Last week, at our annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala, I launched my new book, The Israel Warrior. The Israel warrior is an ancient concept that is now being reborn.
A few days ago, after spending Passover in Israel with my family, I brought my eldest son close to me and placed my hands on his head. We had traveled to Israel to spend the holiday with him because the IDF, in which he is currently serving, would not let him leave the country. It was amazing for our family to spend a full week with him when most of the time we get 10 minutes to speak to him from the field.
Knowing he was returning to the Golan Heights, where he is just across the border from the Iranian-funded monsters of Hezbollah, I invoked God’s blessing upon him: “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord shine his light toward you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift his countenance toward you and grant you peace.”
I reminded my son that Hassidim never say goodbye, because they are constantly in the process of meeting. It was much harder for his mother to say goodbye to her son and see him off in his olive green uniform.
I grabbed him by the shoulders and said to him, “There are three levels in devotion to a cause. The first is God forbid to die for a cause, martyrdom. The Jewish people have had way too much of that already. The second, much higher, is to live for a cause. But the third and the highest is not just to live but to fight for a cause. You, Mendy, have the privilege of being in the first Jewish army since Bar Kochba decimated the Roman armies of Hadrian and Julius Severus 2,000 years ago. But this time Israel will rise victorious. And you are a part of it.”
My friends, a new kind of Jew is now inhabiting the earth. It is the Jew who is fed up with being subject to a hatred he has never earned and malice which he does not deserve. It is the Jew who knows he has done nothing to warrant to the world’s enmity. It is the Jew who knows he killed no one’s god, stole no one’s land, poisoned no one’s wells, drank no child’s blood, and is the victim, rather than the perpetrator, of genocide.
For too long we Jews have developed a complacency mentality.
If six million Jews die, it must be because we were sinful. We didn’t observe the Sabbath.
If Israel is hated around the world, it must be because it’s doing something wrong. It’s occupying another people. It stole the land from the Arabs, making them pay for Jewish suffering in the Holocaust by colonizing a darker-skinned people. And if Jews are blown up on buses or stabbed in the streets of Ra’anana, it’s because of West Bank settlement policy.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said so himself, as did Peter Beinart in a debate he and I had in Tel Aviv in front of 1,000 young Israelis.
But we no longer raise passive Jews. Our organization challenged Secretary Kerry in a full-page New York Times ad demanding he stop justifying terrorism against Israelis. We exposed Beinart for the lie that Israelis die because of Jewish olive groves in Beitar.
When six million Jews die the Israel warrior shakes the foundation of the heavens demanding divine justice. We are guilty of no sin. We deserve long lives. And we demand that the God of Israel protect us.
When Jews living peacefully in their ancient homeland are targeted for murder, the Israel warrior builds a defensive army to protect life.
Yes, I know, it was the Jewish people who gave the world the notion of peace. I am well aware that Judaism says that peace, not war, is life’s highest value and that God’s very name is peace. “Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu,” He who creates peace among the celestial host shall grant peace among us as well.
But as King Solomon said so wisely in Proverbs, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven... a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Just 71 years after the crematoria were silenced, we declare that so long as Iran is allowed to threaten the Jewish people with annihilation, there can be no peace. So long as Hamas fires rockets at Jewish nurseries, there can be no peace. So long as the Palestinian Authority incites its citizens to stab pregnant Israeli women on the streets of Jerusalem there can be no peace. And so long as the boycott movement calls for the economic destruction of the Jewish states on the world’s campuses, there can be no peace.
Throughout the world there is a global onslaught against the Jewish people. Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, has remarkably become the single most hated country on Earth. The Israel warrior takes no pride in having to fight. He, like King David before him, prefers harp and lyre to sword and shield. He, like the Maccabees before him, prefers to light candles to dispel the darkness then fling arrows at invading Greek armies. The Israel warrior does not today, and has never in the past, erected a monument to a military victory, the way that Rome did with Titus’s and Constantine’s arch.
But for all his reluctance to fight or revel in the glory of combat, the Israel warrior will not shirk from a battle that is imposed upon him. He will fight back. Never again will Jews be murdered in gas chambers.
The author’s latest book The Israel Warrior has just been published.