Ruminations in Rhodes

Kahal Shalom Synagogue, Rhodes.Kahal Shalom Synagogue, Rhodes.

I needed a short break. I wanted to get my head in gear in preparation for a book I intend to write on Israel''s position in today''s lost world.

I needed somewhere close and quiet, so I headed for the little Greek island of Rhodes.

Forget quiet.

Turkey, a country that took the intimate warmth of the Israelis, stabbed us in the back as their leader, Erdogan, changed national direction from secularism to Islam. As a step in this direction he publicly insulted Israel''s President Peres at a Davos Summit. Later he launched the provocative and violent Mavi Marmara flotilla, using Turkey''s I.H.H. terror-linked organisation as his provocateurs. To consolidate a public support, the Turkish Government organised noisy mass demonstrations complete with flags and banners to display the public anger with Israel.

Rationalizing this sudden switch of friendship betrayed, and watching the growing enmity against the Jewish state, it was apparent that the rise of Islam in Turkey was sweeping aside a generation of precarious secularism advanced by Kamal Ataturk.

Bruised from the political slaps and curses, Israelis turned their collective backs on Turkey and went in search of other destinations for tranquility and recreation.

One thing needs to be known about Israelis. They are passionate travellers. Go to the far corners of the world and you will hear Hebrew being spoken by young back-packers or intrepid Israeli businessmen.

Israelis have developed the habit of taking frequent short breaks. They do this several times a year. They like the all-inclusive resort vacation linked to short flying times. With package deals costing $200 and $300 as person, including flight, full board quality hotel and transportation, Israelis flew off several times a year. That is why places like Anatalya, Bodrum and Marmaris in Turkey became swamped with hundred of thousands of Israelis.

When Turkey slapped Israel, they shot themselves in their tourism foot. It has been estimated that the mass exit of Israelis is costing Turkey forty million dollars a month in lost revenue. Instead, Israelis quickly found a pleasant alternative in Greece. Greece, suffering from financial meltdown, is now experiencing an economic injection administered by the growing Israeli tourist market.

Crete and Rhodes have become the beneficiaries of the new tsunami of Israeli tourism.

Just over an hours flying time from Israel, these sun-drenched Mediterranean jewels enjoy the spectacle of mass visitation by Israelis who repeat their short stay vacations several times a year. Israelis claim that it is cheaper to fly to the Greek islands for a four night visit than it is to stay in an Eilat hotel. Warning notice to Israeli hoteliers.

My flight and hotel was packed with Israelis eager to experience 
the culture, music and food that they have been keen to adopt.

The Rhodes weather was changeable for an end of season visit. The island closes down to tourism at the end of October. Although they can enjoy warm sunny weather in winter, it can also be stormy.

Under brooding skies we strolled through the old town. The ancient synagogue was one of the sites we sought. Although it has become a tourist attraction it is badly signposted but, eventually, we explored an anonymous alley and came across the building after a bend in the narrow lane.

The Rhodes Kahal Shalom Synagogue is more than a temple. It is a museum to the history of the Jewish community of Ehodes. It is also a memorial to the Jews who were marched off the island by the Germans, never to return.

On July 23,1944, the Jewish men were deceived by the Nazis into believing that they were being rounded up to go work in a labour camp.

The following day all the Jewish women and children were forced, under threat of execution, to gather in the old town square before being transported to join their menfolk.

Days later, they were all shipped to Auschwitz.

Only 151 survived.

As I left this place the skies had opened as if thousands of tears were falling from the heavens on this sad alleyway.

I couldn''t help but think that if the Jewish State of Israel had been granted it''s independence by a caring world prior to 1944, rather than four years later, one thousand five hundred Jews from Rhodes would be alive today, protected and sheltered in a nation of their own.

My gloomy mood matched the blackening sky. I found shelter from the now heavy rain in a dimly lit cafe.

This is a time when much of the world is questioning Israel''s right and logic in introducing an oath of allegiance to Israel as the democratic and Jewish state.

Many think this is unreasonable, even racist.

Looking skyward, the raindrops were telling me that the dead Jews of Rhodes  demand that Israel commit to its identity as the national home of the Jewish people, and not be encouraged to remove its Jewish identity by those who pretend to know better than us Jews what is right and proper for us to do.

If it is racist to be true to the national heritage and core values of our Jewish state then so be it.

If you think that this declaration of national identity is racist then consider this. A Palestinian state alongside, or instead of (as is the intent of anti-Israel activists), has already decreed itself to become yet another Islamic republic with Islam as it''s national religion. It''s leaders insist that their territory must be Judenrein, free of Jews. They have introduced a law in which any Palestinian who sells his land to a Jew faces the death penalty.

How much more racist can you become, and yet I hear no outcry about the formulation of a racist, and Anti-Semitic, Palestinian state.

Isn''t this infinitely more racist than an expression of Jewish pride that allows freedom of worship, and expression of identity, to all in Israel?

The leaders of both divides in Palestinian society, Fatah in the Palestinian Authority and the extreme Islamic Hamas regime in Gaza, have declared an eternal refusal to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state.

The problem with so much of the Western nations is that they have abandoned their roots and are adrift in an ocean of global socialism and multi-culturalism within their own societies. They haven''t yet woken up to the truth that it doesn''t work. That they are rootless, lost, anchor less.

They opened their gates to whoever wanted to gain access for whatever reason. They promised all sorts of enticements and incentives for leaving their own bleak and restricted societies. Attracted by social and welfare benefits given without any condition or responsibility imposed them, they arrived in droves, swamping the indigenous population.

These countries drowned in the internal debts incurred by coping with limitless immigration.

They found shame in the new interpretation of a history that was once glorious.

They also abandoned their religious ethics, values, and identity. The uneducated, unaware, valueless, citizen turned away from the church and the church, in a failed attempt to modernise the message, adopted a religion based on universal sufferance, the morality of human rights, and a communal socialism. This, too, failed.

It did, however, bring the church into lockstep with far Left causes. It even created an unholy alliance when pious Christianity found brotherhood with extreme and radical Islam couched in euphemisms such as Palestinian human rights.

The shallow top surface of this phoney morality, when brushed aside, often exposed an anti-Semitism rooted in replacement theology.

The illogical evil of their argument, rarely admitted, is an end result that would not replace a Jewish state with a Christian one, but with yet another islamic regime.

This does not seem to phase them. The Jewish resurrection,  through the State of Israel, is as much an abomination for dogmatic Christianity as it is for Islamic extremism.

For both, it must be removed.

Like it, or hate it, Israel has always been, and will always be, the national home of the Jewish people in aspiration and in deed.

The millions of lost Jewish souls, including the one thousand five hundred from Rhodes, could have been saved had Theodore Herzl''s dream become a reality a bare few years earlier.

That alone justifies branding Israel as the Jewish and democratic nation.

Then, Jews were forced the wear the yellow Star of David. It was meant to identify and shame Jews.

Today, we wear the Jewish State of Israel with pride.