********************EMERGENCY NEWS FLASH*********************
At the same time that this blog is being posted, news flashes from Virginia report that a berserk gunman has opened fire on a university campus in a deadly massacre. At first, I feared it was Mike, from Virginia, who is always calling for armed struggle in his comments to our blogs. When breaking reports described the killer, or killers, as Asians, we sighed with relief that a Jew won’t be blamed. Right now, I, and tens of thousands of INN readers, are worried for Mike’s safety, fearing that he be in the danger zone of the campus. PLEASE, MIKE, LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY OF YOUR WHEREABOUTS AND THAT YOU ARE OK! You laughed at my story, "On Eagles Wings," claiming it could never happen in America. See what G-d is showing you in your very own beloved Virginia. Face it, my friend, your life is in danger. See the writing on the wall! Save yourself while you can! Come to Israel now!
I’m taking the day off. Here is a dramatic reader exchange. Let Mike and Daniel slug it out with Aviva. As the Rabbis say: "One Jewish woman in Eretz Yisrael is worth one thousand Jewish men in America and Japan."
MIKE TO AVIVA
God will protect you only if you act to protect yourself. For example, in the time of the Chofetz Chaim, the Etzel and Lehi took bloody revenge on the Arabs and the Field Companies of the Hagana acted in defense of the Jews. Today, however, the Jews of the Holy Land DO NOT take vengeance against their Ishmaelite oppressors, DO NOT act to defend themselves and DO NOT do anything except pray and wait for a miracle. We witnessed despicable spectacles showing this. The sight of the Cowards of Gush Katif surrendering their weapons and tearfully praying next to the curtain of the ark in their synagogue even as the pogromschiks dragged them away one by one could not help but fill any normal man with revulsion. How any woman could continue to live with them in marriage or any son continue to respect them I do not know. Frankly, I do not know how any of them can live with themselves, for that matter. The horrible pogrom at Amona could not help but arouse a desire for revenge in every normal man, yet 10,000 Amona Criminals still walk unharmed among the Jews of the Holy Land. You want analogues from the Torah? Do not look to the story of the spies. Look to Pinchas and to the story of the Golden Calf. While you are engaged in your search for historical analogues, look also to the story of the Maccabees. Ask yourself, Mr. Fishman, what would Mattathias Maccabee do in response to Amona? What would Pinchas have done at Gush Katif? Since the Jews of the Holy Land do nothing to defend themselves and insist on the horrible hillul Hashem of depending on miracles and worshipping in an idolatrous fashion the secular Israeli state, it is self-evident that their punishment is not long in coming. Why should the Jews of the diaspora weaken their ranks and come to join a doomed people in their ghetto? Now, if the Jews of the Holy Land were to turn around and act like men, certainly Hashem would protect them. THEN aliyah would be meritorious despite the danger. I've said it before and I will say it again: Torah can obligate us to walk into danger, but not to commit suicide. mike, Vienna, VA (13/04/07)
AVIVA TO MIKE
You are right that there is a problem in Israel amongst the national religious - namely to revere the state and to exhibit an almost pathetic desire for acceptance in Israeli society, which is why many of the nationalist rabbis told their flock not to refuse orders before the expulsion.
This is true and I understand your frustration. Yet your conclusion is to sit in chutz l'aretz and do nothing, until someone else does the job for you. You accuse Jews who live in Israel, who have chosen to move here or to stay here (everyone could leave if they wanted to) of passivity. Yet you are the one who is passive - just waiting for someone to fix the situation for you.
It is easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize. "Where there is no man, be a man". If you are really troubled by what is happening here, why don't you come and be part of the solution. You will never be part of the solution outside of Israel. Aviva, Jerusalem (13/04/07)
DANIEL TO AVIVA
You are wrong. Of course you can be a part of the solution outside Israel. Arguably, you can be much more a part of the solution outside Israel because you have much more power, financial and otherwise. And you have many more opportunities to do much more.
An old lady once said that she never knew there was a stupid Jew until she came to Israel. Here we can have power and do meaningful things. In Israel we are garbage, to be kicked around and thrown out by thugs in grey. How many Jewish criminals do you think there are in Gallus? How about prostitutes? Now let's compare average income for Jews in Israel and in Gallus. Average level of education. Average standard of living. And you know what? Take a strong place like Mexico, and Israel loses in "average level of Yiddishkeit" hands down as well.
There will be a time b"h when Israel will become the right place. But not yet. Not for many/most people.
AVIVA TO DANIEL
Your dogged determination in believing that your avodat Hashem is holier in chul,and in Japan of all places is, sorry, just ridiculous.
I am not writing this to Daniel, because I feel that he is entrenched in rigid views. I am writing this to show that there is a response to what he says. (I do not have time to respond to every point as it is late, and sorry, it is very unedited).
"An old lady once said that she never knew there was a stupid Jew until she came to Israel."
There are no stupid Jews in chutz l'aretz? Not even one? An argument based on one person's opinion??
"Here we can have power and do meaningful things."
What does this mean? Specifics please? If American Jews are so free, why are the majority either indifferent or terrified to do something for Jonathon Pollard? I think that if he were a different color, they might be crying out for his release. What are you so powerful to do? Are you implying that no-one does anything meaningful in Israel? What are you trying to say?
"How many Jewish criminals do you think there are in Gallus?"
Israel prison stats from the Israel Prison services 2006:
18,157 total prisoners (of whom 5,666 are "security prisoners", i.e Arab). Of the remaining 12,500 not all will be Jewish as not everyone in Israel is Jewish.
(Israel Prison Services http://www.ips.gov.il/NR/exeres/05ED735A-FC64-4E7B-BC67-8394061D746E.htm)
As for the US: the only stats I could find were from the Jewish Prisoner Service (http://www.jewishprisonerservices.org/index.htm). Their survey of American prisons regarding Jewish prisoners yielded over 20,000 requests for Rosh Hashana cards.
20,000 requests (therefore possibly more) vs less than 12,500. (I don't know exactly how these statistics bear out scientifically, but at least they give some indication that Diaspora Jewry may not be an island of lily white purity, and possibly have just as many if not more Jewish criminals than in Israel). Sorry Daniel.
As for your other measures: income, standard of living, education - so you have a higher income, and how many years did it take to pay off your law school debts??? and how much does it cost to send your child to a Jewish school? Standard of living is measured by completely material things - some people do not feel it necessary to have a television in every room including the bathroom, or in any room at all. They don't feel the need to own a cadillac or take foreign holidays - that does not make them poor. As for education, in addition to the high proportion of phds in Israel, did you know that Israel has the highest rate of volunteerism in the world and that when the Arab population is removed, the proportion jumps even higher (according to the UN)? Education is not just about grades, it's also about character. And the comment about Mexico? Over half of all school children going into first grade last year in Israel were in religious schools - and you think that there is more yiddishkeit in chul?? The majority of Israelis are either religious or traditional. Out and out "secular" are a minority, and even amongst them you'd be surprised by the extent of their Jewish knowledge. And what about intermarriage in chutz l'artetz? Utterly rampant outside of the strictly orthodox. You forgot about that.
Daniel, you seem to base your opinions on black and white thinking, glorification of the wonderful exile and vilification of Eretz Yisrael. Real life is not like that. There is good and bad everywhere, but that is not the point. Just as a non-Jewish person may be a truly wonderful person with whom one could share a wonderful life, a Jew is not permitted to marry that person. So even if in some ways life is "better" for a person in chutz le'aretz - a bigger house, more 000s in the bank (ie positive 000s), more cars - more of everything material, etc, whilst a Jew is permitted to live there not only is it not the ideal, Jews are commanded to live in Israel. It is understandable that it is hard to let go of your materialism, but your dogged determination in "believing" that your avodat hashem is holier in chul,and in Japan of all places is, sorry, just ridiculous. Do what you have to do there. Make your money. But to conceptually make that your holy land?
I love Israel and I know that there are many terrible things that happen here, things that you probably do not even know about. But that does not make me love Israel any less. I do not love Israel because of the government, or because of the criminals, the prostitutes or the yassamniks. I love Israel because it is, was and always will be the Jewish homeland. This is unconditional love. A Jew belongs in the land of Israel. It's quite simple. You write to me as if I, and I alone, made this stuff up. I was lucky to have naturally had a love of the land from when I was a small child before I ever came here. Long before I had heard of the Rambam, yishuv haaretz and of the many words of chazal emphasizing its central importance in Judaism. I just knew that a Jew belongs in Israel.
Do you love Japan and feel passionately about it? Or will you quit as soon as your 5 million yen a year contract comes to an end. Trouble in Europe time to move away. As you yourself said, it is all temporary.
Yet, over 3000 years later Israel is eternal. As is (or at least as was) the Jewish yearning for it. All of us who have the merit to live here, we are the embodiment of the 2000 year old dream of all of our ancestors to return to Zion. I think of my own grandparents (z"l) who came from the shtetl, for them the land of Israel was still a dream, and I am living that 2000 year old dream. I think that they would be proud of that.
Of the problems here - some are social problems that are found everywhere and some are particular. But the joys of Israel are truly unique - after eight years of living in Israel I seem to have a special Israel moment nearly every day and am always meeting extraordinary people people who are driven by their idealism and passion. Also, here and only here can I literally walk in the footsteps of the avot, of the kings and the prophet - can you put a price on that? Life in Israel is constantly vibrant and exciting and challenging. Living in Israel is to feel a part of Clal Yisrael totally and in every sense. You are not a "German on the street and a Jew at home". You are just yourself, a Jew, anywhere you go.
I know that for many Jews it is hard for them to truly believe that they are capable of making aliya -leaving behind emotional ties, starting over professionally in a country where they don't speak the language, in a country beset by political problems. The prospect can be daunting. But you should know that it can be done, and that it is being done on a daily basis.
I don't work for the Jewish Agency or Nefesh B'Nefesh or the government. I am just writing what I feel in my heart, because maybe someone else out there also feels it in his or her heart. But maybe that person has bought into the myth of the "impossibility" of aliya. I just want to say that if the thought of Israel moves you and draws you, even though you have no idea how you are going to do it, if you can dream of it, if you can feel it in your heart, you can do it.
Aviva, Jerusalem (16/04/07)
Ladies and Gentlemen! Your attention! The decision of the judges has reached ringside. They award, 3 points to Mike from Virginia; 4 points to Daniel from Kyoto; 11 points to Aviva from Jerusalem. And the winner is AVIVA FROM JERUSALEM by a unanimous decision!