Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a problem. Israel faces anti-Israel world pressure, Arabs riot in Jerusalem and Hamas rockets pour into southern Israel. But he cannot act. His government has become paralyzed
Three Jewish boys have been kidnapped and murdered. A series of suspicious-but-dangerous forest fires (we live in a dry desert) have erupted all over Israel. Arabs burn parts of Jerusalem’s (extremely expensive) light rail system. Hamas fires barrages of rockets at us. Arabs stone police on the Temple Mount.
Our world erupts like a raging volcano. Netanyahu’s security cabinet met four days in a row this week specifically to deal with these eruptions. It couldn’t decide what to do.
Our leadership unravels. It is caught between a rock (erupting Arab hate) and a hard place (Western and UN censure for actions Israel takes to defend itself). Suddenly, our leaders appear unable to protect the Jewish nation.
Netanyahu considers a ‘ceasefire’ with Hamas. In return, Hamas calls for more attacks against Israel.
The security cabinet is paralyzed.
Essayist Mordechai Kedar is correct: in the Middle East, not reacting is interpreted as weakness and silence as fear (“Op-Ed: We, However, Are Guilty”, Arutz Sheva, July 4, 2014). Israel, it seems, is on the run—and the Arabs know it (“Hamas smells Israel’s fear of escalation, and so the rockets keep coming”, Times of Israel, July 4, 2014).
Here is why the Netanyahu security cabinet is frozen. Cabinet members act like they don’t belong here.
Too many of our leaders believe the Arab lie. They believe that Israel exists only because of European guilt over the Holocaust. They believe that Jews—with European collusion—stole Arab land. They believe that only the Arab belongs here.
When you believe that, you will freeze when you confront world pressure to surrender land to the Arab. You will certainly freeze when you confront the kind of Arab hate we have seen this week.
The truth is, Israel exists because more than 3,000 years ago, our G-d brought us here. We have returned to what has always been ours because G-d Promised that to us.
The Jewish story of Israel is real: the words, Jerusalem, Israel, Jewish people and land of Israel appear in our foundational document—the Jewish Tanach—more than a thousand times. The Arab story of ‘Palestine’ is not real: the words, Palestine, Palestinian people, and land of Palestine do not appear even once in the Koran—the Islamic foundational document.
The Koran does say, however, that G-d gave Israel to the Jewish people.
If our leadership is to know what to do, it must be authentically Jewish. It must understand our Jewish story. It must believe in our Jewish place on this land. If our leaders accepted that, they would not freeze. They would not worry about what other nations think. They would not believe what the Arab says. They would not be afraid of the Arab.
If our leaders truly believed in the Jewish story of this land, they would reject the Arab lie. They would reject without a second’s thought any claim that this land belongs to another—especially to someone who has no history or record of ever having lived here: no kings, no historic defensive wars, no poetry no literature and no archaeological record.
There is a story that David Ben Gurion was asked what gives Jews the right to claim this land. He is reported to have replied: the story of America begins with a ship called, the Mayflower. Let me ask you, what day did the Mayflower set sail from England? What did those brave souls eat on their first historic night at sea? For our Jewish story of national beginning, every Jewish child knows what day our people set off to go to Israel. That day is called, Passover. Every Jewish child also knows what our ancestors ate on their journey’s first night—matzah.
David Ben Gurion, while not known to be religious, understood what it meant to be Jewish. He understood why Jewish was so important to Israel. When he was under pressure from both Arab hate and world anger, he did not freeze. He didn’t hesitate because he knew that the quality of our claim to this land lay with our Jewishness—not with someone else’s approval.
Without that Jewishness, the quality of our claim to this land evaporates. When that happens, the quality of our leadership evaporates.
This is precisely why Netanyahu’s security cabinet freezes with indecision. Cabinet members don’t believe in their Jewishness.