The fact is that only each of us can protect ourselves and any around us in a time of crisis. No government, no police, no politician, no political party, no teacher, no Rabbi, only Hashem and the empowerment we receive from on High can protect us when that fateful moment where for being a Jew we are assailed. In that moment we are as alone as we can ever be yet we will pray that there be other Jews around who once we show that fighting is the answer will respond and fight alongside us. This is why a Jew is safer with other Jews rather than on their own alone. Even alone one is far safer if they fight back as such will be unexpected and such surprise will likely startle the attacker and then the assailant will become the assailed. Also, if you are in a group of people, Jews or gentile, the fact you are fighting back against your assailant will embolden those around you and potentially bring others to your aid. Even if the assailant runs, those around you will be more likely to accost and detain the terrorist if you have actively shown them unprepared to fight back if they are attacked. Lastly, if you fight back, others are more likely to come forward and offer immediate first aid in those critical initial few minutes where stopping any bleeding is vital. The reasons behind attacking one’s attacker in their own defense will be to their advantage even against the most aggressive assailant as even they will be set back and in that moment the advantage is yours. Should you not fight back then they are likely to finish their attack killing you and attacking another; so if nothing else, one can save additional lives at the very least by tying up their attacker preventing further victims. Thus your resistance answers all of Rabbi Hillel’s famous quotation from “Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14”
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, who am I?
If not now, when?”
By reacting to such an attack with active resistance and engaging the attacker making them vulnerable to being prevented from further attacks and potentially subdued or eliminated; you will most definitely be acting for oneself, the first line of Rabbi Hillel’s directive, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Further, you have made it more advantageous for others to assist your efforts thus negating the threat to others availing the answer to the second query, “But if I am only for myself, who am I?” Lastly we will have heeded Rabbi Hillel’s final challenge of “If not now, when?”
Rabbi Hillel was far from the only Rabbi who believed in a strong Jewish response to those who would harm us. Rabbi Meir Kahane also made arguments for our own defense against those who would do us harm. He also warned us of those evils which would befall Israel if we did not excise those who were not part of the body who desired a healthy and strong Jewish body for Israel. He was far from the first to press for an Israel free of foreign invaders or interests. Jewish history is full of such including but far from limited to the Maccabees or Bar Kokhba. Both rose to defend the Jewishness and independence of Israel, even if it was then known as Judea as that was the predominant remaining tribe. The fact that the Jewish state was named Judea and that the term Jew is derived from Judea and was a shortened form of Judean, should tell us a lot about where we should stand today when the world is demanding that we surrender an area of Israel known throughout history as Judea as well as Samaria to a foreign, hostile and cancerous body who call Judea the West Bank and are not interested in just Judea but in the end of all Israel and the eradication of the entire world’s Jewry.
We are not fighting over land; as if that were the case, there would have been an agreement long ago. We are fighting over who had a right to live. The terror groups we are entertaining, or at least our governments be they left wing, right wing, nationalist, internationalist or whatever have all had one thing in common, they believe we can compromise with how much of the body of Israel, the body of Judaism, we can sacrifice today to have a short period of calm before the next demand for a sacrifice will be made. The enemy does not desire their own state; they demand the end of our state and then the end of us, all Jews. They declare this loudly and with pride knowing that every other nation supports their end goal of a world without those Jews. There are some who refuse to say that they desire the Jews gone, but they will be willing to say they think that the Jewish State should surrender a piece of its body to a mortal foe today to buy some quiet, some form of peace with a ravenous beast. Even their own kind refuse to allow them to enter their soil and those on their soil are barricaded and refused any rights as they apparently must never be allowed to roam freely as that would only end in disaster. We have seen this when Yasser Arafat and his merry band of cutthroats roamed in Jordan and attempted to overthrow the government and then was pushed into Lebanon where they again attempted to overthrow the government as the result was them banned and the head of the snake was cut from its body and ensconced in a gilded prison in Tunisia. That could have been the end of the story and Israel left to live in peace and even the Arab population would have rested and lived peaceably; but no, the viper had to be resurrected as its job was not completed.
You ask Israelis who our greatest friend and benefactor is in the world and invariably the answer is ‘America’ virtually every time. You walk around Israel and their love for the United States is broadcast far and wide. Manufactured goods are packaged in fancy emblems in red, white and blue, not simply the blue and white which would indicate Israel. They often have a blue field with five and occasionally six pointed stars. Many packages are emblazoned with red and white stripes and all too many have both and claim American made parts inside. Many an Israeli talks about America as would have a European of fifty to a hundred or more years ago as if the United States too was a promised land. What they never speak of is the fact that there was a definite United States hand along with European hands so encouraging and helpful Israeli hands of Shimon Peres, Dr. Yossi Beilin, Professor Yair Hirschfeld and Dr. Ron Pundak with Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin brought in to the picture in the final stages forming the monstrosity which still haunts and threatens Israel’s existence to this day. The final status was forged through United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s Middle East negotiator, Daniel Kurtzer, who shuttled tirelessly between Tunis and Arafat to Jerusalem with Beilin and Peres, seeking to narrow and then close any final gaps between the PLO and the Israelis closing those parts of the deal not settled in Oslo under the tutelage of Director of the Fafo institute Terje Rod Larson, a Norwegian diplomat. Without the agreement and actual aiding of the clandestine secretive negotiations at the pivotal and vital final stages there would have been no Oslo Accord, no triumphant return of Yasser Arafat from his lavish Tunisian cell and most unfortunate and important item, no Nobel Peace Prize for Simon Peres along with Yasser Arafat, the worst Peace Prizes ever awarded in the Twentieth Century. Perhaps Terje Rod Larson, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Daniel Kurtzer should have also been so honored for without all their efforts none of this would have been possible.
Still, nothing the United States could ever do to harm Israeli interests and survival could ever sway all too many Israelis from their idealistic views of the United States, or more accurately America as the Israelis are capable of something even Americans are incapable of managing, realizing that the ideal and shining principles which make up the ideal America can be viewed in their original and perceived perfect beginnings and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with its Bill of Rights from the United States which is mired in the two plus centuries removed from that America; or perhaps there is some other reason for so many Israelis starry-eyed view of America, as more often than not they use the term America and not the United States as that may provide the clue. Perhaps this view is upheld by the average heartland American to even some suburban and urban city-dwellers whose view of Israel and the Jewish State have their loving idealized view of Israel as the logical and perfect restoration of the lands of the Tribes of Israel and the Kingdoms of David and Solomon and the perfect revival and the symbol of Jewish survival which if only Israel was. Instead there are the realities and limitations of men and the governments they form and that leaves us with the problems and confusions which cloud what should be crystal clear to even the slightly idealized dreamers. Israel is the land of, by, for and forged by the Jewish People and it is their home to which the remnants of a decimated Jewish European Jewish population first tread and then was invigorated with near to a million more Jewish refugees who were disinvited and spat out the remnants of years of purges and forced conversions from the Arab and Muslim lands from the Middle East across Northern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. Then the State of Israel sought to discern and find those remains of the Ten Lost Tribes which brought in far flung Jews from places such as Ethiopia and the Menashe from India and others from places equally as surprising and made all into a nation that shines as a light unto the nations of the world. This tiny nation whose representatives and the best of their best are found amongst if not the first to virtually every disaster scene across the globe no matter how far from Haiti to Nepal to Japan and the Philippines, no place is too remote nor person is considered insignificant as a dancer named George (see video below and marvel at miracles) can attest. Israel is amongst the sole nations who have offered to provide and actually provided aid to the citizens of the United States when she was struck by nature’s furies.
Additional CNN reporting from Haiti six days after the earthquake largely from one of the Haitian Hospitals where they are desperate for better facilities to save so many that they are unable to treat with their facilities and the one place they could turn.
But all the altruistic aid to foreign countries and all the taking in of Jews in distress no matter how lengthy their travels from ancient Israel to the modern day may have stretched, the world will never now, as in ancient times, accept and permit a Jewish State to stand unchallenged. In the past those who designed to eradicate the world from the Jew were Ancient Egypt, Philistines, Amalek, Amorites, Midian, Canaanites, Assyrians, Persians, Greek, Roman, Nazis, much of the Arab world in 1948, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967, Syria and Egypt almost succeeded in 1973 and ever since the Arab Palestinians (with the support of the Arab League member states, Iran and the Soviet Union over the years). Yet somehow Israel still stands. Our peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt stand shivering in their stark coldness of an icy cooperation which can never change the hearts of beating hatred within their populace, but stand they do. Syria is no longer, but new threats are born on her still quivering, if prematurely stated, grave. Lebanon leaves stand with the nurturing assistance of a United Nations blind eye the menace of Hezballah currently slightly distracted but soon to leave the Syrian debacle freshly hunting a victory to declare despite any realities, and they will engage Israel to provide said claim. Israel will survive them all as it is not those threats which are aimed menacingly at her heart. Those threats come from the European Union, the United States Department of State, campuses of colleges and universities across the Western World where the future leaders of massive armies and nuclear arms stacked to the skies that are the biggest threats on the future horizons, not so much the Iranian nuclear threat which was loosed by an American President who challenges the reasons he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Perhaps he will challenge the winners of hypocrisy from the Twentieth Century.
But Israel remains and will through it all and the reason why is doubted despite the Jew surviving the perils of centuries past and doing so in the century of the present age. Hashem has many other names to reference and define but as Israel and the Guardian of the Jews will remain to define Hashem as miracles are performed though seldom recognized outside of Israel. There are those amongst our enemies who have recognized the Hand of Hashem deflecting rockets, defusing explosives, giving a guard that second sense which saves he and his unit by halting them just for that instant. Hashem works his miracles large and small both perceived and to be revealed later when a soul steps to the throne and asks, remember when and before another word is spoken Hashem looks to the soul and says I remember them all both large and small and yours was one of a million that instant and smiles returning to the million miracles Hashem will perform that day. You ask why Israel survives and there are a million reasons, a million personal stories, thousands are those who beat the odds, hundreds who recognize their miracle and the select few whose miracles astound, amaze and inspire us all, but there is only one answer, Hashem. The day will arrive when that is made so evident that none shall doubt Hashem’s hand working in the world and that will be the day when the Jews will finally face threats and foes no more. Until then we work hard in a world that is often cold and cruel pretending we depend on ourselves which we do only as far as needed and Hashem takes care of the rest. We may not even know or recognize as they occur but in that quiet moment when a whisper utters within our brains, then we know we are not alone and Hashem stands astride all and cares for His creations one and all, large and small. And that is why Israel stands and will continue to stand, for she is a miracle herself.
Beyond the Cusp