EDITORIAL

ISRAELIS: MACCABEES OR VICTIMS?

Will Bibi Emulate Judah Maccabee or Shimon Peres?

By Bernard J. Shapiro



The year is 70 C.E. and a young Roman legionnaire stands on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. While he watches it burn, he says to his comrades in Latin, "Judea Capta Est" (Judea is conquered).Yet like the legendary phoenix, rising from the ashes of its own destruction, Israel burst onto the world's stage 2000 years later, with the cry of a lusty infant yearning to breathe free. Five Arab armies tried to destroy that new life before it could take hold. With blood and fire, including the sacrifice of one per cent of its population (6000 of its best young people), besieged Israel secured its independence.

Just nine short years earlier, European Jewry faced its most devastating experience, the Holocaust. In the areas under Nazi occupation, the Jewish death rate was 90%. Despite revolts in dozens of camps, and heroic resistance with the partisans of free Europe, the Jews were unorganized, unarmed and ultimately became victims. During both the Holocaust and Israel's War of Independence, the world and its leaders were indifferent, if not hostile, to the fate of the Jews.

Jews in their own land, with their G-d, have great power, much more than the sum of arms and men. During Chanukah we should recall the legacy of the Maccabees. Remember how two "Hellenized Jews," Jason and Menelaus tried to destroy Judaism and force assimilation on the Jewish population. For generations we have taught our children about the evil Antiochus and his attempt to suppress the Jews. In reality, there were traitors among our own people who led the way for Antiochus. In our recent history, a similar misfortune had befallen our people in Israel. Former Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres led a left-wing coalition that was blatantly hostile to everything Jewish. They joyously surrendered the heartland of Eretz Yisrael, promised in perpetuity to Abraham and his descendants by G-d. The educational system in Israel was revamped to eliminate the study of Jewish sources like the Torah and Talmud. They cultivated hatred of all things Jewish and they especially despised religious Jews. Units of the Israel Defense Forces were recruited from the non-religious population for the sole purpose of suppressing and possibly destroying the religious villages of YESHA.

Rabin and Peres, anxious to win favor with the Arabs, much like Jason and the Greeks, planned to give away Israel's strategic assets. Territory, they said, was not important when your new god is economics. While the Israeli government renounced anything Jewish, including Holy Sites, the Arabs sought strength and comfort in a revived Islam. Nothing portrays the difference better between the Arabs and the Jews than how each views his religion. Young Arab men, promised paradise, cry "ala Akbar" (G-d is Great), then sacrifice their lives to kill Jews in one great jihad. Jewish soldiers flee their posts, uncertain about their open-fire instructions, demoralized by a government, which lies to them about the advent of peace.

Many Israelis were repulsed by the evil designs of leaders like Peres, Beilin, Sarid, and Ramon. These architects of appeasement who inflicted Oslo on Israel were soundly rejected in the recent national election. The Jewish vote was a landslide for the national camp with Bibi Netanyahu elected Prime Minister. The Zionist population in Israel rejoiced. Bibi would save the country. Bibi would demand "reciprocity" from the terrorist Arafat. Oslo would grind to a halt under such a righteous demand. Who in the international community could complain about a Israel's just demand for reciprocity? Surely, Bibi, with his great communication skills would be able to explain to the world how "Arafat was responsible for the collapse of Oslo."

Since the election, a new reality has emerged. Our dream was wonderful but we awoke to a nightmare. Bibi was no longer Bibi. He had become a younger, much better looking Shimon Peres. Just like Peres, who ignored Arafat's violations of Oslo, so did Bibi. Just as Peres caressed Yassir's bloody hand, so did Bibi. Just as Peres plotted to give the sacred city of Hebron to Arafat, so did Bibi. Just as Peres restricted building new communities in YESHA, so did Bibi. Just as Peres had abused and imprisoned patriotic Jews who disagreed with him, so did Bibi. Good Jews in Israel and abroad tried to understand the calamity that befell them.

Was this only a nightmare -- would the light of day reveal a heroic Israel.

The sad truth is that this is no dream. This is a reality that must be overcome. Arafat's terrorists are in the ascendancy. The PLO is rapidly moving towards its dream of a state with Jerusalem as its capital, including all the territory (Israel) between the "river and the sea." Killing and maiming Jews is a great sport for Arabs. The once proud soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces now cower before stone throwing Arab children. THIS MUST STOP.

Let us be Maccabees again. Let the IDF go into battle with the Maccabee cry, "All who are with G-d, follow me!" With the words: "Who is like unto Thee O G-d (the acronym of which spells out he word Maccabee in Hebrew) inscribed on their flags, the G-d inspired Jewish army swept the much larger enemy from the field in a great victory. It is this victory for which we celebrate Chanukah and not just the miracle of the oil burning eight days.

There is a simple but crucial lesson for us all in the above events. If we as Jews turn our backs on our religion and our G-d, we can expect disaster. The previous government of Israel has brought down the wrath of G-d on the Israeli people for turning its back on our heritage. Like Judah Maccabee, angered by the treason of Jason and Menelaus, and outraged by Antiochus, Bibi must revolt against the shameful legacy Rabin and Peres. The new nationalist government in Israel must unite behind one Zionist banner.

The Holocaust marks the end of Diaspora life as a viable option for the Jewish People. It is certainly true that American Jews survived the Holocaust and increased their numbers with refugees from Europe and the Soviet Union. It is also true that the American Jewish community has grown rich and has been in a position to aid Israel and needy Jews the world over. American Jews, however, are disappearing not from the evil of rabid anti-Semitism, but from the gentle embrace of a tolerant society. The kiss of death is assimilation which now totals 50% of all Jewish couples. The failure of Jewish education to salvage the children of mixed marriages will be ranked in Jewish history as a great tragedy.

The rebuilding and strengthening of Israel becomes the primary mission of those who project Jewish survival far into the 21st century and beyond. The liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 was another step in the redemption of our people. Yet, in our time, governments have arisen in Israel, that would barter our national heritage for false promises of "peace in our time."

The truth, which many find inconvenient, is that the Land of Israel was promised by G-d to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. The Land of Israel is NOT speculative real estate to be bartered away for some seductive (false) promises of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish People. It was here that the Israelites first entered the Holy Land. And it was here they fought the battles, built the towns, elected their kings and were preached to by their prophets and judges. And it was on this soil that they received the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible.

One thing is clear to me: the Lord has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria, and Gaza back under its control. It would be a horrendous sin against G-d and common sense for Israel to renounce this inheritance to which it is entitled. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity. It would not only be sinful, but also criminal, to abuse that trust by denying future generations of Jews their Holy Land -- Land of their Fathers; the one tiny spot on planet earth given to them by

G-d

.../..../..../...Bernard J. Shapiro, Editor

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