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Massei: My Enemies Make Me Wise

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Who is More Passionate About Israel: Jews or Arabs?

Riddle time. Take this little multiple-choice test (and don’t peek at the answer below).

Ok, ready?

Who is the author of the following quote?

“… [the Jews are] more afraid to fight for the Promised Land than they are of G-d. For this reason, the Jewish people does not find it hard to break the covenant between G-d and Abraham, which awarded the Land of Israel to the Jewish people for all generations. That is why G-d has despaired of the Jews. After bequeathing them every possible means for securing victory and independence, G-d found His effort had been in vain.”

Choose the author.

1)     Israel’s Labor party.

2)     Rabbi Kook.

3)     The Satmar Rebbe.

4)     The Lubavitcher Rebbe.

5)     Gush Emunim.

6)     Al Qaeda.

7)     The Christian Right.

8)     Likud.

9)     Woody Allen.

10)   Agudah.

11)   All the above.

12)   None of the above; it’s a fabricated quote.

Write down your answer, then scroll down.

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The answer is #6! The quote is from a five-page essay published in Al Qaeda’s new print-Internet magazine Zerwat al Sanam (Tip of the Camel’s Hump). The article appears under the alias of Abu Zubeida al-Baghdadi and is titled: How Should Islam Relate to the Jews?

Here are excerpts from the article (translated from the Arabic by debka.com):

Al Baghdadi divides Muslim lore on the Jewish people into two stages.

“Stage One: Allah decided to test the Jews when they were still an oppressed people [in Egypt]. He seeks to lead them to the path of faith and victory and therefore urges them to conquer the Land of Israel. But the Jewish people’s main weakness emerges at this early stage. Its shoulders are too feeble to carry the heavy burden; the Jews always aspire to victory, but they are not willing to devote the necessary effort, sacrifice or sweat to achieve this end.

“The Jews have learned and must still learn that there is no victory without sacrifice.

To this day, the Jews have not discovered that which heaven imparted to us [the Muslims], that Allah grants victory only to he who dares cross the threshold and face danger alone. But the sons of Israel want G-d to go before them and win their victory for them.”

The writer here differentiates between God’s authentic representatives and Jews who, he says, make cynical use of the divinity.

“Stage Two: Throughout the generations it transpired that Jews, unlike Muslims, do not fear Allah and are incapable of understanding that the world’s moving force is fear of Allah, not of people. For example, they are even more afraid to fight for the Promised Land than they are of G-d.

“For this reason, the Jewish people does not find it hard to break the covenant between G-d and Abraham, which awarded the Land of Israel to the Jewish people for all generations.

“That is why Allah has despaired of the Jews. After bequeathing them every possible means for securing victory and independence, G-d found his effort had been in vain. Therefore the time has come to get rid of the Jews, because that is Allah’s wish,” al Baghdadi concludes.

There you have it.

Believe me when I say that I cringed when I read these lines. And I cringed even more when I cited them in this week’s article. The last thing I want to do is quote Al Qaeda dogma and its virulent Jew baiting anti-Semitism. And the last thing anyone of us needs are violent killers of the innocent lecturing Jews about breaking G-d’s covenant.

But, as the Psalmist says “from my enemies I have become wise” (Psalms 119:98). Sometimes you have to enter the belly of the beast to learn deeper truths about ourselves and our battles.

In this case we enter not the lion’s den, but the “tip of the camel’s hump.” Interesting that a camel’s hump is a reference among Islamic militants to the “epitome of belief and virtuous activity.” Hump indeed!

I therefore want to make it absolutely clear that I see no virtue or merit in the words of the camel’s hump other than another dangerous, ranting call to violence veiled in theological shrouds. Make no mistake: We have witnessed the blood curdling hatred of Islamic radicals in their jihad against the infidels and the hated Jews, and are not deceived by any of its attempted justifications.

Yet, regardless of the terrorists’ brutal intentions and their sub-human behavior, we can learn much even from their philosophical masquerade.

An adversary can help us expose our own vulnerabilities and what needs fortifying. Look at the place the opposition attacks, and you learn what you need to protect. Just like pain directs us to a problem (or in a reverse analogy: anti-bodies lead us to identify an infection), enemies, not friends, can often direct us to the root of the predicament.

The first thing we learn is that we are faced with a religious, ideological war. Whether the secular West likes or not, the enemy bluntly sees the conflict between Islam and the West as a religious-territorial battle rather than a moral-social one.

The enemy clearly has strong beliefs. However distorted, we cannot deny their passion and their single-minded focus. Which compels us to ask ourselves: What do we believe in with equal passion? Do we have an ideology, a vision that we can be proud of and feel driven to share with the world?

The second question we must ask is an even harder one to face: Is there any truth to al Baghdadi’s argument that the Jews do “not find it hard to break the covenant between G-d and Abraham, which awarded the Land of Israel to the Jewish people for all generations”?!

Is he correct in saying that the Jewish people are “are not willing to devote the necessary effort, sacrifice or sweat to achieve” victory in conquering the Land of Israel, that they are “incapable of understanding that the world’s moving force is fear of G-d, not of people,” and that “they are even more afraid to fight for the Promised Land than they are of G-d”?!

Remember, regardless of this writer’s reprehensible intentions, he brings up a powerful point that we must ask ourselves: Why are Jews living in Israel in the first place? Why should 5 million people insist on creating an oasis amidst 250 million plus Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East?!

I for one absolutely believe that the Jewish people in their heart of hearts know that Israel is the Promised Land and the Holy Land. They know that it is their homeland and are willing to do whatever is necessary to live in the Promised Land. They are ready to fight and do find it hard to break the covenant between G-d and Abraham.

The only reason that it doesn’t always appear that way, thus provoking the question, is because of a profound apathy coupled with ignorance that has descended on our generation (and generations past), which is concealing our souls and our innermost beliefs.

Much can be said about the causes and forces that have shaped contemporary assimilation. Finger pointing is not the issue at this point. We are all victims – or survivors – of a deep-rooted erosion of spiritual integrity that has accumulated over the years, and is perhaps the greatest challenge of our times.

Indeed, in this period of the year, traditionally called the “Three Weeks,” we grieve over the loss of innocence and the destruction of the Holy Temple as the window between spirit and matter, between heaven and earth (see The Laugh and The Roots of Trauma). During these 21 days we think about the misalignment between our material and spiritual needs.

Mind you this is not a phenomenon exclusive to Israel, but a global one. We live in a materialistic universe, a prosperous and technological world, with the freedom to do as we wish, which tends to cause complacency to spiritual values, and blunts our ethereal sensitivity to our deepest beliefs. Most people living in a free society today cannot answer the question: What are you passionately ready to fight for?

As deep as the problem is around the world, in Israel the spiritual dissonance is amplified. In the center of the universe – where battles have been raging from the beginning of time – one can simply not afford to be complacent. Apathy in this region is tantamount to death.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Jews in Israel (and world over) struggle with their spiritual identity and their relationship with their land.

Hence, the challenge posed by the enemy, whether the Jewish people are ready to fight for “the covenant between G-d and Abraham, which awarded the Land of Israel to the Jewish people for all generations”?

Let us not be naïve and believe that if the Muslim radicals suddenly saw all Jews as devout and G-d fearing they would drop their arms and embrace the Jewish right to the Promised Land.

But it sure makes you think about what we should be focusing on in these trying times.

Sometimes even a camel’s hump can teach us a thing or two.

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