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Terumah: The World Is Not Flat

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Middle East in Turmoil

Few articles about the uprising in Egypt were more infuriating than Thomas Friedman’s column in this week’s New York Times. Titled B.E., Before Egypt. A.E., After Egypt, Mr. Friedman argues that Israel should not be perturbed by the upheaval in Egypt, and now, of all times, grab the opportunity to make peace with the Palestinian Authority!

You heard that right. Amidst this erupting storm, he asserts that Israel should simply ignore the spreading agitation, and strike a deal with the Palestinians. In his own poetic words:

“This is a perilous time for Israel, and its anxiety is understandable. But I fear Israel could make its situation even more perilous if it succumbs to the argument one hears from a number of senior Israeli officials today that the events in Egypt prove that Israel can’t make a lasting peace with the Palestinians. It’s wrong and dangerous….

“To put it bluntly, if Israelis tell themselves that Egypt’s unrest proves why Israel cannot make peace with the Palestinian Authority, then they will be talking themselves into becoming an apartheid state — they will be talking themselves into permanently absorbing the West Bank and thereby laying the seeds for an Arab majority ruled by a Jewish minority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

Imagine this scene: Your home, say, in the suburbs of Westchester, is surrounded by sworn enemies who don’t want you there. But you have encircled your home with powerful defenses, to protect you from your hostile neighbors. Your strong walls repel the enemy, and even when they do breach it from time to time, you have enough firepower and ingenuity to defeat them. Indeed, after several enemy incursions you came away with some extra land buffering you from your neighboring enemies.

Why you continue to live among enemies and don’t move away to friendlier pastures is another story. But you have resolve and fortitude to remain just where you are, despite the menaces around you.

One fine day, one of your adversarial neighbors, calculating that a peaceful approach may work better than war, approaches you offering his hand in peace. In return all he wants is the land you conquered from him in defending yourself against his attack.

You agree. Peace is achieved. Or so it seems. What happened to all this neighbor’s previous animosity? Did it just disappear? Did his entire family – and large family – all suddenly covert to being your friends?

Absolutely not. The only thing that changed was that this particular neighbor, defying the resistance of his family and all his other neighbors, felt that for the time being a peace treaty with you served his interests better than going to war. And it didn’t hurt – perhaps this was even the primary motivation – that a wealthy financier in a distant land contributed 1.7 billion dollars to his coffers, basically buying him the power he needed to remain in control, despite his many local detractors.

Some 30 years passed. The peace held. But the ferment did not. Indeed, the powerful leader, fattened by the riches bestowed upon him, creating an artificial sense of normalcy, became corrupt and the hatred of his people to him only grew. Until finally the bubble burst and the dissent erupted into the streets, calling for his head.

Suddenly, in one fell swoop the entire perceived equilibrium was exposed to be nothing but a veneer, coated and cushioned by billions of dollars, which did nothing to change the hostility of your neighbors to you.

Given, you had 30 years of peace from this particular neighbor, and did not have to concentrate your energy and defenses to this border. But overnight you realized that nothing had fundamentally changed. Your enemy remained your sworn enemy. And to boot, you had given up your buffer – miles and miles of land that could serve as a deterrent, which you cannot reclaim.

As volatility spreads around you, you are left dazed. What will happen now that this so-called friendly neighbor turns on you?

Meanwhile, during these three decades, your other neighbors weren’t sleeping. They built up their forces and new voices emerged clawing at your walls, clamoring for a piece of you.

But, never fear. Pundits and writers from lands afar assure you – from the comforts of their suburban living rooms – that these neighbors are sincere in their quest of peace. Never mind that they were and many of them remain your mortal enemies. Never mind that every Friday their imams spew hatred and venom against you and your family. Never mind that many of them refuse to recognize your legitimacy. Never mind that of all times, now we see the profound instability of your neighbors’ governance, clearly signaling how nothing can be relied on or predicted in this region.

Forget all that, tell us our Western peace-loving friends, and just make peace with whoever is willing to give you the honor of taking a piece of your property!

The problem with these writers is that they see the world through the distant lens of wealth and modernity, completely clueless – or if we were benevolent, putting on a good act of making themselves intentionally oblivious – to the sworn enemies swarming around you.

In their naïve and condescending minds, the Western secular model – shaped by the Enlightenment (emphasis on the world light, as opposed to the dark Middle Ages) – will prevail over (what they consider to be) the primitive religious passions of the Muslim world. Never mind, that there are only 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and it remains the fastest growing religion on the globe, quickly overwhelming Europe.

I submit that it’s not just about naivette. This particular writer is invested in his own position, and as is common among strong-headed and arrogant thinkers, whose minds have also swelled beyond proportion due to their success as best selling authors, instead of seeing reality and acknowledging mistakes, he digs further in. In addition, he so despises the religious right who insist on their Biblical rights to their land, with Messianic aspirations, that he cannot see clearly even when his own family is being mugged.

Moreover, he and most of his Western colleagues are unaware – perhaps due to lack of real exposure to on-the-ground realities – of the powerful religious passions of these neighbors. Their faith sees you as a profane and heretical intruder – like an open gnash wound – amidst their holy lands. As long as your home exists, their homes are compromised.

And no amount of iphones, computer technology, McDonald burgers and Coca Cola will change this fact. For 99% of your neighbors – despite many of them undoubtedly being peace loving – religious faith is far more important than peace. If they were not afraid of losing a war with you or were not subdued by a few wealthy leaders, they would turn on you in a flash – as an infidel desecrating their sacred space.

If anything, your unstable neighbor has proven that you cannot trust any illusion of stability around you. Thus, the need to be even more fearful of “peace treaties” with other neighbors.

Now, he tries to make the point that if you do not make peace with these close neighbors, you will be stuck with becoming an apartheid state — “permanently absorbing the West Bank and thereby laying the seeds for an Arab majority ruled by a Jewish minority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

First of all, even if that were true – which it surely isn’t – the alternative is far worse. Your neighbors don’t want you there. They never did and never will. Yes, they will sign a peace treaty with you to get what they can now. But who is to assure that the same thing won’t happen with them that happened to your neighbor to your west?!

Especially considering that there are many other neighbors who are invested in your elimination, and will not rest until they incite and turn all your neighbors against you (even those that are neutral), and silence those that want to live with you in peace.

Second, the apartheid argument (which has become so popular) is simply groundless and based on a patently false premise. Before the early 60’s there was no such entity called “Palestinians.” Indeed, in March 1977 the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, who said: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

If so, did anyone ever consider the option that Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and other surrounding Arab countries should be compelled to absorb their own brethren – just as Israel absorbed the over 1 million Jews expelled from Arab lands after 1948?! If you want to prevent apartheid – and the mingling of nations at odds with each others – why shouldn’t the Arab countries welcome with open arms their own brothers and sisters?! Why is it incumbent on Israel to absorb them?

As wise people, why doesn’t anyone consider – starting with the self-proclaimed expert on the issues, Mr. Friedman – that perhaps this whole Palestinian state thing is a ploy to simply gain a stronger foothold in and around Israel. And one day, this will help serve as a springboard for the conquest of Israel.

And this is not some theory. Most if not all Israel’s neighbors are at best openly tolerant of Israel (behind the scenes is another story) and at worst, call for its destruction and will do everything to mobilize all the neighbors toward that cause. Any semblance of order and restraint is either due to the large sums coming from the US sugarcoating the deep unrest in lands like Egypt, or from a small number of wealthy leaders in Saudi Arabia controlling their citizens.

The underlying combustion cannot be contained forever, no matter how much money and oil swathe the region in layers of denial and delusion. We now are witnessing this festering agitation surfacing, and it will surely ripple through the Middle East with unpredictable results.

This is the sad history – and true nature – of this region. And no matter how many columns Mr. Friedman writes and how many books he sells, this tragic reality will not change.

Mr. Friedman is invested in teaching us that the world is flat, and increasingly shrinking as our global economies become so enmeshed, and our social networks connecting us all, effectively turning everything international local.

But wake up and smell the coffee, my friend: The world – especially when it comes to religious passions – is quite round.

So, what then is the solution to the fermenting Middle East? What is Israel – that sliver of land surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile neighbors – to do amidst all the storms thundering around it?

Stay tuned for part two of this article.

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Janet Wilson
10 years ago

Well said. You obviously are in touch with the facts on the ground. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem-

chaya
10 years ago

Thank you for putting things in clear,concise English.
Its amazing how people blind themselves to reality.
Gut Shabbos, Gut choidesh
Mshenechnas Adar Marbim Bsimcha
When Adar comes there is lots of Joy

Steven Jay Griffel
10 years ago

Im looking forward to Part 2, Rabbi. You posit your arguments well, even if you base them on the rhetorical rights of religious passion and messianic zeal as opposed to flat, realpolitik realities.

Meira
10 years ago

Thank you for speaking the truth. The blindness of the western world is stunning — in this battle of dictator vs. jihadists we are unable to conceive of a struggle without a good guy so we have widespread moral inversion to create a good guy out of the bad. H save us all.

Chaya Gross
10 years ago

BH
Let me begin by introducing myself. I am a former Canadian who recently moved from Jerusalem, after almost 30 years of calling that home, to Akko. Why Akko? Because Akko although only 30% Arab is seen by most Israelis as an Arab town, and nothing can be further than the truth. Akko is a gorgeous resort town on the Mediterranean, and a perfect example of the relationship between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Jews develop, advance, create, secure and the Arabs benefit with a minimum of responsibility. As the only democracy in the Middle East the Israeli Arabs have the best standard of living on all accounts, FREE health care, social security, jobs, education just to name a few, and NOT ONE would move to a so called Palestinian state even if there were one tomorrow. So the truth and what is espoused in the media are far from the every day reality we are living. In fact I live in a building in the center of town in which 50% are Jews and 50% are Arabs. We are civil and respectful and get along fine. No we are NOT equal, because regardless of what they might think this is MY country and will never be otherwise, Why?
It is simple…we are the CHOSEN PEOPLE and this is the HOLY LAND! And most of the people I speak to here, know that. It is no coincidence that today is Rosh Chodesh Adar and we are blessed with a double portion of Adar this year, because although on the surface you and Friedman have opposing and strong views the truth from my perspective is that nobody wants war anymore and that the present leaders by far are just American puppets, whether it be Netanyahu, Harari, Mubarek or Hussein. There is this idea that they can control the masses and people are simply waking up. I have no problem with Egypt being a Muslim country, as Eretz Yisrael moves towards becoming more and more a Jewish country as opposed to an ISRAELI country. And it is important to note that most of our neighbors are against the Zionist State, not necessarily a Jewish State.And no, they are not one and the same!
What is happening now to my mind is the rumblings of the complete and final redemption and with Hashems blessing this revolution can be less violent if the leaders understand the party is over. It is no coincidence that Egypt the very place that the Jews struggled for their freedom is the world stage now for Muslim freedom. America is the arrogant dictator who feels the whole world must move towards western standards but we saw perfectly in Aza that democracy does not always bring the desired result. Remember Hitler yemach semu vzichrono was elected through democratic means as well.
And just as there was a unknown light over the Temple Mount the other night, so too will the ulimate light return and all will see clearly that the time of our redemption has arrived.
We need not fear the future but look forward to it with hope and faith that Avinu bShamayim will not abandon us now, and that in my lifetime, my wish is to drive directly from my home in Akko to Damascus by car openly as a proud Jew. It is not only Egypt, but Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemem, and of course Iran too where the revolution was squashed. We a headed for a new reality and I see it as the geula, and my tamborine is ready!
Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land.

Ariela Sarah
10 years ago

appreciate your opinion and think you make some valid points about the issues writing can effect on its readers. Which is why im surprised you would use your writing to incite such fear and speak with such hostility. I am living in israel at the moment and it does seem largely possible that egypts issues have nothing to do with israel and may not have any effect on our current peace treaty. I love your articles and you definitely have the ability to inspire people with your writing. I just wish it wasnt so instigative.
Ariela Sarah

Rabbi Simon Jacobsons reply:

Thank you for your candid words. Your point is well taken, and it definitely was not my intention to incite fear. But at the same time we have to be realistic to the facts on the ground, and as they say, awareness is half the cure.

Let me say this — and I will write this in my next article will full intensity: despite the hostilities surrounding Israel, Israel is the safest place on earth — G-d watches over it with special providence, and the Jewish people will continue to thrive and grow. At the same time their are things Israel can do to make peace with their enemies. But it has to be based on strength not weakness. Awareness not denial.

I believe that Israel can play a major role in taking the lead and initiative and showing a shining example and being a light unto nations in this current upheaval. I will write about that in detail in my next article.

You are right, and I should have concluded my article on an upbeat tone driven by hope and confidence.

For the benefit of others who may have the same reaction as you, may we post your comment (with our without your name) and my reply?

Thank you again for bringing this to my/our attention.

Simon Jacobson

amcytryn
10 years ago

Good article but its not the west bank but Judeah & Shomron….

Richard
10 years ago

If Israel were not a Jewish state, would it still get so much attention? After 9/11 our thinking processes were a lot more logical for a short while. The hate that the Muslim world directs toward Israel and the antipathy of too many of the non Muslim world is in plain sight. It does not matter how obvious it is. There is something about the way human beings are programmed which enables denial to assume a major platform in the way we deal with the world around us. Every generation or two seems to need to learn the basic lessons of life for themselves and only through serious tragedy. We will need another holocaust to get our brains straight and for people like Mr Friedman, they will need two.

mordi
10 years ago

I agree entirely with your message Simon.

I see Thomas Friedman as a book seller who puts on a gruff veneer in interviews. This is how he makes his living. He is good at making a living. I do not agree with his assessment on this topic, but it will sell books if he is preparing to write one based on the Egyptian uprising and its meaning from his point of view. Such a book will have to have some controversy in order to sell. Friedman will be happy to sell us the sizzle, but there will be no steak.

Tzvi ben Benyomim
10 years ago

You absolutley nailed Friedman, that arrogant fool. Useful idiots like him would be the first to go in the brave new world that he is encouraging

Noa
10 years ago

Dear all,
I am a Jew and I have lived in Egypt, and remain there right now, though I might leave if the situation gets worse. I have been monitoring the country for the last 2 years. I am sorry to say that I am very disappointed with this article. I doubt the author has a sufficient knowledge of Egypt and Egyptians to allow him to make sweeping statements about the primitive passions of the Egyptian Muslims or Islam. The religious passions of the religious Egyptians are probably no more primitive than the religious passions of religious Jews. Egypt however is a pragmatic country and I expect it to stay this way – this applies to the large majority praying at Tahrir Square as much as to the rest of the country locked up in their houses hoping to continue their lives. The problem the world faces right now is instability in the Arab countries bowing to anti-Israeli sentiment to distinguish itself from the old leadership with a seemingly fascist government in Israel, which seems to be digging its own grave by shying away from the resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. There is much I would like to say about this article and I hope to prepare a response very soon – when things here have hopefully calmed down. One last thing I however would like to mention is the fact that I find it disgusting that someone as enlightened as you would consider an apartheid state in the name of the Jewish people. We are better than that.

Editors comment:
For the record, Rabbi Jacobson did not dismiss the primitive passions of the Egyptian Muslims. He was actually criticizing those that feel that way, namely the Western thinkers who In their naïve and condescending minds, the Western secular model – shaped by the Enlightenment (emphasis on the world light, as opposed to the dark Middle Ages) – will prevail over the primitive religious passions of the Muslim world.

The Rabbi also did not advocate an apartheid state, but was challenging the argument that apartheid remains the only option barring a two-state solution.

M
10 years ago

Im not surprised.
I have believed since the early seventies that Palestinians were behind the leftist peoples movements in the Arab Middle East. Now, it will ultimately crystallize into another Iran, in my opinion, without a secular government. Israel will be surrounded by Hamas-like governments, because this will spread to Jordan.What a mess.
But at least everyone in the world will now see that Israel has NOTHING to do with the governmental problems of the Arab world. Arabs always created and still create, those problems. Israel was an scapegoat to turn peoples attention away from the corrupt dictatorships of the Arab Middle Eastern governments.

Marvin Etzioni
10 years ago

You disagree with Thomas Friedman who writes: “To put it bluntly, if Israelis tell themselves that Egypt’s unrest proves why Israel cannot make peace with the Palestinian Authority, then they will be talking themselves into becoming an apartheid state — they will be talking themselves into permanently absorbing the West Bank and thereby laying the seeds for an Arab majority ruled by a Jewish minority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

in all due respect Rabbi, your response does not comment on the reality that isreal is a democracy and a Jewish state. in a democracy, it is the majority that can outvote the minority. that seems to be the point the article in the ny times is making. my parents were born in israel. i have many family members in israel. my grandmothers family were slaughtered by the nazis. israel has a right to exist. to ignore modern realities is announcing the world is flat. peace is the answer. how we get there, will be determined by those living the todays round world.

marvin etzioni

Simon Jacobsons reply:
My brief reply is that we all want peace. America is also a democracy (maybe the greatest one of all), and yet they deport people all the time — and definitely make it very difficult for people to become citizens, or even get a green card — especially when they feel that some of these people may be a threat to the freedoms of our democracy. Democracy doesnt mean that a group of terrorists can outvote the peace loving citizens. Anyone wanting to live in Israel, Jew or non-Jews and abide by the humane laws of co-existence (and not call for the death of others) — would surely be welcome in such a democracy.

Marvins return reply:
>>My brief reply is that we all want peace. America is also a democracy (maybe the greatest one of all), and yet they deport people all the time — and definitely make it very difficult for people to become citizens<<
if you are born in america you are a citizen
>>or even get a green card — especially when they feel that some of these people may be a threat to the freedoms of our democracy. Democracy doesnt mean that a group of terrorists can outvote the peace loving citizens.<<
that is not true. everyone has the right to vote unless they are in jail. would i be considered a terrorist if i dont agree with your point of view? no.
>>Anyone wanting to live in Israel, Jew or non-Jews and abide by the humane laws of co-existence (and not call for the death of others) — would surely be welcome in such a democracy. <<
not only would non Jews be welcome, they would be welcome to be democratically elected and change the entire notion of what israel stands for. if a majority of people in israel decide to turn israel into a non Jewish state, then democracy wins. the two state solution, seeks to avoid that possibility. that is what democracy allows. one of the main differences between israel and america: our democracy is color blind and has seperate chuch and state. even though in a democracy, america went through civil rights demonstrations decades ago, equal rights were given to all colors. a few years ago, the first black president was elected in america. in israel, the church and state is not seperate. it is possible, for an israeli born palestinian to be elected as prime minister. it is possible that the jewish state can be outvoted to turn israel into a democracy like america which seperates the church and state.
i would not want to live in the united states if any religion was running the country. israel is a unique democracy, unlike any other in the world. yet, i belive israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. this is the paradox of our round world.

Barbara S
10 years ago

I respectfully disagree with you on the Israel thing…might will never prevail. It may for the short term, but as you see by the thousands of repressed Egyptians, eventually theyll turn on their leader.
The only real solution is to make peace, real peace, pragmatic peace, not continue to do the he did this so we had to do that dance, it wont work!

thank you, Barbara S

Batya
10 years ago

Dear Rabbi,
Its a shame that so many Jewish people still do not understand how much we Jews want peace, especially in Israel. DO they have an idea how many times the word shalom- peace is mentioned in our tefilos-prayers, especailly on Shabbos? shalom is also one of G-ds names and thru the generations we have always greeted each other with shalom Aleichem. I grew up in Israel and I know first hand how much the Israelis have to tried to broker peace with the Arabs. BUt peace is a 2 way street. You cannot make peace with someone who clearly wants to annihilate you and not live in peace with you. Im terribly sad that our own people are duped into thinking that Israel is to blame for the lack of peace with the Palestinians and to even entertain the notion that Israel is an Apartheid state! THe Israeli Arabs are included in every facet of the Israeli life. THeyre in the Cabinet, they are judges, doctors etc. Everything is open to them.
Batya

Chana bas Sara
10 years ago

I attended Reform Sunday School in the late 1960s. (And how Reform it was! — kosher food was prohibited in the catering hall, and a man who once tried to wear a yarmulka in the sanctuary was firmly escorted out…) Our Current Events teacher, circa 1967, a wonderfully kind social worker, a left-wing Democrat who worked for the local Jewish Family and Child Service, explained to us that the Arab countries refused to absorb the fleeing Israeli Arabs after 1948 because they wanted a situation to be created where an angry displaced Arab population grew and grew to the point where they would be able to attempt to overthrow the Jews in Israel… Does this sound prophetic, or what?

patti
10 years ago

Rabbi Jacobson,
Thank you for addressing the turmoil we all feel. I spend my time blogging about the who/what/and where of the attempts to Delegitimize Israel. As you can see, Mr. Friedman, Bill Gates and other Hard Leftists were in Davos with the Grand Mufti of Egypt and the Sec Gen of the Arab League when the protests began. I hope my reporting will fill in some blanks. Todah Rabah.
ing over it, it came around again (indicating 2 different flu strains circulating at the same time).

http://wwwtwosetsofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/02/six-degrees-of-bill-gates-and-grand.html

Dr. Irene Diamond
10 years ago

Funny this was the first column in a long time that I liked, though I disagree with Friedman regarding the primacy of a 2 state solution as the most viable path to peace.. diaspora Jews or Israeli Jews who spew forth dangerous and hateful ignorance of Islam are working against the arc of history and basic torah ..I would strongly encourage you to pay attention to the words and deeds of a serious torah scholar Rav Menachem Fruman the Rav of the settlement of Tekoa.

Rabbi Jacobsons reply:
Irene, may I ask you to please point out what hateful or ignorant things I wrote about Islam? I actually think that Islam is a very noble monotheistic religion, but like any faith system can be hijacked and abused. And like any passionate way of life, it needs — like all religions need — extra special humility to ensure that you are directing your passions toward G-d, and not toward hurting others in the name of G-d. And just like Christianity before it, Islam is at a crossroads in finding the proper balance between faith and coexistence and integration with a modern secular world. We Jews have a very unique role to play in helping Islam and others arrive at this balance.

Meyer Stahl
10 years ago

We Jews have too many emptyheads like Mr. Freidman who cannot see reality. Its like they live on another planet. Must we learn the hard way by listening to the Liberals who would give up freedom for the promise of peace and find themselves as slaves or persecuted and killed by those who think they are pleasing G-D. Meyer Stahl.

ruth housman
10 years ago

Yes, we have to use some caution in jumping forward into this maybe brave new world of Egyptian politics, and possible democracy, or a military state. We just dont know yet, what is going to unfold.

I do know, that Egypt, in actualizing her name, has, in making it very difficult for refugees with respect to borders, and in not caring for her teeming population, is needing to change, and a vast sea change/see change is in order. And for me, it seems like this happening in the NOW just could be auspicious for us all, meaning those concerned with volatility in the Middle East.

There is a difference between what happens short term, and what happens long term, and I am holding my breath on this, because it feels like a sweeping change is coming. That could be good. For Israel. For the cause of PEACE in the Middle East. The old way wasnt doing anybody much good.

I couldnt cross the street in Cairo and taking my life into my hands, is something everyone does in Egypt every day. There is dire, abject poverty, and this needs to be fixed. And if not now, then, When?

Borders and boarders are synonymous aurally. And I say, the problems are also about borders, as Israel is postage stamp small, and no matter how this is worked through, re negotiations, there simply isnt room for everyone. Let us face this square on.

As children of the same God, and truly as brothers in Biblical history, I feel, there has got to be a massive shift in how we all do business with each other. Meaning we need, all of us, to remove these filters, that take in some information as truth, and eliminate other stuff.

One day, my wish, my Jew Wish, since we are all of on this planet dreaming about the brotherhood of man, and sisterhood, would be that the hood part of what is hidden, be removed, so we could dance together in the streets, and do something different in the opening of borders, of new conversations, and work toward the beautification of country that is now mostly desert and deserted, to bring in a world that everyone wants to inhabit. Together.

Yes, a messianic idea. So why not?

Avi Gropper
10 years ago

1. Cultural and religious hegemony
The Nation State that comprises present day Israel is a concoction of ethnocentric Ashkenazi of Polish descent. It is an oligarchy ruled by a handful of families. Democracy per se it is not. It is a mirage. The so called Oriental Jews, Bene and Beta Israelis are mere cannon fodder for the Whites. They are deliberately settled in the most dangerous border areas. Maalot is an odious example.
The Yemenites walked across the Arabian Desert to Israel and were hosed down like livestock with DDT upon their arrival. Their time honored traditions were ripped from them by Ben Gurion.
The Beta Israelis, Jews of Ethiopian ancestry, had a 2,000 year old religion which had a Priestly class and spoke Geez; additonally, Female Genital Modification was standard practice. The Ashkenazi Rabbis in charge made them re-convert to their version of Judaism and destroyed their old ways.
The Ethiopian Jews are at the bottom of society. This is racist.
Yiddish is ridiculed in todays Israel. Yiddish speaking soldiers in War of Independence were left for dead, their pleas for help callously disregarded because they did not speak Hebrew.
Israeli Arabs are second or third class citizens with unequal rights to water and services. There are extensive delays in building permits and such in the Arab towns. The Bedouin helped win 48; Dayan paid them back by attemping to destroy their pastoral nomadic way of life by forcible resettlement in cities.
For a few brave and stubborn holdouts, access to grazing land for sheep and goats was and is made severely restrictive in Negev and other places for national security; indeed, even the size of the flock is limited.
It is Tokenism to trot out a few priviledged individuals. Most minorities suffer in ways that do invite the comparison to Apartheid.

M Estner
10 years ago

Bchavod, Rabbi, a very interesting series, as always. I must ask two questions, please:
1. When has the non-Jewish world ever taken overt advice from the Jewish world, even though, as you say correctly, the Western gentile world has ultimately adopted much from Jewish/Torah morality, but never, as you suggest the approach that since we Jews have been there and done that, wed be happy to help you. We would. But unlikely that they would accept.
2. What about the Torahs characterization of Yishmael as the Pereh Adam; yado bakol vyad kol bo usually translated as: a wild donkey of a man; his hand is against everyone and everyones hand is against him. This is the Torahs definition of the descendants of Yishmael through history, and many of those descendants exhibit just such character. As of now, the driving force in the world of Yishmael does not seem amenable to your suggestions in any fashion, sage though your words may be.
My $.02, for what its worth,
me