A division of long standing
May 26, 2017
A disagreement between Jews? Whoda thought? That three Jews in a room could not agree on much—except that they disagree. It is part of our DNA. Look to any Orthodox Study Group and you will see the same arguments dealing with Torah interpretation that have been going on, probably since the original authors sat down in Babylonia.
We like to argue. Maybe that’s why the world is so full of Jewish lawyers. We argue about the best Deli in New York or LA or even, God Forbid, Lynchburg, Virginia. Best baseball player ever? Fahget about it! But sometimes it gets serious.
The Jews today seem split along two lines of opinion dealing with our historical homeland, the ancient and Holy Land of Israel. We don’t argue about its right to exist—find me a Jew who will argue against the right of a Jewish Homeland and things could get complicated. No, the argument today is about the size of the country, the need for an Arab State on land that was (and really still is) the ancient and holy land of Israel, the treatment of Arabs—both citizens of Israel and not.
There are arguments on both sides. Some have some relevance, some are utterly ridiculous. Some say, well—there are dozens of other Arab nations—Let them go there. Some say, there is no such thing as a “Palestinian.” As Tevye says, “on the other hand.” Others say demographics show that the Arabs will outnumber the Jews in Israel if there is no Palestinian State.
But there is one overriding question: Would you sit down to negotiate with someone who denies your right to exist? The Arabs lost a war (okay—three wars) over territory. Territory that was not theirs in the first place. The Turks were there for centuries. The British got rid of the Turks and the Jews got rid of the British.
There is an old Israeli saying “Facts on the Ground.” I asked in last month’s column if any of the J Streeters or the BDS bunch had ever actually sat down and talked with a cross section of Arabs living within the present borders of Israel. Are a lot of those Arabs living in less than ideal circumstances? Absolutely—and for that matter so are too many Jews. These are in most cases, matters of education and culture, not politics. Hey! Look at the U.S!
So, some Jews in the U.S. think that products produced in certain parts of Israel should be so marked and that in fact, the whole State should be Boycotted, Investments in her Divested and there should be Sanctions put upon her. The non-Jews, anti-Semitic mouth breathers and Arab militants who preach this stuff we can do little about. The bigots will always be with us. They have been with us since before Father Coughlin (those under 60 look him up).
But Jews? Believing in this garbage? How many of them have ever been there? They are mostly young (or immature), strikingly “Left Wing” and supremely uneducated. Interesting, when Israel was young and struggling for its existence, the “Left Wing” was with her unflinchingly. When she became self-sufficient, proud and prosperous—they of course turned and condemned the Ancient and Holy Land of Israel for becoming successful.
Let’s talk education. There are still textbooks read by Arab children as young as six telling them how and why to kill Jews. And—it should not shock you—many of them paid for by one or another department of the United Nations. So, those kids, with that teaching and little to disabuse them of their misguided education, take to the streets with rocks and sling shots and try to kill or maim Israeli soldiers.
Enough. If you are a BDS believer, I am not going to convince you of the injustice of the entire concept. And, in most cases, I am preaching to the choir anyway. We Jews will continue to disagree, to argue, even to yell and shake our fists. But, are we not really, all family? That DNA that makes us so argumentative, does it not bind us all together?
Like most things that need study and context, there are nuances and layers upon layers. But: Israel is an incredible success story. One that should make every Jew in the world proud and supportive. There is a really dumb idea going around about every Jew in the world becoming an Israeli citizen. Fine! But not without living there! You have to breathe the culture, live the daily life, know what your taxes are paying for—and what they are not.
We Jews will continue to argue. But some things we all must agree on. There must be a strong and independent Jewish State and—yes, the Western Wall of our Temple is part and parcel of the ancient and holy land of Israel.