plagues exist. It’s not his fault. It’s Israel’s fault. He—and his enablers—hold Israel responsible for Arab health in Arab-controlled territories.

From the Jew in Israel, science, technology and faith bring hope and accomplishment to the world. From the Arab, hate and terror bring murder to the world.

The Arab embraces hate. He has lost his soul. His leaders bring him only death and woe.

The G-d of Israel lives in His Israel. He watches us make our choices. Then He judges.

He rules the world with measure-for-measure.

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