Beginning of the End

In this season of soul searching, we have to take an honest look at ourselves, starting with the way others see us. We need a large number of Haredi religious nationalists to come out of the closet and find a home. We also need well-dressed, and articulate representatives who are able to speak to the hearts of the secular left.

Prof. Shmuel Neumann

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A Rodney Dangerfield classic

A patient once came to me and asked what is wrong with him.
"Your problem is that you are crazy."
"I want to get a second opinion about that," he countered.
"OK. You are also ugly."

In this season of soul searching, we have to take an honest look at ourselves, starting with the way others see us.

The beginning of the end was portrayals such as in the New Yorker, in which settlers were successfully reduced to bizarre enigmas. From there it was a short order to jump start the roadmap by unilateral actions like the expulsions of the Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria. Although Christians see the disasters in America and Europe as retribution for dividing the Holy Land as prophesied by Joel, the United States is undeterred and continues in its efforts to further divide Israel. We stupidly think that the same strategies that failed us last time will work this time. We have to look at our slogans as reaction formations and pure camouflage of the truth.

"Only love will win"? Hello? Did anyone recently look at the numbers of rejected applicants from the "klita" acceptance committees in settlements in Judea and Samaria? More than 60 percent of the applicants are rejected.

"Jews do not expel Jews"? Hello? Who did? Soldiers, including many with knitted skullcaps (kipot).

"We will not forget and not forgive"? Hello? Is anyone asking for their forgiveness?

We have to reconsider the situation. We have to consider that perhaps hatchet jobs like the New Yorker article have an element of truth to it. We have to face the fact that we have a serious public image problem.

We also have to face the fact that our leaders have made numerous enemies. What goes around comes around. The National Union and National Religious parties were in a government led by the nose by Tomy Lapid. They were a party to the dramatic reduction of financial support for yeshivas.

The national religious parties sat idly by while yeshivas were economically strangled and closed down. Haredi ultra-orthodox parties sat by idly while Jews were expelled from Gaza.

On the other side of the spectrum, what did we do the secular left that engendered their deep loathing?

For one thing, we took away their identity. They had replaced Judaism with Zionism. Their pride in themselves as Israelis was their prowess in the Army, their commitment to a Jewish State, and returning to the land as farmers after two thousand years of being the persecuted wandering Jew. The National Religious camp came and surpassed them by far in the military, showed a love of the land that only their grandparents displayed in their self-sacrifice. Unlike the failed and heavily subsidized kibbutzim and moshavim, national religious pioneers were successful farmers. Gush Katif was a serious economic threat to the agriculture industry controlled by the secular left.

The secular left reacted by redefining itself as post-Zionist (which tells me what they are not but doesn?t tell me what they are). This negative identity left a vacuum that still drives them to search for meaning in Tibet, the Near East, or to throw themselves after the pursuit of their happiness, also known as money. Without Zionism filling the void of Judaism, many convert to Peace-ism. It is ironic that by demonstrating such extreme loyalty to the government and to the Army, the religious nationalist engendered the antipathy of the secular left.

The clock is ticking and Sharon is on schedule. Bush ordered him to expel the Jews from Gaza and Northern Samaria in September 2005 in accordance with the roadmap that the U.S. forced on Israel. Sharon has until December 2005 to "disengage" from the majority of Judea and Samaria. The roadmap plan and timetable are public knowledge.

Apparently it was so easy to throw out 10,000 Jews from their homes and dump them throughout Israel to fend for themselves that Phase 2 follows on its heels. Previous assistant Chief-of-Staff Uzi Dayan already has drawn the map that will "inconvenience" only 20,000 Jews. The majority of Judea and Samaria will be Judenrein in accordance with Bush?s directives euphemistically called the roadmap. Even divine retribution does not impede their resolve.

There are some fundamental changes that have to be made to stop the maelstrom of the next expulsion. We have to go to the opposite extreme. We have to dissociate ourselves from blind worship of the Israeli government or of the Army. By physically abusing and imprisoning dissident children, they both proved that they deserve our contempt. Protecting our small country is one thing, but being a party to the expulsion of the Jews puts them in the same class as the inquisitors of Spain 500 years ago.

We need to promote our leaders that dress in the garb of Haredim. We need to respect the giants of Torah and to connect with them. They are accessible. We need to ask their advice as well as their decisions in rabbinic law. We need to integrate with them, and many of us need to dress like them and go to their yeshivas. Rabbi Avraham Shapira, at a recent gathering in Jerusalem, highlighted the importance of learning Torah. He noted that in a Midrashic interpretation of Job, it says "know that no city of Jews is given over to non-Jews unless they did not support Torah learning."

If we insist on projecting ourselves as swarthy men in knited kippot from ear to ear and women in pants beneath their skirts, then we have created an exclusive club. Those excluded will not support us.

We need to go back to our roots, and we need a large number of Haredi religious nationalists to come out of the closet and find a home. We also need well-dressed, polished, poised, intelligent and articulate secular representatives who are able to speak to the hearts of the secular left. We need polished intelligent poster boys, with the genius of Albert Einstein, the charisma of John F. Kennedy, and the vocabulary of William F. Buckley, Jr. to be our international representative and the next prime minister.

Applicants should send their picture and resume to When Meretz was pontificating and vociferously attacking religious settlers, we created a pseudo-political party called Sheretz (low-life, or non-Kosher insect or reptile). After Meretz redefined itself as Yachad (together), we redefined ourselves as Pachad (fear).

Who knows, if enough crackpots put their heads together, they can create a government. Isn?t that how the government of Israel got started in the first place?