Cult or Cultured

When cult leader, Jim Jones, mapped out a road to destruction, most of his followers remained loyal. They had invested so much, they trusted his judgment and they were no longer thinking rationally. It was not long before Jonestown became a graveyard. Jones, who attracted followers by promising peace and love, chose an alternate path. The path of suicide.

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Aliza Karp,

Aliza Karp
Aliza Karp
Aliza Karp
Many characteristics of a cult distinguish it from a valid movement lead by a charismatic leader. One such distinction is: cult members remain loyal to their leader even when it becomes clear that the leader is leading them to destruction. Three attributes of a cult make that phenomenon possible: a cult attracts followers by promising one agenda and delivering another; a cult destroys an individual?s ability to think clearly; and, in a cult, the leader stands above and beyond the rules and disciplines of the organization.

In 1978, the commune of Jonestown, Guyana, was a serene retreat for lost souls, mostly young Americans, looking for a safe haven. It promised to provide inner peace to those who had chosen to flee big city hustle and bustle and live together with peace-minded peers in the aura and comfort of a charismatic leader.

When cult leader, Jim Jones, mapped out a road to destruction, most of his followers remained loyal. They had invested so much, they trusted his judgment and they were no longer thinking rationally. It was not long before Jonestown became a graveyard. Jones, who attracted followers by promising peace and love, chose an alternate path. The path of suicide. His ?cabinet members? prepared barrels of poisoned Kool Aid and administered the brew to the commune members, including small children. Nine hundred people died.

I was reminded of this tragedy when I read the news that armed Arab bodyguards accompanied Abu Mazen to his meeting with Prime Minister Sharon. Clearly, Sharon was ready to put his life on the line for this meeting, but that is not what he was elected for. Not to meet with the likes of Abu Mazen and not to put himself in danger when there is nothing to be gained.

In addition to himself, Sharon is ready to sacrifice the lives of Jews living in Eretz Yisroel by establishing a terrorist state in their midst. Ask anyone who has read the Road Map. It is basically a road to death, and if it is followed voluntarily, it is a road to suicide.

Sharon is a charismatic leader. He exudes the feeling of security. But he is not delivering what he promised. He has turned a corner. He has changed directions. His road is not our road; his map is not our map. If we were blinded by Sharon?s charisma before, it is time to regain our vision now. The Likud has a clear policy that opposes an Arab state in Eretz Yisroel. What allows the leader of the Likud party, and the cabinet for that matter, to live by a different set of rules and disciplines than the policy set by those they represent?

The Likud party held a grand meeting with grand speeches a week before the Road Map was accepted. They declared that they do not want a terrorist state in their midst. And they are so proud that they spoke up. But their words did not make a difference. And they still belong to the cult. Do they really believe they can help by being on the ?inside?? Don?t they see that they, in fact, do not make a difference on the ?inside? or Sharon would not have been able to accept the Road Map in the first place? Don?t they see that the Road Map and similar destructive steps have been taken when there is no opposition in the Knesset? Don?t they see that Oslo brought about the disgrace of the Labor party and the Road Map will do the same for the Likud? Do they care more about their own warm seats in the Knesset than the welfare, nay the existence, of Eretz Yisroel?

This week marks 36 years since the miraculous victories of the Six Day War performed by the true Guardian of Israel. Just a week after the war, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave clear directions for the road ahead. Decisions based on his message lead to security. There is no room for political posturing:

?G-d, who created and rules the universe, gave the Land of Israel to the people of Israel. For a time - for a very long time - He took the land from us and gave it others. Last week, He took it away from them and gave it back to us. To remove any doubt that it was indeed G-d who restored the land to us, he did so with an open display of divine power, as the entire world watched and wondered how Israel would persevere in the face of many and mighty enemies who wished to destroy her.

?There are those who head the government of Eretz Yisroel, who have yet to free themselves of ?world opinion?, who are prepared to return territory conquered in war. They do not realize that they have not ?conquered? anything themselves - that G-d has granted the people of Israel their eternal heritage amidst tremendous miracles. We must prevent the heads of the government from making this drastic error.

?When the Creator of the world gives us a gift, we must treasure it and defend it and not look for ways to rid ourselves of it!?

The Jewish people need to choose a leader who truly believes that Eretz Yisroel belongs to Am Yisroel and that the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel are determined by the Chumash, not by the United Nations, not by conquest and not by the Quartet. Land under our jurisdiction that is part of Eretz Yisroel, and surrounding land needed for security purposes, will remain under our jurisdiction.

Our leader must have the self-esteem to stand up to world pressure, even when the US gets to the point of threatening sanctions. The Rebbe explained elsewhere that the reason the US makes demands on Eretz Yisroel is because we accept the demands. On the rare occasion when a Jewish leader has said ?far enough?, the US goes no further. The more we compromise, the weaker we are in their eyes, the more they demand.

And of course, the leader needs to be a person of integrity. Not one who dismantled Yamit. Not one who withdrew the army from Hevron. Someone who has shown himself to be dedicated to Eretz Yisroel through his actions as well as his words. Someone who does not worry about what America will say, because he knows the importance of Eretz Yisroel and he is confident that the ?Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.? (Tehillim 121)
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Aliza Karp writes about issues of concern to the Jewish world, including the Lubavitcher Rebbe?s perspective on defending Israel, with special focus on the Jewish community of Hebron.




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