Op-Ed: Passover's Legacy
But there is an evil in men’s hearts, and it is a profound evil, for those who hate and envy this Jewish gift to humanity and its message of freedom, liberty and foundational democracy.
Millions, perhaps billions, of the world’s population do not know the meaning of the towering festival of freedom and liberty known as Passover; a festival recognizing an event that has blessed the world for over 3,000 years.
The festival, which began on April 14th of this year, always takes place on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. In Israel, it is a seven-day holiday, out of Israel it is celebrated for eight days.
Jews and Christians know from the Bible the story of the Exodus and of the salvation of the Jewish people from centuries of slavery under the Egyptian pharaohs: The creation and deliverance of an entire nation.
Such a seminal event in humanity’s history became the foundation for freedom and liberty – created many centuries before democracy was first enunciated by Greek philosophers who lived within a polytheistic society.
Many people know in varying degrees the Passover story and of the creation and birth of the Jewish people and of their undying faith in the One and Only God; invisible and indivisible. Judaism has given the world monotheism in its purest and most undiluted nature. The Unity of God is what Jews have defended against all who attempted to suggest a plurality: even to enduring martyrdom.
The long-suffering Jews under Egyptian bondage were led to freedom by the Jewish prophet, Moses, who brought them to their own very special and promised Land of Israel. Moses spoke with God in Sinai and brought a wondrous divine gift to the Jewish people and through them to all humanity - the Decalogue; the Ten Commandments - and the basis of today’s laws of Western and Judeo-Christian civilization and jurisprudence. These ten brief commandments – a mere 120 Hebrew words – are written on the walls of synagogues and churches.
But, as in all Jewish practice, Moses was never deified. He was shown in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, as a man; nothing else. Indeed in order not to deify him or exalt him over others he is shown in the Holy Bible with human failings and his burial place remains unknown. He sought the mountain top and beheld the Promised Land of Israel, yet was never to enter. In fact, in the Torah Moses is described merely as “the humblest and meekest of all human beings.” For in Judaism, only God is divine and besides Him there are none other.
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is the first of the Jewish holidays and festivals, coinciding with the coming of the Spring in the Jewish people’s ancestral, biblical and native land: the land given by God in an everlasting Covenant to the Jewish people; a land extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (a mere forty miles in width) and Gilead (the possession of the tribes of Manasseh, Gad and Reuben) east of the river, in the present day Arab state called Jordan.
The Passover festival precedes two other harvest festivals based upon the agricultural cycles of ancient and modern Israel. Next comes Succot, which is known as Tabernacles followed by Shavuot, Pentecost, which records and commemorates the giving to Moses of the Ten Commandments. Mankind was, and is, blessed through the Passover for it is a veritable gift to those who accept its divine message and perform the ritual meal, the Seder, recording the Exodus story.
But there is an evil in men’s hearts, and it is a profound evil, for those who hate and envy this Jewish gift to humanity and its message of freedom, liberty and foundational democracy. They have chosen since time immemorial to rise up to destroy all that it stands for and persecute those – the Jews – who received it from God and who have shared it with all humanity.
Let me recount what Mary Antin wrote in 1911 about the horrors inflicted upon the Jews in Russia as they celebrated the festival of liberty in the Exodus story during the festive Seder meal. Ms. Antin wrote of what routinely took place at Passover and of how Russian neighbors reminded the Jews that for them it was another Egypt:
“… in Russian cities and even more in country districts, where Jewish families lived scattered, the stupid peasants would hear lies about the Jews, fill themselves with vodka, and set out to kill their Jewish neighbors.
“They attacked them with knives and clubs and scythes and axes, killed them or tortured them and burned their houses. This was called a pogrom.
“Jews who escaped the pogroms came with wounds on them and horrible, horrible, stories of little babies torn limb from limb before their mother’s eyes. Only to hear these things made one sob and sob and choke with pain.
“People who saw such things never smiled any more, no matter how long they lived and sometimes their hair turned white in a day and others went insane.”
In the Passover story, which is enshrined in the Haggadah, the book retelling the events of the Exodus and of the order of the Seder meal, there is a profound and millennial old passage: “Not one man alone has risen up against us to destroy us, but in every generation there have risen up against us those who sought to destroy us; but the Holy One, blessed be He, delivers us from their hands.”
And so it was and still is.
Not too long ago, a family in the Jewish Israeli village of Itamar, in biblical and ancestral Samaria, was slaughtered by Arab Muslims whose tracks led back to a nearby Arab settlement. The members of the Fogel family were sleeping in their home on the Sabbath when two Palestinian murderers entered and knifed to death the father, mother, and three children, including a little baby girl only three months old.
Since then, and before, thousands of Israeli civilians have perished at the hands of hate filled Palestinian Arabs.
And on the very eve of this year’s Passover, a man with long held ties to the Ku Klux Klan in Missouri and a vicious anti-Semite shot and killed three people, including a woman and a fourteen year old boy, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas and at Village Shalom, a retirement community one mile away. Frazier Glenn Cross, who also goes by the last name Miller, was apparently once a “grand dragon” of the Carolina KKK. After being arrested, the shooter shouted, “Heil Hitler.” Ironically the three victims were not Jews but two Methodists, a grandfather and his grandson, and one Catholic woman.
But such is the blind hatred of anti-Semites.
Mary Antin spoke about unspeakable horrors inflicted on Jewish families in Russia; atrocities which had been repeated time after time throughout Europe for nearly 2,000 years and in the Islamic world since the 7th century. Those relentless persecutions, pogroms and the shattering genocide perpetrated against the Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, in which a third of the world’s Jewish population was exterminated, were done when the Jews were still living in the long night of statelessness after Rome had destroyed Jewish Judea in 135 CE.
Yet today, since the modern miracle in 1948 of Israel’s rebirth and reconstitution as a sovereign, independent nation, restored again to its aboriginal, ancestral and biblical homeland, an Israeli government – despite all the overwhelming and empirical evidence of implacable Arab and Muslim refusal to ever accept it as a Jewish state – pleads for peace. It is offered again and again to the Arabs, those who call themselves Palestinians, and again and again rejected by them. Yet still Israeli leaders make unheard of and suicidal offers of “land for peace.”
This may seem to many observers as an aberration, an illogical and deeply naïve offer in the face of so much evidence of antipathy and loathsome hatred exhibited towards the Jewish state by the predominately Muslim Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.
What nation would accept such Arab and Muslim barbarity and withstand so many Palestinian crimes against the civilian Jewish population – and still hope for peace? What nation would continue, despite the rain of thousands of missiles launched from Hamas occupied Gaza upon Israeli women and children, to hold out the hand of peace to a people who display such cruelty and commit human rights abuses? What nation, after seeing the horror in the Fogel home, would still harbor hopes of a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with Israel? What people would still entertain the insanity of dividing up the tiny land under the fatal rubric of a “two-state-solution?”
Well, only a state whose people have embraced the Passover message for millennia and of the biblical passage in Deuteronomy 19;18, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” would remain convinced of the benefits to all, even to an Arab people who have poisoned and morally crippled themselves for over 60 years with the most abhorrent and loathsome anti-Jewish hatred. But to give away one inch of the land is a profound rejection of the Covenant made between His people and Almighty God. It is also a strategy of national suicide.
An Arab terrorist who once planted a bomb in Jerusalem has now become a supporter of the Jewish state. Walid Shoebat once stated once to a Jewish audience in America the following: “Americans need to start looking at what really happens in Israel. They don’t see what happens in their media. They don’t see what happens to the religious places in Judea or what the world calls the 'West Bank'.
“They have never seen what has happened to Joseph’s tomb. They have never seen every single holy place, Jewish and Christian, in Judea desecrated by the Palestinian Muslims. Americans need to see the reality on the ground and what happened to two Jews who got lost in the streets of Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority. If they did they would see the frenzy, the demonic frenzy of the Palestinian Arab population of Ramallah. How they tore out the human hearts, lungs and kidneys of the hapless Israeli victims.
“The media in America and around the world must show the reality of how the Jews suffer and of how the Jew cannot go from his home to worship in Joseph’s tomb or worship on the holiest site for Jews, the Temple Mount.”
He also stated that the worst possible mistake Israel ever made was inviting Arafat and his terrorist cronies to end their exile in Tunisia and set up their new headquarters in Judea – Israel’s biblical heartland. This decision by the left-wing Israeli government of Yitzhak Rabin led to Arafat and his terrorist gang gaining international acceptance with the so-called Oslo Peace Accords, which in time became the Oslo War in which thousands of Israeli civilians were murdered and maimed by Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers.
Walid Shoebat concluded that he saw the Jewish people are afraid of the Arab Goliath. But he, Shoebat, born a Muslim and now a Christian who knows full well the death sentence imposed upon him under Islamic Sharia law, is not afraid of Goliath.
Neither should Israel be afraid, for in truth it is the David, the tiny Jewish state of some 6,000,000 plus Jews within a tiny land no larger than New Jersey, confronting Goliath, the enormous Arab and Muslim world of one and a half billion straddling a land mass greater than America plus most of Europe.
And Israel should no longer seek to placate those Europeans and the present U.S. Administration that remorselessly calls for a “two-state- solution, which would reduce the Jewish state at its most populous region to a width of only nine miles: yes, only nine miles wide: A sure and certain recipe for self-destruction within the Middle East, arguably the most evil neighborhood on planet Earth.
A brave and highly principled British journalist, Melanie Phillips, suggested that Israeli leaders should finally tell the European and American leadership how they are guilty of double standards, moral equivalence and a bias against Israel which is shameful in the extreme. Here are some of her words:
“Israel should be making the case against the western media, and especially the British media, that it is an accessory to mass murder. Israel is always on the back foot. Israel is always on the defensive. It is always saying, ‘… it is not our fault, we didn’t do these terrible things. Can’t you see that they are doing it?’
“What Israel should be saying is quite different. Israel should be saying, ‘… world, this terrible conflict is your fault because you are persisting in supporting Arab aggression and punishing its Israeli victims. While you do that the aggression will simply continue. That’s not rocket science, that’s human nature. If you reward the aggressor he will have every incentive to continue his aggression.
“What you should be doing, world, is saying to the Palestinian Authority, let alone Hamas, ‘… what is this? After six decades you still say that you will never accept Israel as a Jewish state? What is this you are saying? If there was a state of Palestine, not one single Jew would be allowed in it? How do you expect us to support such a racist doctrine?
“While you are racists, while you are so anti-Jewish, and while you will not accept that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state, I am sorry but we, as the civilized world, will have nothing to do with you nor will we continue to fund your incitement and your prejudice. When you decide to join the civilized world we will welcome you. That’s what Israel should be saying, but Israel doesn’t.”
As Caroline Glick once reminded Leah Zinder in an IBA broadcast, Israel is not alone. There are millions of Americans – the vast majority – who support Israel and want to fight for her in the media and in the political realm against grievous pressure from the Obama Administration but are waiting for Israel to give them the reason to do so.
So these timely thoughts and questions must be urgently considered before, during and after the time of Passover for it surely is humanity’s moral barometer. As the great Rabbi J.H. Hertz wrote in 1935:
“Though man cannot always even half control his destiny, God has given him the reins of his conduct altogether into his hands.”
May Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government take to heart the pleas of Melanie Phillips, Walid Shoebat and the millions of Jews who yearn for a principled and resoundingly firm response from him to the ever humiliating demands upon the Jewish state from the Obama Administration, the State Department, and all the flawed Chanceries of Europe and beyond.
And it would not go amiss to remind the Godless European Union of Passover’s divine gift to the Jewish people: The promised and undivided land.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of Volumes One, Two and Three of Politicde: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.