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When times get tough, people naturally seek psychological relief through what Sigmund Freud defined as the mechanisms of defense. That is individuals unconsciously refract their perceptions of reality through unconscious lenses that usually distort what they see. For example, if someone gets bad news from their physician, they sometimes behave as if they are not sick. This denial was highlighted by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her famous study on Death and Dying. I remember the when I was a child people whispered about cancer. People said that Shirley had a "growth" when they meant cancer. Kubler-Ross' study of biological mortality sheds light upon yet another existential threat. The world has been given a bad diagnosis. A malignant ideology is threatening to destroy our world and the media hushes its ugly presence. Rather than seek a cure, we have found a temporary respite from the angst by denying the threat.
Clearly, we have not claimed that these Muslims are not dangerous. Instead we deny the threat by formulating explanations that would mitigate its consequences. Our denial takes the form of a theory that if we act appropriately toward Islam we will not be harmed. It is no more than a modern translation of "arbeit macht frei". In order to shield ourselves from the painful treatment that is required for survival, we have entered into some of those stages of dying described by Kubler-Ross. One of those stages was called "bargaining". In political terms, we seek to negotiate and offer "inducements" to the grim reaper of Islam. Thank you for supporting our advertisers!
Another mechanism of defense is "rationalization". We try to explain the dynamics of Islamism in our own intellectual terms. Finally, there is "displacement"; a mechanism in which we turn our anger and frustration upon another entity. The Devil made me do it. For centuries the Devil meant the Jews. Not since the Hitlerian era have we seen so much anti-Semitism. The recent trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman former AIPAC executives is an illustration of anti-Semitism at work. They were accused, like Jonathan Pollard of helping Israel. Unlike the Pollard case, however, the charges are neither treason nor espionage but passing on information that they had heard from a third source who remains in a prestigious government job. In other words, they are being charged with passing on gossip.
The Pollard inquisition greatly harmed the Israeli intelligence operation in the US. Yes, there is espionage even among friends. Take a look at the sophisticated electronics equipment atop the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Remember the sad episode of the USS Liberty that sat off the coast of Israel during the Six Day war and passed information to the Syrians. What is the purpose of punishing Pollard or the trial against these gossips? They did not harm America.
At the same time a truly dangerous organization is getting moral support from the FBI. Rachel Neuwirth points out that the same agency hounding these Jews, the FBI, has consistently refused to investigate the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Yet, there are numerous pieces of evidence that point to CAIR's ties with terror organizations. The fact that they are blatantly anti-semitic was highlighted recently by my own experience. CAIR was having a major community event in which both a Christian and Jewish leader were invited. A colleague of mine was the original invitee, but could not attend. With some ambivalence, I volunteered to substitute on the fuzzy conviction that one should never abandon an opportunity for outreach. The event originally scheduled for a Sunday was immediately switched to Saturday (shabbat) as soon as CAIR realized that a rabbi would show up.
The persecution of Israel by Iran and Hamas is a revised form of classical anti-Semitic doctrine that replaces the old canard that the Jews killed Christ with its newer version that Jews caused the Middle East crisis. The new carefully crafted blood libel is that the root cause of the Middle East crisis from the rise of oil prices to Iranian nukes is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In other words, the Jews came to the Middle East because no one in Europe wanted them. They came and stole Arab land while evicting its residents. In addition, Jimmy Carter tells us in his new book, that Israelis torture and murder innocent Palestians. They are intransigent and the only hope mankind has for world peace is to remove the Jewish cancer from the Middle Eastern body politic.
Of course, Carter didn't use those words but the effect of the left-wing peace plan is to sufficiently eviscerate Israel by a propaganda campaign intended to brainwash both American and Israeli Jews. The psychological objective is what Bruno Bettleheim described as "identification with the aggressor". And it is working! We have seen over the past years an Israeli withdrawal not only from the territories but from our own moral claim to the land of Israel. Too many Israelis accept the Palestinian lie that those lands belong to a a fictitious entity called Palestine.
Last summer's debacle in Lebanon in which Israel surrended to Hizbollah after weeks of air strikes and artillery barrages tell us not only about the Government's lack of resolve and inability to lead the nation, but about the disarray of the IDF itself. I recall that after the Yom Kippur war, Ariel Sharon who was a better warrior than statesman, commented upon the poor level of readiness in the IDF. The Agranat Commission spelled it out in detail. But, Sharon's point was a moral one more than a tactical one. He reminded us that the strength of the IDF was not in its technological superiority, but in its moral superiority. Its capacity to strike deep into the heart of the enemy using commando units and infantry units. In other words, the battle as Yom Kippur itself demonstrated was to be won by our young men. Sharon's remarks reminded me of Zachariah's (4:6) order of battle: "not by strength, not might, but with My spirit, says the Lord". We lost in Lebanon becaused we relied upon technology and because IDF training emphasized technology rather than the moral fiber of its young men.
The moral decline of Israel is in proportion to its material growth. It is easy to understand how a comfortable people become unwilling to endure the hardships and sacrifice of maintaining the kind of vigil that secures their liberty. We see this same decline in America. Many American politicians would lead us to appeasement. But, even if we do try to appease the Iranians by sacrificing Israel it would only sate their appetite for a short time. Islam, like Nazism, is about hegemony not coexistence. And what drives Islam and history is an idea. Unfortunately, post-Zionist Israel has no ideology; merely a growing economy. Or, to phrase that differently, the driving theme of modern Israel is the idea of self. While we enjoy our wealth, Muslims have embedded themselves into the American system. They are citizens and have funded powerful organizations capable of silencing others. For example, Bush spoke of Islamofascism until CAIR called him and told him such language was offensive; he never used that term again.
The left would like to cut Israel off financially. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor argued that Israel was costing American too much money ($1500 per citizen) and too much political ill will. The author, of course, pointed out that the Israel Lobby would argue anti-semitism if Americans speak harshly of Israel. Yet, to undermine Israel and offer it up as an appeasement to the Arabs would be tantamount to the most vicious pogrom since the Holocaust. The world remains indifferent to Darfur. In the amoral ambience of political correctness the murder of Israelis is "resistance". We may ask ourselves how would the world, when dominated by Islam, view the extermination of the Jews?
Finally, the war against the Jews cannot be fully understood without our own complicity. Seventy years ago, our parents and grandparents committed the sin of silence. We are like the Jews of Silence during the Holocaust. Our leaders are weak. Is it that we still do no believe that things are that bad? In his memoir of the Holocaust, Night, Elie Wiesel describes the scene in his little town when a survivor of the round-up in another village comes to his shul on Shabbat eve and screams about them "burning Jews". The worshippers looked at each other in horror because the poor Jew appeared insane. Then, Wiesel tells us, everyone went home to their Sabbath dinner.
This appeared May 18, 2007 in Florida Jewish News Thanks are due Rachel Neuwirth for sending this in.
Saul Goldman serves as Rabbi of a congregation in Coral Springs, Florida.
This appeared May 18, 2007 in Florida Jewish News
Thanks are due Rachel Neuwirth for sending this in.
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