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)
Unlike the Jews that came as refugees from the horrors of the concentration camps and expelled from a multitude of the Arab nations, the Palestinians have been supported all this time by the Arab League, the United Nations, and the West capitulating to Arab oil dependence and ongoing fight against an encroaching Russia in the Middle East. There is no question that the Palestinians have squandered billions of dollars in aid, spent decades engrossed in terror, maintained unrealistic goals to “have it all,” and passed over many chances for achieving their people’s autonomy. If only their efforts at building tunnels to escape from prison as well as to get into Israel and attack, murder, and kidnap innocents would be channeled instead toward building solid institutions to advance the governing of their people, educating and growing prosperity, and living in freedom and peace, side-by-side with their neighbor, Israel.
While I am sure that there are many good Palestinians who are deserving of autonomy and opportunity, unfortunately, their corrupt leaders and terrorists have been brainwashed by radical Islam and have used the Palestinian people as political pawns leaving many still languishing in refugee camps today. In stark contrast, the Jewish freedom fighters, who also endured incredible hardships, focused their efforts towards their independence, and even those taken prisoner managed to escape again and again until they made their way back to Israel to celebrate the achievement of the independence of their people. Like many things in life, setting the right goal is half the battle, and a goal of life and freedom is a much more compelling vision and driving force than ever hate and terror will be.
Certainly, every human being has the desire to live and goes about fighting for life. It’s part of our genetic makeup and our very survival instinct. Yet, we all know that the cycle of life brings us from the beginnings of infancy to growth, the maturity of adulthood, then decline, old age and ultimately death itself. Truly, we all know the end from the very beginning, and with that we can achieve a greater awareness that what’s good in living isn’t the materialism and chasing the next “high,” but rather the ability to choose to do good and to be on a higher spiritual plane.
Life is choice and having control over how we respond to life’s circumstances. Death is simply observing and being. Therefore, even if we merit being in the Divine presence in the afterlife, we still can’t actively help anyone, like those we love, any longer. This is why we want to merit life where we can continue to work on ourselves and help others. Thus, despite all the pain and suffering associated with life, it is more than offset by the opportunity to learn, grow, and transform our very essence in a purification process of our souls.
It’s not always the largest, strongest, fastest, and best financed that wins. Like with the story of David and Goliath or even one of my modern-day heroes, Rocky, the determination of the little guy can overcome the biggest and the best of them. The Taliban were patient and over twenty years continued to wage their struggle against us, but more than that they knew that our patience was limited and that eventually we would leave, and they took the long view and planned for the overthrow of the government and the return of their rule after we were gone. They waited us out and that can be an incredibly successful strategy!
Israel is the Jewish homeland and the Biblical Promised Land from G-d. What the Palestinians haven’t understood in all these years, since the State’s founding in 1948, is that no matter how long they try to wait us out, we have more determination than they have patience! The Jewish people will never give up our historical and legitimate rights to be a sovereign nation in our land, Israel. In the end, the Palestinians may be very patient, but we are the ones who are utterly determined: whether Ashkenazi or Mizrachi, Labor or Likud, Tel Avivian or Jerusalemite, one thing that we all fundamentally agree on is our sheer and utter determination as the Jewish people to survive and be a free nation in our land.
Truly, in whatever situations we find ourselves in life, and the pain and suffering that we may have to endure, we really don’t have a choice of our circumstance, but only in how we choose to respond to it. In life, G-d puts us right where he wants us and in situations that are personalized and best for us, whether it feels that way at the moment or not. G-d tries us, and we have to respond with the “right” thoughts, words, and deeds—always remaining a mensch and choosing holiness and righteousness, no matter how difficult it may be. That’s our ultimate challenge, to find holiness even in the depths of despair.
Everyone is confronted with levels of pain and suffering, as I heard said that: “there aren’t enough people for all the pain in the world!” The challenge is to resist hopelessness and the loss of one’s integrity, and nevertheless to choose to do good. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we have the opportunity to do teshuva and to try to influence G-d’s decree for us for the new year, but in the end, G-d is the ultimate Judge. He doesn’t ask us; He tells us what will be for us. Of course, we have the opportunity to answer G-d’s call to us and the responsibility to choose righteousness even in a distressed world and in trying times. In essence, the underlying test of it all is not only to survive the challenges we must face, but also to emerge from them as better people with purified souls. (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
While Israel and the Jews are filled with paradoxes from our forefather Abraham to the modern State of Israel, we are a people who try to wear these paradoxes well. We relish our commonalties even as we are proud of our differences and uniqueness. We argue and fight with each to try to get to “the truth of the matter,” and we negotiate, compromise, threaten and cajole to that sometimes elusive end. Paradox is just another word for our survival against all odds and our determination to overcome the blind hate, anti-Semitism, and scapegoating of Jews throughout history. We Jews are individually broken, but together, we are a beautiful, paradoxical mosaic—a little meshuggah (crazy) and with an unfortunate dose of PTSD, but fundamentally good in intent and deed—working to fulfill our optimism, hope, and mission to usher in the universality of G-d in the world and of betterment for humankind.
The fact of the matter is that when a terrorist who hates you and wants to kill you talks, they are telling you that homicidal action is soon forthcoming. It starts with words of disdain, loathing, threats, and hostility, but make no mistake, that those words end in terror and death. Terrorists, like the radical Iranian mullahs are not someone you can sit down with for tea, have a nice conversation, and work out a meaningful or binding diplomatic agreement. Unfortunately, the only thing that a murderous, racist terrorist understands is a punch in the nose! Accordingly, no amount of talking with Iran is going to lead to them ceasing their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to use against the Jewish State and the United States. In their own very distorted “religious” minds, the irrational Iranian mullahs hate us and want us dead, period. To them, we are the scorned infidels, and they are the holy jihadists on a mission of murder. As much as we want peace with all our neighbors, in this case, a military response is not only necessary, but required.
The Jewish people have learned very well the hard and painful lessons from tyrannical madmen who have sought to destroy us over the centuries. The Holocaust is seared into our present-day consciousness like the tattooed numbers were into their victim’s flesh. We have learned to never let our guard down, to expect the unexpected, and to fight like hell when we have to. I am confident that with G-d’s help, Israel and the United States will not wait until it’s too late or stand by for a genocide to happen again! What Iran “says,” it means, but what Israel “does,” it expertly succeeds at.
If the husband and wife—with Hashem’s help as the third partner—create a peaceful, loving, caring, and harmonious home then they can have the likes of Shabbat all week long.
I realized why we say the blessing for the food before we eat and bless G-d for the land after we eat: before we eat, we don’t know how it will taste or whether it will sit well with us in our stomachs, but we imagine when we are hungry that all the good-looking food and drink will be great and so we bless G-d based on the perception of the coming food. However, after we eat, we make the blessing for the source of the food (the land, the food chain, and over wives for preparing it) for the sake of Shalom Bayit, because whether the meal was so good or not so good, we say thanks to Hashem and to our wives, because that contributes to Shabbat and peace in the home, always!
Sure, we may not fully understand G-d’s decision on not letting Moshe into the land of Israel (or decisions that affect our lives today), still we can affirm our faith that G-d is a just and merciful Judge.
In the end, none of us are the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, and if G-d didn’t let him in, well who are we? This is a frightening thought to me. Yet at the same time, I believe that if we as the Jewish people collectively put our heartfelt yearnings and prayers together to be able to go and settle the land of Israel then perhaps G-d will answer us in the affirmative!
And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!
Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!