In Plain Language: Israel is real

If Hollywood is the prime manufacturer of make-believe in this world, Universal is the epicenter of that art.

 A MAKE-BELIEVE conductor poses before an imaginary trip to Hogwarts. . (photo credit: SUSSIE WEISS)
A MAKE-BELIEVE conductor poses before an imaginary trip to Hogwarts. .
(photo credit: SUSSIE WEISS)
Just a mirage, that’s all you are to me...
(Tommy James and the Shondells, 1967)
On location in Universal City, California:
“Who is wise?” asks Ethics of the Fathers. “He who learns from all people [and all things].” And this past week I certainly learned, or realized, a thing or two when I spent an eye-opening day at Universal Studios.
If Hollywood is the prime manufacturer of make-believe in this world, Universal is the epicenter of that art.
In one whirlwind day, I barely avoided being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus rex; I got caught up in a harrowing car chase that saw a dozen other cars around me wrecked; I flew across the ocean and above the mountains, led by a young boy on a broom; and I saw a flaming airplane land just three meters in front of me. I traveled from New York to London to the Old West to China in just a few hours, without a trace of jet lag. Wherever I went, all was not as it seemed to be. No one can fabricate false reality like Hollywood.
But they are not the only ones to have mastered the art of fooling the public with faux facades. In the Torah portions currently being read, Pharaoh proves quite adept at twisting and transforming reality. He convinces his people that he is an all-powerful god who controls the rise and fall of the Nile, thus determining the agricultural success – or lack thereof – of the entire country. He succeeds in erasing – literally – onetime hero Joseph from the annals of Egyptian history, convincing his nation that the Israelites are parasitic threats to Egypt and so must be enslaved or even murdered.
This past week in Israel, leaders from around the globe – from Pence to Putin to Prince Charles – gathered dramatically in Jerusalem to commemorate the Shoah and to spotlight both the victims and the villains of the Holocaust.
The Nazis were masters of deception, ingeniously creating a pervasive false reality that masked their crimes and their central cause – the murder of every Jew on the planet. Concentration camps were “labor farms,” roundups of Jews and mass murder were “Aktions,” and death camps were “resettlement centers.” Show camps like Theresienstadt put a false face on the horror, while signs of “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the outside gates masked the terror within. Much of the world was fooled, with disastrous consequences for our loved ones.
And even today, the Palestinians create a parallel universe made up of smoke and mirrors, forging a phony history of their own while using every means to erase, expunge and obliterate our truth: the truth of King David and King Solomon, of the Temple in Jerusalem and the 3,000-year presence of Jews in our homeland. Our holy texts affirm without a shred of doubt our legitimate claim to this land, while they are the authors of the shortest book in history: Ancient Palestinian Culture and Custom.
YET I wonder: Will the true events of Jewish history remain fact in the years to come, or will they be turned into fiction? The question is worth considering, for indeed our accomplishments in the last century boggle the mind and invite disbelief.
Will generations to come believe that we could survive the devastating Shoah and emerge to revive and recreate our ancient land and language?
Could we have really won a War of Independence against all odds and predictions, and then, soon after, vanquish seven Arab armies in just six short days?
Could we have actually taken in millions of immigrants – many of them elderly and impoverished – and could we have increased our population by 1,000% in just two generations?!
Could we possibly have made our tiny nation the hi-tech capital of the world, dramatically bestowing innovations of all types upon humanity, increasing its quality and longevity of life?
Will all this be acknowledged by future generations as fact, or will it be dismissed as fanciful fairy tales concocted by creative Jewish minds?
There are two conflicting narratives fiercely competing in the world today. One suggests that the Jews are an oppressive, malevolent force, robbing the world of its resources, stealing the property of others and espousing a doctrine of supremacy and world
domination. The other affirms that the Jewish people are benevolent, decent, industrious citizens who hold the moral high ground and bring abundant blessing to every nation in which they live.
It is our sacred task, I suggest, to fight passionately for the truth we know to be real, to dispel the clouds of doubt and defamation that too often swirl around us.
It is an uphill battle, to be sure, because ignorance is a societal cancer that spreads exponentially, perverting and polluting even the best and brightest of minds.
We have the obligation to devote ourselves to separating the facts from the fables and declare, with unabashed pride: Israel is real.
The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana. [email protected]