Hula painted frog
Hula painted frog Hebrew University

In a couple of recent articles, such as “ “Attack on nuclear facilities or full-blown war on Iran?” December 16, 2021, and “What the public doesn’t know about an attack on Iran” December 17, 2021, veteran Israeli journalist Yoav Limor seeks to analyze the threat from Iran if it is not stopped in its quest for nuclear weapons (which Iran promises will be used against Israel). He is of the opinion that the generals and the politicians have been too passive in their thinking that America will keep its word to assist Israel in its prospective actions against Israel.

While I am not qualified to be a security analyst, it is hard to argue with those who now regret Israel’s failures to take stronger action against Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, before the advent of a problematic and perhaps anti-Israel American administration, and an Israel government now containing Islamists in a governing coalition.

This way of thinking acknowledges that an Israeli first strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities might lead to a wider war with Hezbollah and Hamas, and possibly with other Arab countries and Islamist organizations including the PA and perhaps even Israeli Arabs,

Accordingly, those of us currently living outside Israel cannot and should not counsel Israelis who are in the line of fire. Only Israelis can decide in any given situation whether to act now or defer acting due to the human costs for Israeli civilians.

We may have wondered why didn't Israel act against Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon as the rockets were brought there some years ago; why didn't it act further than it did against Hamas in Gaza; why did the generals and Bibi have a reluctance to hit Iran when it was much easier to do so; why didn't Bibi seize the opportunity of attacking Iran during the Trump administration, when America would probably assist in much greater ways than under Biden?

Rather than attempting a security or military analysis, perhaps we can look at the big picture. As things heat up to a “boiling” point around the world including Russia/Ukraine and China/Taiwan, and, in particular, for an Israel surrounded by Iranian backed terrorist proxies with thousands of missiles, and an Iran determined to build nuclear bombs, and an Arab sector of unknown loyalites, I want to repeat three stories about facing “boiling water”:

The boiling frog is an apologue or metaphor describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger, will become lethargic and be unable to escape and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.

Some biologists and others have suggested that the metaphor is not true, because the frog in the example will likely jump out before the water gets to boiling. So the question is are Israelis, and other Jews world-wide, becoming like frogs who seem unable or unwilling to get out of the very warm water and thus do nothing until we are too weak and become boiled?

Allow me to tell two stories about Israelis and pots of boiling water.

First story:

Three hunters are out on safari -- an American, a Brit and an Israeli. They are captured by cannibals who start getting the cooking pots ready. The cannibal chief tells the hunters they can have one last wish.

"What's your last request?" he asks the American.

"I'd like a steak," he replies.

So the cannibals kill a zebra and serve the American his steak.

"What do you want?" the cannibal chief asks the Brit.

"I'd like to have a smoke on my pipe," which they let him do.

Then the chief asks the Israeli: "What's your last wish?"

"I want you to kick my rear end."

"Be serious," says the top cannibal.

"C'mon, you promised," says the Israeli.

"Oh, all right," says the chief, who delivers the requested kick. Whereupon, the Israeli pulls out a gun, shoots the chief and a few other cannibals while the rest run away.

The American and Brit are furious.

"Why didn't you do that in the first place, so we wouldn't have had to go through all this?" they demand.

Replies the Israeli: "What? Are you mad? The UN would have condemned me as the aggressor.

Second story:

Three hunters are out on safari -- an American, a Brit and an Israeli. They are captured by cannibals who start getting the cooking pots ready. The cannibal chief tells the hunters they can have one last wish.

"What's your last request?" he asks the American.

"I'd like a steak," he replies.

So the cannibals kill a zebra and serve the American his steak.

"What do you want?" the cannibal chief asks the Brit.

"I'd like to have a smoke on my pipe," which they let him do.

Although they got their last wishes, the American and the Brit are really sweating as they know death awaits them.

Then the cannibal chief asks the Israeli for his last wish.

The Israeli reaches into his pocket and takes out a gun and shoots all the cannibals.

The American and the Brit are angry and ask the Israeli why he didn’t do that earlier and spare them the anxiety of facing what seemed to be a certain death.

“I just wanted to show you that things look different when you are facing a pot of boiling water”, he says.

The water is getting very hot and it seems that it will likely boil over soon. Whether or not Israelis act like the frog in the boiling water, they will be criticized for whatever military policy is adopted. Young Diaspora Jews, especially those educated in the severely anti-Israel universities or read or view anti-Israel media, may well lack the traditional moral support for whatever Israel has to do as it sits on the edge of the pot of boiling water.

Are we strong and proud Jews or are we a bunch of frogs just enjoying the warmth of our hot tubs?

Howard Rotberg writes on ideologies, political culture and values and founded Canada’s sole Torah values and pro-Israel publishing house, www.mantuabooks.com.

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