Time for some inspiration again please. We feel like we are all under attack for what’s going on in Israel.
The question is asked in the Talmud, why was the mountain upon which we received the Torah called Sinai? The answer is because the word sounds like Sinah which means hatred and misham yarda sina l’Yisroel. That’s when hatred against Jews came into the world.
Maimonides explains: When we received the Torah we were imbued with a great moral Ambassadorship. Yes, we are different and that difference is reflected in the Jewish mind and heart; the Jewish home, family and community. Some non-Jew acknowledge this and admire it. Many were and are authentic Philo-Semites, cherishing and celebrating the Jew and his Jewishness.
But there are others – alas too many others, that are inflamed by this uniqueness of the Jew – this “light unto the nations.” Hitler didn’t just hate us just because we were different. To put it in his words: “We must destroy the tyrannical G-d of the Jews and His life denying Ten Commandments.”
Fast-forward till today when of course the buzzword is no longer Jew. The post Holocaust era has delineated that taboo to remain in place alongside other extreme forms of racial slur. So in its place we have Israel, Zionist. Because hating Jews is no longer politically correct. Hating Israel and Israelis is the correct way to hate Jews today.
Let’s be clear: Of course it is possible to criticise Israel without being Anti-Semitic. Israelis do it all the time, in perfect freedom, exclusively, I hasten to stress, among Middle Eastern countries. And while for some you can separate the two, for the overwhelming majority the lines have become fundamentally blurred and the reality speaks for itself. When a Jewish Rabbi in London is beaten because of what’s going on in Israel; when a swastika is daubed on a Shul door in Nottingham because of what’s going on in Israel; when students in Birmingham are harassed because of what’s going on in Israel; – then it is nothing to do with Israel or with Zionism or with the so-called occupation and it has everything to do with the Jew and Judaism and Anti-Semitism.
Why does Israel get such “special attention” when it is in fact the only democracy in the region, constantly attacked in an arbitrary manner when its Arab neighbours, like Syria, massacre their own without any protest, boycott or condemnation? Here we have the two standards with which the world measures morality. The UN, the academic world, the liberal voices concerned with human rights, the European politicians, are suddenly silent in the presence of other atrocities; yet when Israel is involved in something contentious it is condemned immediately for trying to survive and not allowing its enemies to destroy it.
That these are double standards speaks for itself. Mainstream culture is finding cover for the age-old hatred of Jews. They’ve figured it out. So long as the attack is
battered and flash fried in a light coat of anti-Israel sentiment, and as long as you pretend you are fighting for “human rights,” the rise of anti-Semitism is socially acceptable.
Newsflash: If you’ve stayed silent about the horrific crimes against the Muslim Uighurs in China but now only condemning Israel for what’s happening between them and the Palestinians, it probably has less to do with “human rights” and more to do with Anti-Semitism.
Newsflash: If you drive through the streets of London crying Free Palestine while simultaneously calling for the attack and worse on Jews, then you hate Jews a lot more than you could care about Palestinians.
Newsflash: if you think random Islamic murder in Paris is terrorism and random Islamic murder in London is terrorism but random Islamic murder in Tel Aviv is not – then you’re an Anti-Semite!
Have you ever wondered: Why did G-d insist on giving the Ten Commandments carved on simple stone? Why not on something more valuable or ornamental like the many precious materials used in the Tabernacle or subsequent Temples?
The stock answer is simply because stone doesn’t rot, it doesn’t tarnish, it doesn’t wear – it is permanent and that is the reality of Judaism and our commitment to Jewish values as well.
However there is an altogether cryptic explanation offered: The suggestion is that when Moses battled Amalek we are told he sat on a stone. It was that same stone that was now used for Ten Commandments. The question is: Torah is all about peace. Amalek is an ugly battle. How does one lend itself to the other?
The answer is that Amalek epitomises the essence of Anti-Semitism. It is an irrational hatred that exists for as long as the Jew exists. Just as Hamas hatred exists for as long as Israel exists. How do you negotiate with that? How do you hope to make peace with that! Hence the Torah instructs regarding Amalek an obligation to eradicate it. It must be tackled at all costs.
The Jew was, is and always will be committed wholeheartedly to peace. But the Tablets were made from stone – the very stone that Moses sat on the battle Amalek in order to remind you and me that there is no room for bleeding heart liberalism. There is no room for pacifism. There is no sand in which to bury your head or ivory tower to climb and pontificate from. You have to recognise the truth for what it is.
We have tell the world: With every ugly protest you hold condemning Israel while simultaneously attacking Jews, we stand that much straighter. With every Anti-Semitic, ignorant, malign hash-tag you tweet, we wave our banner of pride that much higher. With every prevarication you bring to the United Nations, hoping that maybe Israel will disappear when denounced on a political platform, we are reminded once more how fortunate we are to be Jewish. With every odious demonstration; every violent aspersion; every savage attack; with every lie fabricated and every abuse, we
are that much prouder that we belong to a religion, to a nation, to a belief system, where our optimism replaces pessimism and our faith exceeds our fears.
So I don’t care what they say on CNN or BBC or the New York Times. As Jews we are not afraid to be different. It’s better to be a hero walking alone in one direction, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction. They might indiscriminately fire rockets at us aiming to kill our brothers and sisters; they might pitifully attack us on the streets or our campuses – and we shed a tear, and we cry, but they will never ever break our spirit – not then and not now. We must put the message out there to the world – a message of pride, of dignity, a message that declares loud and clear: Am Yisroel Chai – We, G-d’s chosen people have, are and will live on forever more.