16 02
  • I suppose it’s too much to ask Sharon to be Churchill but is it too much to ask him to be Bush? George W. is someone who often speaks as if English is his second language. He mangles words, mispronounces them, and misuses them, his sentences end up far from where they start. But since Sept. 11, especially in formal speeches about Sept. 11 and America since, he has been incredibly eloquent, galvanizing and inspiring a nation with words that are both direct and soaring. Something not to be underestimated. At a time when we so much need a leader to guide us, need someone to capture our thoughts and express our feelings, Bush has done that. The proof is just how many of his words stick in our minds. “Axis of evil.” “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.” “Time is not on our side.” “We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.” And more.Oh, how Israel could use words like that right about now. Sharon’s policy aside, his words have been pathetic, done nothing to lead us, inspire us, motivate us. In speech after speech, even in his speech this week, he says the same things over and over and does it in the dullest way possible. Arafat is a bum. Jews have dealt with all kinds of stuff and will deal with this. This is a war. He has not used phrases that capture the mind or heart, not said anything to make us feel good, feel led, feel pride, and hope. Indeed, each time he speaks, one feels more depressed, more forlorn. Indeed, I have yet to hear any leading Jewish voice rise to do for the Jewish people what Bush has done for the American people. How much we miss that, how much we need that.
  • 125 Israelis were killed in terror acts in the month of March. Per capita, that’s more than double the number of Americans killed in the World Trade Center. After those Americans were killed, Bush said the United States will do anything, go anywhere, overturn any government, take any action in and against any country, use any and all weapons at its disposal to rid the world of terrorism. When you think about it, there’s tremendous chutzpah there. We get hit once and we take it upon ourselves to judge who are the bad guys and do whatever, wherever, whenever for however long we decide. Israel has Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 and Sept. 13 and Sept. 14, terror each and every day, all throughout the country, and somehow it needs to justify any action it takes, any effort it takes to root out the source of its terrorism. Somehow what it does is seen as a reaction on equal footing with the action that caused it, in a cycle in which both sides are the same, the acts of each no different.
  • Speaking of which, and speaking as a leftist, I truly find it baffling that almost everyone, including right-wingers, is so afraid to kill Arafat. Yes, kill Arafat. I don’t know why that’s seen as such a horrible idea. Yes, I know about not wanting to make him a martyr and that the Arabs would go crazy and all the rest. To which I say baloney. America after Sept. 11 says our goal is to kill Osama. Kill him. Why shouldn’t Israel do the same to its Osama? Why the pussyfooting. Arafat is the head of a terrorist effort to destroy Israel. Sharon calls him our enemy, and yet all he does is do things to “humiliate” Arafat. All of which has humiliated Sharon and made Arafat a bigger and bigger hero. Why humiliate? If this is a war, as Sharon says it is, if Arafat is the leader of our enemy, as Sharon says he is, then Sharon ought to do what makes sense. And that kills Arafat. I got news for you. He’d be a martyr for about a month. After that, the Palestinian marchers would be caught up in vying for who would succeed him. And the Arab countries, all of whom hate him and have done nothing for him, indeed, who themselves humiliated him during the recent Arab League meeting, would be concerned most of all with getting an in with the new guy in charge. Sure they’d all squawk for awhile. But that would go on for a shorter time than you think. And we’d have dealt with an enemy as one deals with an enemy, we’d have shown we will do what needs to be done, we will have shown we know what neighborhood we live in and what our neighbors can expect from us. And we’d be rid of the mastermind. For all the squawking, don’t think the Arab countries wouldn’t be more afraid and more respectful of us after. It’s our reasonableness and squeamishness and half measures and misguided adventures, pulling in and then out of towns, that inspires them to kill our innocents. And, one more thing. Killing Arafat would be killing a criminal, one guilty of terrible crimes. Killing someone like that is more effective – and more moral – than killing innocents on their side. Kill him now, and in a year Arafat would be the vaguest of memories. It’s keeping him alive that has made him a martyr.
  • Adam Shapiro makes me sick. You just knew it would be a Jew. You knew there would be misguided do-gooders who would rush to Arafat’s side once he was hemmed in one building in Ramallah. After all, why concern yourself with the families of the 125 Israelis slaughtered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Haifa and at Seder in Netanya when you can cry for Arafat not having electricity and having his compound downsized. And you just knew leading the do-gooder would be a Jew. In this case, one with the very Jewish name of Adam Shapiro. He is now the media darling, being interviewed by all the networks as he describes poor Arafat’s plight and offers for him and his do-gooder buddies to be human shields for Yasser. On the one hand, one of the things that make Jews so special is that we are always at the forefront of sticking up for the little guy, fighting for what’s right. Civil rights in America, ending apartheid in South Africa, bringing medicine to desolate places all over, it’s always the Jews who are front and center. Something to be proud of. On the other hand, what makes Jews so sick is that we always seem to have to prove how good we are by denying who we are. As Jackie Mason puts it, it’s only from Jews that he hears that his act is “too Jewish.”Too many of us are uncomfortable with being chosen and so we feel the need to stand up against ourselves to prove that we’re not “too Jewish.”A Jew should not be the one standing up for Arafat at this moment under these circumstances. Period. Care about the Palestinians, yes, respect their rights, pray for peace between us and them, yes. But to run to be next to Yasser as he murders our people is not only a disgrace but is to allow yourself to be manipulated in the service of evil. Adam Shapiro is no better than the kapos during the Holocaust.
  • Speaking of which, I find it appalling that so many Jews are so desirous of outPalestinianing the Palestinians. I am all for mourning the loss of Palestinian life, for understanding that to them having Israeli control of their lives is an occupation, that you can’t tell a people what their homeland is, that you can’t deprive a people of the right to self-determination. Israel has made a lot of mistakes in its treatment of the Palestinians. But the fact is the Palestinians have made many many more. The fact that so many Palestinians live in horrendous conditions, have been trapped in refugee camps for more than 50 years, is their fault, not ours, their choice, not ours. It is one of the sickest facts of the Muslim world that they are so ready to cause their own people to suffer if it can make Israel suffer. We can and must do our part, but we can only do so much. And to blame their plight on us is obscene and only allows them to continue their sick and destructive ways. They could have and can get rid of the refugee camps. They could have and can improve their quality of life. We haven’t stopped that. They have. For Jews to blame Israel for the fact that the Palestinians have not matched Israel’s accomplishments is to let the truly guilty off the hook.
  • A man, as Clint Eastwood wisely said, needs to know his limitations. I so wish Ariel Sharon did. I bet he might be wishing the same right about now. Sharon for 20 years has wanted to be the prime minister of Israel. Not so much for Israel, but for himself. That’s because he convinced himself that the only way he could shake the stain of his absurd and immoral invasion into Lebanon back in 1982 was to stage a comeback and win the top job. He did, even though there is nothing about him that makes him qualified for it or temperamentally suited to it. Yes, he was a brilliant soldier, a brilliant war commander, who saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War. If only he had withdrawn from public life after, savoring his contributions to the Jewish people and the Jewish nation, recognizing he did the job he was best able to do. If he had, he would be remembered with fondness and gratitude, his place in our history assured and noble. Instead, he bulldozed his way, unthinkingly, into being prime minister. Not good for him, not good for us. And something that will earn him a very different place in our history.
  • I used to worry that Jews could only come together in times of crisis. I used to worry that Jews only know how to make the best of bad times, not the most of good times. Now I worry about the opposite. It has been stunningly amazing to me how little Jews have come together even as Israel faces its greatest, most confounding, challenge ever. It has been stunningly amazing to me how lost we are, how we have no idea what to do, how to be, what is needed. We live in a time when automatic identification with the community in a time of crisis and automatic concern for Israel in peril is no longer the case. This is why we need new ways to come together, new reasons to get us to care, new ideas for how to deal with what’s going on. And yet, we seem mostly to be wandering aimlessly, with all the things we haven’t done to make Jews, especially young Jews, want to be Jews, coming home to roost. We are in the middle of a profound Jewish crisis, and yet for too many of us, it’s either Jewish business as usual or each of us going about our own business.
  • I’m not one to exaggerate and I am one to pooh those who say the sky is falling. But I think we all ought to sit ourselves down for a few minutes and recognize that having a state of Israel is not a sure thing. For two thousand years of Jewish history, we didn’t have a state. And we’ve only had one for a little more than 50 years. No one and nothing says we can’t go back to the time when we don’t. Sobering thought, I know, scary thought, I know, inflammatory thought, I know. And no, I don’t think it’ll happen. But it could. Never has it so much seemed that it could. And yes, I remember 1967 and 1973, but those were wars we knew how to fight, were what mattered in the fighting was in our favor. That ain’t the case this time. Instead of running away from it, not daring to contemplate it, I think we ought to recognize that Israel could cease to be. Not to depress ourselves or freak out or panic. But rather so that we feel in our bones what is at stake and so that we act to make sure it doesn’t happen. Because if we don’t think it can, don’t act to put our love of Israel into action, our history has shown us that the unimaginable has a way of becoming reality.
  • Early signs of us acting appropriately are not good. Exhibit AAA is the disgraceful decision by organizers of the March of the Living to cancel the Israel part of this year’s trip. March of the Living is the yearly program that takes 1,500 young Jews first to Poland to visit the concentration camps and feel firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust; and which then takes them immediately to Israel to see what rose from the ashes, to see that Am Yisrael is alive and well and thriving and at home. That our story didn’t end in Poland as so many vicious Jew-haters tried to do, but that a glorious new chapter is being written in Jerusalem, thanks to so many amazing Jews. Amazingly, shockingly, this year the March is only going to Poland. That’s right, they’re going to visit the land that murdered three million of our people, see where and how we were brutalized and degraded. That part of Jewish history we’ll tell the young kids about. But taking them to Jerusalem, no way. Too dangerous. Think of the message that sends. Think of what that says not only to those young Jews but to all of Judaism, to Jews living in Israel, to Jews living in America. When we most need to focus on the challenges of the present and the promise of the future, the organizers of the March want to turn the clock back, experience Poland, rather than Israel. When we most need to remember that it is Israel that is our home and our core and our essence, that we have come back and will not again leave, that our hearts and souls and bodies and minds need to be there, need to be with those who live there, the organizers of the March are saying no, better not, not a good time. Those who made that decision should be fired and never again allowed to be in charge of programs for young Jews. And their cowardly decision should be changed. Now. Now yes I know no one has the right to endanger other peoples’ kids and yes, Israel is a dangerous place right now. But we must be concerned about the Jewish well-being of those kids as well as their physical well-being, about their neshamas, as well as their tushies. Jews are creative, so how about this for a creative solution. From Poland, fly into Israel. At the airport, put the kids onto heavily guarded buses, drive to the Western Wall, pray and dance and sing and talk there for a couple of hours, then back on the buses to the airport for the flight to the United States. Minimal danger, maximum message. Showing and telling those kids that nothing will stop us from going to Israel, that we will, as so many Jews of the past who wished they could, but couldn’t, pray and dance at the Wall. That young Jews should embrace our future, not drown in and flee from our past. That those in charge of the March could make the decision to do Poland and skip Israel tells you all you need to know about why we are in trouble as a people and why the end of Israel is not as unthinkable as we’d like to think.
  • Forget that Barak at Camp David offered to give the Palestinians virtually everything they want, to end the occupation they endlessly whine about on TV. Forget that Sharon has dropped every single one of his pre-conditions, that he agreed to an unconditional cease-fire just hours before the seder massacre in Netanya. Forget that we have long ago accepted the idea of a Palestinian state while to this moment the Palestinians have never publicly accepted the idea of a “Jewish” state. Forget even that if tomorrow Arafat genuinely made efforts to end the terror, to bring peace, a majority of Israelis would respond positively. What’s most important to remember is that all Israel wants most of all is one thing. To be left alone. Just leave us alone. Just don’t kill us as we’re eating pizza or coming home from shul or driving to work. Just leave us alone. That’s all we ask. Do that and all you complain about us doing we wouldn’t do. Leave us alone and all the things soft-headed Jews find so problematic and the world sees as our part in the tit for tat terrorism in which we do horrible things with tanks and they do horrible things with suicide bombers, wouldn’t be. Bill Maher of the TV show “Politically Correct,” wisely makes the point that if Arafat had the weapons Israel does, including nuclear weapons, is there the slightest doubt he would have used them to wipe out Israel, unrelentingly, to the very last Jew. Israel, which does have those weapons, has always and continues to use them sparingly, carefully, reluctantly, only when forced. The world sees two crazy people killing each other and thinks both are the same, it’s all the same. The difference is that we are always eager to stop and that we never are the ones to start. We just want them to leave us alone. That’s all. What they want is something very much different.
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