Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Not by Chariots or Horses.” As I watched through the window of the synagogue, the people practicing their boxing, I remembered when I was young and learning to fight. It took an enormous amount of training, hard work, and practice, and still at the end of the day, the realization always that we are but the foot soldiers for G-d. We must be the best prepared in every way that we can (“Never again!”); however, it is G-d who not only leads us, but also fights for us. In the Prophets (Joshua 6), we learn that Hashem literally brought down the walls of the great city of Jericho simply by having Joshua and the Israelites march around it, blow the Shofar, and yell a great shout. So too may G-d continue to fight for us against the enemies in our time and speedily complete the final redemption.
I sometimes get very scared when we don’t give Hashem the proper credit for our incredible accomplishments and military successes, but rather we talk about our own “self-reliance.” To a certain extent, the calls for self-reliance is understandable amidst broad-based anti-Semitism in the world, calls for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and near constant United Nations resolutions again us. Of course, in these circumstances and with our history of suffering persecution, pogroms, and Holocaust, we may look to insulate and protect ourselves from the world’s incessant and irrational hatred of Jews.
Most importantly though, we have to recognize that G-d is in charge. As a small people in a tiny (albeit marvelous) land, surrounded by enemies, we can never forget that remaining sovereign over Israel and defeating our enemies that rise up against us time and again is nothing but completely miraculous. Our enemies are 1,000 to 1 against us, and yet G-d makes them run from before us.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Tragic Comedy of the ‘Anti-Zionist Synagogue‘.”Recently in the Forward, I read about this “synagogue,” Tzedek Chicago, that has the tragic distinction of being the first anti-Zionist synagogue in America. They claim that they are all about justice, as their name “Tzedek” supposedly implies, and as their website values states:
“…the creation of an ethnic Jewish nation state in historic Palestine resulted in an injustice against the Palestinian people, an injustice that continues to this day.”
However, the facts do not match the rhetoric. Anti-Zionism, regardless of the source is ultimately about Jew hatred.(Screenshot from @margoexplainsitall on Instagram reel at https://www.instagram.com/reel/CcBMN1bFfpU/)
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Terror in Israel: Time To Take Out The Trash.”Passover, which is the holiday of liberation and freedom, is also when we must acknowledge that hate and terror is inconsistent with faith and holiness. The terrorists impinge on our freedom to live as a free people in our own land. On Passover, we must renew ourselves with the strength, determination, and perseverance to rid ourselves of the chametz, not only as represented by food but metaphysically by those filled with haughtiness, intolerance, hate, and violence towards us.(Source Photo: Zoriah; https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoriah/3170393154/)
As countries, responsible and rogue, pursue ever increasing and deadlier nuclear weapons (as well as deadly biological and chemical weapons), the chances grow for a unilateral bilateral, or multilateral exchange to take place. Whether from a brutal tyrant wanting to grow their base of corrupt power to a rampaging megalomaniac bent of world domination, a paranoid schizophrenic leader who feels that his “back is up against the wall,” or a radical theocratic crackhead convinced that G-d is on their side and wants them to kill all the infidels, we are inching ever closer to the day when nukes or other weapons of mass destruction will be out of the silo, port container, or suitcase.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “A Dream And An Honor.”The soldiers of the IDF are so motivated and effective, because they are generally at peace with themselves as a moral Jewish Democracy who stand for what’s right in the region and in the world. Especially after the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust, the IDF are truly holy warriors that defend the Promised Land of Israel and the Jewish people globally. I think FIDF is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the soldiers as they dutifully serve to protect all of us.
While people can easily utter falsehoods, like Iran saying that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, the documents and computer drives that Israel captured in 2016 when they courageously raided Iran’s nuclear archive shows that Iran has been pursuing a dangerous nuclear weapons program for decades.
The world has tried to contain Iran for decades: From monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities through the IAEA, to sanctions and covert actions to deter and set back Iran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and the JCPOA deal to try to contain Iran’s march to nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, nothing has worked, and Iran is intent on getting the bomb.
Moreover, while the costs of a preemptive attack on Iran could be great, the doctrine from former Prime Minister, Menachem Begin that Israel cannot and will not allow countries that threaten Israel’s existence to get the means to carry it out is as true today as in 1981 when Israel took out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak.
The Jewish people learned from 2,000 years in exile and persecution ending in the Holocaust that killed six million Jews that we must take verbal threats of annihilation supported by facts on the ground against us most seriously. As children of the Holocaust survivors, we must be true to our words of “Never again” and act with courage and determination to confront the enemy covertly and if necessary, with overt action to stop their genocidal pursuit from ever getting off the ground. (Credit Photo: via https://www.flickr.com/photos/aeneastudio/3657735814 by aeneastudio and adapted by Andy Blumenthal)
We all know the Jewish dictum of “He who save a life, saves the world.” In Judaism, every single life is invaluable, and hence we are even allowed to violate the holy Shabbat for the preservation of human life (“Pikuach Nefesh“). Similarly, when it came to a prisoner exchange for IDF Sargent first Class, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas terrorists for five years (2006-2011), Israel exchanged1,027 Palestinians in a prisoner exchange for Shalit. Life is truly sacred to the Jewish people.
This week, I had the opportunity to meet and hear from members of Israel Air Force’s Elite Search and Rescue, Unit 669, at Magen David Synagogue in Rockville, Maryland. There I was reminded of the brave Israeli soldiers who not only defend the holy land and people of Israel, but also who are there to search for missing soldiers and rescue them and civilians “regardless of location or conditions” when faced with war, terrorism, or other disaster. Soldiers from unit 669 go into every possible dangerous situation, and under fire, to save lives at whatever cost to themselves. (Source Photo: Flikr)
The term Nakba, in relation to Israel, was actually was first used in August 1948 by Syrian Professor Constantin Zureiq not to condemn anything Israel did to the Palestinians, but rather is a call for the Arabs themselves whereby:
We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.
The displacement of the Palestinians and their refugee problem is attributed not primarily to Israel, but rather to the mistakes that the Palestinians and Arabs made themselves! So, while, the Arabs and Palestinians have tried to make Israel into the aggressor and blame them for their troubles, the truth of the matter is that the Palestinians Nakba is to a great extent caused by their own religious intolerance, gross hatred of the Jews, including the desire for their genocide, and that this has led them down a true disastrous path of Middle East recklessness and extremely bad decision making, over and over again.
The goods news is that in more recent times, the Arab nations are thank G-d changing their hostile approach to Israel and instead moving to make peace. Not only Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1993), but in the last year with the Abraham Accords with both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as with Sudan and Morocco normalizing relations with Israel. Even this morning, I was amazed once again to read an editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords too! Of course, the hope is that more and more Arab countries as well as the Palestinians will choose the path of peace and collaboration with Israel, as Ben-Gurion had originally held out to them in 1948 (it’s never too late). The prophetic vision of swords turning to ploughshares is perhaps today’s turning of the shedding of tears and assigning blame over a perceived Nakba into sitting down together on Sukkot for a nice piece (peace) of chocolate babka!
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really about fear vs. humiliation. The Jews are fearful of the Palestinians and the Palestinians feel humiliated by the Jews. The Jewish people collectively suffer post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders after millennia of persecution culminating in the Holocaust and multiple Wars in Israel against far greater Arab forces. Further, this has been perpetuated by decades of terrorism and Intifadas that have left the Jews feeling vulnerable in their own land of Israel. The net effect of this Jewish history and of being surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs, many resentful and angry, is that Jews are naturally afraid. At the same time, the Palestinians, as part of the greater Arabs, feel humiliated after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the carving up of their lands by the West and the colonialism and occupation that followed by Britain and France. More recently, the Palestinians feel humiliated by the founding of the State of Israel amidst the multitude of Arab lands of the Middle of East, as well as by the barrier wall and regular checkpoints that protects Israel from terrorist intruders, by the West Bank settlements (and actually by Jews anywhere in Israel), and by general Israeli military control over the territories.
There is hope that in time and with G-d’s help, the opposing forces of fear and humiliation will weaken and thereby become less oppositional. At that miraculous time, please G-d in the near future, the factors that prior resulted in a cosmic explosion of war, terror, Jihad, and Intifada will dissipate. Then instead of suicide bombers and terror tunnels and walls and checkpoints, we can have hope for the arrival of a beautiful white dove with an olive branch of peace that knows no bitter boundaries of Jew or Palestinian anymore. (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)