Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A second picture-story for the last day of Chanukah, 2011

 Today is the eighth (and last) day of Chanukah, 5772 (2011).

Here are some pictures from 1948 (and later) to remind you that the Chanukah story of old still lives: we are engaged in an existential war with those who hate the G-d of Israel.
According to one Arab narrative of the modern Arab-Israel conflict, Arabs were expelled from Israel by invading Jewish armies in 1948. That war was not (for the Arab) a war of Independence; it was a war of Jewish brutality against the Arab. According to a slightly different version, Jews started the war and immediately expelled hundreds of thousands of innocent Arabs, thereby creating the Arab refugee problem. As recently as this week (December 24 -26, 2011) the lie that Jews started the war has once again appeared--in the "readers comment" section of the online Jerusalem Post.  It is one of the lies surrounding this conflict that won't go away. Jewish aggression and brutality in 1948, this Arab narrative explains, is partly why Arabs hate Israel--and why Israel is guilty of 'crimes'. But the Jews did not start the war--and 'brutal expulsion' is an egregious myth. That's what today's post is about. Today, you will see for yourself one example of how our modern Chanukah story has been scripted for us, against us.

First, let us remember that this fiction of the  'brutal expulsion' of Arabs by Jews in 1948 is a fundamental pillar of the Arab war of hatred against Israel. It is repeated often. It is called 'historical fact' and/or a fact that is well-known. It is accepted as truth. One recent example of this 'truth' against Israel appeared in an op-ed essay Mahmoud Abbas published in the New York Times on May 16, 2011. There, Abbas wrote that, after the UN declared Israel's statehood in November 1947,  "Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued." More recently than that--on December 19, 2011, just last week-- American James Adler, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School (Israel's problem isn't Thomas Freidman, Jerusalem Post)--wrote that, in 1947/8, Israel knew that, "as a tiny minority, it needed to 'cleanse' the area in  order to create a majority and to make the new state viable".

A lie, unchallenged, becomes 'truth' even for an alumnus of the Harvard Divinity School.

Such lies have certainly taken on a life of their own, but if you know any history at all, you understand that this depiction of that war is both false and baseless, for Zionists did not start the war and they did not initiate a consciously premeditated Arab expulsion to ensure a future majority (or for any other reason); Arab forces did not then  'intervene'; and more expulsions did not then 'ensue':  what happened was, the UN gave Israel statehood, the Arabs immediately declared war and attacked with at least 5 (some count 7) Arab armies, populations ran from the fighting, and the Jews somehow won.

That was the mistake the Jews made. They won.

If you have any question about what actually happened in 1948, go find the front page of the New Times dated Saturday, May 15, 1948; there, you will see history reported as it unfolded--before the myth-makers went to work.  There, you will see how the Arabs rejected the UN offer of their own state, and chose instead to attack, to destroy Israel. In fact, the Arabs had begun attacking Israel before May, 1948 (the videos you are about to see talk of an event that took place in April, 1948)--but Arab myth-makers don't bother with such subtleties; they simplify history for you and just claim that the Jews had attacked as soon as the UN declared Israel to be a state (see the Abbas example, above). Today's Arab lies are shocking to see, but the core of the Arab-Israel conflict is a propaganda war to demonize and then delegitimize Israel that many Jews have no idea exists. They simply believe what they read. This war of unalloyed hatred is real--and aggressive. It began long ago--and continues to this day, as the December 19, 2011 essay (Adler, above) suggests.The videos in the December 21 posting below illustrate just how aggressive (and false) that propaganda war is.

Here, you will see another aspect of that war: myth-making to demonize the Jews.

To make matters worse, Jews themselves have played a key role in the anti-Israel industry. It is truly terrible to see Jews behave this way, acting out against their own people, but this is how Jews behaved in the original Chanukah story. Many sided with the Greeks who wished to destroy us. Today is no different.

Beginning in the early 1980's (or late 1970's), Jews calling themselves  'New Historians' began to promote an Arab version of the 1948 War at the expense of the Jewish version. These 'New Historians' did not (and do not) simply attempt (in my opinion) to show that the Jewish version was perhaps incomplete, or did not sufficiently explore the Arab side of things; rather, they seek to erase the Jewish version entirely, claiming it was lies. James Adler, in the essay above refers to these modern Israeli historians as those who have concluded that Israel committed ethnic cleansing in the 1948 War, an accusation that Adler refers to as 'historical fact'; but  that 'fact' is, as you will see in a moment, part of a deliberate, conscious effort to falsify fact. 

Today's Chanukah example of this virulent historical 'fact-making' (to demonize the Jews) focuses on a village called Deir Yassin, which (as you'll see in today's videos) has remained integral to the continuing Arab hatred of Israel more than 60 years after the Deir Yassin incident. Deir Yassin, for some, became the poster-child of Israel's bestiality towards the Arab and a rallying cry for revenge against Israel that continues to this day. To those Jewish New Historians, if Arab stories claimed that Jews massacred and raped their way through Deir Yassin--and Jewish stories said that such did not happen--then the Arab was telling the truth and the Jews were liars. Period.

To put this war of Jewish and Non-Jewish historians of the Left against Israel into its larger context, see my July 6, 2011 essay, Why shouldn't the Arab get his 'right to  return'?, below, under, 'July 2011'.

In today's Chanukah post, you will see three videos where Deir Yassin plays a role. First will be a short history about Deir Yassin. This video (and the second one as well) shows Arab citizens giving their version of Deir Yassin; but you'll also see Arab 'insiders' talking also about Deir Yassin; and you'll see contemporary newspaper articles, so you can balance and interpret the interviews you see. In the second video, you will see a retelling of the Deir Yassin details. In the third video, you will see that Deir Yassin is not just an old story.

Here is the first of today's videos  (h/t to Eddanij and Pierre Rehov Channel for this video).

 In the history of the Arab-Israel conflict, Deir Yassin has been used as a key piece of historic 'evidence' to show how Jews committed atrocities--and began ethnic cleansing--against the Arabs in Israel during 1948. The problem is, Deir Yassin is not entirely what Arabists present it to be. There is no attempt at balance or analysis in the Arab account: it's 'the Jews massacred and raped--what part of massacre-and-rape don't you understand?' In this next video, you will revisit Deir Yassin from a slightly different point of view. Please note that some words and historic references may not be correct--but these errors do not alter in any way the story you will see (h/t to israelpalestine-speedy. blogspot for this video).

Before the video, some caveats about those errors:

(1) at one point in this video, the text says that Jews in Jerusalem during the1948 war were literally starving--and the pictures following that 'announcement' show Jews, among other pictures, dancing in the streets; this seems obviously wrong; the statement regarding starvation should have come after the dancing; the dancing actually refers to events before the 'starvation' occurred; What I understand to have happened is this: Deir Yassin, as you'll see, essentially 'blocked' the road to Jerusalem. Deir Yassin was situated in such a way that anyone driving on the road to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv was an easy target for snipers in the village, which looked down onto the road. If you have ever travelled the road going west out of Jerusalem, you will see, on the side of the highway, newly painted examples of bombed-out trucks and army vehicles from that fighting--memorials to the desperate battle to get food and equipment into Jerusalem. From a military point of view, Jerusalem at that moment in time was lost. Your chance of surviving the drive past that village to Jerusalem was practically nil. The road going uphill into Jerusalem was narrow (not like it is today) and difficult. As one Arab woman interviewed in the film says, they dug trenches two meters (more than six feet) deep in the road (to stop the convoys, something she neglects to mention); what she also doesn't say is that once those convoys were stopped because of the ditches, they became easy targets for snipers to pour gunfire down into them, exacting a heavy toll. Many Jews died in those convoys. That is why the Jews in Jerusalem were close to starvation--the gunmen of Deir Yassin were good.

(2) The video talks about 3 rag-tag Jewish 'militias' fighting for our survival; men from the two minor militias got the order to take Deir Yassin. This is a very important point in this story, because these two 'minor' militias were, if I understand this correctly, not well trained at all. They were truly more rag-tag than militia. Remember, Israel was attacked as soon as it was created--the Jews had no standing army, no military infrastructure or organization. Even the Hagana, the main 'army' was pretty pathetic. This is an important detail because it means that whatever happened inside Deir Yassin, these untrained (or, relatively untrained) militias would not be as disciplined as a properly trained army fighting in close combat: untrained, you might reasonably expect that their combat behaviour might not be particularly disciplined under such stress, which could mean, for example, a lot more gunfire going into a civilian house than might be called for (and, by the way, most objective students of history agree-- there was no raping). Whatever the case, however, the rag-tag nature of these units might explain more about what happened in that village than the Arab accusation of a deliberate and premeditated massacre. So far as rape was concerned, you will see that even Arabs have said that the Jews did no raping. Nevertheless, the loss of Deir Yassin was too dramatic an event for Arabs to allow truth to prevail.

(3). The video speaks of the Arabs of 1948 as 'Palestinians'. It refers to a 1948 'Palestine'. I question those references because it was Yasser Arafat who coined that phrase 'Palestinian people' in the 1960s, more than a decade after the War. I would caution you to be very careful about the words  'Palestine' and 'Palestinians' in this film.

(4) The video also uses the word 'Fedayeen' (Arab freedom fighter) to describe the Arabs who fought the Jews at Deir Yassin. I am not certain the Arabs were calling their fighters 'fedayeen' in April 1948. They might have but, again, I would caution you about that word, too; it might not be accurate.

So if there are so many flaws here, why watch the video? Because the flaws do not affect the story of events at Deir Yassin. Also, you will see an introduction here where you can see how Deir Yassin is described by Arab TV just a few years ago. Take a look:

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An afterword about this video.

(1) So far as I can tell, there is evidence that some deliberate 'expulsions' of Arabs did occur in 1948. A few--very few--might have been approved by higher-ups. But it seems to me to be patently false to claim, as you saw in the video above, that expulsions were conscious, deliberate and part of the overall Jewish plan in 1948. There is no body of evidence to prove that deliberateness. There is, however, far more evidence to support the pro-Israel statements made in the videos above (about how Arabs reacted to the battle).

(2) I can think of no street names that Jews have put up to celebrate the deaths at Deir Yassin--but there have been many documented 'naming' of streets within the Palestinian Authority that 'honor' the killings of Jews--the slanderous references in that introduction reveal more about how the Arabs think than it does about  how Jews act.

(3) The video appears to suggest that two states of 'equal size'  were to be created by the UN, one 'Palestinian' and one Jewish. If that is he intent of the video, then (in my opinion ) it is misleading because before the UN voted, the British gutted the original League of Nations' mandate; in the end, the Jews got only 22% - 28% (depends on whose numbers you use) of the land promised at the San Remo Conference and guaranteed by the League of Nations. The Arabs got the bulk of the land.

(3) the video spoke of 'some' villagers killed, then '17 villagers' killed. The truth is, no one has been able to sort out villager from fighter, or fighter from 'ennabler'. Anti-Israel stories claim as many as 200 innocent villagers slaughtered by Jews. The videos above, taken together, suggest something else.

In war, the first casualty is truth. This appears especially true when Jews are involved.

Remember: we are still at war. Oh, and by the way, if you're thinking about telling Jews to sign off on a two-state solution, why don't you talk first to the journalist you'll see in the next video, below. I think he'll  tell you what he'd do with our signatures.

This last video (below) shows how Deir Yassin still infects the Arab consciousness, even after many have raised questions about what happened there. As you have already seen, even Arabs who knew of Deir Yassin saw Arab lies about--and distortions of--the incident; but the hatred of Israel engendered by it does not diminish; it is a poison that knows no antidote (h/t to Batwaan and MEMRI for this video).

This video is dated 2010, perhaps 62 years after Deir Yassin. Note how 'Deir Yassin' is used by the speaker in the video.

Note also: here, 'Palestine' means modern Israel:

In the Chanukah story, the Jews of old fought for their survival. As these videos reveal, we are still fighting. Some of your Jewish friends might not understand that.

Happy Chanukah.

(h/t to Love of the Land--calevbenyefuneh.blogspot)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

King David, courage and the Likud primaries

The David of old who became King of Israel proved his mettle for leadership when he did what all in Israel were afraid to do: he stood up to the giant who publicly insulted the Jewish nation. David stood firm and declared that his faith was in the G-d of Israel, not the chemistry of power. The powerful Goliath of that world intimidated Jewish leadership. He spoke as he pleased.  He hectored. He spurned.  As he showed his disdain, Israel remained silent, passive.

We were recently reminded of that ancient Goliath as we watched US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of Defense John Panetta and US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman stand up within a single four-day period in early December 2011 to insult Israel by accusing her alone among the nations of the Middle East of diplomatic intransigence, women’s rights repressions and assaults against democratic freedoms—and for being the cause of Muslim Jew-hatred.  Given the relentless oppression of the Arab Middle East (and their refusal to negotiate), these accusations were as over-reaching as they were absurd. But they were spoken—with a Goliath-like arrogance.

The question now becomes, how should Israel’s leadership respond—not so much to these individual speeches, but to the overall hardening of American attitudes towards Israel. To date, Prime Minister Netanyahu has played a complex boxer’s game with the US: if the Obama administration takes a punch at Israel, Mr Netanyahu dances-like-a-butterfly away from the attack; then, if the US continues to press, he yields—and harasses religious nationalists and rabbis to demonstrate his allegiance to the Goliath who bullies him.  

The problem with this strategy is that it fails to address the key issue—that the prime enemy of peace in the Middle East is the Arab—while it encourages ever more pressure on a back-pedalling Israel. Israel can back-pedal only so far; indeed, compared to four years ago, Israel has practically ‘given away the store’: we have committed to a continuing unofficial building freeze in Judea and Samaria (except for the occasional token few building permits), which has allowed the US to create a housing and social crisis in Israel; we have seen an increasing number of Jewish  homes demolished on the altar of international  ‘political  correctness’; we have seen  an increasing number of Jewish arrests and harassments in Judea and Samaria as crimes by Arabs and Leftists go uninvestigated;  and, perhaps worst of all, we have accepted (for the very first time)  1949 borders for Israel even  before negotiations for peace begin. In addition, other developments pressure Israel which did not exist four years ago: an Iran closing in on a nuclear weapon; announcements by China and Russia that they will side with Iran; a unilateral request for a new Arab state; the shocking reality of an overwhelmingly hostile United Nations; and the real possibility that, if Barack Obama is re-elected US President next year, the United States will turn ever more hostile to Israel. Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu’s passive-silence/passive back-pedaling approach to all of this does not appear to have produced tangible results: since four years ago, Israel is far closer to being delegitimized than we could have imagined in 2007.

As David the king-to-be faced his Goliath, he did not back-pedal. He did not react with silent acquiescence. He also did not end up further in the hole as a result of a studied passivity. He stood firm. He proclaimed his faith in the G-d of Israel—and we saw his courage not just facing Goliath; we saw it also in his public commitment to G-d.

If you don’t believe it takes courage to commit publicly to G-d as you face your enemies, look at today’s leaders: Netanyahu, Peres, Barak, Livni.   None speaks publicly of G-d.   We want courage from our leaders—and right now, we see back-pedalling, not courage. This is not a hypothetical issue because, as this nation turns increasingly Right--and religious--Likud members know that Moshe Feiglin has announced his candidacy to replace Netanyahu as head of Likud; and Feiglin, unlike Netanyahu, is not afraid to commit publicly to the G-d of Israel.  This commitment is important because Jewish history is clear:  G-d, Jewish leadership and our survival are, for this unique nation, uniquely interrelated--and David-the-future-King showed us that courage makes this interrelationship—and our survival--possible. Without that courage, Israel back-pedals.  Moshe Feiglin understands this because he understands faith and Jewish history.   Netanyahu understands it because he fears Feiglin (recall the last internal Likud elections).  Now, as Likud turns further Right, Netanyahu wants to change Party rules to stay in power.  Will Likud members continue to allow him to back-pedal away from the Likud Platform?

The Likud primary in scheduled for January 31, 2012.  If you are Likud, how will you vote?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Chanukah story for 2011



Today is December 21, 2011. It is also the 25nd day of the Jewish month of Kislev--the first day of the Jewish holiday Chanukah. Chanukah is the story of Jews of old who fought the Greeks in a battle for Jewish survival more than 2,100 years ago.  To honor their courage and success, I bring you two videos to remind you that we, too, fight a battle for Jewish survival. These videos are not pleasant. Indeed, the first may shock some of you; but what you see is real. This is what Arabs age 25-30 have literally grown up watching on TV. At a broader level, these two videos are also a sample of  modern Arab  school curriculum and TV programing.

It is a Chanukah story for 2011.

The first video, though posted in 2011, covers TV examples from the period 2001-2008. It may be 'old', but as stated above, it was what today's 25-30 year-old Arabs grew up watching. (h/t to James1v27 for this video. The youtube address for it is

WARNING: this site address has other videos, some of which are not appropriate. You may wish to skip this first video!

The second video is from May, 2011. I post it to let you know that the ideas of the 'old' video are still 'au currant' .
The video below shows Hamas MP Yunis al Astal on Hamas Al Aqsa TV in early May, 2011 talking about Jews and Arabs. Listen carefully. Please note that when the speaker here refers to 'Palestine', he refers to modern Israel; when he speaks of 'resettlement plans' he is explaining how the Arab  refugee problem will be solved. ( h/t Daphne Anson for the video--and MEMRI). This video presents to the viewer a way to understand the significance of the first video:

Many Jews in America join with the nations of the world to press Israel to make concessions 'for peace'. They, along with the current US administration, are relentless with that pressure. For example, in early December this year, US Secretary of Defense John Panetta lashed out at Israel, ending his verbal attack with, 'just get back to the damn [negotiation] table', as if  lack of progress in talks with Mahmoud Abbas was all Israel's fault.

Since so many Jews feel that Mr Panetta is right, I thought you might wish to celebrate your Chanukah with a look at these (above)  examples of Arab elementary school education and daily/weekly Arab TV. After all, this is what we hear about in Israel. We heard it in 2004, in 2008, in May, 2011, etc. It is the reality of the Arab culture that surrounds us.  So as we in Israel compare Mr Panetta's hostile pressure on us against such examples of Arab culture as you have just seen  (and these are not singular or unique examples), many of us in Israel conclude that either our 'friends' have no clue what the Arab thinks or, worse, they don't care what the Arab thinks--so long as we make those damn concessions (to paraphrase the American Secretary of Defense). Somehow, inexplicably, many of us in Israel are not impressed by our friends' urgency. Indeed, as strange as this may sound to you, when we see such Arab TV and education videos as you have just seen, we do not rush to offer concessions.

By the way, with so many of our American Jewish friends pressing us to make peace, perhaps you noticed that nowhere in either of these two videos do we see discussions of 'justice' or 'peace treaties', or a desire for 'self-determination' for the Arab peoples in Gaza or the West Bank--or even any suggestion of peaceful coexistence with Jews. These videos focus on Arab 'ideals' that have nothing to do with peace-with-the-Jew. Justice, coexistence or peace appear to have no place in the current Arab culture. These videos present hate such as you may have never seen and may find difficult to imagine; but then, it's all right there-- in Arabic, in every Arab home, within virtually all Arab school curriculums and on TV.

Did you notice that?

The nations of the world, including many American Jews, feel very strongly about justice and peace. Such ideas are very important to them. The Arab, on the other hand, talks about something else altogether...

If you lived in Israel, who would you believe?

Happy Chanukah.

(h/t to Love of the Land--www.calevbenyefuneh.blogspot)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Protect Netanyahu! Attack the Religious Nationalist!

How convenient. On the night of December 12-13, 2011, fifty  ‘youth’ attacked an IDF ‘army base’. Who were these hooligans? According to the media, the politicians and the army, the answer has been so obvious that no investigation is necessary. The culprits were Jewish West Bank ‘settlers’ who are so elusive that they cannot be found, captured or identified.  Apparently invisible, they attempt to destroy us. Who has time to investigate? They are terrorists! 

Meanwhile, on the night of December 17, 2011, a man identified as an Arab stabbed a security guard stationed at the entrance gate to Maale Adumim. No one complained.  No one warned of the dangers of Arab terrorists.

What evidence exists that those who attacked that IDF ‘base’ were West Bank ‘settlers’?   There is plenty of evidence. For one thing, they got away. Arabs never get away. For another, the IDF—in the dark—identified them as ‘hilltop settlers’. The IDF always knows how to identify a ‘hilltop settler’, especially in the dark.  Then, as Caroline Glick has already pointed out in an essay (Jerusalem Post, October 21, 2011) on another occasion of media failure, the media repeated here what it had done with the Oslo Accords: it opted to manipulate (in favour of the Left) instead of analyse as news stories screamed: Jewish terrorists!  As if on cue, politicians on the Left condemned Religious Nationalists.  A former Cabinet Minister suggested that the IDF should ‘shoot-to-kill’ all Rightist protesters (even as the IDF has warned that any soldier who shoots at Arab protesters will be subject to arrest). Finally, the Prime Minister declared his own outrage by announcing that he would not allow ‘extremists’ to spark a civil war!

Civil war?  Absolutely.  On December 15, 2011, Tzipi Livini declared that, if anyone thinks there is no connection between the ‘riot’ at the IDF ‘base’, and a recent incident involving religious soldiers and singing women—they’re wrong! They are both part of a religious wave to wash Israel away!

Is that what this is all about-- the Left declaring that Religious Nationalists want to tear Israel apart?

How convenient: as Likud begins its primary season, head of Likud Netanyahu is reported to want to lock-out Rightist West Bank settlers from upcoming Likud primary elections so he can continue his increasingly anti-Nationalistic and Leftist policies. Then, just as West Bank  Rightists in Likud are perceived to have increased their powerbase, they choose to project this influence by torching mosques and attacking their own IDF?  We are fortunate indeed to have discovered the truth about these terrorists before those primaries. We can now see their true colors. They are not loyal Likudniks: they want to destroy us.

How convenient. Although Jews as a group generally do not believe in inconsistencies and coincidences, we are surrounded here by inconsistencies and coincidences: the attackers’ mysterious and perhaps miraculous escape from one of the world’s best armies; the media’s failure to question how wonderfully these unsubstantiated reports help Netanyahu’s Likud hegemony; and the settlers’ uncanny ability to select unused mosques to torch and roads to block.

How convenient. Just as Netanyahu expresses a demonstrable fear that Rightist ’settlers’ might flex too much power in a Likud primary, the ‘settlers’ demonstrate an uncontrollable need to attack targets perfectly selected to enrage a willingly enrageable media.

On December 15, as the outrage and anger towards Religious Nationalists reached a crescendo, Eliyahu Zalmanovitz, writing in the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) newspaper Hamevasar, noted the inconsistency between the outrage over the so-called ‘hilltop settlers’ (who caused few personal injuries) and the silence over more than 130 IDF and police injuries at Arab/ Leftist protests in just one Arab community, Bil’in, over the last several years. These violent demonstrations have not provoked the same ire—or the same cries of ‘terrorism’--as these unidentified attackers. Zalmanovitz wrote, “IDF soldiers and Border Police were injured in demonstrations in Bil'in just last Friday [December 9, three days before the ‘attack’ on the IDF ‘base’]. If you have not heard an outcry and seen ministers moved to the 'depths of their souls' at the injury of our soldiers, it is because the protesters were Leftists” (see Arutz Sheva, Who dares raise his hand against a soldier?, Gavriel Queenann, December 16, 2011).

We are lucky that the ‘settlers’ have chosen to be so accommodating in their own demonization just weeks before their successful behind-the-scene accumulation of power is about to bear fruit.  Why should these ‘settlers’ settle for replacing Netanyahu as head-of-Likud when they can torch unused mosques and attack the IDF in the dark?

Something smells here. The media, the politicians and the army have already decided who will be lynched.

How convenient for Mr Netanyahu.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Benjamin Netanyahu rules could end his rule

 Between 1996 and 1999, during his first stint as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu showed Israel that he was not the Rightist many thought he was; it turned out he was far more the pragmatist as he tried to forge a path through the Arab-Israel conflict. Today, we discover that Mr Netanyahu may not be the pragmatist we thought he was; he may be far closer to the Left than we imagine.
His recent behaviour illustrates his push to the Left: between September-December 2011 alone, he has used the Left’s wording of ‘protecting our democracy’  to  oppose legislation to bring Israel’s High Court closer to the professional standards of the US Supreme Court; he has allowed Leftists in the government and the military to coerce, arrest and displace religious nationalist Jews in a variety of incidents; and he has apparently taken the position that Likud rules for upcoming internal elections must change because current rules have allowed  West Bank Likud numbers to swell sufficiently to tilt Likud further Right. The PM doesn’t like that. He prefers to limit Rightist influence In Israel’s largest Party just as that Party—and the country—tilts further Right.
Mr Netanyahu seems to think the Left is important. He seems to believe that a Rightist approach to the Arab-Israel conflict will make Israel a pariah at the UN.  Does he believe that embracing the Left has helped Israel’s reputation?
Based on his behaviour, he seems disinterested in what Likud stands for.  He seems to use Likud as a stage to attract Israel’s right-leaning majority to win election. But once elected, he seems to do whatever he wants-- and it appears that what he wants is more ‘Left’ than ‘Right’.  Now he wants to protect that Left by changing Likud rules.
He flirts with the Left because he has learned how to kiss and dance without doing either. In fact, he has built a career with a single strategy that has worked on both domestic and international stages: at home, he uses a ‘shift-to-win’ kiss, and he has won big with it. That’s how he won in 1996—by starting Right, then kissing Left on Oslo; and it appears that is how he works today, kissing again Left as  national elections(perhaps  next year) draw closer. On the international stage, he has morphed shift-to-win into a kind of boxer’s bob-and-weave, as he absorbs and then dodges intense pressure from the EU, the US, and the UN. On both stages, he kisses and dances---but doesn’t.  This strategy reveals both his past strength and his future weakness:   his constant dancing reminds one of the man who has only one tool, a hammer; everything he sees looks like a nail.
The future, however, promises to be very different from the past. Mr Netanyahu’s singular tool—brilliant for yesterday’s realities-- may no longer work because the world is changing. Israel is moving to the Right and the EU is in danger of economic collapse. Governments in Europe teeter. America fears an economic tsunami. Economic upheaval in the West could shuffle the deck of international diplomacy. Today’s leaders could topple. If 2012 brings chaos to Europe, Israel could be pushed hard.  Bob-and-weave in this caldron could be a mistake because past is never prologue to future when the future catches fire: if you have made your career using only one tool, yesterday’s success will be tomorrow’s disaster.
As the world changes, Mr Netanyahu’s flirtations with the Left grow old. True, Likud has tolerated him. But when those flirtations turn you into the husband who comes home at night once too often with lipstick on your collar, your flirting days might be numbered. If Mr Netanyahu seeks to protect his kiss-dancing by locking out Rightist Likudniks, then he may be in trouble because this country is turning Right (the Right doesn’t like kissing Left)-- and bob-weave may not be worth saving because a chaotic world may not tolerate it. If the West threatens to catch fire, this may be the time for Jewish leadership to stop dancing because when the West weakens, the Jewish nation may not be in position to kiss or dance. Our survival may depend more on proclaiming our steadfastness to our religion and our heritage. That is certainly what our Torah tells us.
Our Torah also tells us about the requirements for Jewish leadership: kiss-dancing doesn’t cut it. If Europe darkens as radical Islam strengthens, Jewish leadership will need to be steadfast and strong.  If all Mr Netanyahu can think about is kissing the Left so he can dance better on the international stage (as suggested in a recent Jerusalem Post story), then 2012 may not be good for Israel. Mr Netanyahu needs to read our Torah. He also needs to re-evaluate his priorities.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Could silence destroy religion in Israel?

 In today’s Israel, some say that the future no longer belongs to the Zionist. That dream, they say, is dead. They say our future belongs to the post-Zionist who would de-Judaize Israel.  Others say that our future belongs rather to the religious Zionist—but only if he reinvents himself, to become more outspoken, more public.

Reinvent? Is that necessary? Yes, because we may have reached a point where the silence of the religious could threaten the survival of religion in Israel. Look around. We already see the ingredients for a religious disaster: a sophisticated anti-religious minority, a silent religious majority and a fickle electorate. With that recipe, religion is at risk.

Here’s the backround: Yoram Hazony has written (The Jewish State, Basic Books, 2001) that, by 1965, a great generational divide had opened up between those ideologically committed Jews who had literally built Israel with a plough in one hand and a rifle in the other, and their children (p. xvi).  By the late 1980’s, the symptoms of this divide seemed clear: many Jews in Israel were exhausted, confused and without direction (xvii).  Israelis were still committed to fight for Israel, but they were tired. Many knew nothing about Jewish history in Israel and many seemed to have absolutely no connection to their religion—and they had therefore lost all interest in being  ‘Jewish’.  Hazony says that he never met anyone who actually called himself a ‘post-Zionist’, but this concept, while not spoken, appeared implicit in everything he saw (xviii). By 1994, articles by Israeli academicians declaring themselves to be post-Zionist had begun to appear. We are beyond Zionism, they argued, because the creation of the State of Israel had made Zionism moot. We must now move forward, past Jewish-ness to shape our State into a secularized, liberal and multi-cultural democracy; otherwise, they argued, Israel would not survive. To survive, we must forget religion and become ‘democratic’.

The Left wants our Jewishness to disappear. They want a multicultural liberal society with Arab culture and influence playing a far greater role than they do now. The Left has written extensively about a new Israel devoid of religion. They have a goal and they have a plan.  If the religious ignore these efforts, we could end up with no religion. How could this happen? Given a marketing firm’s recent success selling Gilad Shalit’s return, we have learned that the Israeli electorate can be swayed by marketing. They can be persuaded. They can be manipulated.

The selling of Shalit’s return has taught us that remaining silent is no longer an option.

Right now, the religious do not adequately address Leftist actions against religion. Worse, when the religious do speak, they often look extremist. Their words and deeds often do not resonate with  voters. Religious leaders appear not to understand the public arena. When the religious speak, the  electorate is not always impressed:  while the Left’s message appears clear and attractive, the religious message often appears harsh and cruel. Indeed, the best argument for choosing Left is often the message of the religious.

 This is a very good deal for the anti-religious. It is not a good deal for the religious.  

Today’s religious Zionist has also been silenced.  When the world looks for information about Israel, they read our English-language dailies because English is the world’s ‘language-of-international-communication’. What that audience sees is, generally, Leftist. The religious are Fascists. Religion is oppressive. Judaism threatens democracy. Where are the religious?  They have been locked out of the arena. Except for Arutz Sheva, the world sees Israel as struggling to become anti-religious.

The religious must get into the public arena. They cannot abandon stage-center.  As the world turns increasingly anti-Jewish, the religious cannot remain mute. They must speak out—and must do so intelligently.

Israelis will vote-- and their vote will be determined by what they hear.  The religious cannot assume that Israeli voters listen to them. Our electorate is too fickle and marketing experts are too adept.

This is a good deal for the anti-religious because they know they can influence Israelis. They saw that with Shalit and with the tent protest.  In a country where 58% of the population say they are mildly-strongly religious, giving the anti-religious so much traction is not a good deal for our country. We could lose our religion because marketers are smart and the religious are silent.

The existential threat we face threatens not only Israel, but also religion in Israel. The Left cannot be ignored. They have built an infrastructure within the government. They control much of the IDF. They ‘own’ most of the media. They pursue their goal with a religious zeal—de-Judaize. The religious may be a growing majority—but their silence is dangerous because the electorate is fickle.

Religion may not survive if we remain silent.