Address delivered to the Orange Grove Hebrew Congregation, Johannesburg,
on the occasion of the Big Shabbat, October 24-25

A solution pleasing in the sight of God? 

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The Shabbos Project 2014 is upon us. Here we are, participating in a happening that for all we know may have cosmic consequence. The project I’m here to speak on is poles-apart. Far from building togetherness, anti-Zionism toils to sow and reap disunity. I hardly need lay out what the end game is, how there’ll be no respite until Israel and its motley support crew are cut adrift from decent society, and ultimately from humanity writ broad. The signals of progress in that direction dismay us daily, none more than signals the media emit.

With your forbearance, I’d like to quote from the cover of my forthcoming work, Balaam in Modern Clothes: Enemies of Zion.

'The book is a grand exposé of anti-Zionism. In all their different guises and shades of extremism, anti-Zionists are portrayed in dazzling array and style. Plots and characters in the bible are said to portend what history will have in store for the Jewish people. If so the Balaam narrative foretold the anti-Zionist plot: if war could not bring Israel down then cursing would. Taking cue from the bible, the anti-Israel movement has embarked on a plan to curse a country and its people to the point where they live alone among the nations, a meek prey for waiting wolves. The book offers more than truckloads of deeply thought-out analysis. Deft and often delightful touches help to make this an eye-opening journey into anti-Zionism’s methods that many people would never notice, or even suspect."

I’d like to focus on one grouping in the enemy camp. I think you’ll agree that, of all Israel’s antagonists, Jews are the hardest nut to crack. Anti-Israel Jews may not believe in God, but they feel that God believes in Jews. They may not support Israel, yet believe that Israel and God have some mythical connection. How could they not connect the two? After all, where are Israel’s earliest beginnings recorded? To deny the narratives of Moses, Joshua, Ehud, Samuel, Saul, David and Solomon, all the way down to the first Temple and how the Babylonians laid it to waste – to deny Torah in other words – is to deny that Jews have a history at all.

So at the back of the Jewish mind lurks the idea that Israel is not like any country on earth. Even to anti-Zionist Jews Israel seems propelled by no force known to man. They feel, with a hostile intensity, that Jews have been in and (mostly) out of Israel for a very long time. But even the two millennia when Jews were out of Israel are referred to as Exile. Jews of whatever persuasion feel handcuffed to Israel, and we’d be wrong to think that anti-Zionist Jews feel much differently. If anything, they may feel more handcuffed to Israel than Zionists feel. How can we know this? Because we know how anti-Zionists like to harp on traditional Jewish values, and on Israel trampling those values. We also know that campaign slogan, “not in our name.” Anti-Zionists like above all things to admit their Jewish connection, if only to then render it asunder as publicly as possible.

If we attend to a couple of academics, we may pick up this feeling of being handcuffed to Israel, and making play with their being Jewish, only to throw it in the face of Jews that feel differently.

“Our fundamental Jewish values as recounted at Passover make it incumbent upon us today to ensure that the Palestinians are not oppressed.” (A professor of humanities at Ben Gurion University.) 

Our next academic clubs Israel-supporting Jews more with their history than with Jewish values.

“On the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht it is appropriate to reflect on the lessons we are supposed to have learned from this outburst of organized anti-Semitism and its aftermath. On a recent visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin, I noted that Germans explain in atonement ‘we are responsible for the crimes committed in our name.’ This moral truism is widely neglected by Jews of today.” (A professor of philosophy, University of Melbourne.)

So the professor thinks that the Holocaust holds lessons for Jews. Not for any other people, mind you. Only Jews have to learn from being murdered en mass. Yes, Palestinians may drum into their young that Jews are evil personified, but the Holocaust holds no lessons for Palestinians. And what exactly are Jews supposed to learn from the Holocaust, from Germans of all people, who feel “responsible for the crimes committed in our name?” I think you can guess. We are supposed to learn that as the Germans feel responsible for Nazi crimes, so too we Jews ought to feel responsible for Israel’s crimes. Which are what? Our professor does not say. We are left to assume the worst. Israel’s crimes are equal to the crimes of Hitler’s Reich, and Jews should feel as guilty as the Germans feel.

But wait. Do we not catch a hint that Jewish behavior today proves that Holocaust victims were not entirely blameless? They may even have had it coming to them. Jews are clubbed with the worst event in their long history of horror. Israel-haters disinherit Holocaust victims of pity. They embrace the Shoah only to condemn Israel of profiting from it with downright duplicity and every evil under the sun. So we are meant to learn what? That Jews have betrayed their Holocaust suffering and become unworthy of it. We have been superseded by Palestinians as the new Holocaust martyrs.

Identity theft. This is something deeply embedded in the anti-Zionist method. Jewish land, Jewish history, Jewish suffering: all taken away from Jews and handed to the enemy. Equally neat, horrific acts of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, infanticide and war crimes are removed from the enemy and given to Israel. So our heritage becomes theirs, and their behavior becomes ours. In the twinkling of an eye good and evil, victim and villain, swap people.

Something we may not like to confront, but must. Israel has fairly invited the enemy to stick the knife in. “Be not over righteous, nor too clever” Ecclesiastes warns the Jewish people. Secular or religious, the Jew of today believes that Israel was meant to be a light unto the nations. And what does that mean? It means setting the moral and ethical bar impossibly high. Jews invite the world to hold Israel to a higher standard of conduct; even, and especially, when combating terror. “Shouldn’t our expectations be higher?” asks the head of an Israeli human rights body. “From my country, I demand a lot more.” She remains unsatisfied even though Israel was cleared of war crimes. She demands that Israel wage war so that no one gets killed and nothing gets damaged. Meanwhile enemies salivate at the prospect. How high can Israel jump? A mere shiver of the moral bar is enough to send the world into transports of hatred. And instead of a light unto the nations, Israel becomes the world’s polecat.

“Shame on those members of the American Studies Association for singling out the Jew among nations. Shame on them for applying a double standard to Jewish universities.”

So complains a highly respected advocate for Israel. Personally I’d expect him to know better. Yes, the ASA voted to boycott Israeli academia. But attack the body on academic freedom, not on applying a double standard. The Jew among nations not only invites but expects to be judged by different standards. And if the God of Israel meant for it to be a light unto the nations, Israel defenders that cry foul might as well save their breath. Who would argue with that grinning devil of a cleric in purple robes.
“Whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can’t ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people.”

By what doubly high standard should Israel be judged? What does the Creator expect of Israel? What would be pleasing in the sight of the Lord?

“I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase…And I shall give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down and none shall make you afraid..”

A wonderful blessing, to be sure! To deserve it what should Israel do about the Palestinian question? Or about settlements? Indeed, there are Jews who know what God wants. Take Naturei Karta. Get the hell out of Palestine! Wait until the Lord your God is ready to bring you back with outstretched arm to the land He promised our patriarchs. Until that time comes you have stolen a native people’s land. Remove yourselves forthwith! Or ask Women in Green what they know about God’s expectations for Israel. The Jews are commanded to settle the whole biblical land, and then only will Hashem bless Israel bountifully. Or ask all the in-between Jews: what is the right, religious and moral thing to do?

Many would bow to that sacred cow called the “Two-state solution”. They believe that a free Palestine will live and let (the Jewish neighbor) live. Others would call it the “two state delusion.” Yet others put faith in a unitary state wherein Jews and Arabs live together in golden harmony. One, two or three states: who really believes in their heart of hearts that it’s the right thing to do? What solution would be pleasing in the sight of God? What road should Israel take to merit great blessings? Is God pleased with the road Israel is taking? Can Zionists count on Hashem? The jury, many might say, is still out. Meanwhile Israel’s enemies count their blessings. And they have an awful lot to count.

Money. Without a king’s ransom the Middle East conflict would never have become the longest running show in town. The conflict that political leaders dream of solving has, thanks to billions of dollars, grown into an unmovable mammoth. To engage in fantasy for a moment: What if Barak Obama pulled a peace treaty out of the hat? Would the lion lie down with the lamb? Consider Palestinian leadership. The PLO and Hamas would have to knuckle down to the daunting task of nation-building. No more basking in world-wide victimhood, no more aid billions that go with it. No more high-living. Twenty billion dollars of aid, with hardly a string attached, has rained onto Ramallah over the past dozen years. That is only the money from Western donors. What the Arab league threw at the PLO and Hamas is anyone’s guess. Until the money rain stops no power on earth would impel mega-rich, unaccountable leaders to live and let Israel live.

And you don’t degrade a global industry merely by waving a peace treaty at the cameras. Fat beneficiaries sup on the world’s favorite conflict, and no piece of paper can wean them off it. So many livelihoods; all those grand titles and globe trotting, so much free spending, revolve around the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Take the UN for a big example. A UN agency known as UNWRA looks after more than five million Palestinian refugees. It runs 700 schools teaching half a million children. Hundreds of UNWRA clinics and welfare centres provide better care than Arab host countries offer their people. It doesn’t come cheap. UNWRA’s budget is some $2 billion per annum. What if a peace accord were signed tomorrow? How would 30,000 Palestinians on the payroll react? A fixed belief in entitlement already led to riots on talk of cutbacks. And no one in their right mind expects Arab leaders to surrender their potent weapon against Israel: refugees. Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan putting up their hands to absorb five million? It won’t happen. For 60 years Palestinian refugees have had zero rights in the Arab world, and no peace deal will change that. So, who except UNWRA will continue to look after millions of Palestinians in permanent limbo? No force known to man could disband the UN behemoth.

Other bodies, playing for even bigger money, feed off the conflict. Who’d bet on the human rights industry packing up after a peace deal? Access to free capital, well-connected stakeholders, media channels beating a path to their door, and a commodity—Israeli crimes, for which the world has a gluttonous hunger: if those are not conditions for big business, what are they? Try telling BDS groupies that peace has broken out. How would boycotters react to a peace deal absolving the nation they love to hate? Would they accept an Israel that comes up smelling of roses? Not if their high-living paradise was lost.

The evergreen conflict is driven by economics as much as by enmity. Consider the favorable risk-reward trade-off from demonizing Israel, which dangles a low risk for high reward carrot. No one gets murdered, as they would and have been, for bad-mouthing corrupt and murderous leaders. And the rewards, in cash and kind, are irresistible. The New Israel Fund recently gave $200 million to 800 NGOs operating in tiny Israel and the West Bank. These bodies are driven by a particular business model. They have a financial interest in Israeli human right violations, real or not. Israeli misdeeds are their stock-in-trade, assets that convert to cash. European and American funders practically fling cash at human rights bodies, so that tiny Israel ends up with more per square mile than anywhere on earth.

Popular causes have a political dynamic, which makes causes prone to high-jacking. Politics corrupts; conscience commands a price; avarice drowns integrity; fortune attends reputation; fame attends both; and the road to fame likes nothing more than a people “oppressed.” And, oh boy, the more oppressed one can make the Palestinians, and the more wicked the Zionists, the surer is the road to fame. Income, lime-light, travel, columns in prestigious journals, careers and, for the lucky few, celebrity status. Even Barak Obama’s peace brokers are susceptible.

Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute uncovered the astounding disclosure which the New York Times had done its best to bury.

“Martin Indyk, the man who ran John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, whose failure in turn set off this summer’s bloody Gaza War, cashed a $14.8 million check from Qatar. Yes, you heard that right: In his capacity as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the prestigious Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk took an enormous sum of money from a foreign government that, in addition to its well-documented role as a funder of Sunni terror outfits throughout the Middle East, is the main patron of Hamas."

The Palestinian cause is a meal ticket while Israel the monster is the goose that lays the golden egg. Israel is a “do-gooder’s” paradise while Arab countries, where innocents are slaughtered on biblical scale, are a do-gooder’s hell. How valuable are your crimes, oh Israel, your welcome mat, oh tolerant people.

Where does God stand in all this? Is He pro-Israel? We don’t rightly know. We do know that the mini wars Jews have had to fight in their own backyard (Defensive Shield, Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, Protective Edge) can be traced to Israel’s original sin. We know that Israel has treated its promised land like a hot potato. Land that Israel won in miraculous victories became land it later, mainly to curry favour, surrendered. Whether or not a signal from on high, magnanimous Israel became more hated than victorious Israel was hated. For surrendering land to defeated and embittered enemies, Israel’s wages of sin have been mayhem and murder, death and international pariah status. “Be not over-righteous…” Perhaps the real lesson to be learnt is that nations of the world do not admire a merciful Israel. Would they more likely admire an Israel that asked for no quarter and gave none?

In the words of the sage Shimon ben Lakish: “Whoever shows mercy to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to those deserving of mercy.” The aftermath of Israel’s wars, ancient and modern, bear out these early warnings. The moral of the story is that trouble upon trouble comes upon Israel when it bends like a reed to be extra nice. Her enemies are predisposed to take mercy for weakness and bite the hand that feeds them.

It has taken Israel a long time to learn that land for peace does not appease the enemy. It only sharpens the appetite to demand more. Only now it dawns on the Jewish people that they really are a nation that dwells alone. Whatever road Israel takes, it must be for the good of the Jewish people. Allies are nice to have and to hold. But allies, even Barak Obama, have agendas of their own. At the end of the day no one has Israel’s back – no one except the Jewish people themselves.

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