To Be or Not to Be

Not wanting to subject this "shame" of being Jewish upon my children, we emigrated to the land of the free (Jew), the home of the brave (Jew). I was ecstatic to be privileged to live in Israel and raise our children as Jews, proud of their Jewish identity. It was my ideal to be a Jew and an Israeli. But now I have to decide.

Prof. Shmuel Neumann

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I was born an atheist.

A few years after the Holocaust, the doctors in local hospitals in Czechoslovakia were ex-Nazis. Jewish women that delivered their babies in local hospitals invariably "miscarried" perfectly healthy babies. So when the nurse asked my blond-haired, blue-eyed mother what her religion was, she answered that she was an atheist. Sure enough, my birth certificate certifies that I was born an atheist.

To be or not to be, a Czechoslovakian or a Jew.

My mother didn't survive Auschwitz to raise me as a non-Jew under Communist rule, so we emigrated to the United States. Despite the solid Jewish education I received in the United States, I was made to feel ashamed of being a Jew, with the specter of split loyalties constantly hovering over my head.

To be or not to be, an American or a Jew.

Not wanting to subject this "shame" of being Jewish upon my children, we emigrated to the land of the free (Jew), the home of the brave (Jew). I was ecstatic to be privileged to live in Israel and raise our children as Jews, proud of their Jewish identity. It was my ideal to be a Jew and an Israeli. But now I have to decide.

To be or not to be, an Israeli or a Jew.

In order to not be thrown out of my home, I have to either stop being an Israeli or a Jew. In the Disengagement Plan, the net result is that only Jews are being expelled. No Moslem or Christian Israeli citizen will be dispossessed. Certainly no Moslem or Christian American will be forcibly ejected and their home demolished.

As our family moved directly from the United States to the Shomron, acquiring Israeli citizenship was contingent on residency in Israel. If the Shomron stops being under Israeli control, then post-facto, our Israeli citizenship would be retroactively cancelled. Or I can convert to Christian or Muslim religions, in which case, I would be permitted to remain in my home.

My neighbors will similarly have to decide whether they are Jewish Israelis or Israeli Jews. I should not have to decide which of two core self aspects I cherish more.

This dilemma is reminiscent of a movie that still haunts me after 20 yeas. In Sophie's Choice, the title character is a Polish-Catholic survivor of Auschwitz haunted by a horrible dark secret. When she arrived in Auschwitz with her two small children, the Nazi performing the selections gave her the prerogative of choosing which one of her two children to spare and which one to be sent immediately to the gas chamber. If she refused to choose, both would die. She chose her son and her daughter was killed right away. Although her son did not survive the children's camp, she could not live with herself and eventually committed suicide. While this particular scenario is fiction, the dilemma is not.

Ironically, Ariel Sharon's "Sophie's Choice" dilemma, forced upon him by George Bush, required him to choose between saving the lives of the Jews of Israel and maintaining Jewish settlements in Gaza and northern Samaria. Just a short year ago, Saddam Hussein had perfected biological and chemical weapons, developed the means to deliver them, was imminently poised to kill five million Jews and Israel was powerless to stop him. Bush forced Sharon to relinquish Gaza for the US attack on Iraq. As such, the disengagement plan is not Sharon's brainchild, but a "Sophie's Choice" fabricated and orchestrated by the United States.

Just as it wasn't Sophie who committed the shameful act, but the Nazi, it is not Sharon, but Bush who created this detestable, repugnant "Sophie's Choice" dilemma. It is Bush who forced Israel to freeze construction of any new house anywhere in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It is Bush who is forcing the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005, even though there has been no cessation of violence. And it is Bush forcing eviction of Jews from their homes. And it is Bush who will transform this "unilateral" disengagement to a "coordinated" (not negotiated) with -- over Yasser Arafat's dead body -- newfound peace partners.

To claim that the "disengagement plan" even initially was Israel's unilateral decision is disingenuous. America forced Israel to negotiate with the nefarious barbarians in around-the-clock negotiations in Ramallah. The barbarians cannot publicly agree to this plan as they would lose funding from extremist states, but tacitly agree that this is a peace agreement that will stop the intifada. Israel can save face by claiming that it was the security fence that quelled the violence.

To be or not to be, obsequious Israelis or principled Jews.

In order to prime the police and armed forces prior to the forced evacuation and to cover the patently self-evident wrong in forcefully evacuating Jews from their lawful domicile, Sharon, taking orders from Washington, embarked on a disinformation campaign to delegitimize all Jewish habitation. First, he created the impression that all farms or new small communites are illegal by focusing attention on "illegal outposts". Settlers were then painted as violent and primed to attack Jewish soldiers and police. In reaction to these floated rumors, Sha'ul Mofaz declared that settlers will be dealt with harshly; which means that they will come in bludgeoning without any provocation. New prisons are being constructed specifically for the settlers that oppose the disengagement. This perfidy is orchestrated by the United States.

To be or not to be, puppets of the United States or proud Jews.

The only practical governmental policy is not disengagement of Israel from the territories, but disengagement of those Arab migrant workers who illegally occupy Biblical Israel. Jews that do not have valid title to their property are summarily evicted. Well, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. All Arabs that do not have valid title to land they are farming or houses they occupy must be forcibly removed. All illegal Arab settlements must be demolished. Requiring proof of ownership with a title check of Ottoman, British and Jordanian land registration records will cause more than 90% of all Arabs to be removed. If this government determined that all illegal occupancy in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, must be removed, then they must apply the same standards to Arabs. After the illegal Arab settlements are removed, the rest should be offered compensation, in accordance with the recently passed compensation guidelines, and be disengaged.

This is what a sane, free and proud people would do. However, the current Israeli administration is neither sane, nor free, nor proud. They personify the obsequious, self-hating, approval craving, ghetto Jew. They place me in an inescapable "Sophie's Choice" dilemma.

To be or not to be, an Israeli or a Jew.

I should not have to become a born-again atheist to retain my home in the Holy Land.

To be or not to be is the question.

A secure, G-d-fearing Jew is the answer.