Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Time To Take Our Heads Out of the Sand

Rabbi Schlomo Lewis, a Conservative rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim the Atlanta area, delivered a sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashana 2010. It if you Google it, you will find it has been widely emailed and reposted, for example here and here and here.

While I don't agree with every word of it, I think he captures the essence of the situation we (The West) find ourselves in accurately.   It's a long sermon and I won't reprint it here, but encourage you to click on the links above to see the whole thing in context for yourself.  But to give you a flavor, here are a few  highlights, some of which I took from here:

We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters.We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people.

In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis.

Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London, from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza, the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists.

Israel is the laboratory – the test market. Every death, every explosion, every grisly encounter is not a random, bloody orgy. It is a calculated, strategic probe into the heart, guts and soul of the West.

In the Six Day War, Israel was the proxy of Western values and strategy while the Arab alliance was the proxy of Eastern, Soviet values and strategy. Today too, it is a confrontation of proxies, but the stakes are greater than East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel in her struggle represents the civilized world, while Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Iran, Islamic Jihad, represent the world of psychopathic, loathesome evil.
 

As Israel, imperfect as she is, resists the onslaught, many in the Western World have lost their way displaying not admiration, not sympathy, not understanding, for Israel’s galling plight, but downright hostility and contempt. Without moral clarity, we are doomed because Israel’s galling plight ultimately will be ours. Hanna Arendt in her classic Origins of Totalitarianism accurately portrays the first target of tyranny as the Jew. We are the trial balloon. The canary in the coal mine. If the Jew/Israel is permitted to bleed with nary a protest from “good guys” then tyranny snickers and pushes forward with its agenda.
 

There is a message sent and consequences when our president visits Turkey and Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and not Israel.

There is a message sent and consequences when free speech on campus is only for those championing Palestinian rights.

There is a message sent and consequences when the UN blasts Israel relentlessly, effectively ignoring Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, North Korea, China and other noxious states.

Let’s try an analogy. If someone contracted a life-threatening infection and we not only scolded them for using antibiotics but insisted that the bacteria had a right to infect their body and that perhaps, if we gave the invading infection an arm and a few toes, the bacteria would be satisfied and stop spreading. Anyone buy that medical advice? Well, folks, that’s our approach to the radical Islamist bacteria. It is amoral, has no conscience and will spread unless it is eradicated. – There is no negotiating. Appeasement is death.

A few weeks ago on the cover of Time magazine was a horrific picture with a horrific story.  The photo was of an eighteen year old Afghani woman, Bibi Aisha, who fled her abusive husband and his abusive family. Days later the Taliban found her and dragged her to a mountain clearing where she was found guilty of violating Sharia Law.  Her punishment was immediate. She was pinned to the ground by four men while her husband sliced off her ears, and then he cut off her nose. That is the enemy.

Our parents and grandparents saw the swastika and recoiled, understood the threat and destroyed the Nazis. We see the banner of Radical Islam and can do no less.

I applaud Rabbi Lewis for speaking forthrightly about the truth of the world we live in. As an American congregational rabbi (in a Conservative congregation, no less) there were likely practical considerations to what he felt he could say while still remaining on good terms with his congregation.

However, I think he missed an opportunity to explicitly warn American Jews that their future is limited. That it's time to start packing.

Every exile has an endpoint.  The story has many twists, but the ending is always the same.  The litany of countries that graciously hosted us only to eventually kick us out, fills hundreds of Jewish history texts.

It's true that Islam threatens the entire non-Islamic world.  It's true that we are at war.  But at least here in Israel, the enemy is named and understood and we are taking steps to defend ourselves.

Do I wish Israel was even more prepared to act from moral clarity?  Are there misguided leftists here in Israel?  Of course.  But the majority of the population here understands the threat.

Sadly, it's been my experience that the same is not true in America.

Thank you, Rabbi Lewis for reminding us that it's time to take our heads of of the sand.

hat tip: Michele Wolgel

1 comment:

rutimizrachi said...

I also was moved when I read Rabbi Lewis' article, especially considering "where he's coming from." But I am more moved -- no surprise -- by your summation. Keep tellin' it, Sistuh.