Iran and feelings: Musings on my 40th aliyah re-birthday

 Three score and seven years ago our parents and grandparents brought forth in this Holy Land a modern-ancient nation, conceived in Holiness, born through great struggle and the assistance of the Rock of Israel – the Jewish nation, returned home to re-establish their sovereign state, dedicated to the proposition of making the world a better place.

Exactly two score years ago, on this very day, the 29th of Tammuz, 5735 (July 1975), I came home to Israel.

The United States I left was different. I mean – we played dodge ball. Actually in Chicago we called it "elimo", short for "elimination". We put more emphasis on the offensive 'eliminating' the 'enemy', than on the defensive dodging of the ball.

We sang: "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me". Today there are people who think that stones thrown at Israelis don't break anything more than the monotony. In contrast they feel that names "will hurt me", so no one has the right to call me names. Today's US students are meant to learn in an atmosphere restricted in what they must hear, unlimited in what they can force you not to say – because you're hurting their feelings. I'm not sure what you can learn in such a stifled atmosphere.

Some young Americans grow up with this distorted view that they have an inherent, natural "right" not to have their "feelings" assaulted by differing points of view. That is a recipe for half-baked human beings, unable to cope with the realities of this world – which are often cruel, evil and certainly not feelings-sensitive.

This last score years I've been teaching young students right before or after army service. I guess you could say that my goal is to inculcate in them enough gentleness of soul, spirituality and morality, so they are inoculated against the cruelty that often comes with war – no matter how just a war – and sometimes spills into a hardness of character even in civilian life. Together with this spiritual gentleness and striving for good, there is also an education to build the courage needed to resist evil, whether in themselves or in the world.

In the army, basic training instructors can be crass, yelling at you, certainly not taking your feelings into account. Why? Because you must learn to function in spite of someone insulting, demeaning or ridiculing you. That's true in life in general – but particularly in the army, in battle. Why? Because there is nothing so insulting and demeaning as someone shooting at you! I mean – he's not laughing at your hair, cussing your mother or calling you by foul names that may send you running to a room with play-doh. He' actually trying to kill you, to snuff out your very existence, and that is really insulting.

But some American youth are being taught that: "Sticks and stones, not in safe zones, but names will always break me!" If you can't conceive of getting on with your life despite being ridiculed or insulted on the basis of race, sex or creed, if you demand to always have your feelings respected, no matter how outlandish and irrational – then you certainly can't cope with the fact that some people "out there" want you dead!

"Death to America" is a common cry in America's new found "ally" – Iran. It is commonly chanted, at the instigation of the leaders, and it's much more common than the expression "nigger" in Huckleberry Finn. Americans educated by "political-correctness" fantasies may lack a sufficient psychological arsenal to cope with that – except denial and repression, which lead to trying to make a deal with the devil calling for your elimination. Denial, repression, and… a resentment aimed at the little kid, the little country that dares to say: "The emperor's deal is naked!"

Israel isn't the same country she was when I came here forty years ago. She's grown, developed, matured, more able to care for its own and for others, living in reality "as is" while striving ceaselessly to make the world a better place, with help from the Rock of Israel and her dedicated people.

I thank God every day for the wonder and opportunity to live in this Holy Land, with my Holy Sisters and Brothers, the People of Israel.