The Paris attacks were a horrendous and heinous act of barbarity which will be added to the ever lengthening list of civility slaughtered by barbarity. These craven acts will never end until the world of civil nations has determined that enough is enough. The world where law rules over men and life is precious must respond with strength and vigor against the spreading evil. There is an ancient saying which bears acknowledgement during the discourse on this latest act and the thousands that preceded it that goes, “Whatever starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.” The only difference is simply a matter of time. Examples are found throughout history as is the truth of another even older saying found in Genesis 12:3 states, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed.” One is a slanted interpretation of the other and must be taken together which leads to a very strange concept which has proven true even in our day. Read on, it gets clearer, I promise.
Those who have assisted Israel, stood with Israel and felt the pains of Israel are blessed as they are acting in a manner that blesses Israel. Those who have threatened Israel, not stood stridently with Israel or have ignored the plights inflicting Israel or are demanding Israel give away that which Hashem has granted to them as their eternal gift and Hashem stated covenant with Abraham where said in Genesis 13:14-16, “After Lot had departed, the LORD said to Abram, ‘Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west. I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted.’” The lands which Abraham saw became the lands divided by the twelve tribes as the thirteenth tribe, some might say the first tribe, were the Levites and Cohans who lived amongst all the tribes and kept the Tabernacle and eventually the Temple in Jerusalem. The lands are pictured in the map below and show an Israel reaching from both sides of the Jordan River to the Sea and from the southern deserts to the Litani River in the north. The current borders of the State of Israel under that oft misused phrase often wielded at a weapon against Israel actually is no threat to Israel as ask any neutral legal authority who has studied and practiced International Law what the real current borders are of Israel and their answer would be that technically the Jordan River, the Negev/Sinai border, the border with Gaza, the Mediterranean Sea and the Blue Line with Lebanon. How does this differ from the map below? Well, the Blue Line is considerably short of the Litani River in Lebanon and it is doubtful they would desire to give us between a third to one half of their country. It is even more doubtful that Jordan would decide tomorrow to gift the lands east of the Jordan River containing the Reuben, Gad, Benjamin or East Manasseh. The odd thing is that Israel has no design on these lands and would welcome with simply the lands she liberated in June of 1967 in the Six Day War. As far as the Arabs, those willing to live in peace should remain and live in peace and the rest should be allowed to leave and even be financially assisted. Not so ridiculous, is it?
Meanwhile we are going to be struck for the next ten days to two weeks with wall to wall coverage of the Paris attacks as things play out and the terrorist perpetrators of this horrific waste of innocent lives and then it will slowly fade like reverberating echoes of a winding rock canyon. Within a half year, as long as no other attacks are perpetrated either in Paris or elsewhere in Europe as the authorities main interest and desire is not so much resolving the situation but rather appearing to have addressed the situation, shown the expected and responsible reactions and give the appearance of proper concern as well as be perceived as taking the proper remedial steps to address the future safety of all the citizens making Paris and other cities, especially in France, safe from such attacks be terror entities, be they Islamic State or Hamas or even forces trained by Iran’s special units of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps). The quicker that everything can be allowed to return to normal, the faster the political leaders can go back to spending everybody else’s money on their reelection bid through government largess on projects onto which they can place their names or otherwise gain prestige in the electorates’ eyes and minds.
Of course the French have nothing which can compare to Israel when it comes to removing all signs of a terror attack in near nothing flat as Israel does with all too much consistent efficiency. Often after a terror assault in Israel every last drop of blood and every other vestige of the attack is cleansed and prepared for any potential end necessary, even if there were a resulting death requiring that the person’s corpse be made as whole as possible and every piece gathered at the scene is readied, identified and treated as required. A group of volunteers started the organization known as ZAKA (Hebrew: זק”א, abbreviation for Zihuy Korbanot Ason, Hebrew: זיהוי קרבנות אסון, literally: Disaster Victim Identification) who have since been recognized by the Israeli government. The members of ZAKA are religious, mostly Orthodox Jews, are volunteers doing some of the most difficult work imaginable and they do this extremely difficult and unfortunately all too necessary and potentially gruesome and made even worse as in at least one occasion some ZAKA volunteers have found they knew the victim and found they needed to stop performing their duty and gather their emotions and often decide or are told to take the rest of the duty day off in order to gather their thoughts, get a hold on their emotions, and do all that it takes to recover, though often many actually take their obligation to the deceased and the families of the deceased , injured and witnesses by also removing every sign that there had ever been a terror attack or even the slightest bloodletting as often the scene is cleaner and more, one might say holy, but not so much in any traditional aspect but more in an aesthetic or even spiritual as these members of ZAKA are doing a necessary and difficult service and doing so as volunteers.
While comparing France and Israel, we would be remiss if we did not also mention the difference in the world’s reactions. As we pointed out earlier, what begins with the Jews never ends there. The Jews were slaves in Egypt and eventually slavery became a black mark in the Western World and partly thanks to the British navy, slave ships soon found themselves out of business and seeking more honorable cargo. This has been proven once more in too many instances as the terror which began in Israel, or actually well before Israel became a nation, there were terror attacks in 1929, 1936 and again in 1939 with these instigated before there was any Israel, before there could have been any occupied lands, before anything except Jews working the land and hoping to establish their state. Had there been no Arab terror attacks on the Jews or against the British, their arrangement, though very unofficial despite certain orders given by British commanders to their troops, then there might not have been a British so ready and almost glad that the United Nations took the Mandate and the forming of the State of Israel out of their hands as such had been nothing but a burden for them. The treatment received from the British almost might make one wish to quote to them their own Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, who wrote Merchant of Venice where the character of the Jewish money-lender, the precursor of a modern bank and one of the few professions left open to Jews as it was uncustomary for Christians to make loans in that period, who made one of the most famous soliloquies which begged the adverse treatment of the Jew and the pleading for the recognition of the Jew as an equal member of society and also given the equal respect any other many, especially a Christian, would receive in the same position. Below is his famous retort to why he deserves justice, and equal justice at that.
SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
We could make a similar pleading before the United Nations or before the European Union which has voted to make certain Jewish products be labeled such as a sign against European citizens purchasing these items. In response to all the United Nations’ inequities and the European Union’s sanctioning Jewish products including some of the world’s most excellent wines, luscious fruits, high technology products and software (including some of the greatest personal computer protection software) and these industries are the largest employers of the Arab Palestinians, the European Union et al, paying them wages which rival the wages paid by the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas to the terrorists imprisoned for their crimes in Israel, Israel has decided that instead of returning the sanctioning of select products, Israel will carry on business as usual. The reason, you ask? Because we are a light unto the nations and will treat others as we wish to be treated. Pretend our ancient lands are not ours. Are we to plead vainly before you? Were that to be of service, it would still demean us. Were we to shrink before our enemies, would that be sufficient to mollify you though you know as do we that our enemies cannot be mollified. When you single us out from amongst the world of nations for condemnations more deserved by others, are we not to decry the injustice. When you feed the hate of those who spread terror throughout our lands and you turn away, would we not be equally staid if we steeled our nerves and ignored your pain. But we did not any of these recourses. When terror licked your shores and sliced coldly through your metropolis we sent assistance and offered our hands to hold and help in your time of need. When you wronged us we cried out as who would not as to not decry such acts would prove us as inhuman as your actions have been inhumane. We have not dealt shame for shame nor have we turned our backs on those who have ignored our pain. When terrorists shoot our citizens, do they not bleed the crimson colored blood just as deep and red as your victims? And, when the blood had all been let, do our victims not die as had yours? Recognize that we are feeling humane beings and that our families cry salted tears as have yours. We also weep for your dead, could you at least not turn from ours? We will never change as you can read in our history that we once warred to take a land to have as our own almost thirty-five-hundred years ago, our known promised land. Since then our wars have been to defend those lands. We are not even demanding the entirety of that ancient lands so well described in the largest selling book on the planet and the stories are told, unlike other religions, with all the warts and pains and errant acts of even our most respected and beloved forefathers. We do not profess to be perfect or that our history has not always been as free of sin as we would have liked, but we still admire those who after their sin dropped to their knees and begged Hashem that they would not again commit that sin and they meant every syllable they uttered whether their acts measured up was for them and Hashem to recon. We claim a land which has stood unproductive for those who would hold it and it waited until we return to give up her fruits, not that it did not take a large and almost unimaginable amount of toil and large endeavors but Hashem smiled on these efforts and we have been rewarded with a land which once again flows with milk and honey. Those words, milk and honey, you probably remember those words and that means you remember Hashem made a covenant with Abraham and all his inherited line through Isaac, Jacob and then Joseph and his conniving brothers who all made their peace and settled their reckoning. We do not want that pound of flesh, we want just the portion which Hashem promised and we know our history, we know what the founders of our homeland said and what they were and the miracle which brought low the walls of Jericho and all else which Hashem blessed our ancestors with. We know of their failings and the exile in Egypt and the miracles when Hashem brought me out from bondage in Egypt and for many years my closing words at every Seder rang out like a clarion bell calling attention to our dream as a people, “Next year in Yerushalayim!” For me that dream has come true, and I live in my land that was promised me by the Covenant of Abraham. I endeavor to ever improve the parts I must hold to as Hashem had allowed me to return to my true home. And here is the strange part; I am more at home here than I ever believed was possible and my joys when I pray each morning at a house of prayer and the Sabbath when I make the effort to go to a synagogue in which I know I am appreciated as an equal despite my slight language problem as I am as far from literate in Hebrew as I am in French, as for my French speaking friends, I could never order fish in a French restaurant as my pronunciation would sound as if I might have ordered poison. My French speaking friends will understand. May we all reach out and make the world right for all to live in peace with dignity, mutual respect, love, tolerance, and most of all, forgiveness with understanding. Je Suis Paris et Je Suis Yisroel!
Beyond the Cusp