What Jewish Nationalists can Learn from Nnamadi Kanu

As Meir Ettinger, a young right wing activist known for his politically radical views on preserving a complete Land of Israel sits in administrative detention for over 8 months a parallel situation is occurring in Nigeria. Nnamadi Kanu, the leader of the Free Biafra movement is kept confined, awaiting a kangaroo court trial in Nigeria.

The differences could not be more stark.  Biafrans await daily for their leader’s release.  Most residents of Judea and Samaria and their supporters across Israel have accepted the government’s line about Ettinger’s influence and potential danger to the State.  Despite the lack of charges, Israelis don’t see any imperative in forcing the government to release Ettinger. The “extreme right” in Israel despite legitimate grievances has never played for the soul of the country, whereas Kanu and IPOB captured Biafra with their straight talk and pathway to independence.  I

So what can Israeli nationalists learn from Nnamadi Kanu and those that follow him?  The right in Israel, if it wants to lead and help change Israel’s course must be about more than just pushing to guard the Land of Israel in its entirety.  The body politic in Israel has shifted away from a two state solution, so arguing against it does nothing to shift the reigns of leadership towards a truly Jewish vision of statehood, something we loosely call Malchut Yisrael or the Kingdom of Israel.

Nationalists must grab the soul of the country.  There are systemic issues in the State of Israel.  These issues are felt throughout the Land.  Whether it is income disparity, taxes, overreaching government,  or cultural differences that threaten to burn down Israel’s dynamic society, Jewish Nationalists must build a long term plan to speak to the heart of the country, the way Nnamadi Kanu has.

Ettinger Can be a True Leader

Meir Ettinger can rise above the fringe that has captured him and created a martyr out of his unlawful imprisonment.  He can do this by taking his charisma and determination and show Israelis that there are things that are worth more than just international approval and a growing economy.

Nnamadi Kanu and the Free Biafra movement is winning.  They are winning because their goal is clear and they are determined to change the course of their nation no matter roadblock stands in the way.  

Kanu recently published the following statement from jail: “As our journey to the promised land progresses beautifully, since we left Egypt, it is important to always remind ourselves that our progeny will forever remain grateful to us for our many sacrifices today. We are almost there and as the oppressor panic, they unwittingly wobble from one blunder to another, time is running out and Pharaoh and his army clearly has no choice than to let my people go. I remain very proud of you all. Thank you.”

Israel is in trouble.  Despite, the innovation, technology, and growing partnerships in Africa and the Near East, the Western World seems intent on ensuring the Jewish Nation is put in a dangerous position once again.

The young ideological activists in Judea and Samaria can be a source of true leadership for the Jewish Nation by offering a way forward to something greater and distinct from the Western culture that has taken hold in Israel.

Ettinger spoke the following in a court hearing: “In the State of Israel today we have leaders who do not understand the Torah and no one dares explain to them what a true Jewish state looks like, why the Jewish people to the land of Israel, and what right the Jewish people have to the land. Not only are we victims of this unfortunate situation, but you are too- you, the judge, and the prosecutor. All of us are captives of this reality. Each of us has a G-dly soul that wants to live a Jewish life and we all feel alone in our opposition to the state.”

The State of Israel can be a beacon of light to the world.  It is true Israel has inspired and continues to inspire.  From technological innovation to military prowess Israel is a miracle, but the destiny of the Jewish Nation is clear and must be grasped by the leadership in order to be harnessed correctly.

Celebrating Passover, the holiday of freedom, gives us a unique insight into what true freedom is about.  The physical bonds of servitude are not the actual source of the slave mentality.  One can break the bonds of slavery and yet still act as a slave.  One can accept the cultural code and mores of the captors themselves.  This is what Passover comes to teach the Jew.  The remembering of leaving Egypt on a yearly level reminds us that if we adopt foreign cultures and give them the power to rule us in our lives then even if we are in our homeland we remain enslaved.  No amount of technology and innovation will release from the predicament we currently face outside and from within.

Freeing ourselves from mental slavery as the great Bob Marley etched in history in his famous Redemption Song is the key to true freedom. Nnamdi Kanu’s belief in his nation’s destiny is inspiring and should be seen as an example of how we Jews here in Israel that care about our own destiny should lead our nation forward.  Meir Ettinger seems to understand the responsibility that has been foisted on him.  Perhaps that is why the Defense Minister has spent so much energy letting him stay confined without charges. A movement though, is more than just one man and the question is if we here in Israel can realize our destiny has already been written, we just need the courage to grab it.

Ettinger concluded his speech in court: Your hysterical actions and discrimination against Jews in enforcing the law, your shocking neglect for the values of democracy when dealing with Jews who love the land of Israel, appears strange to many people. However it is not strange to anyone who recognizes that these actions are done in order to silence your inner, yearning Jewish voice. This is part of your general schizophrenia.  It is obvious that these actions will backfire and have the opposite result. You will not manage to silence the voice inside you, anymore than you could expel your Jewish soul from your body. In the end, even you will repent for your actions and your Jewish soul will take over to help bring the redemption.”

We the Jewish people, have been scattered to the four corners of the Earth and returned home just as the Bible foretold.  We have built a country that is the envy of the world and we have become global leaders as also foretold. Yet, we have forgotten a part of our souls in the exile. Our mission must be to blend our technological and military prowess with true Jewish leadership.  Nnamadi Kanu and his followers have much to teach us. It is time we paid closer attention their words and deeds.