Reclaiming Our National Soul

The final struggle over the Land of Israel is not rooted in the physical. While it’s true that Yishmael appears to be the violent opposing force to the yidden’s ability to draw closure to the galus, exile, the fact that we could crush our enemies in a matter of days or hours means that the key to the final redemption is not found in our military might.

So what’s holding us back?

Most of us have heard the famous gematria where the letters making up Amalek (עמלק) equal Safek (ספק) or doubt. While this concept has been applied to our personal relationship with the almighty in a daily sense for thousands of years – it is important to to see its connection to the current national predicament in the Land of Israel at the End of Days.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that the Kingdom of Haman/Amalek will use as its weapon the insatiable desire for money and material success. This weapon hangs over each of us and has penetrated the very makeup of our national enterprise. All of us have become pulled into its clutches and it has turned us from a nation of idealists to an extension of the Western consumer empire.

This safek, doubt about where we are heading flows from our fear of losing the material goals we have grown accustom to setting for ourselves. Zionism has in effect become pacified by its material success. Amalek has gained control. It is this pacification that prevents us from finishing the journey home, because home is not just a piece of land, but rather a recognition that the Land is above the material equation so often used when sizing the value of whatever it is one wants. The Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel are not quantifiable. We seek quiet and “normalcy,” but the more we seek these things the more Yishamel rises and pushes against us.

Amalek uses material pursuits not as a means to build vessels for holiness in our world, but rather as an end to themselves. This shift creates the space for doubt and the malaise that exists within us and the world. This doubt causes the perception that there is a disconnect between the divine and the physical world, which has caused us to pull back leaving us to clutch the material as the only meaning we feel we have created in our lives.

We can only rescue the Lost Princess from the castle and restore the Divine Presence to our Land by first removing the desire for the “castle of pearls on a mountain of gold” in its entirety. Doing this, will restore the pursuit of material wealth to just a means to create real holiness. This will naturally fill our national collective with a unifying Divine goal reclaiming our soul and Land forever.

A Just Society Must Reflect the Values of our Torah

While the Torah instructs Israel to aspire towards a “kingdom of priests and holy nation” (SHEMOT 19:6) in the Land of Israel, a just social order and stable economy are two crucial ingredients to fulfilling this charge. Since the Zionist movement’s early years, there has existed a conflict between self-proclaimed adherents of socialism and their opponents who favor a free market economy. For decades following the reestablishment of Jewish independence, this battle has raged and formed deep divides. Although security threats, increased westernization and foreign pressure to shrink the country’s borders in recent decades have often caused class issues to fade into the political backdrop, Israel still lacks the socio-economic ideal necessary to serve as a paragon of justice and morality to other nations.

Israel is tasked with becoming a light unto nations. As the national expression of HaShem’s Ideal for this world, the Jewish people are meant to demonstrate to mankind how to live all facets of life in such a way that actualizes and fully expresses our inner kedusha. The State of Israel must set an example of excellence to the rest of the world in every sphere of nationhood, from commerce and agriculture to governance and social services. Israel must aspire to build a perfect society that functions according to G-D’s Truth in every detail of life. The formula is not man-made but rather a sacred reality that transcends the limited perception of human intellect. Only through existing as such a holy nation in the whole of Eretz Yisrael can the Jewish people hope to bring humanity toward a future of genuine harmony and universal fulfillment.

In order for Israel to achieve this goal, it is necessary that we establish a just society reflecting the values of our Torah. The Children of Israel must determine and implement social policies that benefit the collective society as well as the individuals within. Because Israel is meant to serve as a national light to mankind, the Jewish state must become a model civilization in which people live lives of dignity and fulfillment while wholeheartedly sharing in the collective national burden.

“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him – proselyte or resident – so that he can live with you.” (VAYIKRA 25:35)

Various modes of production and social structures may possess positive features from which man can benefit. But in order to arrive at a complete and perfect system, Israel cannot be limited to working within the framework of the choices offered by the outside world. Rather than adhere to rigid foreign concepts, Israel must set our agenda in accordance with Hebrew values and promote a new outlook in compliance with Torah culture – an all-encompassing approach that will succeed in expressing the highest values in seemingly conflicting ideologies. A central goal of Israel’s redemption process is freeing mankind from the limitations of an exclusive adherence to dualistic logic. Israel must help man transcend beyond the artificial contradictions of ostensibly conflicting ideals towards a higher awareness of opposites actually enjoying a deep inner unity.

A clear yet simple example of this concept is found in the Hebrew understanding of kedusha. While Western thinking has traditionally viewed holiness as the triumph of the spiritual over the physical, Israel’s more holistic approach recognizes kedusha as being the healthy unification of spirituality and physicality.

An exclusive and absolute adherence to dualistic thinking is only one of the many negative features of Western civilization – a civilization principally based upon the value system of Esav, whose Edomite descendants ultimately became the Roman Empire, morphed into the Christian Church and dominated Europe. Essentially utilized as a means of social control, the septic doctrine of Christianity spread far and wide while spiritually oppressing a significant share of humankind. As Europeans began to conquer and pillage the new world, the culture of Edom took on a secular form, still rooted in the barbarism of its forerunners, as Europe’s feudalist social structure gave way to the rise of capitalism.

Capitalism as a mode of production is essentially based on the competition between rival capitalists to attain profits. To beat out their contenders and constantly feed this ever-expanding system, leading capitalists enlist the aid of their governments in finding markets in other countries, gaining access to natural resources and exploiting cheap labor, essentially spawning the same imperialism that characterized ancient Rome. Within the capitalist mode of production itself exists a drive compelling nations to dominate and oppress weaker peoples.

Capitalism gave rise to a powerful culture that indoctrinates the masses to constantly consume, subliminally promoting the goal of life as the acquisition of wealth. The motivational forces driving Western man to be productive became the pursuits to accumulate the most money, bed the most attractive women, drive the fastest cars and live in the largest homes. While the Torah certainly requires men to be physically attracted to their wives and successful in providing for their families, these do not serve as the actual foundations of a Hebrew society. Unlike Western civilization, which places the materiel success of the individual at the center, Hebrew civilization is primarily concerned with the moral and spiritual wellbeing of the collective.

The future to which Israel is bringing the world is one in which the motivational force driving man becomes an idealistic desire to perfect the entire world. To become partners in Creation that experience HaShem flowing through us as we actively bring history to its ultimate goal. For Israel to lead humankind to this stage first requires a conscious rejection of Edomite values in favor of a society based on giving and caring for the other, in which production is determined by actual human need. We must realize that the capitalist system only seems natural to us when we perceive ourselves as separate from – and at odds with – one another. The more we recognize mankind’s true inner unity, the more we appreciate our intrinsic subconscious drive to succeed collectively as one.

The Torah forbids us from permitting the impoverishment of other people as we are commanded to provide assistance to our brothers in need. Helping the poor is not merely a recommendation but actually a directive from HaShem and Divine expression of justice, no different than safeguarding the Sabbath or liberating Eretz Yisrael from foreign rule. Israel’s historic mission necessitates bringing all of humanity to the conscious awareness that Creation, with all of its multiplicity and variety, is actually one single entity – an organic whole of which we are all unique and crucial parts.

Recognizing this unity to be our true inner nature compels us to organize society in such a way that expresses it and conditions us to consciously understand and function according to it. The ultimate goal towards which history is advancing necessitates the establishment of a social order founded on the morality and justice of our Torah – where no person goes hungry and all live in friendship and mutual respect, setting an example of justice and perfection to mankind.


The ingredients for a bright future.

I am on my way to Israel to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Jewish state.  Having experienced many of Israel’s birthdays before, when the country was noticeably less mature or prosperous, this birthday is a special occasion.  With all the glory attached to the coming of age, there are also sets of precedents that require caution and good judgment.

The number 70 has meaningful commutations in Jewish tradition.  It recalls the 70-year Babylonian Exile that led to the start of the Second Jewish Commonwealth in 530 BCE.  The return to the Land of Israel occurred through the Charter given by the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, allowing Jews who wished to return to “Jerusalem that is in Judah” and build a “House for the God of Heaven” to do so.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, in praising Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, compared him to King Cyrus the Great.  Similarly, President Harry Truman was told that in recognizing the Jewish state, he would become another King Cyrus for Jews everywhere.

Zerubbabel, a descendent of King David, led the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem.  The second wave come with the Scribe Ezra (book of Ezra in the third portion of the Hebrew Bible called Ketuvim).  The third stage of mass return to the land occurred with Nehemiah, a high official in the Persian Empire administration.

The first returnees had to deal with the Samaritans and the Ammonites, in the same way the 19th and 20th century returnees had to deal with the Arabs.  The Samaritans, like the Arabs of later times, were brought into the land of Israel by the Assyrian kings at the end of the Eight Century BCE in place of the Israelites they had deported.  Arabs settled in the Land of Israel following the deportation of the Jews (most but not all) by the Romans in the aftermath of the Jewish rebellion, which ended in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

Waves of conquerors of the land of Israel, which the Romans renamed Syria Palestina, settled in place of the exiled Jews.  The name Palestina had nothing to do with Arab-Palestinians of today.  It was named after the Philistines, people related to the Greeks who originally invaded the coastal cities of Israel from the Aegean Sea.  By the time the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, no traces were left of the Philistines.  Under the Arab conquerors and the Ottoman Turkish rule (1516-1918), and especially during the British Mandate (1918-1948), many Arabs from neighboring states settled in Palestine, propelled by industry and jobs created by Jewish pioneers.

There are additional similarities between the returnees from the Babylonian Exile and Israelis today.  Many were “post-Zionist.”  Zerubbabel intended to rebuild the land of Zion, shaping it in the image and glory of the kingdoms of David and Solomon.  Many of the returnees sought to blend with the prevailing cultures of the surrounding nations.  In Israel today, a segment of the population are regarding themselves as post-Zionist.  They seek to be part of the larger world and blend with the prevailing western culture. They are choosing universalism versus Jewish particularism.

In recent decades, Israel as a nation has become largely conservative.  It is evidenced by the electoral majorities of the right-of-center parties’ garner.  Surveys indicate that 65% of the electorate has been voting for parties right-of-center.  The leftist parties, including the Labor Party now called the Zionist Camp, is a fading shadow of its progenitor, the once powerful Mapai (Mifleget Poali Eretz Israel) party.

Under PM Netanyahu, Israel turned away from its socialist past and adopted capitalism.  That, coupled with incentivizing risk-taking, created innovation and prosperity not seen before.

While Israel has become a richer country, not everyone has shared in its prosperity.  The current Israeli government seeks to motivate the ultra-religious haredi community into entering the workforce as well as increasing the Arab sector involvement in the workforce. The current unemployment rate in Israel (April 2018) is 3.8%.  Israel has a far higher employment rate than the average European Union or even the U.S., at 64%.   Israel’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is forecasted by the International Monetary Fund to be $37,485.67 PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) in December, 2018.  In December, 2022 Israel’s GDP PPP is projected to stand at $42,496.31.  In 1980, Israel’s GDP PPP was $7,062.57, meaning that Israel’s GDP PPP grew by over six times.  Italy, with a population of over 60 million, by comparison grew only four times from 1980 ($10,543.69) to 2022 ($44,129.81).  Israel’s innovations in bio-technology, agriculture, medicine, to name but a few sectors, are incredible.  Israeli companies are second only to the U.S. in trading on the U.S. stock markets.

Life has improved for most Israelis not only in economic terms.  A 2016 UN survey showed that the Jewish state ranks 11th in the Global Happiness Index, above Germany, the UK, Italy, Ireland, France and the U.S., in spite of facing wars on a regular basis in the volatile and unstable Middle East region.  Denmark was listed as the happiest nation in the world.

A survey conducted by Israel’s Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University in May, 2017 found that 66% of Arab-Israeli respondents considered life in Israel as being “good” or “very good.”  According to the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) Annual Pluralism Index (April 20, 2017), “90% of Jewish Israelis and almost 80% of Arab Israelis felt ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ to be ‘who they are’.  Among Jews the sense of comfort is greater for those who define themselves further to the right on the political or religious spectrum.  Among Arabs, the sense of comfort is greater for those who define their main identity as ‘Israeli’, and lower among those who define their main identity as ‘Arab’ or ‘Palestinian’.

Israel, in 2018, is a stronger state militarily as well in relation to its regional enemies.  Moreover, the threat that Iran poses to the Middle East region as a whole, has brought the Gulf Arabs and Saudi Arabia in particular, to recognize Israel as an “ally” of sorts.  Iran is seen by them as an existential threat, and it is likewise for Israel.  Egypt’s economic weakness has impacted on its potential threat to Israel.  Cairo, much like Riyadh, views Iran and its agent Hezbollah as a greater threat than Israel.  Israel’s military is now larger in manpower, better equipped than ever before, and still highly motivated.  Syria and Iraq, once bitter enemies of Israel, have been incapacitated by civil-wars and internal strife. Hezbollah, the Lebanese based terror organization poses a danger to Israel’s population, but Israel has the means to deal with it, as it has dealt with Hamas in Gaza.

The Talmud attributes the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE to groundless hatred (Sinat Chinam), which was endemic to national Jewish life at that time.  Famed Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, wrote that if the Second Temple was destroyed and the people scattered through groundless hatred, then the Temple will be rebuilt and the Jewish people gather together through Causeless Love (Ahavat Chinam).  As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, it must be cautious not to repeat the divisiveness of the Second Commonwealth in which groundless hatred and in-fighting brought down the Temple and caused Exile.  Only good judgement and national cohesion will lead to Israel’s bright future.

Originally Posted on FrontPageMag.

Israel’s Ruinous Right

Perhaps the gravest threat facing the nation today is the twin perils of a dangerous, delusional “Left” and an impotent, incompetent “Right”, unable to decisively and definitively discredit it.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions – attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, circa. 1150

It is neither an easy nor an enviable undertaking today for anyone trying to alert the public as to the perilous vulnerability in which the nation currently finds itself.

Deceptive signs of success and strength

After all, there are so many reassuring signs that seem to contradict such dour and dire assessments. Everywhere one looks, there are myriad signs of increasing success, affluence and strength—ever-wider highways, spanned by ever-more impressive interchanges, snake through ever-wider areas of the country, ever-more imposing glass and steel skyscrapers soar into urban skylines across the nation, the economy continues to be robust, with GDP spiraling upwards and—almost inconceivably a few years ago—the shekel was deemed the second strongest currency in the world.

Israeli technological achievement is increasingly sought after across the globe, living standards continue to surge, ever-more luxurious hotels and ever-more sumptuous restaurants abound, frequented increasinglyby domestic clientele. Overseas travel, once a rare extravagance for a privileged few, is now an experience enjoyed by millions of Israelis, who flock to far-flung destinations every holiday season. A burgeoning leisure industry, once unimaginable a few decades ago—from mountain biking and wind-surfing through gourmet dining to blue water yachting—flourishes, attracting growing circles of the population.

On the security front, Israel far outstrips its enemies in terms of martial prowess. Many of its traditional adversaries have disintegrated. The meltdown in much of the Arab world has all but eliminated any threat of conventional military assault on the country—at least until very recently.  

Dangerous sense of complacency…or denial?

While all of this is true—and Israel has indeed much to be proud of—it seems to have given rise to a dangerous sense of complacency. Or is it denial?

For while some of the dangers that once confronted Israel have undeniably diminished—even disappeared—others, no less menacing, have emerged. (Indeed, it may even be—as we shall see—that some of the allegedly erstwhile dangers may well be reappearing—with a vengeance).

Of course, compared to the 1970’s, the threat of large-scale invasion by armies of Arab states has considerably receded. However, today the new threat is that of ongoing attrition by state-backed non-state, or quasi-state actors. To gauge the gravity of this threat, consider the following assessment by one well informed pundit regarding Israel’s northern border: “Hezbollah’s augmented arsenal has transformed it, from an Israeli perspective, from a manageable border menace to a strategic threat.” Reflecting similar concern is the ominous caveat from the left-leaning Institute for National Security Studies: “Hezbollah remains the most serious conventional threat Israel is facing, more than Hamas or Iran.

Likewise, in the south, the quasi-state entity, Hamas, has increased its capabilities exponentially since Israel’s 2005 unilateral abandonment of Gaza, enhancing its high trajectory weaponry from ranges of 5 km to ranges of 100 km, and from war heads of barely 5kg to over 100 kg—while excavating a menacing system of attack tunnels and developing naval capability for assaults from the sea.

Unlearnt Lessons from deeds done…and undone

Underpinning the burgeoning military prowess of Hezbollah and Hamas is the support provided by Iran which, if it ever acquired weaponized nuclear capability, could supply a deterrent “umbrella” under which both could operate with relative impunity—together with any other terror organization that Tehran chose to sponsor.

But in recent months, the Iranian factor has acquired even more—and more immediate—significance. Exploiting the gory turmoil of the Syrian civil war, Iran has, with recent Russian backing and with no US objection, managed to set up a formidable military presence in Syria, virtually on the border with Israel, with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) operating unimpeded to recruit, train and equip locals to prepare for “battle against ‘the Zionist enemy’.

So with the Iranian presence in Syria, Israel might soon find that it is once again faced with the need to contend with the threat of conventional military forces—on precisely the front where it was considered no longer relevant!

For Israel, the lessons of what it has done—and what it hasn’t—should be clear.

After all, the previously cited instances of non-state/quasi-state actors developing into strategic threats, able to menace millions of Israelis and to paralyze the nation’s economy, were the direct result of Israel abandoning territory to Arab rule—the center piece of the policy prescriptions promoted by the Israeli Left wing.

Conversely, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not perched on the Golan Heights, overlooking the entire north of the country, is precisely because Israel did not act in accordance with this perilous prescription.

(Significantly, had the fortunes of war turned out differently, and Sunni rebels prevailed, Israel would still have been in the unenviable position of having ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates deployed there.)

The significance for the Left/Right divide  

For readers wondering what this rather lengthy appraisal of Israel’s geo-strategic situation has to do with the domestic political divide within the country, the answer is simple.

Wherever the concessionary policy of the Left has been adopted, dreadful danger and devastation—for Jew and Arab—have ensued. Indeed, it is difficult to identify a single danger that the Right warned of that did not materialize, nor a single benefit that the Left promised that did.

By contrast, wherever the policy of the Left has been eschewed, terrible trauma and tragedy has been avoided.

Clearly then, a quarter century, since the Land-for-Peace paradigm was adopted as the centerpiece of Israel’s security and foreign policy, the jury is no longer out—or at least should no longer be out.

After all, virtually all that has —and has not—happened has totally vindicated the Right-wing claim that Israeli territorial concessions would not bring peace and security; and totally eviscerated the Left-wing claim that they would.

Accordingly, it seems almost inconceivable that despite being repeatedly disproven, the political doctrine of the Left has never been decisively discredited and certainly never definitively discarded.

Indeed, the very fact that this hopelessly failed formula continues to be not only a viable political prescription domestically, but one that continues to enjoy dominant international status, is the most strident condemnation of the political acumen of the Right in Israel—and its financial benefactors.

Dangerous delusional Left vs impotent incompetent Right  

Accordingly, if one were called upon to best articulate the prevailing syndrome that characterizes Israeli domestic politics one would be hard pressed to find a more apt and accurate stipulation than the following: A dangerous and delusional Left promoting a fatally flawed and failed formula which an incompetent and impotent Right is neither capable of invalidating nor of producing a convincing, comprehensive and compelling alternative.

Indeed, for a good number of years, the Right conspicuously refrained from offering any countervailing paradigm and focused almost exclusively on denigrating the Left-wing Land-for-Peace proposal and (correctly) underscoring its deadly defects and detriments.

Accordingly, as I pointed out several years ago: “…the political “Right” has found itself unable to respond effectively to the pointed and pertinent question from ‘left-wing’ adversaries: “So what’s your alternative?” With no comprehensive countervailing paradigmatic position to promote or defend, the ‘Right’ found itself gradually forced to give way under the weight of this onerous question, and to adopt increasing portions of the failed formula it had rejected.”  Lamentably, this culminated in Netanyahu’s calamitous 2009 acceptance of Palestinian statehood—which hitherto he had vigorously opposed.

Indeed, “today the formal position of the major ‘right-wing’ faction, the Likud, the party of Menachem Begin, founded on the ideas expounded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, has, except for detail in nuance and tone, become indistinguishable from the positions [once] expounded by the ‘far-left’ Meretz faction.

Left’s sins of commission vs Right’s sins of omission?

Accordingly, up until a few years ago, it could be deemed with a large degree of accuracy, that Israel is mired in an impasse that is the regrettable product of the sins of commission by the Left and the sins of omission by the Right.

However, in the last 4-5 years, some ideas—originating largely from civil society initiatives, rather than incumbent politicians—have emerged and are being advanced as an alternative to the pernicious two-state, Land-for-Peace proposal.

But as well intentioned as they undoubtedly are, virtually all these alternatives are poorly thought through. Almost without exception, their point of departure appears not be Israel’s strategic imperatives and how to adequately address them, but rather an endeavor to provide a proposal that is something other than the two-state Land-for-Peace formula.

Sadly, as appallingly risk-fraught as the two-state concept is, not everything that is not a two-state proposal is necessarily better than the two-state proposal. Indeed, most the alternatives being advanced by the Israeli Right demonstrably endanger the future of the Zionist enterprise no less—arguably, even more—than the two-state paradigm, which they are meant to replace.

Typically, such alternative proposals fall into three major categories:

– Those that propose to preserve the status quo by means of “conflict management”.
– Those that propose the annexation of all the territory in Judea-Samaria, together with its Arab residents.  

– Those that propose partial annexation of Judea-Samaria and suggest allowing some sort of self-rule to Arab residents in a quilted patchwork of miniscule disconnected enclaves in about 40% (or less) of the territory.

The Lebanonization or the Balkanization of Israel

None of these proposals chart a clear path to a strategic future, in which Israel can fulfill the raison d’etre for its establishment – i.e. can endure over time as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Indeed, as I have repeatedly been at pains to point out:

– The “conflict management” approach is little more than “kicking the can down the road”  towards an even more risk-fraught future, waiting for the Palestinian Arabs—for some yet-to-be-articulated reason—to morph into something they have not been for the last 100 years and show little signs of becoming in the foreseeable future. Last week, I underscored the increasingly untenable situation that attempts to “manage the conflict” have wrought in the environs of Jerusalem by quoting the caveats of an erstwhile advocate of this approach. Indeed, it is difficult to comprehend what outcomes “conflict management” adherents envisage resulting in the long-run, from a policy of open-ended discriminatory rule over an increasing—and increasingly recalcitrant—population, held in indefinite political limbo.

– The full annexation of Judea-Samaria and the incorporation of the Arab residents into the permanent population with some form of enfranchisement will inexorably result in the Lebanonizaton of Israeli society and the eventual Islamization of the country—even if the optimistic demographers are right in their assessment, and after annexation, the Muslim sector will comprise “only” 35-40% of the population.

– Partial annexation of Judea-Samaria and restricting the bulk of the Arab population to a  patchwork of miniscule disconnected semi-autonomous enclaves will lead to an unsustainable Balkanized situation—with a tortuous border of anything up to 2000 km, making it almost impossible to demarcate and secure Israel’s sovereign territory, effectively rendering that sovereignty meaningless.  

Failure on the Right   

The political Right in Israel has failed to capitalize on its adversaries’ failures, on its own electoral successes and the clear, innate support it enjoys in the Israeli public.

It has failed to convey how ludicrous it is for anyone professing to subscribe to enlightened liberal values to endorse the establishment of yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim majority tyranny—which is of course what the real significance of the two-state formula is.

Inexplicably, still somehow intimidated by disproven dictates of political correctness, the political Right fails to identify the Palestinians for what they really are—and how they define themselves as a collective – an implacable enemy and not a prospective peace partner.

The political Right has failed to correctly conceptualize the conflict as a clash between two collectives with irreconcilable core objectives in which only one can emerge victorious and the other vanquished—and hence, both morally and practically, Israeli collective security must be given priority over individual enemy rights.

It has failed to formulate a policy which adequately addresses Israel’s geographic and demographic imperatives necessary to ensure its survival as the nation-state of the Jews. To the contrary, instead of Israel’s strategic imperatives dictating the objectives of its diplomacy, it has allowed diplomatic difficulties to dictate Israel’s strategic policy.

Only once these failures have been adequately redressed, can the Israeli Right begin to formulate policy alternatives that will be any less perilous than the two-state, Land for Peace paradigm which it rightly—and righteously—rejects.

Jordan, the Saudi Family, and the Return of Israel to the Temple Mount

Reports in Arab media suggest that the Saudi Arabian government has been directly involved in trying to calm tensions on the Temple Mount.  In fact a delegation of Saudi officials were invited to see for themselves the status quo is still being enforced on the Temple Mount, which is Israel’s holiest site.

So who is stirring up the tensions?

The current round of conflict on the Temple Mount was started when armed terrorists came from the mount and shot and killed two Israeli policemen near the Lion Gate.  This is the first terror attack emanating from the Temple Mount since Israel liberated it 50 years ago.  In reaction, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered a full scale investigtion into the incident and placed metal detectors at each entrance to the  complex.  Until then only Jews and tourists had to be checked, Muslims could roam freely and even picnic and play soccer there.

Metal Detectors in place at the entance to the Temple Mount. wakf closed the door in protest.

This small act of sovereignty by Israel, one that is perfectly justified, has now triggered riots in and around the Temple Mount entrances. Although the Wakf and PA President Abbas have encouraged the rioters, it is in fact Jordan who has instigated the violent clashes at the entrances.

Why is Jordan Inciting Violence on the Temple Mount?

To understand the current conflict over the Temple Mount, it is important to look back at British colonial aspirations in the Middle East after the first World War. The Hashemite family who rules what is today Jordan comes from a the Hashemite family who ruled in Mecca for nearly one thousand years until they were overthrown by the Saudi family in 1925.

The current Hashemite dynasty was founded by Hussein ibn Ali, who was appointed as Sharif and Emir of Mecca by Sultan Abdul Hamid IIin 1908.  In 1916 he was proclaimed King of the Arab Lands  after initiating the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

With the help of the British, his sons Abdullah and Faisal assumed the thrones of Jordan and Iraq in 1921. In 1925 the Saudi family overthrew Hussein ibn Ali as Sharif and assumed leadership. In 1958 his Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal was deposed in a bloody coup as the King of Iraq.

With only one Kingdom left and no power in their historic home of Mecca, the Hashemites, who sided with Britain and relied on them to establish their rule require a foothold on the Temple Mount in order to lay claim to leadership in the Arab world.

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They Will Not Go Quietly

The Hashemites will do whatever is necessary to force the Israeli government to take away the metal detectors from the entrances of the Temple Mount.  The rioting is part of the pressure, but the incitement also deflects growing dissatisfaction with the King and his family.

The self imposed “exile from the mount” over the metal detectors is not working to sway world opinion, which is growing tired over continuous tantrums by the Hashemite backed Arab street.


Arabs protesting by the entrance to the Temple Mount near the Lions Gate.

The Saudis, who are looking to pivot towards Israel have never trusted Jordan.  Afterall, the Jordanian King allows the Muslim Brotherhood to have a base of operations in Amman as well as playing both sides by accepting funding from Qatar as well as .  More than that, in the intra-Arab competiton for rulership, the Saudi would rather not have the Hashemites control access to the Temple Mount.  So in a bizarre twist of fate, it is the Saudis, who not only remained quiet during the latest flare up, but it will be their delegation who will determine that it is in fact Jordan who is inciting.

Metal Detectors Return the Temple Mount to the Heart of Zionism

With all the tumult in the Jewish world over the Western Wall, which is the last retaining wall of the Temple Mount comlex, it is in fact the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock which encompasses the holiest site in Judaism.  The metal detectators now placed at the entrance to the Temple Mount, may appear to be a small and sensible act, but it is this act that appears to have begun a series of events that may in fact return the Temple Mount to Jewish hands and place it once again where it should in the hearts and minds of the Nation of Israel and at the forefront of the Zionist enterprise.

Entrance to the Temple Mount by the Lions Gate now heavily guarded with metal detectors.

Arab media helping to fan flames of hatred in the Arab world by reporting on the security forces.

Israel’s Precursor to Victory

Israel requires a massive strategic public diplomacy offensive to generate the freedom of action required for victory-oriented policy.

Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair when that side has…accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fightDaniel Pipes, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, Commentary, December 14, 2016.

This will be my third and final column in a trilogy addressing the recently established    Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC). For my previous two columns, see here and here.

To recap briefly

Readers will recall that the CIVC, launched  by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), and initiated by the Middle East Forum, headed by its president Daniel Pipes, is an enterprise that departs sharply—and laudably—from the disproven conventional wisdom on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Thus, rather than advocating that the resolution of this conflict is contingent on ongoing and ever-more generous Israeli concessions, CIVC promotes the view that this can only be achieved by an unequivocal Israeli victory—and a commensurate unconditional Palestinian acknowledgement of defeat.

While I warmly commended the initiative’s proposed paradigmatic shift, I laid out several considerations that must be addressed if this welcome enterprise is to be converted from the conceptual to the operational, and transform its benign intention into effective action.  

Pipes correctly diagnoses that the most effective (indeed, arguably, the only) way to end protracted conflict is by inflicting defeat on one side which “exhaust[s] its will to fight”. Elsewhere, specifically referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he aptly observes: “The Oslo Accords and other signed pieces of paper have made matters much worse”, warning: “The farce of negotiations, therefore, needs urgently to end.”

He then asks: “If no more negotiations, then what?”, with his blunt response being to recommend breaking the Palestinians’ will to fight”.

However, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, breaking the will of the Palestinians alone is unlikely to be sufficient for heralding in a more amicable attitude in the future. Indeed, arguably the most crucial point I endeavored to convey was that, given the external centers of agitation in the surrounding Arab countries and in the wider Muslim world, unless further steps are taken to permanently extinguish the resurgence of any future hope of prying loose the Jewish hold on land they consider Arab, the will to resume fighting will probably reassert itself.

“Kinetic” vs. “non-kinetic” routes to victory

I concluded last week’s column by drawing a distinction between two different paths for achieving victory.  The one I deemed “kinetic” and the other “non-kinetic”.

The former entailed the use of naked military force on a massive scale inflicting commensurately massive death and devastation on the Palestinian-Arabs; while the later entailed setting up a comprehensive system to induce large-scale emigration of the Palestinian-Arabs by means of generous material incentives to leave, and commensurately daunting material disincentives for staying.

Pipes appears to acknowledge this sort differentiation in the modes by which victory can be accomplished and defeat imposed. He writes: “Defeat can result either from a military thrashing or from an accretion of economic and political pressures” and points out that “…it does not require total military loss or economic destruction, much less the annihilation of a population”.

I have, of course, no argument with him on this. After all, what Pipes designates “a military thrashing” on the one hand, and “an accretion of economic and political pressures” on the other, correspond closely to my “kinetic” and non-kinetic” routes to victory.  

However, I feel compelled to reiterate that, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, exhausting the Palestinian will to fight will not ensure lasting peace.  Indeed, in any post-victory reality (whether “kinetic” or “non-kinetic”), which does not definitively preclude the emergence of some self-governing state-like (or quasi-state) entity for the Palestinian-Arab collective, tangible and enduring potential for re-kindling “resistance” will always remain.

Hamas’s man in Ankara?

The reason for this pernicious potential is not only the ample centers of external agitation that exist today in the Arab and Muslim world but also the tenuous state of incumbent regimes, particularly Egypt and Jordan, which would immediately border any such entity.

Little imagination is needed to foretell the destabilizing effect a resurgent Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and/or a declining monarchy in Jordan would have on a Palestinian administration, installed pursuant to a perfidious surrender to the “Zionist entity”.

An ominous illustration of the menacing prospect was provided this week by Turkey’s ever-more authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the provocatively titled Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Forum in Istanbul. With utter disregard for the recently concluded rapprochement agreement with Israel, Erdogan launched into an inciteful diatribe against the Jewish state, denouncing its control of its capital as an intolerable affront:  “As a Muslim community…each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us”. He urged his co-religionists to flood the city’s holy sites and echoed a call he made several months ago, in which he called on Muslims to support the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem from “Judaization” by Israel.

This is hardly unexpected as Turkey strongly supports Hamas, and even after the reconciliation agreement with Israel—and in gross violation of it—continues to allow the   organization’s military arm to operate within its territory.

Stark imperative

Clearly then, even if Israel imposes unconditional surrender on the Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria and Gaza, this would not impact the enmity, or the will, of their supporters and sponsors in Ankara, Tehran and Doha—or conceivably, in Egypt and Jordan should ascendant Islamist elements become increasingly dominant.

With regard to the latter, Efraim Inbar warns “…changes within neighboring states can be rapid. Unexpected scenarios, such as a return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm in Egypt or the fall of the Hashemite dynasty… might take place.

The crucial nature of this caveat is heightened by the critical strategic significance of the territory designated for any prospective self-governing Palestinian-Arab entity and the dire consequences that would ensue should it fall to hostile elements – see here and here.

Accordingly, there is only one way to ensure that the Palestinian-Arab population will not be subjected to externally sourced influences to reignite their will to fight, and to ensure that they will not be exposed to incitement, agitation and cross-border insurgency.  Put bluntly, this is to ensure that there is no population which can be impacted by all (or any) of these pernicious pressures.

Last week, I raised the question of how this stark imperative is to be best addressed.  Picking up on Pipes’s terminology, is this to be done via “a military thrashing entailing economic destruction, [even] the annihilation of a population” (i.e via the “kinetic” route); or via “an accretion of economic and political pressures” (i.e. via the “non-kinetic” route)?

Victory by “accretion of economic & political pressures”

For well over a decade, I have been advocating adopting the latter course for a variety of reasons – both moral and practical.  I have designated this comprehensive policy prescription The Humanitarian Paradigm. This, as do virtually all other major alternatives to the two-state formula currently being proposed, entails the coercive dismantling of the current Palestinian regimes, while providing individual non-belligerent Palestinian-Arabs the opportunity of a better and more secure life elsewhere.

This latter objective—of inducing large-scale emigration—is, as mentioned above, to be accomplished by means of generous material incentives to leave and commensurately daunting material disincentives for staying.  Such disincentives would include the phased denial of services currently provided by Israel such as water, electricity, fuel, tax collection and so on, while the option of substantial relocation/rehabilitation grants would obviate any humanitarian crisis such denial is liable to precipitate.

In this regard I was greatly heartened to see that Pipes himself explicitly invokes some of the measures I propose—significantly, some of the harsher ones. Thus, in his prescription for victory, he urges that in face of continuing Palestinian violence, Israel should, inter alia, “dismantle the PA’s security infrastructure” and “reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies”. 

A myopic viewpoint

Pipes rightly laments the flaccid attitude that Israel has routinely displayed on the Palestinian issue.  Referring to his proposed measures, he writes: “Of course, these steps run exactly counter to the consensus view in Israel today, which seeks above all to keep Palestinians quiescent”, warning that this is a “myopic viewpoint”. (His view coincides with warnings I have  given repeatedly that: “successive governments have shied away from taking decisive action against the Palestinian-Arabs in an effort to avoid confrontations in which Israel can prevail, thereby precipitating a confrontation in which it may well not.”)

Pipes diagnoses—again rightly—that this myopia is the product of “unremitting pressure from the outside world, and the U.S. government especially, to accommodate the PA.” prescribing that: “The removal of such pressure will undoubtedly encourage Israelis to adopt the more assertive tactics outlined here.”

I concur entirely, with the only question being: How, and by whom, is the said removal of pressure to be achieved? After all, given the scope and momentum of this “unremitting pressure”, its “removal” is unlikely to occur without significant proactive endeavor from Israel itself.

This brings us to the crux of the problem: Israel’s abdication from any effective action in the field of public diplomacy and the international battle for hearts and minds.

Irrefutable “political algorithm”

After all, what is the major obstacle precluding the “adopt[ion] of more assertive tactics? What is the source of “unremitting [international] pressure …to accommodate the PA.”

Little analytical acumen is required to trace the roots of both of these elements to the perceived legitimacy of the “Palestinian narrative”, according to which the Palestinian-Arabs are an authentic national entity—and hence entitled to everything that such an entity merits, including statehood.

Now, as long as this narrative is perceived as legitimate, Palestinian “resistance”  will be seen as a legitimate endeavor to achieve the legitimate objective of statehood—while “assertive” Israel efforts to thwart that endeavor will be seen as “disproportionate” measures to deny that objective i.e. enforce  illegitimate “occupation”.  As long as this (mis)perception prevails, Israel will always be hamstrung in its measures to combat the Palestinian-Arab “resistance”—and international pressure will remain “unremitting”.

Accordingly, it is virtually an irrefutable “political algorithm” that in order to remove the unremitting international pressure and facilitate the kind of assertive measures Pipe’s prescribes, it is essential to discredit the legitimacy of (i.e. delegitimize) the Palestinian narrative.

This is undoubtedly a formidable task, and a necessary condition for its accomplishment is to acknowledge its magnitude—lest efforts to do so prove inadequate.

A diplomatic iron-dome

In this regard, I have long advocated a massive Israeli investment in a strategic public diplomacy offensive (1% of state budget, or a billion dollars annually) to confront, contend and counter international pressures and generate the freedom of action required for measures of the kind Pipes proposes.

The objective of this sizeable (but in no way, unaffordable) investment would be to configure a diplomatic “iron dome”, whose function would be to intercept the inevitable incoming barrages of demonization and delegitimization against Israel, once it adopts an assertive pro-victory strategy.

But beyond its defensive role, such a strategic diplomatic initiative would be tasked with an offensive one: To aggressively undermine, discredit and ultimately de-legitimize the Palestinian narrative, by exposing the mendacious myths that comprise it, and which provide the fuel that drives the assault on the Jewish state and its right to exist. 

Moreover, it should provide and promote a cogent policy alternative for implementation, given the negation of the notion of Palestinian nationhood and the rejection of Palestinian statehood. In this regard, not only is the previously mentioned “Humanitarian Paradigm” the only “non-kinetic” policy blueprint that allows Israel to address both its geographic and demographic imperatives for it to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people, but it can be shown to be  the most humane of all options if it succeeds, and the least inhumane, if it does not.

Hence, as I did last week, I would urge the authors of the CIVC to adopt it as their preferred victory strategy.


Of course the crucial question for many would be: Can Palestinian nationhood, and the accompanying demand for statehood, be removed from the political agenda? In this regard, allow me to conclude with a quote from Pipes himself, who wrote:  “Palestinian [national identity] is superficially rooted and…it could eventually come to an end, perhaps as quickly as it got started.”

Ensuring such an outcome is essential to achieving the lofty goals of the bold venture he has initiated.

Redemption Requires Israel to Shed its Slave Mentality

“Pharaoh approached; the Children of Israel raised their eyes and behold! – Egypt was journeying after them, and they were very frightened; the Children of Israel cried out to HaShem. They said to Moshe, ‘Were there no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the Wilderness? What is this that you have done to us to take us out of Egypt? Is this not the statement that we made to you in Egypt, saying, Let us be and we will serve Egypt? – For it is better that we should serve Egypt than that we should die in the Wilderness!’

Moshe said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of HaShem that He will perform for you today; for as you have seen Egypt today, you shall not see them ever again! HaShem shall make war for you, and you shall remain silent.’” (SHEMOT14:10– 14)

Acknowledging that Israel greatly outnumbered the Egyptian military at the Sea of Reeds, the Ibn Ezra provides a remarkable explanation of the above verses. He writes: “How could a camp of six hundred thousand men fear their pursuers? Why should they not fight for their lives and the lives of their children? The answer is that the Egyptians had been Israel’s masters. The generation leaving Egypt had learned from childhood to endure the Egyptian yoke and they possessed a low soul. Being weak and unaccustomed to warfare, how could they now fight against their masters? We see that Amalek came with a small force and, if not for Moshe’s tefillah, they would have weakened Israel. G-D alone does great deeds and orchestrates events. He arranged for all the males who had left Egypt to die out – because they lacked the strength to fight the Canaanites – until another generation arose who had not seen exile and who possessed an exalted spirit.”

The Ibn Ezra teaches that despite their superior numbers, Israel was not commanded to stand and fight. The Hebrews had been conditioned by several generations of slavery to fear and obey their Egyptian masters. Possessing a low soul made them near incapable of warfare, thus requiring Moshe’s tefillot to later overcome the Amalekite ambush (SHEMOT 17:8-13). According to the Ibn Ezra, this low soul was the reason that the generation departing Egypt would later need to die out in the desert over a forty-year period. Their children – a new generation raised in freedom – would then be able to wage a war of liberation against the Canaanite kings.

The low soul that the Ibn Ezra speaks of is similar to what modern psychologists term “learned helplessness.” At various historic points, this slave mentality has prevented the Jewish people from successfully advancing our national mission. One example of this neurosis in recent decades has been the confusion among many scholars concerning the process of redemption and how the Jewish people must relate to – and interact with – the historic events unfolding in modern times.

Israel’s Prophets and ancient Sages teach that there are two ways in which the final redemption can occur. There is the miraculous way (aḥishena) and the more mundane natural process (bi’eta). Due to the bitter realities of life in the Diaspora, Jewish communities in recent centuries were conditioned to believe that the redemption could only transpire through open miracles. Taking the initiative to advance salvation through physically conquering the Land of Israel was scorned as forbidden by many rabbis who claimed that Israel must sit patiently and wait for the Kadosh Barukh Hu to redeem His people. In the ghettos of Europe, where day-to-day life included a fear of gentile persecution, the idea of Jews valiantly recapturing Eretz Yisrael by force of arms seemed as if it would be even more an aberration of the natural order of the world than HaShem performing supernatural miracles on our behalf. As a result of this reality existing for so long, many Jews became trapped in this mindset of helplessness even once the political reality surrounding them had changed.

Other factors also contributed to the Jewish idealization of learned helplessness. Because of the internal damage inflicted upon Israel by so many unsuccessful messianic movements, the study of the redemption process was halted in most houses of study throughout Europe, leading to any attempt at bringing salvation closer through human efforts becoming widely seen as tantamount to an act of heresy. The combination of these factors created an expectation that the redemption would occur through supernatural events above and beyond human participation. Practical efforts to achieve redemption came to be viewed as destructive behavior stemming from a weakness of faith.

Learned helplessness became most prevalent in Jewish circles during the decades leading up to the development of political Zionism. The handful of Torah giants at the time who understood that Hebrew liberation could – and most probably would – unfold through a series of natural historic events were unable to effectively spread their ideas or inspire the faithful masses to actively participate in the redemption process. But examining the words of these visionary scholars can help us to retroactively recognize how correct they truly were and how much their teachings still illuminate our proper path.

Rabbi Yehuda Ḥai Alkalai, the famed kabalist of Sarajevo, wrote of redemption from within in Raglei Mevaser. In it he explains: “Redemption will reach us in a natural way. Had the Almighty wished to redeem His people through miracles, the exile would not have lasted so long. Moreover, in the present Jewish situation even a naturally attained redemption would be miraculous. Redemption will grow from within the people and not with the Messiah performing miracles, as in the days of the Exodus from Egypt. Final redemption will be the result of national initiative aided by G-D, as it is written: ‘And the Children of Judah and the Children of Israel will be gathered together’ (HOSHEA 2:2), and ‘Shake yourself from the dust, arise and sit down, O Jerusalem, release the bonds from around your neck,’ (YISHAYAH 52:2). Yishayah uses the reflexive form to emphasize that redemption will stem from self-help.”

In his Reply to the Skeptics, Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmakher states: “To our great misfortune there are yet many who mistakenly believe that they will sit in the comfort of their homes when suddenly a voice from heaven will proclaim redemption. But it will not be so! The Babylonian exile, though destined to last no more than seventy years, required the practical leadership of Daniel, Ezra and Neḥemia to achieve a significant return toEretz Yisrael. Unlike many of our own contemporaries they did not say ‘let every man remain at his place and redemption will come of itself.’”

Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher illuminates the way to redemption in Drishat Tzion. He writes: “It is wrong to believe that redemption will come as a sudden revelation of G-D from heaven, calling upon His people to leave the Diaspora. The vision of the Prophets must come true, but not as a sudden event. Final redemption will come in stages with the return of the people to the land and ultimately by the coming of the Messiah. Dear friend, you must rid yourself of the illusion that the call of the Messiah will come as a bolt from the blue arousing the sleeping masses. Redemption will come about through an awakening of well dispersed gentile leaders and governments, viewing favorably the return of Jews to the Holy Land.”

In regards to Rabbi Kalisher’s last point, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Ḥarlop – a prominent disciple of Rabbi Avraham Yitzḥak HaKohen Kook and former head of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav – teaches in the sixth volume of Mei Marom (Mayanei HaYeshua) that initial gentile support for Israel’s return to our land must eventually give way to hostility from the international community in order facilitate a later stage of the redemption process that will force the Jewish people to become independent through the realization that our strength and security stem not from alliances with other nations but directly from our relationship with the Kadosh Barukh Hu.

In Awake, Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever teaches: “Even though natural events will lead to redemption, this is not simply an historical accident. There are no coincidences in the Universe, since G-D’s Will is also manifested in the course of natural events. Accordingly, it is for us to rouse the powers that be to treat the Jewish people favorably, whereupon Divine help will surely be forthcoming in the ingathering of the exiles to the Holy Land. As the Prophet proclaims (YISHAYAH 62:10): ‘Go through, go through the gates; clear the way of the people; cast up, pave the road; clear it of stones; raise a banner over the peoples.’ Yishayah’s intention is clear: we must awaken and do all in our power to clear away the obstacles in the path of our redemption.”

These scholars stressed the fact that human initiative would be necessary in bringing Israel’s redemption to fruition. Their ideas were highly advanced for their time – especially when compared with many of their contemporaries – and their teachings represent a Torah of action that challenges the psychological state of learned helplessness. While it is clear that we have still not yet tasted full redemption, the process has certainly begun to unfold. There exists a sovereign Hebrew state in much ofEretz Yisrael but in order for us to participate in bringing total salvation, a higher approach to Torah study must be adopted.

The holy Ohr HaḤaim speaks of redemption and self-awakening in his commentary on VAYIKRA 25:25. There he states: “Redemption will start with a stirring in men’s hearts urging them: Do you feel secure living in a strange land, exiled from your G-D? What pleasure does life offer so far removed from the lofty values that were yours in the presence of the Almighty? Superficial, ill-conceived desire will then become repulsive and a spiritual craving will awaken your soul, improving your actions until G-D will redeem. Who will be called to stand in judgment? The Jewish leaders of the Diaspora who throughout the years did not encourage their people to return to Zion. They will be made to bear the shame of a forsaken homeland.”

In Eim Habanim Smeiḥah, written during the Holocaust, Rabbi Yissakhar Shlomo Teikhtal echoes the Ohr HaḤaim’s statements on the dangers of passivity. “The Orthodox, on the other hand, those zealous for G-D’s Will, stood aside and took no part in this effort. They remained with their traditional view that ‘sitting back and doing nothing is best’… It seems to me that all the leaders who prevented their followers from going and joining the builders [of Eretz Yisrael] will never be able to cleanse their hands and say ‘our hands have not spilt this blood.’”

A new generation has arisen today, alive with a more vibrant Torah of redemption. It is a generation infused with an exalted spirit of vitality as Israel’s youth is again being raised on our natural soil. The homeland – which had for so long refused to provide fruits to any stranger – has blossomed under the renewed political sovereignty of her native people.

The vitality infused into the Jewish people today has inspired incredible acts of valor and self-sacrifice, even amongst those not observant or even knowledgeable of mitzvot. At nearly impossible odds, Israel has won miraculous victories over our enemies. We have liberated portions of our homeland and revived the Hebrew language after many long centuries of separation from both. These incredible events are part of a greater process prodding history forward as Israel returns to the international stage in order to ultimately shine blessing and light to mankind. HaShem has inspired a new generation with a lofty spirit uncorrupted by fear, passivity or the learned helplessness of the Diaspora. Israel’s youth demands a greater and fuller Torah that encompasses and infuses all aspects of life with the necessary strength and courage to usher in an era of universal redemption.

“It will be that when all of these things come upon you”

“It will be that when all of these things come upon you – the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you – then you will take it to your heart among all the nations where HaShem, your G-D, has dispersed you; and you will return to HaShem, your G-D, and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul. Then HaShem, your G-D, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which HaShem, your G-D, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there HaShem, your G-D, will gather you in and from there He will take you. HaShem, your G-D, will bring you to the land that your forefathers possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. HaShem, your G-D, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, to love HaShem, your G-D, with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. HaShem, your G-D, will place all these imprecations upon your enemies and those who hate you, who pursued you. You shall return and listen to the voice of HaShem, and perform all His commandments that I command you today. HaShem will make you abundant in all your handiwork – in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your animals, and the fruit of your land – for good, when HaShem will return to rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your forefathers, when you listen to the voice of HaShem, your G-D, to observe His commandments, and His decrees, that are written in this Book of the Torah, when you shall return to HaShem, your G-D, with all your heart and all your soul.” (DEVARIM 30:1-10)

A superficial reading of these verses might seem confusing to those with a narrow understanding of tshuva. In verse 30:2, it appears that the Jewish people return to HaShem. We are then brought back to the Land of Israel and receive Divine blessings. But then verse 30:10 states that Israel again returns to HaShem, prompting a question on the chronology of events. Is Israel first brought back to our borders or does the nation first return to living in accordance with our Torah?

The famous Ohr Sameaḥ, Rabbi Meir Simḥa HaKohen of Dvinsk, teaches in the MeshekhḤokhmah that these verses refer to two types of tshuva. He points out that in verse 30:2 the return to HaShem is written as v’shavta ad-HaShem while the later tshuva in verse 30:10 readstashuv el-HaShem. Ad-HaShem, he explains, is not necessarily a return to Torah observance but rather to Jewish national consciousness. It is the Children of Israel once again self-identifying as part of a single people after generations of trying to assimilate into the host populations in the lands of our dispersion. We suddenly desire our own country, want to speak our own language and seek to express our own unique cultural identity. This stage oftshuva is essentially the reawakening of our ancient tribal identity and a feeling of solidarity with fellow Jews throughout the world.

El-HaShem, the later return, is a renewed embrace of the Torah and its commandments in both our private lives and in the collective national life of the Jewish people. The Ohr Sameaḥ teaches that once we return to a healthy Jewish national consciousness, we will certainly return to observing the statutes of our Torah. Returning to a sense of peoplehood and collective responsibility is the first stage of a process leading to tshuva on a level far greater than any individual’s personal return could ever reach. More than merely fostering personal piety among Jews, tshuva that begins with a reawakening of Hebrew identity will lead Israel to express kedusha in every sphere of national life, from social services and agriculture to warfare and diplomacy. The early stages of returning to national consciousness are part of a Divinely guided historical process that even those participating in are often unaware.

The kabalist Rabbi Yehuda Ḥai Alkalai (in Kitvei HaRav Alkalai) supports the Ohr Sameaḥ’s view regarding two types of tshuva, clearly defining them as national and individual. Rabbi Alkalai illuminates further that national tshuva is Israel returning to our native land. The redemption, he explains, does not occur all at once but rather takes place in stages – stages in which the Jewish people must actively participate. Israel coming back to a feeling of peoplehood – after bitter centuries of dispersion and persecution – is a response to the magnet of the Divine Will for Creation. The initial stage of the redemption process is a healthy and natural feeling of Jewish nationalism, seemingly identical to the nationalism found amongst gentiles.

In Sha’ar 100 of the Akeidat Yitzḥak, Rabbi Yitzḥak Arama points out that the process of redemption takes place with the tshuva of returning to nationalism, followed by HaShem bringing Israel back to our borders. Only following this ingathering of the exiles comes the later tshuva of Israel returning to Torah and experiencing full redemption.

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook concurs with this view and adds that the redemption is in and of itself tshuva as it is the Jewish people returning to the completeness of what the Hebrew Nation is naturally meant to be. Rabbi Kook points out that the redemption comes “slowly, slowly” (Jerusalem Talmud Brakhot 1:1) and further demonstrates, based on several Biblical verses, that ad-HaShem is a collective subconscious tshuva of returning to nationhood in our homeland whereas the tshuva of el-HaShem stems from a conscious understanding that Israel fully expressing ourselves as the national manifestation of HaShem’s Ideal for Creation necessitates a certain vision and behavioral norms. While thetshuva of ad-HaShem generally has no conscious destination, the tshuva of el-HaShemcarries with it a deep awareness of the Divine Source to which Israel is returning.

The concept of el-HaShem occurring after the ingathering of the Jewish people to our homeland is expressed throughout Scripture (YOEL 2:12, AMOS 4:6, EIKHAH 3:40-41) with YISHAYAH 44:22 stating “return to Me for I have redeemed you,” implying that Israel returns to Torah after being redeemed. And one of the clearest examples of this process can be found in chapter 36 of the Book of YEḤEZKEL.

“I will take you from among the nations and gather you in from all the lands, and I will bring you to your own soil. Then I will sprinkle pure water upon you, that you may become cleansed; I will cleanse you from all your contamination and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and I will make it so that you will follow My decrees and My ordinances and fulfill them. You will dwell in the land that I gave to your forefathers; you will be a people to Me, and I will be a G-D to you.” (YEḤEZKEL 36:24-28)

At the deepest core of Jewish national aspirations burns a drive to bless humanity with the knowledge of HaShem as the timeless ultimate Reality without end that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all. The Zionist movement emerged as the external practical expression of Israel’s ancient spiritual yearnings that for generations lay dormant within our people’s collective soul. The national consciousness of the Jewish people has come alive in modern times to initiate a movement of universal tshuva that will drive world history toward its ultimate future goal. Through the vehicle of a Hebrew Kingdom in Eretz Yisrael, mankind will be brought to the awareness of HaShem as the infinite Whole in which we all exist – an awareness that will usher in an era of total goodness, global harmony and universal fulfillment. This is the true inner essence of Israel’s national aspirations, culminating in the entire Jewish people living securely in our homeland with a Temple in Jerusalem, shining G-D’s light to mankind.

A Pakistani Muslim’s Path to Zionism: An Interview With Noor Dahri

In our interview with Noor Dahri, an independent counter-terrorism researcher in London and an honorary member of the Zionist Federation in the UK, he explains how his search for truth led him to become a Pakistani Muslim that is pro-Israel and pro Zionism.


Noor Dahri, please provide a brief background about yourself:

I am originally from Pakistan, but have been living in the UK for a long time. I am a follower of the Salafi thought of Islam. I currently work for the London Police department and am a member of several national and international organizations including the Zionist Federation-UK.


How did you come to be such a strong supporter of Israel?

Well, I was very extreme back in the day. I saw life differently than I do now. I am thankful to G-d that I didn’t follow blindly or copy the people around me. I listened to myself and not what the other people would say. I had enough sense to judge the situation. It was my nature to know everything in detail. That’s why when I was an extremist, I learned everything in depth. I loved books since I was very young and always searched for the truth. I changed many times within the branches of Islam to find out which is the right path. I searched all around me to know the reality, even if it was a risk to my life. In my life, I read many anti-Israel books and some of those were actually in my personal home library. Since I studied Counter Terrorism from the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT-Herzilya), my mind was opened to a completely different picture of Israel. So I decided to learn more about the actual truth. I read many books, talked to many intellectual people of Israel and had discussions on social media platforms. As soon as I found out the truth, I did not waste a single minute to announce my adherence to the Zionist Federation.


How do you hope to promote more support for Israel and who are you promoting to?

My main focus is to promote support for Israel within the Pakistani community in the UK and in Pakistan. I am hopeful that the new generation of Pakistan is more educated and learned than the generations before them. The world has become a global village, particularly within social media connected countries and nations turning them into one family. People assess and analyze the Pal-Israel conflict more deeply than it was before. Therefore I believe many more people will come forward and join this cause.


Why do you feel it is so important to be outspoken about your support of Israel, especially as it may put you in danger or in conflict with those close to you?

As I stated before, I always remained outspoken whether I was a religious extremist or a political Zionist. As a human, I still fear of reaction from my Co Muslims extremists, but I trust in Allah, he is the protector of everyone. I believe that the cause I have started is actually a cause of Prophets for every religion. I cannot stay home to hide my political affiliation, I worked very hard to know the truth, to know how extremism affects someone’s personal and even eternal life. Unfortunately, so many people in my community are still unaware of the truth. They are religiously and politically biased and do not use their mind or search about the facts. There should be someone who belongs to their community, their culture, and their religion, that can educate them about the truth.

Another thing that I must mention here is that I have very strong religious beliefs. People are still in shock that I am a religious Muslim that joined the ZF. Some even blamed me as being part of Qadiyani, a group that is declared as non-Muslim but they still consider themselves as Muslims. This was the main reason people of my community drew their deep attention to me. They wanted to know the reason that I took this big leap which can ultimately place my personal life and religious affiliation in danger.

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What do you have to say to those that claim that Muslims cannot support Israel? Aren’t there statements in the Quran that speak negatively about Jews?

Religious point of view on this issue is not my field, but I will put light on it according to my personal opinion. In the Quran, there is nothing new against the Jews. The Quran repeats the stories of Bani Israel. The stories which are already mentioned in the holy Taurate (Old Testament) and have been repeated in the Quran by Allah (SWT). There are good and bad people in every society, so the bad people are condemned and good people are praised in the Old Testament. The Quran repeated the same stories of the good and bad people of the Bani Israel. Therefore, I cannot understand why people see the verses that condemn the bad people of Israel but don’t see the verses that praise the good people of Bani Israel! This is the common problem in our Muslim community. They are quick to blame other religious but do not see their own actions that go against the teachings of Islam. The Quran declared the land of Israel to the Jews. It belonged to Bani Israel. Jews are the indigenous people of the land of Israel and they will remain there till the day of Judgement.  It is mentioned in the Quran. So it is that Muslim’s religious duty to support Israel and the Jewish community, according to the commandment of Allah (SWT).


Are you showing support to Israel as a Muslim, as a Pakistani, or as both? Meaning, do you feel it is imperative for all Muslims to support Israel or for all Pakistanis to support Israel? 

I am proud to be a Pakistani Muslim. I fully support Israel because being a Pakistani it is not my war, whether a religious war or a political war. There is no justification to support the Arab nationalism which already contradicted the teachings of Islam. My first preference is to address my Pakistani community as being a Pakistani Muslim and if any non-Pakistani benefits from my work that would be wonderful. My advice to my Pakistani community is that they try to interact with the Israeli community and speak to them regarding Israel-Pal conflict. They will definitely address them according to the historical and political facts. My community needs to listen to the other side of conflict. How could they judge a one-sided story and make up their minds?


What relationship do Pakistan and Israel have that you feel can facilitate closer ties in the future? Why is it important for these two countries to have closer ties?

There are many similarities between Israelis and Pakistanis. There are religious and political similarities. They both struggled to achieve independence and they are persecuted from other communities. The main similarity is that Jews are the people of the book, a monotheistic religion just as Islam. They follow strict dietary laws of halal/kosher. Their religious rituals are very similar to the Islamic rituals. Pakistan is a very strong country within the Islamic world, just as Israel is strong too. They both have powerful armies and intelligence networks in the world. Both countries have influence in the world. Making close ties and having open relations would be beneficial for the future of both nations and both religions. There’s no doubt that Israel and Pakistan did have a hard time to normalize these relations. Unfortunately Pakistani political leaders are so afraid of religious reaction in the country since religious bloc is very powerful in Pakistan. But I hope, one day people of Pakistan will break this wall of hate and embrace each other to create a religious and political coherent relationship.


Do you believe more people such as yourself will come out and speak out in support of Israel or do most fear doing so?

It will take some time, but I am positive. I still remember when I joined the ZF (Zionist Federation). I feared the strong reaction from the Pakistani community in Pakistan. I was not expecting a single Pakistani Muslim would stand firm with me, but, to be honest, the Pakistani community proved me wrong. They rushed in supporting my cause. I was amazed to see some religious people from Pakistan that supported my cause. They stood in support with Israel and that was a very courageous move for them. I pass my congratulations to my community who not only supported, but listened and understood me and my efforts to advocate for Israel. There is a huge fear in Pakistan from religious persecution. This is why people do not speak out and it will definitely take some time. However I am so positive and believe in my nation that they will come up and will support the truth. In Shaa Allah


In your opinion, do you feel Israel and Palestinian Arabs will reach a lasting peace in our lifetime? What needs to be done in order to reach that peace?

This is a very complicated question like the Pal-Israel conflict. As I said before, the social media boarded the minds of both communities. There are many people in both communities who started trusting each other. People see the naked facts that Israel is not their enemy. Thousands of Palestinians enter into Israel to work on a daily basis. They experience the friendly welcome of Israelis and they see that the Israeli market pays them four times better than their Palestinian authorities. They receive insurance, their medical treatment is free in Israeli hospitals, and their basic human life cost is much better in Israel than in Gaza or the West Bank. Once they retire they get full pension from Israeli companies with full employment rights. They see the lifestyle of Arab Israelis. They see the minarets of Mosques in Israel are still shining, and they hear the loudspeaker of those mosque calls for 5 times of daily prayers. The Palestinian’s new generation is assessing the situation very deeply, but unfortunately their political leaders hijacked them, and their religious leaders blackmailed them. These people need to free themselves from these ruthless political establishments. Israel is ready to give them their state and restore their honour, but they need to accept the fact, which is the reality of Israel’s existence. I hope, that if not in my time, at least the new generation will see these strong relations, so the lives of both nations will live in peace.


What is your take on the current situation overall in the Middle East? Which countries do you feel are pivotal in creating calm in the mayhem that is currently taking place in all the countries situated between Israel and Pakistan?

Well, I do not see any strong Islamic country in the Middle East that can come forward to calm the current situation except Pakistan. Pakistan is the only Islamic country that has huge influence in the Arab world because of the many political and military reasons. The Arab world listens and accepts any positive decision taken by Pakistan to resolve this conflict. Pakistan is the only Islamic country that has nuclear arsenals by one of the world’s most powerful army. When any Arab-Israel issue arises, The Arab countries always seek advice from Pakistan. Pakistan can play a very crucial role in normalizing relations between Arabs and Israel. Israel should keep focus on Pakistan more than the other Arab countries. I believe, if Pakistan accepts Israel or at least normalizes political relations with Israel, the Arab nations would not spend a single minute to follow the political path of Pakistan towards Israel.


Feel free to address any other issues.

There are many issues that need to be resolved. Currently, my main issue is to educate my community through my available efforts and resources. I think well-resourced and educated people should come forward to help me present the positive image to my community. The prime matter is a lack of knowledge in my community about this historical conflict. I have many limited resources and I use them all very effectively to highlight this issue within my community.  The Pakistani community is well educated and intelligent so they can accept the truth if we present them the reality complete with evidence. Unfortunately, there aren’t any resources to educate the Pakistani community. There is no organization, platform, web site, books in Urdu, or any media coverage to tell the positivity of Israel towards Muslims and Arab Israelis.

I am working hard to establish a platform where I can raise these issues and show my community the facts about Israel, which the local or cross-border media do not show them. Pakistan and the Pakistani community are very strong in the world, especially on the political stage. Pakistani people contribute in international, political, and research departments and they can play a very crucial role if they know the reality about Israel and the Israeli people. From this platform, I invite all Muslim Zionists, especially Asians/Pakistani Zionists, including Kasim Hafeez, Farhana Rahman, and Saba Rasheed to come forward and join my struggle and work with me shoulder to shoulder for the community.

Parshat Vayeishev – From Darkness to Light

Our Sages explain human history to be characterized by the incessant struggle between good and evil. The Kadosh Barukh Hu places forces of darkness into our world as an essential ingredient to enable free will and human growth. This evil has been Divinely tasked with attempting to prevent the Children of Israel from fulfilling our national mission of bringing mankind to the awareness of HaShem as the timeless ultimate Reality without end that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all.

As any good story requires a formidable antagonist, these forces of darkness are placed into the system of Creation in order to ultimately be defeated by the Jewish people, who must struggle to overcome the earthly manifestations of this evil – whether in the form of enemy nations or in the form of our own destructive inclinations – in order to reveal HaShem’s Oneness to humankind.

At historic points with great potential for the emergence of light and the advancement of Israel’s national development and mission, the forces of evil fight tenaciously to prevent the light of our redemption from breaking through to this world.

“Many days had passed and Shua’s daughter, the wife of Yehuda, died; when Yehuda was consoled, he went up to oversee his sheepshearers – he and his Adullamite friend, Ḥirah – to Timnah. And Tamar was told, as follows, ‘Behold your father-in-law is coming up to Timnah to shear his sheep.’ So she removed her widow’s garb from upon her, covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up; she then sat by the crossroads which is on the road toward Timnah, for she saw that Shelah had grown, and she had not been given to him as a wife.” (BEREISHIT 38:12-14)

The righteous Tamar had been Divinely ordained to be the ancestress of the Davidic dynasty. Sensing her importance to the story of mankind, she fervently yearned to carry out her role. But at the moment when the seed of David would come into being through the union of Tamar with a son of Yehuda, there was ferocious resistance from the Sitra Aḥra (evil forces). Both Er and Onan – Yehuda’s two eldest sons – were mysteriously enticed to commit offenses stretching beyond the normal standards of human lust.

Following the transgressions and subsequent deaths of his sons as a result of what he believed to be their marriages with Tamar, Yehuda kept his third son Shelah away from his twice widowed daughter-in-law. Feeling deprived of the opportunity to participate in the story of Am Yisrael, Tamar resorted to the distasteful measure of posing as a prostitute in order to bring about a union between herself and Yehuda.

“When Yehuda saw her, he thought her to be a harlot since she had covered her face. So he detoured to her by the road and said, ‘Come, if you please, let me consort with you,’ for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.

And she said, ‘What will you give me if you consort with me?’

He replied, ‘I will send you a kid of the goats from the flock.’

And she said, ‘Provide you leave a pledge until you send it.’

And he said, ‘What pledge shall I give you?’

She replied, ‘Your signet, your wrap and your staff that is in your hand.’ And he gave them to her, and consorted with her and she conceived by him.” (BEREISHIT 38:15-18)

While such a ruse would normally not have worked on a man as virtuous as Yehuda, our Sages teach that he was Divinely compelled to consort with the mysterious harlot.

“R’ Yoḥanan said, Yehuda sought to pass by Tamar. The Kadosh Barukh Hu dispatched the angel of lust to trap him. The angel said to Yehuda, ‘Where are you going? From where will kings arise? From where will great men arise?’ Yehuda then detoured to her by the road. He was coerced, against his good sense.” (Bereishit Rabbah 85:8)

Tamar’s disguising herself as a prostitute and Yehuda’s consorting with her were acts that provoked no resistance from the Sitra Aḥra. But the union resulted in the birth of twin boys, of which one would become the ancestor of King David and the future Mashiaḥ that will lead the Jewish people in ushering in a perfect world.

The episode of Yehuda and Tamar is not unique in the messianic lineage. David’s great grandmother Ruth had initially been born a princess of Moav, a nation from which the Torah instructs Israel not to accept gerim (outsiders who naturalize into the Hebrew Nation).

“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, even their tenth generation shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, to eternity, because of the fact that they did not greet you with bread and water on the road when you were leaving Egypt, and because HaShem, your G-D, refused to listen to Bilaam son of Beor, of Pethor, Aram Naharaim, to curse you.” (DEVARIM 23:4-5)

The nations of Ammon and Moav came into being under shameful circumstances, resulting from incestuous unions between Lot and his two daughter (BEREISHIT 19:31-38). One of the daughters went so far as to brazenly publicize the deed by choosing to name her son Moav (from father).

Moav had been so determined to prevent Israel from entering our homeland and establishing the kingdom that would manifest the Divine Ideal that they even sent their daughters to seduce Hebrew men into sin. The Torah therefore bans Moabites from marrying into Israel. While our Sages explain this prohibition to apply only to Moabite males and not females, this legal opinion took time to gain acceptance and, as a result, both Ruth and her great grandson David experienced difficulty getting married until the issue was finally settled following generations of legal debate (Brakhot 28a, Yevamot 76b, Ruth Rabbah 7). Our Sages teach inYalkut HaMekhiri that even David himself was considered for some time to have been the child of an illicit relationship.

The recognition that David – the biological and conceptual forbearer of the eventual messianic king destined to lead Israel in fulfilling our national mission – came into this world through a series of challenging and legally questionable circumstances, guided the attitudes of many great Torah giants towards the Zionist movement in its earliest stages.

While many scholars condemned Zionism due to the ignorance of Torah values prevalent among the movement’s leadership, others recognized a Divine process of redemption to be at hand. They understood that had practical political efforts to return the Jewish people to sovereignty in the Jewish homeland been led by Torah giants and traditionally pious Jews, the Sitra Aḥra would have fought to frustrate these efforts and obstruct the redemption process. But from the labors of Zionist leaders largely disconnected from our Torah eventually rose the State of Israel – a great leap forward in advancing the Jewish mission of establishing a kingdom that would manifest HaShem’s Ideal in all spheres of human existence and lead mankind towards a future in which all peoples and movements find full expression and fulfillment under the unifying canopy of G-D’s Divine Truth.

Even with all the confusion surrounding modern events within Israel, the redemption process continues to unfold in ways often difficult for many to understand. As active participants in history, we often find ourselves astounded by how the story actually unfolds. Events we might expect to play out a certain way have a habit of coming about through means that often surprise us. These plot twists are partially due to the fact that the light of redemption is so incredibly bright that it must be hidden from those forces seeking to obstruct the process. The light therefore appears in a distorted fashion that lulls the Sitra Aḥra into passivity.

In these generations of national rebirth, it is crucial to strengthen and deepen our understanding that it is the Author of history who has returned Israel to the world stage. As characters in the story, we must adjust our own perspectives rather than stubbornly refuse to accept the nature of His plan. This higher awareness and acceptance is central to effectively participating in the redemption process, a process destined not only to restore Jewish independence in our homeland but also to lead all humanity towards an era of internationalist brotherhood, universal fulfillment and total Divine blessing.