Right now, today is a critical point in Jewish history. Maybe you don’t think so because it’s easy to be distracted by the small stuff. But we need to step back and look at the forest instead of the trees.
Israel, a Jewish state reborn after almost two millennia, is facing a real threat to its survival – perhaps as great or greater than at any time since 1948. The threat is from Iran, which a) has taken control of Lebanon and built a massive rocket and missile installation aimed at our critical infrastructure, b) has achieved strategic dominance of critical territory in Iraq and Syria, will soon have its own troops and proxy militias on our Syrian border as well (with the acquiescence of the US and Russia), and c) either already has or could presently have nuclear weapons.
Iran’s enmity to Israel is a result of religious dogma, and of Iran’s determination to dominate the Mideast and become a world superpower by defeating the US. In the past few years, it has moved steadily toward its strategic goals, which include eliminating the Jewish state that it sees as both an outpost of the US and the major obstacle to its local ambitions.
Someday historians will ask why an American president, Barack Obama, did so much to help one of America’s most dangerous enemies – and also to hurt the Jewish people. But that’s not my subject today.
At the same time that the Iranian threat grows, there is a pandemic of Jew-hatred spreading throughout the world. Europe at times seems to have regressed to pre-WWII conditions or worse, with Jews caught between re-empowered right-wing Jew-baiting, fierce Islamic hatred, and left-wing “intersectional” antisemitism. Similar phenomena exist in the US, although less severe so far – except possibly on university campuses.
But while some European Jews are starting to worry about their future, in America and in Israel – where they absolutely should know better – they are acting irrationally, busying themselves with trivia or even doing exactly the opposite of what’s needed to ensure their survival and that of the Jewish state and people.
To European Jews – and here I include the UK – I have a simple message: get out. The natives don’t like you (they never did, as Herzl noticed), and Islamification is proceeding apace. It can’t get better, only worse. I would like to see you make aliyah, but I understand the economic realities, and also the risk from the coming Mideast war. This is a decision you will have to make yourselves.
The US and Canada together have about half the world’s Jews, 90% of these are non-Orthodox, and the majority of them don’t have a clue about Jewish history or the Jewish state and the conflicts and issues surrounding it. They are geographically far from the Middle East, and can’t read Jewish texts or anything else in Hebrew. For most of them, their Judaism has become attenuated and even replaced by a form of liberal humanism that makes them blind to the dangers they face and drives them away from the Jewish state. For these Jews, I have several messages, depending on which of several groups they fall into.
To the supporters of J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, the New Israel Fund, and so on: if you still have positive feelings about the Jewish people, please believe me that you are not doing it any favors, and find some other cause – helping the homeless in your own country is a good one – that will allow you to feel good about yourself without hurting your people.
To those who think that it is their duty to make Israel a better place by activism on behalf of Jewish pluralism, improving the treatment of our Arab citizens, protecting the rights of illegal immigrants or Palestinians, or even promoting the (impossible) “two-state solution:” please understand that you know less than nothing about these issues; and the fact that your parents were Jewish does not give you the right to intervene in our affairs. If you want to change things here, then make aliyah, vote, and send your kids to the army. Otherwise, leave us alone.
To those that think that they are making things better by engaging in interfaith dialogue with Muslims, fighting “Islamophobia,” and favoring increased immigration from Muslim countries, you are being used. Don’t complain when the US and Canada have the same problems as Europe.
And now some suggestions for my fellow Israelis, for whom ignorance is not an excuse.
If you are the Prime Minister you should be meeting with the Chief of Staff and insisting that he develop a plan and a timetable to fight and win the inevitable war with Iran and its proxies. Waiting to see what will happen and then responding is not a strategy for victory: preemption is.
If you are the Minister of Defense, in addition to assisting in planning for the unavoidable war, you should be directing massive resources toward strengthening the home front, especially in the north of the country, which will bear the brunt of Hezbollah’s 130,000 rockets when war breaks out.
If you are the police commissioner, you should investigate the seditious publisher of Ha’aretz Amos Schocken, his poison-pen writer Gideon Levy, or the arguably treasonous Breaking the Silence organization, rather than engaging in politically-motivated harassment of the Prime Minister and his wife.
If you are a Member of the Knesset, you should ask yourself whether the “status quo” concerning whether markets should be open on Shabbat in Tel Aviv is really a question that is worthy of your time right now.
The world and especially the region that we live in is undergoing great strategic shifts, and their direction is not to our advantage. It seems as though events are driven according to the plans of Iran and Russia, and we are playing defense.
Israel is a powerful country, but one with little strategic depth or capacity to absorb a surprise attack. The coming war promises to be extremely destructive, both for us and for our opponents. In addition to conventional warfare, it will see cyber attacks and possibly the use of electromagnetic pulse weapons. Even the employment of nuclear weapons by one or both sides is not unimaginable.
Israel must be ready to win the “kinetic” war, the cyber battles, and the psychological warfare that will come along with them while protecting her population and infrastructure. Not an easy task – but one that requires focus and unity of purpose. There are few obvious signs of this.
Of course, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. Maybe the PM is sitting with the Chief of Staff every day (after his regular police interrogation). Maybe they are working to ensure adequate shelters for the population in the north of the country. Maybe Schocken is planning to close his “newspaper” and move to Germany.
Most importantly, maybe the courageous decision has finally been made to launch a preemptive attack and not wait for thousands of rockets to fall.