From the Rabbi

Rabbi Mark

“Always the innocent are the first victims, so it has been for ages past, so it is now.”  ― J.K. Rowling

           As the war of Israel verses Terrorism continues, I find myself relooking at the successes and failures of both sides. Yes, both sides have made terrible mistakes, no one is guiltless here.

Whenever I have been asked to speak about Israel, I always begin saying that I have a bias. I believe Israel has a right to exist. There have been articles which say that Israel has no right to exist because it was the haven for the European Jews who escaped the Czar of Russia and then the Nazis and were inserted into the Middle East.

But I believe that Israel has a right to exist for several other reasons, especially because of what it did for the Arabs, Muslim and Christian, who remained in Israel when it became a country.  Israel’s population is almost 20 % Muslim. Muslims solders in the Israel Defense force have risen to the rank of General. There have also been Muslims in the Diplomatic service, on University faculties and the Israel Supreme court. Also sadly, for only a short time, there were 3 Arab political parties in the Israeli government.  Most importantly, it has raised the standard of living for the common Arab worker in Israel. I remember a newspaper article which described what happened when the 1948 border between Jordan and Israel was torn down and two groups of farmers, one Israeli Arab and the other Jordanian Arab, saw how the other farmed. The Israeli proudly showed off his tractor while the Jordanian farmer just kept plowing with his donkey! The 20th century verses the ?th century.

People often overlook how Israel changed in the years of 1949-54. Going from a refuge state for Holocaust survivors, Israel became once again a refuge country for escapees. This time however they were escaping Middle Eastern countries who expelled them. Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, all stated more or less, “You have a Jewish country. Go there, we don’t want you here!”

600,000 people came. Interestingly enough, this was roughly the same number as Palestinian Arabs who fled the Palestine Civil War during Israel’s Independence. Where did These Arabs go? Did any country take them in?  Trans Jordan annexed their territory, and changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and started making large sums of tourist money from the Jerusalem Holy Sites. All the while they kept the true inheritors of the land in refugee camps.  But Jordan was not alone, Egypt, established one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Guess where? The Gaza Strip. They and Jordan used these refugee camps as concentration camps and training grounds for terrorists. First called, Fedayeen then PLO, now Hamas. But I digress.

Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria all have had accomplices, including the United Nations and its agencies such as UNWRA and UNICEF. As a child how often did I carry my milk carton around on Halloween to gain pennies for UNICEF and turn in the money to my teacher!

But Israel is not free from responsibility for the current refugee problem either, from 1948 unto the mid-70’s the Israeli policy was that there was no separate Palestinian people. Jordan was Palestine! How would you feel if an outsider annexed your land and the rest of the world said that the annexer was the real you?

We didn’t realize we were continuing the degradation of the Palestinian people! But if we were guilty for pennies what about the Arab countries who were guilty for dollars and fortunes or the world who played NIMBY, not in my back yard, and refused to integrate Palestinian workers into their workforce. Is it any surprise that after 75 years as refugees, we have the inhumanity of HAMAS? If you have been told your life is worthless for 3 generations, you begin to think all life is worthless.

No one will not come out of this war unscathed! The only way I know to heal the wounds is to do something for the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs.

First, everyone owns to their mistakes. We must demand that the leadership of the world especially, the Middle Eastern nations, tell the truth. Then call for a Middle East Organization to replace the Arab League. Call it the Abrahamic League, with Israel as a member, and demand in its charter that it promote truth in the conflict and the right of all nations in the region to exist.

Then raise funds for education! Think of it, little blue boxes, not for the Jewish National Fund but for the Palestinian National Fund. Those with no hope will have hope through education!

Also,have the member nations of the Abrahamic League dust off the old Proposals in the document called Middle East 2000. Now,9in 2023, Israeli technology, including Artificial Intelligence, matched with oil money  transforms the Middle East into the ‘paradise’ we always dreamed it could be.

Finally, we all go on “Pilgrimage” to the Refugee camps and walk together with the residents to new homes. Those who were prevented from living in real homes for so many years will have them now!

B’ahava v’Tikvah,

Rabbi Mark