Israel's Identity Crisis: Liberal or Jewish?
By Ben-Zion Krasnianski
Algemeiner Journal, February 2006
A person needs a sense of mission like the air he breathes. A clear sense of mission and purpose keeps the soul healthy; without it we decompose like a body without a backbone that collapses into a meaningless heap of bones. Nations are like people, with a healthy sense of mission they thrive; without it, they flounder and fade away.
Israel is floundering. Israel's greatest threat today is not from without rather it is from within. Its greatest risk comes, neither from Hamas nor from the bloody Intifada, rather it comes from its lost sense of mission. The Jewish people have survived for 3800 years only because it had a strong sense of mission. At Mt. Sinai the Jewish people were charged with the mission of being a light onto the nations, volunteering to become a nation of prophets and priests who will teach the world right from wrong.
Even in their darkest moments they cried out, "Next Year in Jerusalem" never wavering in their commitment. They were proud of and deeply cherished their Jewish-ness and their sense of being chosen for a unique and special mission. They witnessed the rise and fall of many mighty empires that have been reduced to the footnotes of history while they never left its front page. It was only the Jew's sense of mission that kept their souls fresh, their minds vigorous and their families alive. With a vibrant and healthy soul they could survive anything, Hitler too.
For the first thirty years of its existence Israel had a clear sense of mission: to create a safe haven, a home for Jews. Israel inspired awe and admiration throughout the world as Jews returned to their Biblical Homeland. The readiness of one Jew to go to the limit and beyond in order to save a fellow Jew, as in the spirit of '67' or 'Entebbe' and in Israel's successful attack on Iraq's Atomic Reactor, was the envy of the world.
Crack in the Foundation
At it's founding, however, Israel declared itself to be a Jewish liberal democracy. The inherent contradiction in its declaration of independence is tragically playing itself out in today's headlines. Israel's crack in its foundation has now become fully exposed. Israel has to decide once and for all whether it is a Jewish Land, as the name 'Israel' after the people of Israel clearly indicates, or whether it is just another liberal democracy.
As a liberal democracy Israel faces a dead end. The Arabs by their share numbers and demographics will eventually outnumber and outvote the Jews. Consequently, both the right and the left in Israel are conceptually stuck, utterly paralyzed and politically checkmated. In the international arena Israel has lost the political argument.
From the Arab perspective Israel has no leg to stand on. The Middle East with its 22 Arab Counties without a single democracy is simply the wrong neighborhood for liberal democracy. According to Arab propaganda, which has become the oft-repeated lie that has turned into conventional wisdom, Jews, especially European Jews, are a foreign implant, outsiders who have colonized and occupied native Arab land. All the reasonable arguments in the world and all the UN resolutions combined will not change for them the simple fact that Jews don't belong in Israel. To them all of Israel is one big settlement and all Israelis are settlers occupying the land of millions of displaced Arabs. How would Americans feel if three million Vietnamese settled in Texas and decided to create Vietnam in middle of Texas! Because the Europeans were guilt-ridden after the Holocaust and were kind enough to give the Jews a slice of the Middle East why should the Arabs have to pay the price and suffer? And if Israel is truly a liberal democracy, than one-man one vote is the only fair and logical approach.
Israel is suffering from the tragic and fatal flaw of its founding. Never before in world history have so few lead so many for so long with such a confused, befuddled and incoherent policy. Israel today is not a tragedy waiting to happen it is a tragedy that has already happened. A liberal democracy that tolerates even a single suicide attack against its citizens without declaring an all out war against the terrorist leaders and their perpetrators, has lost any legitimacy. The only reason people give up some of their individual rights in a democracy is in exchange of the government's promise to protect their lives!
Israel's citizens are suffering already for five years, with no end in site to the horrors of terror. After five bloody years, the question remains not if, but rather when, where and who will be the next innocent victim to lose their life or limb. Entire families have been wiped out. People were sitting Shiva for their parents, children and siblings simultaneously!
In England during World War Two Winston Churchill stiffened the English spine by inspiring his people and lifting their morale with his fighting words. The English knew why they were fighting, they had a clear sense of mission and purpose that enabled them to survive and defeat the Nazis. The United States and New York City were blessed with courageous leaders during 9/11 who have inspired the American people and articulated a crystal clear sense of mission and purpose thereby stiffening our resolve.
The message, however, coming out of over the past few years from the leaders of Israel in the face of the worst atrocities visited upon the Jewish people since the Holocaust is the inspiring promise that there will be a Palestinian State! This our leaders call cleverness and pragmatism no less. You have to pinch yourself in the cheek to see if you are the only one in the world who hasn't gone stir crazy, gone completely mad.
Israel is the heart of the world and if the heart is unhealthy the whole organism suffers. If the citizens of Israel are unsafe than we are insecure here in New York. With each passing day it's becoming crystal clear that until Israel tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it will continue to face a dead end and all of us will continue to suffer from the scourge of terrorism.
The irony of irony is that all of the clever pragmatist throughout history have long ago disappeared and been forgotten while the idealistic, stiff-necked and stubborn Jew has survived and outlived them all. Ben Gurion once stated that any Jew who lives in the Middle East who doesn't believe in miracles isn't a realist. Today after 3800 years of miraculous success Israel has abandoned the G-d of Israel and his Torah and is relying instead on the broken reed of political pragmatism.
In 1948 the joke in Israel was that there were two reasons why the Jews wont the war of independence. One was a natural reason the other was a supernatural reason. The natural reason was because G-d helped. The supernatural reason was because they had an army!
Moment of Truth
We must stop lying, and when we stop lying we will stop dying. It's high time that we let the world in on our big secret. The only reason Jews came back from Odessa, Russia and Poland to Israel is because G-d gave it to us, because the creator of the heaven and earth chose to give his Holy Land to the children of Abraham Isaac and Jacob as stated clearly in the Bible. There are three Billion people in the world who believe in the bible, who live with the bible and who quote the bible. But you will never catch any self respecting Jew, the people of the Book who would dare to even whisper in public the obvious, simple and plain truth, that our sole connection to the land of Israel is because of the Bible!
Israel's decision to endorse a Palestinian State is a colossal blunder of biblical proportions. History will never forgive or forget those who are blindly dragging Israel to the abyss.
It's time to tell the truth that there never were a Palestinian people and there never will be a Palestinian State, not in G-d's lifetime. No one is doing the Arabs any favors by cruelly fueling false hopes that will only lead to frustration and greater disillusionment. The eternal people of Israel will continue to thrive in the whole of Eretz Yisroel and not even Jewish politicians acting foolishly and humiliating themselves in public, could stop or slow down the fast moving train of Jewish destiny that's hurtling towards the dawn of our redemption.
If our ancestors were here today would we be able to look them in the eye? What will we tell our children and grandchildren when they ask us why we gave away their inheritance, their trust, without their consent? Will they ever forgive us? What will we tell them, that we had no choice? History will not be so kind or forgiving.
We have no complaints against President George Bush. After all he's the President of the greatest liberal democracy in history. We don't expect him to proclaim that Israel is a Jewish homeland. We do, however, expect Jews to firmly and politely declare the truth that Israel in its entirety is the Holy Land and that it is a uniquely Jewish homeland. We have to tell the President that with all due respect, as the ad states: We answer to a higher authority! It is our only argument, it is the truth, and it is the only claim that the world can and will accept. Israel will never be safe and secure until it possesses the wisdom and courage to tell the truth. We should take to heart the lessons our mothers taught us as children, to always tell the truth and to never tell a lie.
Reason for Hope
The world is turning into a very advanced and refined place. It is becoming allergic to lies and is reacting violently to even a hint of untruth. We are living through the funeral of all the false isms that were meant to replace the one true ism: Judaism. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, quoting from the prophet Daniel (11:35) described our age as the great age of clarifications. The upheavals we're experiencing are a result of everything bubbling to the surface because all of the issues must be dealt with now. If a person was walking around with a potentially fatal disease and he was blissfully ignorant of the critical danger he faced, it would be considered the greatest blessing for his illness to rise to the surface so that it could be cured.
The Torah has never let us down; it has never lied to us, assuring us 3300 years ago that we will outlive all our enemies. By choosing the G-d of Israel, the Torah of Israel, the people of Israel and the land of Israel we will guarantee that our children will live in peace, in safe and secure borders and that Israel will flourish and prosper. The ball is in our court.
The burning issue of the day is not the welfare of the Jewish State rather it is the state of the Jew. We have to rediscover our inner sense of pride and dignity and re-ignite the spark turning it into a blazing flame. The Jewish people must lead the way out of this dark, harsh, oppressive and bitter exile. We must hold a candle of truth to the ocean of lies engulfing us from within and from without. The Jewish people will ultimately be victorious, triumph and win, not only the battle, but also the war. That is a forgone conclusion, because G-d has promised us so. We hold the deed and the guarantee in our hands: the living Torah that contains the eternal promise of a genuine and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach. May we merit its immediate actualization, full-blown implementation and complete realization. Now.