Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

What makes a country?


There are some basic things that constitute nationhood.

A nation must have a native language; but it’s all right if the same language is spoken elsewhere. The language must be constantly updated to cover the events, history and culture of that country.

It should have a history, however long or short. In the case of the U.S. relatively short, In the case of Israel, really a long, long time. It is important once again to emphasize that the people of the ancient and holy land of Israel have had for the past 66 years, the first indigenous, elected government on that land in more than 2,000 years.

It is the first time since the Romans routed the zealots from the top of Masada that Jews control their own country, free from outside rule by Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and the British. That is a matter of pride. And pride in one’s country and the willingness to defend it and uphold its basic principles are what defines nationhood.

Look, every nation has citizens that just cannot abide picking up a weapon and taking another life, no matter how justified that act might seem to everyone else. So, most nations have a type of national service that will accommodate such citizens and most of them perform admirably.

But what do you do about citizens that are total takers? Those who would live off the work of others, those who refuse to defend their nation in any way. Those who accept all that is good and sweet about living in their own land, but in some cases even refusing to admit it exists—what about them?

Now I am not talking about those who rail against the government for real or imagined injustices. I am not talking about those who disagree with governmental policies both foreign and domestic. If they live in a democracy such as ours or Israel, there are elections, debates and dialogue. If they live in a despotic nation, well there is always revolution.

But what about those who do not even engage in the national discussion? What about those who have no interest in the nation except to take its largesse, offering nothing in return?

I am not talking about any mythical “welfare class” in the U.S. It has been proven that this is a false canard. The poor fight in our wars, leap out of the welfare system if given a chance and love to strive for the elusive “American Dream.”

No. The ugly truth here is that what I am referring to is a vocal, active minority in the land of Israel who has no respect for their own country and will not lift a finger to defend it. And if anyone from their backward community dares to join the IDF and find a way to serve their country—they are spit upon and even beaten in their own neighborhoods that they have pledged to defend against any outside enemy.

This is the attitude of a class of haredim, Ultra-Orthodox stuck in another century with no patience or respect for anyone who does not believe as they do. Recently, the population of Israel finally got fed up with these takers and passed laws to bring them kicking and screaming into the life of the land they claim to cherish.

They may believe in the right of Jews to occupy and rule their native land—but only according to their dogmatic ways. There is an argument that these are “true believers” and should be respected as such.

Sorry. If they believed that we Jews are entitled to our own land based on both historical and biblical history, they would embrace the laws of the land and clamor to be a part of its society.

Beyond that, when some of their own decide it is right and virtuous to participate in the defense of this land so that Never Again would people like them be disrespected, mocked and killed—what do they do? They ostracize them. They beat them. They shun them. Even their families are made to suffer.

What kind of Judaism is this? For some obscure reason it may have worked in the shtetl, but it has no place in this world. Certainly not in a nation that was founded so that they, along all other Jews in the world, could live and worship as Jews of any stripe.

Israel has protected the beliefs of the ultra-Orthodox as well as Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and even Jews who are Jews only by tradition. Matter of fact, because of the crazy election laws of the nation, there has been a need to bow to the unreasonable demands of religious political parties such as Shas, which wants only money and to protect the lifestyle of its backward constituency. Not any more.

To attack one of your own because they choose to defend their (and your) country? Sorry. It should be a crime. It is. These people are below contempt. They do not deserve to live in this vibrant, modern, Jewish nation.


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