As Israel grows divided, we must become Abrahamic - opinion

I believe that we, too, are going to have to become Abrahamic in the coming days.

 GRANDEUR: EXPERIENCING Deep Dive Dubai, the deepest swimming pool in the world reaching 60m. (photo credit: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)
GRANDEUR: EXPERIENCING Deep Dive Dubai, the deepest swimming pool in the world reaching 60m.
(photo credit: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

Anyone familiar with my articles over the last three decades knows that – at least when it comes to Israel – I am an eternal optimist.

No, I am not a wishful-thinking Pollyanna who sees the world through rose-colored glasses, oblivious to the dangers that surround us; I recognize that we live in a rough and tough neighborhood and have immense challenges facing us. But, I firmly believe that Israel is here to stay, that it will ultimately weather every storm, and that it is far and away the best place that any Jew can – and should – live.

But, I fear we are in for a very rough ride in the foreseeable future, and we had better be prepared for it. There are three warning signs flashing bright red right in front of us, sending a message that we had better not ignore.

The first is coming from overseas, from America. The United States has long been our big brother, staunchly defending us in global forums like the United Nations, which would have sanctioned us on innumerable occasions without the US’s veto. America has sent us much-needed military equipment, promoted us as a sister democracy espousing the very same values and world-view as her own, and provided us a lifeline from crisis to crisis.

But, America is changing. While we still enjoy overwhelming, wall-to-wall support in Congress, the voices of dissent are growing stronger and shriller by the day. Junior congresswomen – who normally would be a lone voice in the wilderness, drowned out by the majority – are being given disproportionate attention and publicity far beyond their numbers. The lies they spread about Israel, the antisemitism they foment at every opportunity often goes unanswered and is allowed to fester and foster public opinion against us. They see themselves as the wave of the future and that bodes very ill for us. America’s economic woes are also cause for our concern, as Jews historically become targets when prosperity plummets.

A bloodied Israeli flag hangs on the main building at the University of Cape Town on Monday at the start of Israel-Apartheid Week. (credit: SAUJS/FACEBOOK)A bloodied Israeli flag hangs on the main building at the University of Cape Town on Monday at the start of Israel-Apartheid Week. (credit: SAUJS/FACEBOOK)

Most alarming is the toxic atmosphere on college campuses across America. It has become the height of trendiness to trash Israel in and out of the classroom, ignoring the Palestinian terrorists who murder random civilians – including children – and then celebrate their deaths; the Iranians who hang gays and the fundamentalist Muslims who regard women as third-class semi-slaves.

Freedom of speech – as well as freedom of thought – is nonexistent where Israel is concerned; the Palestinian narrative is the only one allowed, and Jews of every political persuasion are unabashedly shunned and shamed with virtually no response from university officials. Where will these tens of thousands of indoctrinated students be in five, and 10 years? What influence will they have on American society as a whole?

IN OUR own part of the world, we are seeing the utopian dream of Arab-Jewish coexistence rapidly melt away. The home-grown violence we witnessed in Lod and Acre in 2021 has spread to many other places, particularly Jerusalem, where young people speak openly about their preference for Hamas and their dream of making the Holy City Judenrein. And on the other side, the opposition’s diatribes against coalition partner Mansour Abbas – who defied his own extremists by openly acknowledging that Israel is and will remain a Jewish state – invite only more dissension and violence between the sectors.

But, what troubles me most is not our external crises, but our internal strife. We are growing ever more divided, with a caustic social discourse that has become one giant shouting match in which no one hears a word the other has said. Electric bikes – even motorcycles – zoom down what used to be called sidewalks, highway etiquette is a contradiction in terms, and bullying at school and abuse even in kindergartens shocks but no longer surprises us. If we don’t respect one another, can we expect the world to respect us?

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in Dubai (she refers to it as Do-Buy!) as part of an excellent Ophir tour. What struck us as most amazing was not only the grandness of the place – everything there has to be the biggest, the tallest, the richest; even the deepest, like the deepest scuba diving pool in the world – but also the casual and cosmopolitan mix of society.

Crime is unknown, people are friendly and every nationality is welcome. Rabbi Elie Abadi, senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates in the UAE, told us that Dubai is the only place in the world where a Jew can walk safely through the streets wearing an I Love Israel T-shirt, while waving an Israeli flag, and no one will say a single negative word about it.

The Abraham Accords, brilliantly fashioned by the Trump administration, are nothing short of miraculous, even messianic. I am particularly impressed by the excellent choice of the name Abraham. It obviously refers to the common ancestor shared by the great religions of the world, and the literal brotherhood that can and should provide common ground for all of us.

But Abraham’s full name has another connotation that is equally important. He is called Abraham HaIvri (he who crossed over – the Euphrates) on his way to Israel. The rabbis take this name figuratively, as well as literally. Abraham stood defiantly on the other side of the divide when he professed belief in the One God, even when the rest of the world practiced idolatry. Abraham would later take a bold stand against injustice, arguing for Sedom and even going to war to free his nephew when he was unjustly taken captive.

The courageous leaders of the Emirates have also made a brave, Abraham-like decision to break ranks within the Arab world and to not only make peace with Israel, but establish a warm peace that welcomes Israelis to their country, with no doubt or discrimination. Their friendship is genuine and they have not backed down even amid threats from other countries and drone attacks by Yemeni terrorists.

I believe that we, too, are going to have to become Abrahamic in the coming days. We will have to stand firm against the voices of hate that will shout at us. We will need to take a dramatic stand against the Iranian nuclear threat, even if the world will condemn us. We will have to impose law and order on our society, stamping out violence and terror, even if these measures seem harsh and uncompromising. The decision to do that which is right, and just, must be taken, even if it is unpopular and politically incorrect.

The name Abraham also means father of many people.

At the end of the day, Abraham’s overall mission was to unite the world in love of God, and be the vehicle that would bring divine knowledge and morality to all peoples. That is our mission as well, and with faith and fortitude, we shall someday achieve it. 

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana.  

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