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Maybe, the State of Israel should take a leaf out of Martin Luther King’s book.

I’m in the middle of reading the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, the great black civil rights leader, who was assassinated – probably by one of the American alphabet agencies – in 1968, while advocating the non-violent resistance path of peace.

While the writing is a little stodgy in parts, what I’m finding very interesting is how much hypocrisy and moral corruption was riddling USA ‘officialdom’ back in the 1960s, and how brave King and his fellow activists were, in approaching the issue purely with the creed of non-violent resistance and emuna.

Because the two go together.

Time and again, King found his strength in his religion, and particularly in his connection to God – Who he mentions far more than the yoshkiyite idol – in his writings.

And then, that got me thinking about what’s going on in Israel.

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Like many people here, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the groups of chareidi men who stage sit-ins by the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, and in Bnei Brak. I know when they are protesting, it’s usually because some religious young man – or also, young woman! – has been arrested by the police, and is sitting in jail because they refuse to enlist in the army.

Until very recently, I was kind of looking at these protests more as ‘street entertainment’ than anything more serious. But reading this Martin Luther King book is kind of changing my perspective on what’s actually going on here.

Recently, I saw a video where the Israeli police were blasting some poor chareidi men with what’s known as ‘skunk water’ at close quarters, mamash squirting it straight into their faces.

‘Skunk Water’ is so potent, it can make a person nauseous for many days after they come into any contact with it, let alone when it’s been sprayed straight into their chops. A couple of weeks ago, one of my girls found herself in the middle of a sit-in demonstration by the bus station, and she felt pretty ill for a few hours, after getting a sniff of the skunk water the police were spraying all over the demonstrators, to get them to disburse.

Then of course, there’s been all the pictures of the police pulling peaceful chareidim along by their side-curls… and then there was the case where the police here beat up an autistic young man, just because he was chareidi… and I could give you many more examples of where bald-headed, vicious bullies in uniform are beating up peacefully-demonstrating religious Jews in Israel.

WARNING: THIS FOOTAGE OF A CHAREDI BOY BEING BEATEN UP IN MEAH SHEARIM IS PRETTY DISTURBING:

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Which brings us to an awkward cross-roads.

Whether or not you believe that violence is the only way to solve our national problems, and that having a strong army is the only solution to our woes (more on that in a moment), it seems ethical that people who are opposed in principle to killing other people should not be forced into bearing arms.

The people in the IDF making these life-and-death decisions about who should live, and who should die, are not believing Jews, and they aren’t guided by Torah law on these matters. Judaism believes in the sanctity of human life, and taking another person’s life is NOT a simple matter. So serving in the IDF is not a simple matter, morally, and it shouldn’t be something that we try to push on other people indiscriminately, without first really exploring the issues in depth.

I know this perhaps sounds even ‘treasonous’ to big parts of the dati leumi world, and also anathema to many others in Jewish society– and I understand their position. Until fairly recently, I shared it.

But not any more.

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Let’s get back to the charedim who are protesting, and who are getting manhandled by bald-headed bullies in uniform, and sprayed in the face with nausea-inducing chemicals, and water-cannoned off the pavement, and arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’ – exactly how the black civil rights’ protesters were being treated by the racist, white authorities in America’s Deep South.

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It suddenly struck me how brave these charedim are, because they come out and protest time and time again, and they know they will get beaten up, and blasted off the pavements with water cannons,  and all the rest of it – and yet they don’t fight back.

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I know, we all take that for granted, don’t we?

That the police can come in and beat the charedim up, and the charedim never fight back. In fact, we take it so for granted that we start moaning about how much traffic these peaceful protesters are holding up, and how awkward they are making life for everyone around them.

In this olam hafuch, where brutality, violence and guns are worshipped as the real measure of bravery and heroism, it’s totally passing us by, just how much restraint and inner strength and emuna it actually takes, to just sit there while some aggressive, bald-headed police-nik comes after you for trying to stand up for God and His Torah.

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The State of Israel believes that its army is the only reason the Arabs didn’t over-run us and kill us, a long time ago.

It’s such a convincing argument, isn’t it? But if you look at the wars that have occurred in Israel, it doesn’t actually stand up.

Israel’s ‘army’ in 1948 basically consisted of two rifles left over from the Boer War, and about 10 bullets (I’m exaggerating to make the point, but barely). That war was a resounding success for the Jews ONLY because Hashem did open miracles, and the Arabs ran away.

1967, and the Six Day War, is often touted as the apex of Israel’s military might:

Again, it was God, and God’s miracles, that led to the State of Israel pulling off the Six Day War, and suddenly reclaiming the holiest sites in Judaism – and the secular government here was very unhappy about it, when that happened. They have been trying to figure out how to get rid of the Temple Mount and Hebron ever since.

1973, the Yom Kippur War, actually started off as a total disaster, when the State of Israel came within a whisker of being over-run by our hostile Arab neighbors. Again, God pulled us out of the fire, and did miracle after miracle, including having a lone tank secure the whole Northern front against the Syrian troops.

And since then…. All the IDF has done, really, is get us deeper into the cack, morally and politically.

The IDF is a mirage, it’s an illusion. It’s far more about shaping future generations of Israelis and breaking their allegiance to the Torah than it is about defending the country.

The army doesn’t need chareidim to serve; the army is over-run by too many young people already that the army doesn’t know what to do with. What’s more, new research shows that half the country now wants to move to a professional army, and away from mandatory drafting.

The whole draft issue revolves around one thing, and one thing only: the State of Israel wants our religious young people in the army so they can immerse them in a totally secular, promiscuous culture and pull them away from Torah and God.

And that’s it.

No serious army would mix men and women together the way the IDF is doing.

One of my kids summed it up succinctly, when she told me that parts of the army are pushing for re-segregation, because the men soldiers are spending so much time looking at the lady soldiers butts, they aren’t learning how to fight properly. Anyone with eyes in their head can see this is true. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven through a checkpoint into Jerusalem only to be totally ignored by the male and female soldier on guard who are too busy openly flirting to even so much as glance in my direction.

So much, for the much-lauded professionalism of the IDF.

Or try this: do a Google Search for ‘Ofer Erez’, and see what comes up. And then understand that Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and laughing their heads off at the IDF right now. FACT: women are physically weaker than men. FACT: women have way less testosterone pumping around than men. FACT: women make much more vulnerable soldiers than men, for a number of reasons.

These are biological facts, not opinion. And that’s even without all the flirting and open promiscuity that’s going on, which I’ll write more about in another post.

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Let’s be 100% clear:

I am enormously grateful to the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for the Jewish people, and I know how much idealism is still fuelling so many of the young people, secular and religious, who go to the army.

This is not about them and their self-sacrifice, it’s about the morally-corrupt politicians, army bosses and secular mafiosos who are actually running the country, and using the IDF as a perverted social engineering tool.

There is a reason that this issue of the draft is the one that is paralyzing the political process in the State of Israel, and that’s because God wants us all to take a careful look at so many of the assumptions that we keep making, about the place of guns and violence in our society. Which brings me to the next point about what could really lead us to the truth path of peace.

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Over the last few months, I’ve increasingly been coming to the view that violence and guns is never really going to get us to a good place in Israel.

The more I’ve been thinking things through, the more I can see that we are in the unwinnable game here, if we keep relying on bigger bombs and smarter weapons to try to ‘keep the peace’ with our neighbors.

At this point, many of you might interject, and say:

But if the international community would allow Israel to use its military might properly, and if the State of Israel would stop practicing restraint, then all of our problems with the Arabs would be over! We’d re-establish our military deterrence and go back to ruling the roost, in the Middle East!!!

Again, it sounds like a convincing argument on the face of things, and for a long time I didn’t think to challenge it or question it. But recently, I did.

Are we really saying that carpet-bombing Gaza is the answer to all our woes? Are we really saying that killing thousands of Arabs is really a solution to Israel’s problems? What evidence do we have to back up this approach, from the last 70 years?

Because tachlis, every time we suppressed the Arabs with violence, they have just regrouped and come back with something bigger. Long-term, violence is not a solution. Long-term, killing tons of Arabs only breeds more hatred and creates more terrorists.

And I’m not even going to address the lunatics out there who keep advocating for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Gaza, but who can’t see how contemplating that would put us in the same category as so many of the most evil ideologies that have existed throughout history.

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Does that mean that we Jews should just sit here, and let the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets at us willy-nilly?

Of course not. Life is precious. Every life is so very precious, every person is a whole world.

And so, we have what they call in the Talmud a kooshia, or difficulty, that seems impossible to resolve. Morally, we can’t just sit here and let Jews continue to be slaughtered by rocket attacks. Morally, we can’t just go in and commit wholesale murder in Gaza.

So, what’s the answer?

Those yeshiva boys who are protesting – and the rabbis who are sending them out – might know. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to put down the guns, and to turn to God in prayer and supplication and teshuva.

I know, that’s challenging isn’t it? On so many levels.

But we have to fight!!! We have to keep defending ourselves!!! We can’t just go like lambs to the slaughter!!!

Agreed, agreed, agreed, a million times over.

But, we have to change the way we are fighting from the Esav-machine gun-Rambo model, to the Yaakov-prayer-teshuva-and Torah model.

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If you look at all the real social upheavals that led to genuinely positive outcomes since World War II, they were all achieved with emuna and non-violent protest. But Israel’s whole secular society is built on violence, and promoting violence and murder as the answer to all of our woes.

If only we could murder all the Palestinians, we’d have nothing else to worry about!

That’s how so many of us have been brainwashed to think. But we have to stop, and we have to ask ourselves honestly: does that sound like a solution that God actually wants? I know, if God Himself decides He wants to wipe out a whole nation of people, that’s something else, and God doesn’t need anyone’s help to do that. We don’t need to get in the middle of God’s calculations.

But we do need to clear all the State’s propaganda out of the way, and really look at the culture of spying, intimidation and violence that has become the State of Israel’s stock-in-trade. And instead of being so proud of it, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about whether all this violence is moral? And whether it’s ethical? And whether it’s in line with, or anti, the halacha?

We need to pause and examine whether God also believes that forcing yeshiva bochurs to learn how to use machine guns, and encouraging promiscuous behavior between men and women soldiers, and putting obedience to a bunch of secular mafiosos ahead of obedience to God and His Torah is really going to solve the State of Israel’s problems, long-term.

And if we spend some time exploring that question, however uncomfortable it makes us to start challenging the axiomatic ‘truths’ we’ve all been raised with, it’s possible that we’ll start to realise that these ‘truths’ aren’t so true, after all.

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Violence isn’t working to solve the problem, because it’s not addressing the root cause of the State of Israel’s woes, which is that it is anti-Torah, and anti-God. If the State of Israel became a ‘halachic state’ tomorrow, I guarantee our problems with the Arabs would disappear overnight.

If Martin Luther King had encouraged the 20 million blacks in the US to resort to violence instead of peaceful protest, do you think he would have achieved what he did? Do you think Gandhi would have got the British out of India if he’d resorted to terrorist tactics?

If the State of Israel had put God in the picture from its inception, God would have been fighting our battles for us – without tanks, planes and missiles – and all these wars and misery would be far behind us, already.

So, as we head into the next Israeli election, and as the rhetoric about ‘draft-dodging charedim’ heats up again, we need to take a breath and think about what’s really going on here, and what side of the equation we really want to be on.

Do we want to be Gandhi, or the British? Do we want to be Martin Luther King Jr, or the racists who shot him? Do we want to be Yaakov, who solves his problems peacefully with prayer and emuna, or Esav, who ‘solves’ his problems with murder and violence?

That is really the question that is looming ever larger for Israeli society.

And there are no easy answers.

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Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

WATCH: Yair Lapid gave this speech in 2011, before he even entered politics.

Why am I bringing a 25 minute talk by Yair Lapid, from 2011?

Because it explains so, so much of what’s really going on in Israel right now, both politically, but also all the hatred you find expressed against the haredi community, and the settlers, and the right-wingers, and everyone else in Israel who isn’t them, in the [still almost entirely secular, still almost entirely Ashkenazi] Israeli media.

The clip has good English subtitles, that were done by an organisation called Makom that says it’s the:

“Israel Education Lab of the Jewish Agency for Israel”.

I find that statement somewhat troubling, as Makom is clearly run by a number of Jews who are affiliated with Reform, Conservative and the other non-Orthodox ‘pluralist’ organisations who are funding so many of the legal challenges to the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in the High Courts, and who are behind so many of the legal attacks against the Torah way of life in Israel.

Maybe this is why so many orthodox Jewish converts are currently having such a hard time trying to get their plans for moving to Israel accepted by the Jewish Agency?

‘Pluralist’ organisations can’t get enough of Yair Lapid, and Yesh Atid. They parrot each other’s words an awful lot, and when you start to see the exact same sentiments being expressed by different people using exactly the same terminology – alarm bells start to go off that this isn’t just a grass-roots ‘uprising’, but something that is being carefully planned, and carefully orchestrated behind the scenes, from America.

There’s more to be said, as always. For now, I’ve transcribed the first half of Yair Lapid’s speech, which he gave to a group of Haredi adult students at Kiryat Ono College, in 2011. I’ll share more of his speech in the next post, where I hope to take a proper look at what’s really going on with the draft controversy. There is a lot of obfuscation of the real issues (as always…) but with a bit of careful digging, I think we’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what’s really going on in Israel, and what the implications are.

In the meantime, here’s the first half of Yair Lapid’s speech:

You won. There was a competition in Israel for ‘Israeli-ness’ that lasted over 100 years, since the 2nd wave of Jewish immigration. And in the end, you won. We lost and you won.

For decades here, it was a Mexican Shootout, where each one waits for the other guy to give in…

According to Avi Ravitsky:

The status quo was based on the false assumption which was accepted by both sides that the opposition camp was doomed to dwindle away and perhaps even disappear.

I know that’s what the haredim always thought about the chilonim (secularists), that they’re doomed to extinction.

But, that’s what we thought about you, too. That you’re a sort of living museum, like the safari park in Ramat Gan. There’s a place where they have this rare species that’s almost extinct, and that has to be protected, so we can take our grandchildren there and show them and tell them: “You see, kids? That’s how Jews used to look!”

Let me remind you that when Ben Gurion agreed to exempt yeshiva students from military service, the original number was 700. That was supposed to be the entire yeshiva population, 700. In the State of Israel today, in the Mir yeshiva alone, there are more than 3,500 men…

[100 years ago] Secular Jews came in two different types, the maskilim (‘enlightened”) and the Zionists…

The chilonim and the haredim were in constant conflict, until the reached the point of confrontation. And you won that confrontation. You won not only in terms of numbers, but also in relation to the haredi presence in politics, and the settlement movement, and as a consumer force, and in the street and the culture, and in the educational system. You won in all these places.

I’ve heard the stats, and looking at you here, I expect you to win in the job market, as well.

Because it turns out, there is no way to build ‘Israeli-ness’ without you.

The Founding Fathers had a vision of Israel as a socialist, secular European State. That was the main vision, and it held out for 50 years. But different ‘tribes’ gradually fanned around this [socialist, secular, Europeanized] mainstream:

The Haredi-Ashkenazi Tribe; the Haredi-Sephardi Tribe; the National-Religious; Beitar; then in the 50s, ‘tribes’ came here from North Africa, that became the tribes on the periphery; then in the early 90s, the Russian ‘tribe’ came here; and then the Ethiopian ‘tribe’.

And each tribe had its needs and demanded something from the mainstream. Religious demands, political demands, economic demands, and so they ate away at the mainstream. And these tribes gradually infiltrated all the traditional, [socialist, secular, Europeanized] axes of power. First, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Then academia. Then business.

And when the [socialist, secular, Europeanized] mainstream of Israeli-ness tried to defend itself…these others said: “Look, you oppressed us! You denied us our rights and we won’t accept this. And they were right, that the [socialist, secular, Europeanized] mainstream really did oppress them, and denied them their rights. And they really shouldn’t have had to tolerate that.

And something else also happened:

The [socialist, secular, Europeanized] mainstream was no longer the majority. By the late 1970s, there were more Sephardim in Israel than Ashkenazim. And since the 1980s, there are a lot more people who consider themselves traditional or religious, than secular.

Jerusalem is a much bigger city than Tel Aviv. And since 1977, the capitalist right-wing [i.e. the Likud party] has been in power most of the time, for 34 out of the last 40 years.

A survey from 1994 showed that 56% of the [Israeli] public believes that the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. It’s clear that the balance between the ‘tribes’ and the [secular, socialist, Europeanized] mainstream has been upset. The [secular, socialist, Europeanized] mainstream is no longer the majority, not numerically, not economically, not politically and not idealogically.

In the late 1990s, something predictable happened.

The [secular, socialist, Europeanized] mainstream got fed up. The [secular, socialist, Europeanized] mainstream looked to the left, and looked to the right, and said: “I’m sick of everyone demanding things from me. If they don’t want me to leave the country, then let them lead it themselves, because I have a new solution. From now on, I’m a ‘tribe’ too – the “middle-class” tribe.”

It said: “I don’t need the government in order to do business. I can get married in Cyprus in a civil ceremony, and I have to defend democracy, because these other tribes [i.e. the haredim, right-wingers, Sephardim, Russians and Ethiopians who make up the majority of the population] are instinctively either non-democratic, or less democratic.

“And I’m sick of the fact that a boy in Bnei Brak, and a boy in Um El-Fahm whom I’ve never met are funded by my taxes. And I certainly don’t need to be told that I ‘oppressed’ them.

“If they’re so ‘oppressed’, let them get along without me. I’ll do what everyone else does. I’ll look out for Number 1. I’ll take care of myself, and my people.” And that’s how it’s been over recent years.

[up to 8.40 mins, then skipping a little. Yair Lapid continues:]

When the Zionist Founding Fathers came to Israel, they said they wanted to build a ‘melting pot’ for the Jews.

And they sincerely looked for a broad ‘base’ of agreement between the different sections. They ignored the fact that the Jewish people already had such a base…They wanted to build a secular, socialist ‘melting pot’, and they ignored the fact that the Jews had an ancient Father who maintained and protected them for 2,000 years, i.e. the God of Israel.

I want to emphasize that I’m not talking about emuna, faith, that’s something else. I’m talking about the question of what is the social and cultural foundation of the Israeli ethos.

The Founding Fathers tried to skip straight from the Bible to modern times.

They wanted a Biblical ethos, not a Talmudic [i.e. Rabbinic] one, because the Bible happened here. King Saul went to find his donkeys on Highway 443…

For them, the Talmudic tradition belonged to the exile. So, they decided to skip over the Mishnah and Midrash, the Talmud, the Golden Age of Spain, the Ramchal, the Chatam Sofer, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, to establish their ‘Biblical’ ethos. And instead of a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral vision that could include all different types of Jew, they created an ethos that suited secular, Ashkenazi socialists. And they wanted all the other ‘tribes’ to submit to this ethos.

This wasn’t done out of malice or stupidity, it was just secular thinking. They thought like this: “If God hasn’t brought the Jews to Israel in 2000 years, it’s time to let someone else have a go. It’s time to create a new myth.”

And when the holocaust came, they saw it as proof that you can’t rely on the God of the Jews, because He’s unreliable. We can only rely on ourselves.

So we tried to rely on ourselves, but the experiment failed.

It failed because it caused everyone who wasn’t secular, Ashkenazi and socialist to withdraw even more into his tribe. Especially when he realized that the ‘vision’ being offered to him had no room for what was most precious to him – his God.

It failed even more, because the Founding Fathers explanation was unsatisfactory. It didn’t justify us being here [in Israel]. Because if you take our ‘Father’ [i.e. God] out of the picture, what are we doing here? Why would a secular person choose to live in the worst neighborhood in the world, amongst a billion Muslims who hate him, in this this heat, if he doesn’t believe in an external Power that makes it worth living here?

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Yair Lapid didn’t have an answer for this question, btw, which sums up a lot of the problem that his ‘tribe’ are now facing, and why so many of them are turning into raging ultra-lefty, anti-Israel lunatics. But in the second half of Yair Lapid’s speech, he touched on a few issues that the religious Jews in Israel do have to grapple with, however uncomfortable that may makes us feel. And we’ll look at what these issues are in the next post.

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I was emailing with my friend Daisy, who has been trying to get more people to come to the prayer gathering in Hevron tomorrow night (Monday April 8th), starting at 10pm.
She sent me the following, and I think it deserved sharing more widely, so here it is:
“I think that is the answer: CHESED, LOVE. This Atzeret is all about LOVE, about Chesed. We have to arouse the LOVE of AM Yisrael, because Am Yisrael has let Sinat Chinam bury the love. We have to REIGNITE the LOVE. This Rosh Chodesh Nissan is all about LOVE , I just heard a Shiur by a rav last Shabbat in Tampa about this very topic, and we were by coincidence – we know there are no coincidences, – discussing the issue of lack of love in Am Yisrael these days with my son, just a couple of days before the rav gave his lecture…
WE HAVE TO REIGNITE THE LOVE IN AM YISRAEL! That is the message. That is the only thing that will counteract the Sinat Chinam of the Churban Bayit Sheni! I get it!
Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov. May Ahavat Chinam return to Am Yisrael, in every group, every Chassidut, every political party. We are buried in hatred. Of course destruction follows! The only way to counteract the destruction is with LOVE OF OUR FELLOW JEW, and even of all good people in the world! And I mean REAL love, the kind you feel all over, the kind you swim in. Not the phony, limited, fake love we got used to.”

This morning (April 7th), Rav Berland told the crowd in shul that awful decrees have now been made, and that Gantz and Lapid are planning to completely destroy the Torah lifestyle in Eretz Yisrael – banning brit mila, allowing Jews to marry whoever they want in civil marriages…and only 50,000 people showing up for the atzeret is going to be able to cancel this decree, which the Rav said otherwise begins in 10 days time.

Which suggests to me that Blue and White have found a way to fix the election somehow, and to win it after all, despite all polls showing a comfortable lead for the right wingers again.
And every single time the crazy, anti-Torah people get into power in this country, and start going after Yiddishkeit and frum Jews, Hashem stops them by sending a war with the Arabs. Check this out for yourself, it’s a fact and totally Snopes-proof.

So….if Blue and White win, God forbid, that means war is not far behind. And when there is war in Israel, the anti-Semitism in the world shoots through the roof – and it’s pretty high already.

So this really is everyone’s problem, and we need to make eve ry effort to get to Hevron tomorrow, for 10pm.I even have my teenagers coming with me this time, it’s that serious.(It’s an open miracle the 15 year old agreed, what can I tell you.)
On a technical note: I’m still waiting for confirmation if there is going to be a live hook-up via the internet. They still don’t know if that can make that happen this time, so I will keep you posted.
But there’s so much to pray for, isn’t there?

If Blue and White win, we are all going to be feeling the consequences, one way or another, wherever we live in the world.