Mahmoud Abbas and the Biblical Bilaam
Tuvia BrodieTuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name...
In the Torah Portion we read this past week, Parshat Balak (B’Midbar 22:2-25:9), we saw Balak the king of Midian seek out the sorcerer, Bilaam. King Balak wanted the sorcerer to curse the Jewish nation. He wanted those curses because he hoped that, through the effects of the curses, Israel would be weakened.
King Balak wanted to destroy the Jewish nation. But the Jews were very strong—stronger than he (sound familiar?). Balak believed that if he could weaken the Jewish nation through curses, Israel would not be able to survive a Midianite attack.
That was the plan. It didn’t work out that way. The sorcerer Bilaam failed to curse the nation G-d called, ‘blessed’.
That was some 3,000 years ago. But, as the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
For Israel, nothing has changed.
Mahmoud Abbas and his Muslim friends want to destroy the Jewish nation. If you don’t believe that, read the Hamas Charter. Read the PLO Charter. Go online to MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch. You’ll see it all—the hate, the dream of conquest and the calls to kill Jews.
The purpose of the Arab cause is not statehood. It’s the destruction of the Jewish state. It’s clear. It’s simple. It’s plainly stated.
Indeed, the Arab can’t stop talking about it. Go to MEMI. Go to Palestinian Media Watch.
Now, as war between Hamas and Israel breaks out again, Hamas’ partner in the ‘Palestinian’ unity government-- Mahmoud Abbas--seeks a modern version of the ancient Bilaam. He looks for a way to curse the Jewish nation. He wants to curse Israel so he can destroy it.
He has found the modern version of Bilaam. It’s not a sorcerer. It’s not a magician.
It’s thoroughly modern. It’s the United Nations.
The United Nations (UN) has the power to bless and curse nations. It blesses through its various organizations, units and committees. Through those various ‘arms’, the UN blesses through money, other forms of aid and on-site programs designed to assist the growth, development and health of a nation’s population.
The UN also has the power to curse. It curses through sanctions, condemnations and the criminalization of aberrant nations. We are reminded of Abbas’ desire to curse the Jews because yesterday he turned to the UN ‘to stop Israeli aggression’—as if the reason Israel had attacked Gaza was because Israel is a bully.
There’s a cartoonist here in Israel. He’s called, ‘Dry Bones’. The blogger Batya Medad has posted one of the ‘Dry Bones’ pieces. The point of the cartoon is that reporting only on Israel’s attack of Gaza (and ignoring Hamas) is like trying to explain America’s entry into World War Two without mentioning Pearl Harbour (“Dumb Question”, Arutz Sheva blog, July 9, 2014).
Abbas presents Israel as a war-mongering bully. He turns to the UN. Like the ancient king Balak, he wants to curse Israel. He wants the modern sorcerer—the UN—to act against Israel (“Arab, Muslim States Urge UN Security Council to Censure Israel”, Arutz Sheva, July 8, 2014). He wants Israel to be censured—or worse.
Mahmoud Abbas is no different than the Midianite King Balak. Both want to destroy Israel. But both are afraid of Israel. Each knows that the Jewish nation he faces is stronger than he. But each also knows that Israel could be vulnerable.
Abbas believes that he can use the UN, along with other International peace and Humanitarian organizations, to curse Israel. He believes that if he plays his cards right, modern ‘curses’ could sufficiently weaken Israel that he will able to destroy it (“The peace process hoax”, elder of zyion, June 17, 2014).
He could be on to something. Our Jewish Heritage teaches us that when Israel retreats—flees before its enemy—Israel suffers (the Talmud Tractate, Sotah, 44b). Flight is the show of weakness that begins our downfall.
Abbas is smart. He knows he can’t crush us with a single blow—at least, not yet. But he also knows he might be able to get to the same place—our defeat--simply by making us retreat.
Each time Humanitarians accuse Israel of brutality, Israel weakens in the public eye. After years of accusations, Israel becomes cautious, hesitant. To the Arab, that hesitation suggests weakness. Weakness opens the possibility of retreat.
Israel today stands strong. We live on ancestral Jewish homeland. We have a strong army.
But Israel also teeters on the cusp of retreat. Too many in Israel demand retreat; they call us to ‘surrender land for peace’.
‘Surrender for peace’ is not a road to success. In the Middle East, it’s proof of weakness. It’s a curse dressed up to look like a blessing.
It’s a sorcerer’s incantation. It’s the curse that Mahmoud Abbas seeks for Israel.
He wants to use it to destroy the Jewish nation.