Maybe, the State of Israel should take a leaf out of Martin Luther King’s book.
I’m in the middle of reading the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, the great black civil rights leader, who was assassinated – probably by one of the American alphabet agencies – in 1968, while advocating the non-violent resistance path of peace.
While the writing is a little stodgy in parts, what I’m finding very interesting is how much hypocrisy and moral corruption was riddling USA ‘officialdom’ back in the 1960s, and how brave King and his fellow activists were, in approaching the issue purely with the creed of non-violent resistance and emuna.
Because the two go together.
Time and again, King found his strength in his religion, and particularly in his connection to God – Who he mentions far more than the yoshkiyite idol – in his writings.
And then, that got me thinking about what’s going on in Israel.
Like many people here, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the groups of chareidi men who stage sit-ins by the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, and in Bnei Brak. I know when they are protesting, it’s usually because some religious young man – or also, young woman! – has been arrested by the police, and is sitting in jail because they refuse to enlist in the army.
Until very recently, I was kind of looking at these protests more as ‘street entertainment’ than anything more serious. But reading this Martin Luther King book is kind of changing my perspective on what’s actually going on here.
Recently, I saw a video where the Israeli police were blasting some poor chareidi men with what’s known as ‘skunk water’ at close quarters, mamash squirting it straight into their faces.
‘Skunk Water’ is so potent, it can make a person nauseous for many days after they come into any contact with it, let alone when it’s been sprayed straight into their chops. A couple of weeks ago, one of my girls found herself in the middle of a sit-in demonstration by the bus station, and she felt pretty ill for a few hours, after getting a sniff of the skunk water the police were spraying all over the demonstrators, to get them to disburse.
Then of course, there’s been all the pictures of the police pulling peaceful chareidim along by their side-curls… and then there was the case where the police here beat up an autistic young man, just because he was chareidi… and I could give you many more examples of where bald-headed, vicious bullies in uniform are beating up peacefully-demonstrating religious Jews in Israel.
WARNING: THIS FOOTAGE OF A CHAREDI BOY BEING BEATEN UP IN MEAH SHEARIM IS PRETTY DISTURBING:
Which brings us to an awkward cross-roads.
Whether or not you believe that violence is the only way to solve our national problems, and that having a strong army is the only solution to our woes (more on that in a moment), it seems ethical that people who are opposed in principle to killing other people should not be forced into bearing arms.
The people in the IDF making these life-and-death decisions about who should live, and who should die, are not believing Jews, and they aren’t guided by Torah law on these matters. Judaism believes in the sanctity of human life, and taking another person’s life is NOT a simple matter. So serving in the IDF is not a simple matter, morally, and it shouldn’t be something that we try to push on other people indiscriminately, without first really exploring the issues in depth.
I know this perhaps sounds even ‘treasonous’ to big parts of the dati leumi world, and also anathema to many others in Jewish society– and I understand their position. Until fairly recently, I shared it.
But not any more.
Let’s get back to the charedim who are protesting, and who are getting manhandled by bald-headed bullies in uniform, and sprayed in the face with nausea-inducing chemicals, and water-cannoned off the pavement, and arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’ – exactly how the black civil rights’ protesters were being treated by the racist, white authorities in America’s Deep South.
It suddenly struck me how brave these charedim are, because they come out and protest time and time again, and they know they will get beaten up, and blasted off the pavements with water cannons, and all the rest of it – and yet they don’t fight back.
I know, we all take that for granted, don’t we?
That the police can come in and beat the charedim up, and the charedim never fight back. In fact, we take it so for granted that we start moaning about how much traffic these peaceful protesters are holding up, and how awkward they are making life for everyone around them.
In this olam hafuch, where brutality, violence and guns are worshipped as the real measure of bravery and heroism, it’s totally passing us by, just how much restraint and inner strength and emuna it actually takes, to just sit there while some aggressive, bald-headed police-nik comes after you for trying to stand up for God and His Torah.
The State of Israel believes that its army is the only reason the Arabs didn’t over-run us and kill us, a long time ago.
It’s such a convincing argument, isn’t it? But if you look at the wars that have occurred in Israel, it doesn’t actually stand up.
Israel’s ‘army’ in 1948 basically consisted of two rifles left over from the Boer War, and about 10 bullets (I’m exaggerating to make the point, but barely). That war was a resounding success for the Jews ONLY because Hashem did open miracles, and the Arabs ran away.
1967, and the Six Day War, is often touted as the apex of Israel’s military might:
Again, it was God, and God’s miracles, that led to the State of Israel pulling off the Six Day War, and suddenly reclaiming the holiest sites in Judaism – and the secular government here was very unhappy about it, when that happened. They have been trying to figure out how to get rid of the Temple Mount and Hebron ever since.
1973, the Yom Kippur War, actually started off as a total disaster, when the State of Israel came within a whisker of being over-run by our hostile Arab neighbors. Again, God pulled us out of the fire, and did miracle after miracle, including having a lone tank secure the whole Northern front against the Syrian troops.
And since then…. All the IDF has done, really, is get us deeper into the cack, morally and politically.
The IDF is a mirage, it’s an illusion. It’s far more about shaping future generations of Israelis and breaking their allegiance to the Torah than it is about defending the country.
The army doesn’t need chareidim to serve; the army is over-run by too many young people already that the army doesn’t know what to do with. What’s more, new research shows that half the country now wants to move to a professional army, and away from mandatory drafting.
The whole draft issue revolves around one thing, and one thing only: the State of Israel wants our religious young people in the army so they can immerse them in a totally secular, promiscuous culture and pull them away from Torah and God.
And that’s it.
No serious army would mix men and women together the way the IDF is doing.
One of my kids summed it up succinctly, when she told me that parts of the army are pushing for re-segregation, because the men soldiers are spending so much time looking at the lady soldiers butts, they aren’t learning how to fight properly. Anyone with eyes in their head can see this is true. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven through a checkpoint into Jerusalem only to be totally ignored by the male and female soldier on guard who are too busy openly flirting to even so much as glance in my direction.
So much, for the much-lauded professionalism of the IDF.
Or try this: do a Google Search for ‘Ofer Erez’, and see what comes up. And then understand that Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and laughing their heads off at the IDF right now. FACT: women are physically weaker than men. FACT: women have way less testosterone pumping around than men. FACT: women make much more vulnerable soldiers than men, for a number of reasons.
These are biological facts, not opinion. And that’s even without all the flirting and open promiscuity that’s going on, which I’ll write more about in another post.
Let’s be 100% clear:
I am enormously grateful to the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for the Jewish people, and I know how much idealism is still fuelling so many of the young people, secular and religious, who go to the army.
This is not about them and their self-sacrifice, it’s about the morally-corrupt politicians, army bosses and secular mafiosos who are actually running the country, and using the IDF as a perverted social engineering tool.
There is a reason that this issue of the draft is the one that is paralyzing the political process in the State of Israel, and that’s because God wants us all to take a careful look at so many of the assumptions that we keep making, about the place of guns and violence in our society. Which brings me to the next point about what could really lead us to the truth path of peace.
Over the last few months, I’ve increasingly been coming to the view that violence and guns is never really going to get us to a good place in Israel.
The more I’ve been thinking things through, the more I can see that we are in the unwinnable game here, if we keep relying on bigger bombs and smarter weapons to try to ‘keep the peace’ with our neighbors.
At this point, many of you might interject, and say:
But if the international community would allow Israel to use its military might properly, and if the State of Israel would stop practicing restraint, then all of our problems with the Arabs would be over! We’d re-establish our military deterrence and go back to ruling the roost, in the Middle East!!!
Again, it sounds like a convincing argument on the face of things, and for a long time I didn’t think to challenge it or question it. But recently, I did.
Are we really saying that carpet-bombing Gaza is the answer to all our woes? Are we really saying that killing thousands of Arabs is really a solution to Israel’s problems? What evidence do we have to back up this approach, from the last 70 years?
Because tachlis, every time we suppressed the Arabs with violence, they have just regrouped and come back with something bigger. Long-term, violence is not a solution. Long-term, killing tons of Arabs only breeds more hatred and creates more terrorists.
And I’m not even going to address the lunatics out there who keep advocating for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Gaza, but who can’t see how contemplating that would put us in the same category as so many of the most evil ideologies that have existed throughout history.
Does that mean that we Jews should just sit here, and let the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets at us willy-nilly?
Of course not. Life is precious. Every life is so very precious, every person is a whole world.
And so, we have what they call in the Talmud a kooshia, or difficulty, that seems impossible to resolve. Morally, we can’t just sit here and let Jews continue to be slaughtered by rocket attacks. Morally, we can’t just go in and commit wholesale murder in Gaza.
So, what’s the answer?
Those yeshiva boys who are protesting – and the rabbis who are sending them out – might know. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to put down the guns, and to turn to God in prayer and supplication and teshuva.
I know, that’s challenging isn’t it? On so many levels.
But we have to fight!!! We have to keep defending ourselves!!! We can’t just go like lambs to the slaughter!!!
Agreed, agreed, agreed, a million times over.
But, we have to change the way we are fighting from the Esav-machine gun-Rambo model, to the Yaakov-prayer-teshuva-and Torah model.
If you look at all the real social upheavals that led to genuinely positive outcomes since World War II, they were all achieved with emuna and non-violent protest. But Israel’s whole secular society is built on violence, and promoting violence and murder as the answer to all of our woes.
If only we could murder all the Palestinians, we’d have nothing else to worry about!
That’s how so many of us have been brainwashed to think. But we have to stop, and we have to ask ourselves honestly: does that sound like a solution that God actually wants? I know, if God Himself decides He wants to wipe out a whole nation of people, that’s something else, and God doesn’t need anyone’s help to do that. We don’t need to get in the middle of God’s calculations.
But we do need to clear all the State’s propaganda out of the way, and really look at the culture of spying, intimidation and violence that has become the State of Israel’s stock-in-trade. And instead of being so proud of it, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about whether all this violence is moral? And whether it’s ethical? And whether it’s in line with, or anti, the halacha?
We need to pause and examine whether God also believes that forcing yeshiva bochurs to learn how to use machine guns, and encouraging promiscuous behavior between men and women soldiers, and putting obedience to a bunch of secular mafiosos ahead of obedience to God and His Torah is really going to solve the State of Israel’s problems, long-term.
And if we spend some time exploring that question, however uncomfortable it makes us to start challenging the axiomatic ‘truths’ we’ve all been raised with, it’s possible that we’ll start to realise that these ‘truths’ aren’t so true, after all.
Violence isn’t working to solve the problem, because it’s not addressing the root cause of the State of Israel’s woes, which is that it is anti-Torah, and anti-God. If the State of Israel became a ‘halachic state’ tomorrow, I guarantee our problems with the Arabs would disappear overnight.
If Martin Luther King had encouraged the 20 million blacks in the US to resort to violence instead of peaceful protest, do you think he would have achieved what he did? Do you think Gandhi would have got the British out of India if he’d resorted to terrorist tactics?
If the State of Israel had put God in the picture from its inception, God would have been fighting our battles for us – without tanks, planes and missiles – and all these wars and misery would be far behind us, already.
So, as we head into the next Israeli election, and as the rhetoric about ‘draft-dodging charedim’ heats up again, we need to take a breath and think about what’s really going on here, and what side of the equation we really want to be on.
Do we want to be Gandhi, or the British? Do we want to be Martin Luther King Jr, or the racists who shot him? Do we want to be Yaakov, who solves his problems peacefully with prayer and emuna, or Esav, who ‘solves’ his problems with murder and violence?
That is really the question that is looming ever larger for Israeli society.
And there are no easy answers.
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