Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
Yet, what is "pro-Israel"? What is hasbara? And what is truth? Are these concepts some pat package deal, subject to alteration in order to fit hand-in-glove with the election campaigns of the major candidates for Prime Minister or their parties? Or is pro-Israel hasbara and truth a conscience-soothing opiate for those Jews who, from a distance of many thousands of miles, are out of the real ball game? Is hasbara, in a trite sense of the modern-day Jewish mindset, the vehicle for avoiding the "uncomfortable truths" confronting both the secular, the anti-religious as well as those who don't relate to the Torah equivation of aliyah with all of the taryag (613) mitzvot of halacha? Is pro-Israel hasbara and truth an equivocation on our fundamental, axiomatic Torah principles, or is it the truth regarding the Jewish path in and connection with our God-given inheritance of the land? Is the truth of our hasbara that we are entitled to a Jewish State only due to some mere vote or piece of paper in the UN in 1947, but that the Arabs are entitled to an entity, the stepping stone to eradicating B'nai Yisrael? Are hasbara and truth the same old sugar-coated lollipops under different wrappers each time, handed to the gentile nations, the CNNs, the Turner Broadcastings, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, et al, in the futile hope that they'll become our friends and "feel our pain," at the loss of every Jewish life snuffed out by Arab cold-blooded murder?
How does hasbara relate to our collective hypocrisy and what the nations then perceive as the weakness of character, principles and our claim to Eretz Yisrael -- our stance that "if we give more and more of what is ours, our enemy will love and make peace with us?" Or is that, since we give more and more of what is ours, maybe it's not really ours -- that the Arab claim that we were "thieves in the night" stands validated?
Israel -- the promised land of G-d's "Chosen people", where its government abandons the heroes who save it; be it Jonathan Pollard, Zachary Baumel, or the South Lebanese Army, who put their lives on the line for two decades as a buffer protecting Jewish lives. Israel ? the very land of G-d's Holiness, but where it's people wear eyebrow, ear, nose, lip, facial and navel rings and where the sidewalks and streets have become the Israelis? trash can, strewn with litter and pornography. Is this our hasbara? Israel - where we mourn the victims of Arab Islamikazi bombers, and where the spiritual sanctity of the Beit Midrash and the holiness of Our Land must extend beyond prayer and study, must go "the full nine-yards" in caring for our brethren, in business and on all levels of practical daily interaction.
So, what exactly are hasbara and truth concerning our Eretz Yisrael? And why do we constantly fawn all over the gentile nations to "make our case", when the reality is that for the world, Jewish blood was for 2,000 years, and is now, expendable? And why does our Prime Minister go "hat-in-hand" to the US in search, yet again, of another $10 Billion in loan guarantees, to which is attached a self-destructive price tag? What kind of hasbara is possible when our principles and our divine legitimacy are compromised in the name of remaining on the American bosom?
Hasbara - our fundamental, axiomatic truths must not be some patchwork quilt of equivocation designed to mimic Prime Ministerial contestants. It cannot be haunted by or a function of "buying time" or postponing "the inevitable."
One of the climatic prayers of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the Unsaneh Tokef, written by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany. The Artscroll High Holiday Machzor commentary relates Rabbi Amnon's story and calls the Unsaneh Tokef prayer "one of the most stirring compositions in the entire liturgy of the Days of Awe." The story behind this prayer is as follows: The bishop of Mainz insisted that Rabbi Amnon, his friend and advisor, convert to Christianity. Rabbi Amnon equivocated, in order to buy time, asking for three days of grace to meditate on the question. Upon returning home, he became distraught at having given the impression that he'd even consider betraying G-d. Rabbi Amnon spent the three days in solitude, fasting and praying to be forgiven for his sin. He did not return to the bishop, but was brought before him and the bishop then demanded an answer. Rabbi Amnon replied that his tongue should be cut out for the sin of saying he'd even consider the matter. The bishop was furious and said that the sin was not in what was said, but in his legs for not coming as promised. Thus Rabbi Amnon's hands and feet were chopped off. After each amputation, he was asked if he would convert and he refused each time. Then, the bishop ordered that he be carried home, along with the amputated parts. When Rosh Hashanah arrived a few days later, Rabbi Amnon asked to be carried to the Ark of the Covenant in the synagogue. Before the congregation concluded its prayers, he asked to be able to Sanctify G-d's name in the synagogue as he had in the bishop's palace. He recited the Unsaneh Tokef and then died.
B'nai Yisrael today are similarly haunted by the equivocation of their leaders, men who compromise, in the name of buying time, our divine legacy of Eretz Yisrael. And why the equivocations of our leaders? Is it that B'nai Yisrael has become blase, taking Eretz Yisrael for granted, as if just another piece of land, like any other? Ergo, the loss of connection with and meaning of the land, the desecrations of the human body ? smoking, facial and body rings etc. - and sidewalks and streets strewn with litter as if New York, Philly or Los Angeles.
Hasbara? Let's tell it like is. Face it, the worst enemy faced by the Jews is ourselves. Hasbara is not to be wasted on the deaf-ears of the nations, but rather promoted amongst the Jews. The masses of Jewry need to be brought back to the reality of our connections, of all Jews as brothers and family, and our inalienable spiritual connection with Eretz Yisrael. What is real hasbara? I believe that it is the promotion of love, kindness and devotion amongst all members of the Jewish family, promoting aliyah and bringing Jews to do and act toward each other as Jews are supposed to. That is the true hasbara.
Moshe Burt, an Oleh Chadash for three and 3/4 years, writes news and current events commentary. He is also the Founder of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network.