The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today, Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
Jewish Humor and the Holocaust
For the past few days I have had to re-examine many assumptions concerning what the Holocaust means to liberal Jews as a result of Larry David’s monologue on Saturday Night Live. As I viewed his monologue over and over, it seemed to resonate with a message that should be entitled; Why it’s time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust, or even; Now is the time that Jews move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history.
In his Saturday Night Live monologue he continues: “I’ve always been obsessed with women, and I’ve always wondered: If I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would,” quipped David. “Of course, the problem is there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp. ‘How’s it going? They treating you OK? You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes.’” I am surprised that he didn’t conclude his monologue with “The Shoah must go on.”
Injecting humor and comedy about the Holocaust on a nationally syndicated comedy/satirical show seems to subliminally suggest to viewers that the Holocaust is unnecessarily singled out as if it’s more special than other historical events. Although the Holocaust was on a much greater scale and horrifically well-organized, this liberal Jewish mindset seems to believe that the Holocaust was far from being the first incident of a dominant power killing those deemed “inferior” on trumped up charges.
As far as Holocaust jokesters’ are concerned, mankind has been perpetrating horrible atrocities on other human beings for centuries. They seem genuinely puzzled as to why Holocaust jokes elicit what they would consider an overreaction. Why they ask, should joking about an historical event or questioning the propriety of David Larry’s jokes about hitting on women in a concentration even be considered a lapse in judgement or an affront to the many Holocaust survivors still with us.
Historical events, as earth-shattering and history-ending as they seem at the time, eventually fade from the forefront of public consciousness and become memory. When holocaust survivors will no longer be around, and when there is no more opportunity to let children and educators hear firsthand testimony of the Holocaust, will the Holocaust be just another event studied in world history classes? With all of the effort that has gone into recording testimonies of the Holocaust be enough to preserve historical memory in terms of the magnitude and uniqueness of the Holocaust?
There are few historical events that have undergone greater scrutiny and preservation. Perhaps we can even acknowledge that we’ve done enough to ensure that the Holocaust can never be forgotten. In a moral world, in a world that differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong, this kind of preservation of historical memory would probably suffice. However, today in the age of globalization in which everything is viewed through the prism of cultural relativism, facts and evidence are not enough. The enemies of the Jews and of Israel not only claim that the Jews exaggerate and that the Holocaust was made up so as to justify the establishment of the State of Israel, but they falsely claim that Israel itself is implementing a Holocaust on the Arabs living within Judea and Samaria.
Jewish comedians that belittle or "move beyond" the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish race seventy years ago cannot possibly fathom the significance and importance of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people made a conscience effort to rebuild out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Those that regard the Holocaust as just another unfortunate event cannot be depended on to understand that for modern Israel, in order to deal with existential threats, Israel must do whatever is necessary so that "never again" will not remain an empty slogan.
Those that publically joke about the Holocaust should be the first to be reminded of what the Holocaust was really all about. In Daniel Mendelsohn's book; The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million, he describes in detail the core horror of Nazi action in collaboration with locals in Bolechow, Poland, September 1942:
“The story of Mrs. Grynberg was a horrible episode. The Ukrainians and Germans, who had broken into her house, found her giving birth. The weeping entreaties of bystanders didn't help and she was taken from her home in a nightshirt and dragged into the square in front of the town hall. There, she was dragged onto a dumpster in the yard of the town hall with a crowd of Ukrainians present, who cracked jokes and jeered and watched the pain of childbirth as she gave birth to a child. The child was immediately torn from her arms along with its umbilical cord and thrown - It was trampled by the crowd and she was stood on her feet as blood poured out of her. She stood that way for a few hours by the wall of the town hall, afterwards she went with all the others to the train station where they loaded her into a carriage in a train to Belzec.”
The enormity of the Holocaust, however, with the majority of European Jewry being systematically murdered, is a singular event that defies comparison in the last millennium.
In retrospect, the Holocaust compels Jews to confront their own Jewishness. After such unspeakable events such as the one described above, every Jew must look inside himself and consider: Hitler tried to exterminate my people and the world stood by in silence. Will I, through apathy and indifference, or by using one-liners and comic monologues on national TV become a partner to Hitler? Or will my life convey a testimony to the glory of the Jewish people and its resurrection from the ashes of the Holocaust?
Palestinian hatred is leading to a new “Nakba”
Palestinians are leading themselves towards a third “Nakba” (Arabic word for catastrophe), a term used widely by Palestinians Arabs in describing the establishment of the State of Israel. Palestinians mark Israel’s founding in 1948 as a catastrophe. Some also see Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War, where Israel defeated the attacking Arab armies and captured East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (West Bank), and the Golan Heights, as a second ”Nakba”. As usual the Palestinians are deluding themselves through the use of new terror and violence against the Jews, just as they did in 1948 and 1967.
This past week, Palestinian terrorists used Al-Aqsa, known as the Temple Mount, Islam’s third holiest religious site as a safe haven to smuggle in automatic weapons that were used by 3 Palestinian terrorists under the pretense of prayer to shoot and kill 2 Israeli Police Officers protecting Al-Aksa. This past Friday, a 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist infiltrated into the settlement of Halamish and stabbed to death three family members as they sat at their Shabbat dinner table celebrating the birth of a grandson.
Despite the non-stop incitement by Israeli Arab political leaders, and the Palestinian Arab leadership, who are leading the Palestinians towards disaster, the escalation of daily violence, rioting, and terror over the Temple Mount, and the massacre of an Israeli family, will not lead to a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. However, it will lead towards a third “Nakba”. Learning nothing from their own historical experience, and repeating the same destructive expression of hatred and rejection of anything Jewish, the Palestinian Arabs will lose exclusive control of the Temple Mount, just as they lost control of large territories designated for them in the past. If the Palestinian Arab violence and terror continue, the whole situation will spiral out of control, and the end result will be their third and final “Nakba”. Palestinian Arabs have the most to lose as their leadership leads them towards disaster, and as we say in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, three strikes and your out. This is exactly what happened in 1948 and 1967 — the Palestinian Arab delusion that ‘against the Jews, we have Allah. He’ll protect us. and we’ll go and bash our heads into the wall, even if we become martyrs’, is typical of the failed mindset and delusional religious beliefs of generations of Palestinian Arabs who have nothing to show for after a century of violence and terror.
Reviewing the reactions of the United Nations and its many member states, it is Israel exclusively that lives under a microscope with the events in Jerusalem scrutinized by the nations of the world. Russia invades Crimea, Nigeria enslaves, China oppresses, Pakistan rapes, Iraq slaughters, North Korea firs inter-ballistic missiles, Iran nuclearizes, Syria massacres, Afghanistan tortures. Sudan annihilates. ISIS beheads, and yet Israel remains the sole pariah state, put under the magnifying glass by the morally bankrupt world.
What the nations of the world fail to note is that the Palestinian Authority and the rival Hamas terror organization are actively supporting a terror campaign starting in the Temple Mount, for the same reason thousands of missiles rained down on Israeli cities - even though it created more destruction for Palestinian Arabs. Their goal is keep the Palestinian Arabs focused on “resistance” - a synonym for endless war that won’t be solved by Israeli territorial concessions or greater sensitivity for the Muslim desire to deny Jewish rights in the Temple Mount.
The point about the current violence in Jerusalem is that nothing we Israelis are doing - whether it be the simple installation of metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount for the safety and protection of all worshipers visiting the Temple Mount - has altered by one iota the current status quo between Jews and Arabs. What we do simply does not matter to them and it will never sink in that they are facing a country that is here to stay behaving as any sovereign nation would act in a similar situation.
For countless centuries, our ancestors have been praying to return home to Zion. For those of us born in this generation that did in fact return home to Israel, we can only cherish and uphold the immense blessing that we feel for being part of this amazing historical and almost biblical period.
In 1947, Israel accepted the "two-state solution" declared by the United Nations, focusing her efforts on moving ahead, never looking back. Since then, Israel has made a desert bloom. We have built roads, schools, hospitals, universities and great cities. Despite the many wars Israel has had to fight, the people of Israel have never stopped looking forward becoming a world leader in innovaton.
Israel has shown time and time again its willingness to make painful sacrifices for the sake of a genuine and enduring peace with its Arab neighbors. Israeli Arabs have infinitely more human rights in Israel than Jews ever had in any Arab nation, or that Arabs have in any Muslim nation in the Middle East. Not surprisingly these fundamental freedoms seem to be always overlooked by the very Arabs that enjoy and benefit from democratic rights in Israel. The hearts and minds of the Palestinian Arabs continue to be overwhelmingly "occupied" with Jew-hatred. This is the true narrative about the so-called “occupation”.
Once again a new generation of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs, are actively taking part in terror and violence in order to kill Jews to further that same futile aim and in the name of this ancient hatred. Though many of Israel’s enemies promote the notion that the violence is caused by Jewish actions, this latest terror campaign, if it continues, will be very much like every other episode in the Palestinian Arab’s hundred-year war against Zionism. The third “Nakba” however, will be the final curtain.
Those that wish the Palestinian Arabs well should urge them to try to shake off this rejectionist mindset, lest they waste another century in pointless conflict. Should they continue ramming the shore, like the great whales do until they die, they will in the very soon future lose it all, and can only blame themselves. The Sunni Arab world won’t shed a tear.
Unconditional Christian Love for Israel
This past week on the final day of the yearly Christians United For Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit, thousands of CUFI activists took to The Hill to lobby their congressman to stand with Israel and to support the Taylor Force Act ending funding to the Palestinian Authority who have for years been making monthly stipends to convicted and imprisoned terrorists and their families. A kind of social security payment for Palestinian mass murderers of innocent children, Israeli’s, and tourists. These Christian supporters of Israel made their voices heard on Capitol Hill, showing that America stands with Israel.
In the United States, the two groups that most ardently support Israel are Jews and evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Jewish support is easy to explain, but why should certain Christians, most of them politically quite conservative, be so devoted to Israel? There is a second puzzle: despite their support for a Jewish state, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are disliked by many American Jews.
The evidence about evangelical attitudes is clear. In 2006, a Pew survey found that evangelical Christians were more favorable toward Israel than the average American was—and much more sympathetic than either mainline Protestants or secularists. In another survey, evangelical Christians proved much likelier than Catholics, Protestants, or secular types to back Israeli control of Jerusalem, endorse Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and take Israel’s side in a Middle Eastern dispute. Among every religious group, those who are most traditional are most supportive of Israel.
Evangelical Christians have a high opinion not just of the Jewish state but of Jews as people. That Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals, despite their own conservative politics. Yet Jews don’t return the favor: in one Pew survey, 42 percent of Jewish respondents expressed hostility towards evangelicals and fundamentalists. In comparison, in a study of religious attitudes on a national scale, two scholars from Baruch College have shown, a much smaller fraction—about 16 percent—of the American public has similarly antagonistic feelings toward Christian fundamentalists.
So what is it about Christians and their support for Israel that makes some Jews at times uneasy? I can even imagine what makes Jews - especially liberal Jews - nervous about this huge group of Israel lovers: their conservative values, an uncompromising stance on the Middle East peace process and support for Israel; the theological slant of their support for Israel.
Christians love to love Israel unconditionally, and express love for Jews unconditionally. There is something almost non-Jewish about it. Jews usually do not talk about unconditional love. It's not something that usually turns us on. We are more into debate, questioning, challenging and rattling the cage. Christians love to love. Jews love to kvetch.
So why do we find so little expression of unconditional love among Jews? Is it because we Jews confuse love with supporting official policy? That is, if we disagree with Israel's policies, do we find it difficult - even impossible - to express unconditional love for Israel? Moreover, how many Israel supporters who disagree with Israel's policies can honestly say that their love for Israel is, in fact, unconditional?
When one considers the worldwide movement in recent years to de-legitimize the State of Israel, that is, the enemies of Israel are not looking for a debate. Their aim is not to engage or interact but to undermine and demonize. Their opposition is not open to reason or good will. In short, their hatred is unconditional. This being the current geo-strategic reality challenging Israel, than why should some Jews be uneasy by Christians’ unconditional love toward Israel?
How better to fight unconditional hatred than with unconditional love? What better weapon against the forces working to delegitimize Israel than a force that unequivocally expresses love of Israel? Of course, we Jews should never stop doing what we do best: argue, debate, challenge and unconditionally “Kvetch”. However, this must be conducted within a common consensus meaning that Israel must remain the national homeland of the Jewish people.
But we can't love the process more than we love Israel itself. For Israel supporters, unconditional love is the emotion that ought to trump all others; the emotion that fuels and gives meaning to our actions. I can challenge my child and rebuke him, but I can never forget to show him unconditional love. Many of our debates about Israel have become coarse and divisive. One reason is that in our zeal to express tough, critical love, we have forgotten about pure love, unconditional love so common among our Christian supporters throughout the United States.
We have much to learn from our Christian supporters and how they express unconditional love for Israel. It is this unconditional love that can bind us together, Christians and Jews in our undivided support for the State of Israel and send a strong message of deterrence to Israel's enemies.
Liberal American Jewish leaders demand “full representation without taxation”
In recent day’s liberal American Jewish leaders have done everything in their power to portray the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling coalition as purposely causing significant harm to the strong alliance between diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. These leaders have leveled accusations that Netanyahu’s actions constitute a slap in the face of American Jewry, have shaken the historical alliance between American Jewry and Israel, and attacked the very essence of what defines Jewish Identity. The recent conversion law controversy and egalitarian praying area at the Western Wall being indicative, they claim, of what Israel has become. These very serious accusations seem to serve the political opponents of Israel’s ruling coalition rather than reflect the facts concerning the Western Wall, where no change in the status quo has changed or to be implemented allowing for continued egalitarian praying; concerning the Conversion Law controversy, the relevant parties are mainly former Russian Olim living in Israel and not American Jewry nor American Olim. Sadly, these same liberal American Jewish leaders have joined hands with Israel’s leading opposition political parties to challenge the viability of Israel’s democratically elected ruling coalition all in the name of what they define as Jewish Unity. While disagreements may arise, there is no justification for the contempt and condescension being leveled at the Israeli government by this liberal diaspora leadership threatening to rethink their support for the State of Israel.
A senior official of the Chicago Jewish federation and one of the most influential leaders in the American Jewish federation world was quoted stating that “the federation in Chicago will not be hosting any member of Knesset that votes for this bill. None. They will not be welcome in our community.” He added: “We’re past the time when we’re standing and applauding and being nice because they’re members of Knesset or because they hold this position or that position. In other words, Israel’s elected political leaders are not welcome in his community, and that he is calling for a boycott of Israel’s Knesset members. Again, all in the name of Jewish Unity. Declaring war against the government, lecturing to Israel about how Israeli society is intolerable while not living in Israel, while not being part of the daily effort to live with the complex reality here in Israel is nothing short of Chutzpah.
In response to many of the declarations made by American Jewish leaders, United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was quoted stating that “We will defeat our enemies. I have no doubt that we will defeat our enemies,” Friedman continued. “The question is: Can we survive ourselves?”, without identifying any particular organization. He was apparently referring to comments by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who said in an Israeli TV interview that the repercussions of the Western Wall and conversion decisions could pose a strategic danger to the well-being of the State of Israel.
Yesterday, I heard something that I never thought I’d hear. And I understand the source of the frustration and the source of the anger. But I heard a major Jewish organization say that they needed to rethink their support for the State of Israel,” Friedman said at a B’nai B’rith journalism awards ceremony in Jerusalem. “That’s something unthinkable in my lifetime, up until yesterday.” Boycotts, questioning the legality of governmental decisions, encouraging members of Congress to threaten Israel to withdraw their support of Israel, are all strikingly similar in content and in language used by the BDS and anti- Israel movements in America that promote the de-legitimation of the State of Israel. For many liberal diaspora leaders, Israel in their minds, has become an “oppressor” of Jewish rights and have repeatedly attempted in recent days to brand Israel as an intolerant society.
What seems to escape these diaspora leaders is the very fabric of democratic life here in Israel. Their suggested dialogue is based on recriminations and false accusations suggesting that they can save Israel from itself so as to survive as a democratic state are at the crux of the threatening tone of these diaspora leaders. For these liberal Jewish leaders, the status of religious pluralism in Israel has become the defining lens through which unwarranted criticism about Israel becomes justified. Rather than perceiving Israel as representing the very embodiment of a moral world, the modern day torch bearers of the Western Democratic principle, they unjustly label Israel as undemocratic. Orthodox, Secular, Jews, Arabs, Veteran Israelis, new Immigrants all enjoy equal rights and are subject to judicial review should they feel that their democratic rights are being impinged. Israel’s Supreme Court of Appeals has adopted “judicial activism” in its orientation and is at the forefront of protecting the rights of all sectors of the population in Israel.
Dividing Israel into good cop, bad cop making out the ruling coalition an amalgamation of Dirty Harry and The Chosen so as to make Israel palatable to young liberal American Jews is avoiding the real issue at hand. The problem lies and here I can quote the arch Jewish liberal Peter Beinart when he writes that young liberal American Jews “are not especially connected to Israel because they are not especially connected to being Jewish". Supporting Israel including Jews who are Dat-Leumi or Haredi is messy, complicated, and raises to many questions concerning Jewish identity and Jewish affiliation. Israel that accepts the Reform and Conservative movements, Israel the start-up nation, is a Jewish nation agreeable to the palate of liberal American Jews who would prefer to remain Jewish from afar.
I can assure my liberal Jewish brethren in North America that most Israeli’s do not inhabit “tolerant Israel” or “intolerant Israel” but the vast landmass of “middle Israel”, the place where all Jews can live together providing maximum liberties and religious rights to those living in Israel. Only then can they demand “no taxation without representation”.