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By: Rabbi Berel Wein
The Jewish Press
In attempting to be currently relevant against the backdrop of the long view of history and human events, one risks becoming totally irrelevant.
Reading and listening to the media, bloggers, and the convention planners among us, one would believe the fate of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, not to mention the salvation of Torah Judaism and the general welfare of humankind, is dependent on empowering women rabbis or excluding them, destroying or preserving an illegally built synagogue building, and giving pat answers to very complex and complicated personal and family problems and issues.
All these issues have an importance in their own right but none of them, in the long run, are relevant to Jewish survival in a general sense.
Women rabbis have been around for decades in the non-Orthodox synagogue world. Has their presence strengthened any of those faltering and failing groups?
Is there any evidence whatsoever that women rabbis strengthened Jewish commitment among the unaffiliated?
Is there any reason, except for the empowerment of a few diehard women, to think this issue should be at the forefront of Jewish life and rabbinic savants?
It is completely irrelevant to the current situation of Jews and Judaism in the world.
It will not convince the unfortunately alienated Jew to become more Jewishly committed and it will certainly not resonate with the vast majority of Orthodox Jews.
So why pursue something that is so unnecessarily divisive and essentially useless?
Europe declared it was going to label Israeli products grown, produced, or manufactured east of the “green line” as being from occupied territory. This is Europe’s contribution to achieving peace in the Middle East.
The response of the Muslim extremists, whom Israel has to deal with on a daily basis, to this gesture of European solidarity was the horrendous massacre of innocents in Paris.
The labeling issue now appears as it really is – absurd, useless, and completely irrelevant to the realities of the Middle East and the Muslim world.
By now it should be evident even to the most obtuse Israel-basher that the problem is not “settlements” but rather a militant Islam that refuses the right of others to exist in the Middle East – and now, for that matter even in Europe and the U.S.
Of course Europe, its media and academia, has a long history of dwelling on the irrelevant. It is trapped in its own tangled web of moral equivalency where good is evil and evil is good.
Orwell’s 1984 is Europe 2015. Anti-Semitism knows no logical boundaries or sensible argument or debate.
And make no mistake, today’s anti-Israel rhetoric, demonstrations, and actions are motivated by anti-Semitism. This curse has haunted Europe for millennia and it is still thriving there today.
Labeling products is completely irrelevant to the future of Israel and of Europe. But Muslim migration and Muslim extremism and terrorism are the stuff of Europe’s future. Europe should stop whistling past the graveyard.
The current tense situation in Israel – and Jerusalem is still far safer than New York, Chicago, or Paris – again points out the irrelevance of two-state solutions.
Without a change in the Palestinian mindset, which disavows Israel’s right to exist, all the diplomatic efforts at peace are doomed to failure.
All the proposals for bridging the gap are completely irrelevant to the realities of the situation.
President Obama himself realized this to be the situation when he stated that no real progress can be expected during the remainder of his term in office.
There is a begrudging admittance in that statement – inferred but certainly not explicit – that not everything is the fault of Benjamin Netanyahu’s obstinacy.
Of course, the Israeli left, which itself is rapidly becoming more and more irrelevant in much of Israeli society, will never admit its errors or basically change its tune and policies.
But the result of becoming irrelevant is that eventually people stop listening to you. Irrelevance only breeds continuing and more intensified irrelevance.
Thus we will have to wait to see what future events will occur that may alter the present situation and give us an opportunity to truly bridge the gaps and create a more stable and even peaceful Middle East.
Rabbi Berel Wein is an internationally acclaimed scholar, lecturer, and writer whose audiotapes on Torah and other Jewish subjects have garnered a wide following, as have his books, which include a four-volume series on Jewish history. He made aliyah to Israel in 1997 following a very successful rabbinical career in the US.
II Israel Will Prevail (G-d willing)
By Former MK Moshe Feiglin
The Jewish Press, Nov 27, 2015
I slightly envy the French. One mass murder on their soil (what we in Israel euphemistically call an “attack”) and it is clear to everyone there that the French are in a war. They have been there before.
When the Oslo Accords fell upon us, crowded buses and busy restaurants began to explode in Israel. Carnage on a Parisian scale became completely routine here. But the prime minister, Shimon Peres, insisted that the victims were ‘sacrifices for peace’. (a la Barack Obama)
Here in Israel, we still insist on not integrating the simple French realization that we are in a war. The ‘peace industry’ established by Peres and his friends has been alive and kicking since Oslo and will not allow the facts to confuse it.
Despite all that, it is better to be Israeli than French. Because just like the Americans after 9/11, the French beating on the war drums today cannot really identify the enemy. They cannot fight him and they cannot defeat him.
Modern day nation-states need to fight against other states. Otherwise, they have no return address, for modern nation-states are based on nationalism and territory. An enemy that is not nationalist and is not territorial is outside the realm of their experience. He may see them, but they don’t see him.
Just as the Americans after 9/11 conquered Iraq and ultimately lost the battle (in other words, they elected a president called Hussein, fled Iraq and left an extremist, much more determined Islamic regime in its wake, signed a surrender accord with the nuclear Ayatollahs and are now surrendering their hegemony in the Middle East to Putin) will also lose.
Just like the Americans after 9/11, Europe’s citizens are about to see countless bombers taking off and landing. But they will lose.
So why is it better to be Israeli? After all, we also bomb empty lots just to satisfy public opinion. We also bribe our enemy with about 10% of our annual budget (more than 1 trillion shekels since Oslo – more than all the natural gas discoveries) in order to keep the number of murdered Israelis below a level that would endanger the peace industry.
What is the difference between Israel and Europe?
“With you, I can manage,” said an Arab MK to me once in a personal conversation (after I explained to him that I am not willing to surrender even one millimeter of the Land of Israel).
The Jewish Nation has foundations that run far deeper than nationalism or territory; foundations that the Arabs understand, and the Europeans – much less. These foundations are profound and enduring. Islam and the Christian ‘enlightenment’ collapsing before it cannot hold a candle to it.
Islam will bow its head before a modern, Jewish liberty state – a state connected to its identity and the secret of its eternity.
I do not know who and what will be in the US or Europe in another fifty years. I do not know how the Middle East will look.
But Israel? We will be here. (Baruch Hashem – Please G-d)
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