To Know & To Do

by Professor Eugene Narrett

"The Jewish character of the State of Israel is withered. It carries forward without any real conviction. Rejecting the very lifeblood of its Jewish identity, Israel exudes a kaleidoscope of shame and abjection for which no missile could ever compensate." (1)

Three thousand three hundred and twelve years ago, the Children of Israel brought offerings to Moshe for his officers to build the Sanctuary of the Lord in the Wilderness. Faithfully serving the purposes for which God chose them, they found the wisdom and insight to atone morning after morning for their doubts and fears. Through this human grace "there was more than enough" for the sacred work. "There was extra" (Exodus 36:1-8). Today, the leaders of the state and many of its people have confused this redemptive dedication. They have so badly confounded their place in the Middle East, the world and in history that the survival of the state is imperiled. As it was after the episode of the calf, today again Jews "must learn to take proper stands within themselves against what is garrulous and foolish" in favor of their unique mission (2). They need a return to history and identity founded in the sanctuary of an observant and complete Land.

Twice in February, members of the Israeli Parliament and of the Jerusalem municipal council attempted to visit the Palestinian "capitol" in Abu Dis, scarcely a mile from the Temple Mount. Each time they were rebuffed physically (3). On March 2, PLO officer Feisal Husseini announced that Arafat & Co. would meet with foreign diplomats at Orient House, their semi-official embassy that former PM Netanyahu several times vowed to close only to be undercut by the disloyal Labor opposition. Now that Labor (laughably re-named "One Israel") leads the government of the withered state, it shows its concern for law and Jewish life by issuing a statement. "Israel expects that the PLO will fully respect the agreements it has signed, and that foreign states will not support this measure" (4). It hollowly proclaimed that "Jerusalem in its entirety is not within the areas of PA authority" even as it hastened to assist the Arabs, international media and the Pope plan the latter's triumphal tour of Israel and the Temple Mount over which it has ceded control (5). It is the spiritual degradation of such empty words that leads Arabs to deride Jewish sovereignty as "a joke" (6).

While Barak appointees claimed to expect the PLO would "fully respect agreements it has signed" the speaker of the Palestinian National Authority (a 'Parliament' that rarely meets and has never passed legislation) stated that the Arabs would take land for their state "by force if necessary" (7). A few days later, Abu Mazen repeated the demand. The challenge was met by words from Israeli government officials already on record as saying that the way to pre-empt Arab violence is by hastening surrender to them of more land (8). It is a bad joke, a "demonic exchange with the murderers of Jewish children" (9).

Joining this raucous mockery was some whimsical tittering by one of Israel's most notable Amalekites. Journalist Nadav Shragai noted that "the Holy See is taking a stance as the ally of the PA in the place most holy to the Jewish people." It is a "fait accompli" that "requires some soul-searching about the status quo," he mused. "The religious autonomy granted to the Muslim religious authorities in June 1967 as turned into Palestinian autonomy that no longer answers to Israeli rule and sovereignty" (10). But the soul-searching he imagines should not lead to restoration of Jewish sovereignty. No; "perhaps it would have been better if in '67 the illusion had not been implanted in us that the Temple Mount is in our hands," he commented. But firstly, it was not an illusion but a fact, as it also was a fact that control was all but immediately surrendered in favor of the Western Wall and its association with dhimmitude. It was the failure of a Labor-socialist government and ruling elite that like a wayward daughter surrendered the heart of Judaism at its moment of triumphant return. Moshe Dayan formally surrendered Jewish control of the Mount itself with little public criticism by the Rabbinate who can improvise prayers instead of bullocks for every situation except Jewish ritual purity. Thus has fussiness and abjection contributed to spiritual degradation in many ways.

The varmints who revise Israeli history every day in schools trade cues with their fellow travelers in the major media. "Jerusalem was once the capital of the long memory of the Jewish people," Shragai pontificated. Correction: Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Its centrality was a living fact, not a matter of impotent sentiment. The memory did not create "an identity and a culture" in the kind of ad hoc idealism favored by counter-factual 'historians.' The identity, culture and sovereignty of the Jewish people and their kings sustained by faith, effort and blood created love and memory that survived exile but may not survive the ideological treachery and intellectual dishonesty of surrender parading as "soul searching." Instead of an illusion implanted and then uprooted by Jewish Amalekites, Israel (and the world) need the literal implanting and restoration of the fact of Jewish worship. Rather than "a de facto Muslim-Vatican state," work like that of the Alliance for Establishing the Temple can help restore a collective self-respect essential to Jewish survival in Israel (11).

For Jews, self-respect and insight require knowledge of history. Attacks on Israel from Lebanon by Arabs bitterly opposed to a restored "Jewish National Home" began by 1935 when "regions contiguous to [the Mandate] became staging areas and sanctuaries for bands of Palestinian Arab guerillas." International and Israeli attempts to secure Jewish security on the Litani River began in 1919 with the Meinertzhagen Line and continued with Israeli victories in 1948 (12). So did the bitter habit of Israeli withdrawal from territory within the God-given and human achieved borders of the Land in exchange for "assurances." It was the Labor Government in the mid-'70s who returned to create a Security Zone in "Operation Litani." It was "the repeated shelling of northern towns and border penetrations that caused the IDF to go in and create a larger security zone than exists today (13). And those who wish to live recognize that even with the constraints politicians have put on operations in Lebanon for five decades, the army has been remarkably successful in its mission. "Decades of terror attacks in the north are what led to the security zone, and it has proven effective to this very day," comments Maj. Gen. (Ret) Meir Dagan. "If we capitulate each time we have a conflict with an Arab entity, they will know they can use the threat of terror to force us to give in" (14). And the sequel to that message is more terror, whether the surrender is at the Temple Mount, Hebron Hill or on the banks of the Litani.

Surrender leads to death, first of the spirit, then of the flesh. Self-respect and self-knowledge (which means knowledge of where Jews have come from and the charge we are given) means deterrence, "an obligation to fight offensively," an Order of Battle and political courage "to carry out appropriate pre-emptive strikes" against enemies sworn to destroy the Jewish state (15). In the early, desperate days of the re-born state, when the stench of the ovens still hung in the air, there was a consensus acknowledgement that "the essence of Israeli security is deterrence. If you show fear, they will attack and you are lost," said Moshe Dayan in 1965. So "every time we were attacked, we retaliated tenfold. We penetrated deep within their borders to attack targets" (16). This was the spirit that won the 1967 war, so far as it went and that saved the hostages at Entebbe.

But now the flood of forgetting and lies sweeps away memory, truth and lives. Under the relentless battering of a world that will not forgive the Jews for bearing witness to the moral order, homegrown quislings have fashioned Jewish guilt into a "peace process" that panders to the Jew hatred rooted in the Koran and in Christian "replacement theology." This lethal "identification with the enemy" has become so pervasive that it takes American friends of Israel to decry the state's fall into "confusion and doubt" and to warn against becoming a client of the United States (17). A distinguished Marine General emphasizes that Israel can survive only by deterrence, retaining all its territory and complete independence of American technology and geopolitical plans. "To do less would border on treason," he said and the $6.5 billion sale in March of top-line F-16s by Lockheed-Martin to the United Arab Emirates underscored his point. The radar on the jets is superior to that used by the U.S. or Israel and history shows that the technology will become available to other Arab nations just as previously from the Saudis to Syria, Iraq and the Palestinians. And the more Israel relies on American weapons or dollars, the more American governments will be able to dictate Israeli policy. "The U.S. State Department is totally at odds with Israel's military views," comments a decorated retired Israeli Air Force Commander. His American friend added, "if the Golan is returned to Syria, it will be the first step in the death of Israel" (18). A nation that enters a desert of organized forgetting is on a death march.

But even as the waking warn against surrendering land and sovereignty, secular and religious 'leaders' in Israel "seem to live outside of history," eager to break bread with or excuse the agenda of those who deny the Jewish state (19). In his frenzy to defend the pope, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau has shown an appalling ignorance of history and lack of insight. "It is inconceivable to turn a friendly pope into an enemy," he replied to those criticizing the papal visit and concordat with the PLO. "Millions of Jews live in countries where Catholicism is dominant," he claimed, incorrectly (does the Rabbi think America is a Catholic country?). "Any provocation against the pope could endanger Jews around the world" (20). Even if this were true, it would be far more dangerous to pamper and defer to Catholics, Muslims or anyone whose resentment at being denied dual reign in Israel would lead them to attack Jews. Lau here showed the same suicidal reflex that leads to surrendering to angry Arabs, thus endlessly whetting their demands. The Rabbi seems unaware that the Palestinians whose "legitimate national aspirations" in Israel and Jerusalem the Vatican has just officially affirmed are committed to the destruction of the nation and regard Jews and Judaising as "cancerous." Concern for Sabbath observance does not substitute for Jewish sovereignty in the Land. Without the latter, Jews die and others are driven to assimilate. Chief Rabbi Lau survived the Holocaust but seems to have missed its major lesson, the centrality to the Children of Israel of the Land whose borders are to be "sealed like iron and copper" (Deuteronomy 33:26). As if to prove that sovereignty, Sabbath and a Torah of Life are inseparable, early reports that the pope's office had changed his schedule in respect for Sabbath turned out to be erroneous (21). Error or not, the fact that what should be a simple logistical matter remained unresolved twelve days before the visit underscores Vatican contempt for Judaism in Israel as much (although not as dangerously) as the Vatican-PLO "Bilateral Agreement."

Two other incidents illustrate how forgetting and self-contempt feed on each other. Early in March, Israel issued a stamp commemorating King Hussein whose overt hostility was replaced after 1970 by cunning enmity (22). His son and successor, King Abdullah responded to the honor by stating that Hussein's commitment to peace was "based on restoring rights to the land's legitimate owners," familiar code for Palestinian Arabs whose very name is an imposture of the Roman Empire (23). But because the leaders of Israel continue their impossible dream of "acceptance" and "normal relations" with neighbors whose religion and ideology centers on hating Jews and denying Israel, they must create one "good" Arab to sustain an illusion of "normalization." In pursuit of the mirage of "acceptance" land, towns and wealth have been squandered since 1948, especially since 1973. On this road of blindness, self-respect and national purpose also has been lost. Other Israeli politicians lust to squeeze Arafat into the role of peace partner. Knesset Speaker Avram Burg was so stimulated by the prospect of lunch with the toad that his spokesman dismissed raising Israeli concerns about the routine "escape" of criminals from PA jails and suppressing terrorism. "When Chairman Arafat called last night and asked Avrum for a gala lunch and working meeting, since Avrum is a member of the peace camp he accepts" without reservations. "On the other hand," his spokesman said, "there are matters the Palestinians are concerned about." But don't worry, "Avrum is abreast of the situation. He knows everything" (24). Here is the utter defeat of wisdom, insight and self-respect by a puppyish identification with the enemy. Here is an utter failure of honor and honesty in confronting Arabs who are brutal and brutally direct about seeking to eradicate Israel.

Israel has misplaced its purpose for decades. Jews can survive only in a truly Jewish state centering on the practice and assertion of Judaism. It will not survive as a "state of its citizens" who may be Palestinians or other non-Jews or Jew haters. When Israel loses its Land or its way so too does the increasingly neo-pagan and disordered world. A sovereign Israel is intended to assert the sovereignty of God and to turn the world to holy purposes. When Israel betrays its mission, it tells the world there is no judgment and no judge.

When Solomon built the Temple, he honored his father David not by invoking current events or the diplomatic agenda of Egypt or Babylon. He looked to the singular history of the Children of Israel, the people God redeemed and created to declare His praise. He brought them to His sacred boundary, the Land, and to "the Holy Mountain His right hand acquired. He drove away peoples before them and appointed them a measured inheritance" not to be given away (Psalm 78:54-5) but that will be forfeit if they abandon His gifts and service. Today the watchword is "yesterday's gone" and "I'm tired of history." But Solomon vitalized his reign by making it a site for the eternal truth of the most decisive moment of history. "I have built the House for the sake of Hashem, the God of Israel. And there I made a place for the Ark which contains the covenant of Hashem that He sealed with our forefathers when He brought them out of the land of Egypt" (1 Kings 8:20-1). The Temple continued that faith, wisdom, insight and deeds that built the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In the merit of this work, the clouds and glory of Hashem filled the Sanctuary and He dwelt amidst Israel and they walked as He directed (Exodus 40:34-8).

"Set your heart on the road that you are walking and return, O Israel, return to these cities of yours" (Jeremiah 31:20). This is the way for the leaders of Israel to "gird sword upon thigh and ride over enemies" as "nations fall beneath its sharp arrows." As Solomon indicated in invoking David, this is the way of "gladness and joy," the way "sons succeed fathers as leaders in the Land." It is the way of "mindfulness," the name of this Torah portion of triumphant completion and the psalm associated with it (25). This recovery of identity it the only way Israel "will be remembered in all generations and acknowledged by nations forever and ever" (Psalm 45:4-6, 16-18).

Eugene Narrett teaches Literature at Boston University.


1. The title is from Exodus 36:1, portion Vayakhel ("and he [Moshe] assembled") discussing the construction by the Children of Israel of the Tabernacle in the wilderness during the first ten months after receiving the covenant at Sinai. The epigraph is from Prof. Louis Rene Beres, "Israel & Enlightenment," March 07, 2000, Freeman List posting.

2. Beres, "Jewish Leadership," speech in NYC, Feb. 13, 2000, GAMLA posting.

3. A-7, Feb. 06 (group of Labor MK's) & Feb. 26, 2000 (municipal officials).

4. Foreign Ministry Spokesman, March 02, 2000, transmitted by IMRA.

5. Government Press Office, Jerusalem, March 07, 2000.

6. Adnan Husseini, Director of the Wakf, interviews on IMRA 02/07/00.

7. Ahmed Qureia quoted by The Jordan Times, "Palestinians set deadline for final peace deal," 03/05/00. Response by "Public Security Minister" Shlomo Ben-Ami.

8. Abu Mazen, 03/07/00, wire services.

9. Beres, "Jewish Leadership."

10. Nadav Shragai, Ha'Aretz Hebrew edition, March 05, 2000.

11. "Jewish Amalekites" is the title of an essay 02/27/00 by Prof. Paul Eidelberg and a subject he often analyzes. Rabbi Menachem Makover of the Temple Alliance has issued a commemorative coin to recall the mitzvah of giving a half-shekel "not only to build Temple instruments but to increase Jewish awareness of the importance of the Temple in our lives" and as part of "preparing the way."

12. Frederic C. Hof, Galilee Divided: The Israel-Lebanon Frontier, 1916-84 (Westview Press, London, 1985), 43-61, ff.

13. Meir Indor interviewed on Arutz-7, March 06, 2000.

14. Gen. Dagan interviewed by Haggai Segal on A-7, Feb. 11, 2000.

15. Beres, "Israel & Enlightenment."

16. Dayan to a group of RAFI volunteers, Tel Aviv, 1965, quoted by Bernard Shapiro, "Deterrence or Dhimmitude," The Maccabbean online, March 2000.

17. Beres, "Jewish Leadership" quoting novelist Aharon Meged. The warning was delivered by Maj. Gen. (Ret) Jarvis D. Lynch, Jr. U.S. Marine Corps, 02/27/00, "What Price the Golan," Seminar in Miami. Gen. Jarvis was Chief of Staff for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Asst. Chief of Staff, NATO, European Command.

18. Col. Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto and Gen. Jarvis, 02/27/00.

19. Beres, "Toward a New Zionist Congress," 02/28/00, web posting.

20. Arutz-7, March 02, 2000.

21. A-7& Government Press Office, 03/07/00. Also disturbing were reports in Yediot Ahronot & other media that the Vatican (or some Israeli officials) had ordered Magen David Adom to remove the Jewish stars from the ambulances that would attend the pope.

22. Hussein's occupation and destruction of half of Jerusalem is well known though suppressed by Israeli officials, as are his attack on the demilitarized area in 1967 and his call for Arabs to "kill Jews wherever you find them." All but forgotten is that he did not sit out the Yom Kippur War. His self-serving "compromise" of refraining from attacking Israel along the Jordan (and get whipped again) was to send his armored brigades to Syria to join Iraqi and Syrian troops at Tel Hara. That's called war, assault and death. See inter alia, Netanel Lorch, One Long War (Jerusalem, 1976), 193-4.

23. Jordan Times, March 05, 2000.

24. Interview of Ayelet Frish, Burg's assistant by Dr. Aaron Lerner, IMRA 03/02/00.

25. The Torah portion describing the completion of the Tabernacle is Pekudei, "orders" or "mindfulness" (as in Genesis 50:24-5 and Exodus 3:4-14, "I have surely remembered you." Siddur Avodas Israel assigns one psalm as particularly fitting to each Torah portion. For portion Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38) it is Psalm 45 that addresses David as the pattern of messiah.

 HOME  Maccabean  comments