Op-Ed: Not One Jew, Not One Single Jewish Child
Like many frustrated young Jews on campus in the late 90’s, I got into ‘Israel advocacy’. I was outraged by the hypocrisy of the media and academic world towards Israel and the incessant dressing of lies as facts spouted by the likes of the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent.
Now that I’m a little older I still applaud those that work ceaselessly at Israel advocacy, but I’ve become increasingly convinced that we’re treading water.
The usual argument for advocacy is that even if we can’t shake those die-hard anti-Semites on the fringes, we can at least inform the majority of people in the middle who are receptive to, but largely ignorant of the truth.
If there’s another thing that our 3000 years of history has taught us, it’s that the Jews were never persecuted when they were feared.
And while this approach is common sense, it has largely failed to make a significant dent in the impervious wall of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment that has risen in recent years.
If there was only one law of anti-Semitism it’s that it doesn’t follow natural laws. While other groups are hated for a specific reason, the Jews are blamed at different times for different things; whether rich or poor; separatist or assimilationist; for being cowards or warmongers; for being capitalist exploiters or revolutionary communists; for claiming chosen-people status or for having an inferiority complex. Whatever the excuse of the age, we just can't seem to win.
But if there’s another thing that our 3000 years of history has taught us, it’s that the Jews were never persecuted when they were feared. The book of Samuel provides a stark example of this reality when contrasting the reigns of King David with his predecessor, King Saul.
On becoming King, we are told that Saul ‘went home’. His approach to the Philistines was always defensive. He responded militarily only when provoked. Sounds familiar? It’s precisely the policy of the Israel ‘Defense’ Forces today. So he won a few and lost a few. But the overall strategic situation had not significantly changed when, after 42 years on the throne, Saul lost his final battle and was forced to take his own life on the slopes of Mount Gilboa.
David however, played a very different game. Instead of going home we read that he went straight to war. In Psalm 18:37-47, he gives us a glimpse into his strategic thinking: “I will pursue my enemies, and overtake them. Neither will I turn again until they are consumed. I will strike them through, so that they will not be able to rise.” In other words; no mercy for those who want to kill us. And his strategy worked. It brought Israel the most peaceful and prosperous period in our history – days that we still look back to with longing.
With perhaps one or two exceptions, modern Israel’s leaders have resembled King Saul rather than King David. And while we could never apply the letter of David’s principle today, we are paying a heavy price by ignoring the spirit of it. The price has been no victory, no peace and the continual murder of innocent Jewish men, women and children. The only small respite we’ve ever had was 1967 – when Israel took the war decisively to the Arab states and won a crushing victory. Inconceivable to imagine today, my Israeli grandfather tells of those years between 1967 and 1973 when he was able to drive throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip without fear. Palestinians would run at the sight of an Israeli license plate. Israel also became the darling of international relations for a brief time, wooed by African States and the United States alike. The US, looking to consolidate their position in the Middle East, quickly realigned their foreign policy to support the victor – a policy that has remained until this day – but not, perhaps for much longer.
Yet despite the victory of ‘67, Israel remains paralyzed between the terrorist atrocities and missile attacks on the one hand, and the tenuous acceptance of our ‘friends’ on the other. And the result is that we have neither lasting peace nor true friends. For our friends expect us to sacrifice the lives of our children by sitting on our hands where they would respond ferociously.
Just this week a 9 year old girl playing in her yard in Psagot, Northern Jerusalem was shot and injured by an Arab terrorist. And like all terrorists, he took his shot based on a rational calculation: ‘If I’m killed I’m a hero. If I’m caught I’m still a hero. If I evade capture, I’m a smart hero. Either way, victory’.
What’s demanded is a response that radically alters our enemies’ rational calculation. Only if the would-be terrorist was forced to weigh not just his fate, but the fate of his entire family and village, only then would he think twice before pulling the trigger on a Jewish child.
Such a philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Not One Single Jewish Child’.
To us, the Jewish people, there is nothing more important than our next generation. And our enemy know it. Our children are the links that we forge, connecting our incredible millennial journey through history with our hopes and promises for the future. Now pause and look up on Google the phrase ‘Jewish children’. The overwhelming number of images staring back at us from the screen are from the Holocaust. One million Jewish children murdered. That’s the equivalent of all the Jewish children in Israel today.
Until now we’ve always said Never Again.
So let’s really mean it. Let’s make Never Again not just a slogan but a practicable policy. Let us advocate for true Jewish morality as practiced by King David - no mercy and no quarter for those that want us and our children dead. Regardless of what the world says or thinks. Because their obsession with condemning Israel makes them morally bankrupt. And if they don’t have a reason to blame us, they’ll invent one, as the one law of anti-Semitism makes inevitable. So at the very least, let’s look after our own.
I also believe that if we do, to our surprise, we will suddenly find we have an army of vocal international supporters. This would also put a thankful lid on our Israel advocacy efforts. Of the many good people that support us already, most have been too intimidated until now to stand up against the shrill voices of the media and the Left and the politically correct. That would all end if we finally stood up for ourselves.
But to implement such a policy requires leaders of extraordinary faith and courage. Leaders like Abraham and Moses, who had the faith to buck the trend of public opinion when they saw that it was leading us astray. Leaders like King David who had the courage to reverse a dogma of showing kindness to the cruel when it was clear that cruelty to the kind would be the inevitable outcome. Someone of the stature of Jonathan Pollard would perhaps be able to do this today, if only he could be freed.
In the words of Shimon Peres following the Entebbe rescue in 1976, “If we gave in to the hijackers' demands, everyone would understand us, but no one would respect us. If, on the other hand, we freed the hostages, it is possible that no one would understand us, but everyone would respect us.”
So let us put an end to our ineffectual and defensive strategy of wishing to be understood. Let the world respect us instead. Let us do away with the pseudo-ethics of turn-the-other-cheek that the West preaches but never practices. Let us work to build self-sufficiency in Israel and not be afraid to ‘dwell alone’ as Balaam prophesized in the book of Exodus. And at the same time let us demand from our leaders that they accept no compromise when it comes to the lives of our most precious possessions - our children.
No compromise means no early release for terrorists; no more negotiations with Holocaust deniers and inciters; no more apologies to thuggish dictators, no more uprooting families and communities; implementing the death sentence for brutal murderers such as the Fogel family killers; enforcing deterrence rather than erecting fences. Stepping up to the challenge of a nuclear Iran without America. And build, build, build to break our enemies’ morale once and for all. Only this will earn us respect - and perhaps even peace… Not one single Jewish child. Never Again.